Jayhawks Add 10 During Early Signing Period

Dec. 6, 2010


Kansas baseball head coach Ritch Price announced Monday that the Jayhawks have added 10 players to the 2011-12 roster during the early signing period. KU had eight sign letters of intent to play at KU and added two other walk-ons.

Catcher/right-handed pitcher Nathan Arnold (Pittsburg, Kan.), left-handed pitcher Wes Benjamin (St. Charles, Ill.), right-handed pitcher Robert Kahana (Ewa Beach, Hawaii), left-handed pitcher Cody Kukuk (Lawrence, Kan.), infielder Joe Luvisi (Scottsdale, Ariz.), outfielder Connor McKay (Parker, Colo.), infielder Justin Protacio (Pearl City, Hawaii), outfielder Dakota Smith (Leavenworth, Kan.), right-handed pitcher Colin Toalson (Lawrence, Kan.) and left-handed pitcher Justin Vander Tuig (Baldwin City, Kan.) will all suit up for the Crimson and Blue next season.

“As a result of losing two freshmen and three underclassmen in last year’s draft, this is a larger class than normal,” said Price. “These young men are all extremely talented players that will give us a chance to be a Top 25 team on a consistent basis.”

Arnold, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound catcher/right-handed pitcher from St. Mary’s-Colgan High School in Pittsburg, Kan., is the fourth-ranked high school player out of the state of Kansas according to Perfect Game USA. Arnold hit .490 last season with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 47 RBIs. On the mound, he posted a 5-0 record with 34 strikeouts and an 0.97 ERA. He is a two-time all-league and all-state selection and was honorable mention all-state as a freshman.

Benjamin, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound left-handed pitcher from St. Charles East High School, is the No. 15-ranked high school player out of the state of Illinois according to Perfect Game USA. Benjamin posted a 13-2 record in 16 appearances last season. He recorded a 1.26 ERA and struck out 112 in 83 1/3 innings. He was also named the Kane County Chronicle High School Player of the Year as well as an all-state selection by the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches’ Association.

Kahana, a 6-foot, 180-pound right-handed pitcher from Campbell High School in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, had an impressive Hawaii Scout Day Showcase in October, where his fastball was clocked at 92 mph.

Kukuk, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound left-handed pitcher from Free State High School, is ranked as the No. 3 high school player in Kansas by Perfect Game USA. He was last year’s Class 6A Kansas State Player of the Year, as well as the Sunflower League’s Player of the Year. He was also the Kansas Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year.

Luvisi, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound infielder from Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Ariz., was named first team all-region as well as to an all-tournament team during an in-season tournament in Anaheim, Calif. He hit .378 last season with eight doubles, three homers and 21 RBIs in 82 at bats. His older brother, Jordan, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, while his older sister, Jessica, is a junior at KU.

McKay, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound outfielder from Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo., is ranked as the top high school player in the state of Colorado by Perfect Game USA. During his junior season, he batted .446 with 10 homers, 34 RBIs and seven stolen bases. He was named an Under Armor All-American and was selected first team all-city and all-conference.

Protacio, a 5-foot-6, 155-pound infielder from Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii, hit .442 with 12 stolen bases last season. He has been named all-state at second base in each of the last two years as well as first team All-Interscholastic League. As a freshman, he helped his school to a state championship and a runner-up finish at the West Region finals.

Smith, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound outfielder from Lansing High School in Leavenworth, Kan., is the No. 2-ranked high school player in the state by Perfect Game USA. Smith batted .500 last season with nine home runs and 36 RBIs for Lansing last season. He also stole 19 bases and struck out just twice during his team’s 23-game season.

Toalson, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound pitcher/infielder from Free State High School, was a first team all-state and a first team All-Sunflower League selection last year. During his junior season, Toalson batted .328 and had a .494 on-base percentage. He also posted a 7-2 record with five saves and a 1.31 ERA.

Vander Tuig, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound left-handed pitcher from Baldwin High School, was named All-Frontier League as both a freshman and as a sophomore. Vander Tuig was injured during the 2010 season, but went 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA. In his first three seasons of high school baseball, he has 46 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings on the mound.

“I would like to congratulate my assistant coaches for recruiting such a strong class,” Price said. “We fully expect these young men to make an impact in our program right away.”