The Lee University baseball team lost a number of key players from the team that finished third in the NAIA World Series last spring, but coach Mark Brew and his staff have brought in a set of new Flames and has them already working in fall practice.
Nine of the newcomers are outfielders, including slugger James Fowlkes from Soddy-Daisy and junior transfers Trevor Burgess and Cameron Brewster from Cleveland State. No outfielders return from the 2011 Flames.
"Outfield was one of our biggest recruiting areas in the offseason," Brew said in a Lee release. "I really like the athleticism of this group. We have a nice blend of speed and power and left-handed and right-handed hitters."
Fowlkes led Tennessee high schoolers with 18 homers in earning all-state recognition with the Trojans. He also can catch.
"We signed James early, but I am not 100 percent sure we were aware of the caliber of player we were getting," Brew said. "Since we signed him he put together one of the most impressive high school seasons I have seen."
Burgess was second-team All-TCCAA after hitting .342 with 35 RBIs and 42 walks as a Cougars freshman and batted .329 with 33 RBIs and 35 walks last season, and Brewster hit .263 and was an NJCAA Academic All-American.
"Trevor has good speed, plays good defense and has the ability to bring a solid left-handed bat to our lineup," Brew said in the release. "Cameron had to overcome an early career injury to get back on the field. He provides another left-handed option and is a solid defensive player."
Other new Lee outfielders are senior Mike Moore from Lindenwod University; Corey Davis from Douglas, Ga., and TCCAA power Walters State; Brady Renner from Aurora, Ill., and Elgin Community College; Chris Avey from Modesto (Calif.) Junior College; and freshmen Mark Carpenter from Stivers School of the Arts in Dayton, Ohio, and Grant Hendershoot from Pendleton Heights (Ind.) High School.
Moore hit .433 with eight homers and 51 RBIs at Lindenwood and was first-team all-conference after being first-team also in the conference for Southwestern Illinois Community College the year before.
"Mike can play virtually anywhere. We will look at him as a second baseman, third baseman and outfielder," Brew said. "He has a middle-of-the-lineup bat, solid arm strength and surprising speed."
Davis, who plays first base in addition to the outfield, was a 15th-round draft pick of the Washington Nationals out of high school, and he batted .397 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and a TCCAA-high 26 stolen bases as a Walters sophomore.
"He has the tools to play at the professional level and can really hit," Brew said. "What is deceptive about him is how fast he is."
Renner hit .374 with seven homers, 51 RBIs and 14 steals last season and also was all-conference, and Brew called him a "plus defender" who can play all the outfield positions.
"Brady brings another potent left-handed bat to our lineup and excellent speed," the Flames coach said.
Avey was first-team all-conference for Modesto as a freshman, when he hit .357 with four homers and 28 RBIs, but was limited by an injury as a sophomore, which Brew said caused him to be "overlooked by a lot of teams."
"Chris has great tools and we really like him," Brew said. "He has a chance to be our everyday center fielder."
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