Dec. 16, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - As finals get underway at the University of Notre Dame this week, 10 newcomers to the baseball program wrap up their first semester of baseball and books under the Golden Dome. With the opening of the 2014 season just two months away, the Irish rookies are expected to take what they learned during the fall season and apply it to the spring as Notre Dame readies for its first season in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.
Fourth-year head coach Mik Aoki was pleased with the progress the newcomers made during the fall as several will continue to jockey for starting spots and key bench roles once preseason camp opens Jan. 24.
"Every year I try to reserve judgment on the class until they get here and start playing," said Aoki. "What you do in high school gets you to Notre Dame, but ultimately having success at Notre Dame is based on what you do here and not what you have accomplished in the past. However, all of our new players really blended themselves in well this fall and showed the ability to help us this season."
Some of the fall standouts included 2013 MLB draftees Cavan Biggio and Ryan Lidge, who put together fine fall campaigns to position themselves into big roles at second base and catcher, respectively, and junior college transfer Robert Youngdahl, who Aoki raved about as someone who can immediately help out the squad in the outfield and on the mound.
"Robert stood out with his maturity - physically, mentally and emotionally," said Aoki. "You can tell that he has been in college for a couple of years. He knew what to expect coming into a Division I environment and performed really well."
Also getting their first taste of college action were freshmen pitchers Jim Orwick, Ryan Smoyer and Scott Tully, freshmen infielders Kyle Fiala and Chris Melillo and walk-on outfielders Miles Bland and Clayton Bouchard.
Biographies and quick notes on each player can be found below.
The Irish open the season in Boca Raton, Fla., Feb. 15-16 with a three-game series against 2013 NCAA Regional qualifier Florida Atlantic.
For more information on Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball) and Twitter (@NDBaseball).
#23 Cavan Biggio
Houston, Texas / St. Thomas
L / R
6-2 / 185
ABOUT BIGGIO: High-profile recruit from Houston, Texas ... very advanced offensively both in approach and ability ... needs to continue to work on defense, but made good progress in the fall ... probable starter at second base ... likely upper half of the lineup hitter.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas in the spring of 2013 ... earned four letters in baseball and four in football ... drafted in the 29th round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies ... father, Craig Biggio, coached high school baseball team ... won back-to-back Texas TAPPS 5A State Championships as a freshman and sophomore with dad as coach and brother, Conor Biggio, as a teammate ... made the 18U National Team before senior season and helped Team USA win the IBAF Junior AAA/18U World Championship in Seoul, South Korea ... ranked by Perfect Game as the No. 1 second baseman and No. 21 overall prospect nationally from the high school class of 2013 ... ranked by the same organization as the No. 2 prospect in Texas ... named first team all-district and all-state and was named a Perfect Game All-American and a Rawlings first team All-American as a senior after hitting .410 with seven home runs ... selected first team all-district and all-state and was named a Perfect Game Underclass All-American as a junior after hitting .420 with two homers ... tabbed first team all-district, second team all-state and a Perfect Game honorable mention Underclass All-American after batting .397 with eight homers as a sophomore ... opened career by hitting .380 with five homers as a freshman to earn first team all-district and honorable mention all-state accolades ... played for the Houston Heat club team ... participated in the Sunshine Kids, which is a cancer awareness organization ... full name is Cavan Thomas Biggio ... born in Houston, Texas to Craig and Patricia Biggio ... has an older brother, Conor, and a younger sister, Quinn ... Conor is a junior on the Notre Dame baseball team ... Craig played baseball at Seton Hall and then professionally with the Houston Astros from 1988-2007 ... enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#1 Clayton Bouchard
Sewickley, Pa. / Quaker Valley
R / R
5-9 / 170
ABOUT BOUCHARD: Joined the Irish program in the fall as a walk on ... team oriented player that shows good base-running ability and athleticism ... plays solid outfield defense ... needs to make progress at the plate.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Quaker Valley High School in Leetsdale, Pa., in the spring of 2013 ... earned four letters each in baseball and hockey ... was an all-conference selection in the outfield as a senior after hitting .483 with 51 hits, 20 RBI and 28 runs scored ... also stole 25 bases and had zero errors in the field ... was a team captain on a team that was the WPIAL AA runner-up and a PIAA AA state semifinalist ... had a .350 average with 35 hits 11 RBI and 18 stolen bases as a junior ... racked up 32 hits, 12 RBI and 15 stolen bases while hitting .321 as a sophomore ... put up 12 hits, five RBI and nine stolen bases while hitting .287 as a freshman ... played club baseball for the Steel City Slammers and Youngstown Blue Devils AAU squads ... played club hockey for the Pittsburgh Viper Stars AAU organization ... was an NAPHL all-star selection in 2013 and helped lead hockey squad to a pair of NAPHL regular season championships in 2012 and 2013 ... was a National Honor Society member in 2012 and 2013 ... earned a spot on the Distinguished Honor Roll from 2009-13 ... also an AP Distinguished Scholar in 2013 and an AP Scholar in 2012 ... selected to the NAPHL All-Academic team in 2012-13 ... full name is Clayton James Bouchard ... born in Chicago, Ill., to James and Carolyn Bouchard ... has an older sister, Natalie, and a younger sister, Aubrey ... uncle, Craig Chval, graduated from Notre Dame in 1981, cousin, Lauren Chval, graduated from Notre Dame in 2013 and cousin, Craig Chval, is set to graduate in 2015 ... father, James, played baseball at the University of San Diego ... uncle, Rick Bouchard, played basketball at the University of North Dakota ... cousin, Robbie McEwen, played football at the University of Nebraska ... enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#20 Kyle Fiala
Carmel, IN / Carmel
R / R
6-0 / 165
ABOUT FIALA: Used must of the fall to rehab knee injury ... participated fully in the final week of fall ball and into winter individual work ... solid overall player ... shows good ability at the plate, on the bases and in the field ... capable of playing at second or third base and at shortstop ... figures to compete for the open third base position and could also be a backup shortstop.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Carmel High School in Carmel, Ind., in the spring of 2013 ... earned three letters in baseball ... named a underclass honorable mention All-American by Perfect Game in 2012 ... selected honorable mention all-region for the Central Region by Rawlings in 2013 ... named the No. 2 shortstop and No. 26 overall high school prospect in Indiana by Perfect Game ... backed up earning Prep Baseball preseason all-state honors by batting .426 with 12 doubles to receive Noblesville Times all-county honors while earning spots on the Hamilton County Sports Daily Baseball Team and the Indianapolis Star Super Team ... played club baseball for the Indiana Mustangs ... in the classroom, was a four-year scholar athlete, a three-time Metropolitan Interscholastic academic all-conference member and was part of the Athletic Director's Honor Roll ... full name is Kyle Roger Fiala ... born in Santa Barbara, Calif., to Bob and Cyndy Fiala ... has an older brother, Brooks ... Bob played basketball at Biola University ... Brooks played baseball at Miami University ... enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#36 Ryan Lidge
Barrington, Ill. / Barrington
S / R
6-2 / 190
ABOUT LIDGE: Gifted catcher with a plus throwing arm ... switch hitter ... with work on swing and approach can be a very good hitter with power from both sides of plate ... needs to work on base running and on becoming more of a dynamic athlete ... has opportunity to blossom into a front-line catcher.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Barrington High School in Barrington, Ill., in the spring of 2013 ... drafted in the 40th round (pick 1,193) by the Boston Red Sox in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft ... ranked by Perfect Game as the No. 3 catcher in Illinois and the No. 16 prospect overall in the state for the high school class of 2013 ... earned all-conference, all-area and all-state honors as a senior after batting .381 with eight homers, eight doubles and a .711 slugging percentage ... named second team all-Central Region by Rawlings after helping lead Barrington to the Mid-Suburban League West Division championship during final year ... selected all-conference, all-area and Perfect Game honorable mention Underclass All-American as a junior ... played with the Barrington Post 158 team and helped squad win the 10th district American Legion championship ... full name is Ryan Thomas Lidge ... born in Arlington Heights, Ill., to Chris and Peggy Lidge ... has an older brother, Mike, an older sister, Maggie, and a twin brother, Dylan ... cousin, Brad Lidge, played baseball at Notre Dame from 1995-98 and played in the majors for the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals from 2002-12, winning a World Series with the Phillies in 2008 ... enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#7 Chris Melillo
Wyndmoor, Pa. / LaSalle College HS
C / 1B
L / R
6-1 / 205
ABOUT MELILLO: Multi-tool player ... has plus arm and significant power at the plate ... runs well for size ... needs to work on putting all the tools together to make a more complete player.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, Pa., in the spring of 2013 ... earned three letters in baseball as a catcher and first baseman ... ranked the 10th best high school prospect for the class of 2013 in the state of Pennsylvania by Perfect Game ... named second team all-region for the Atlantic Region by Rawlings ... named a Perfect Game Underclass High Honorable Mention All-American in 2012 ... backed up earning preseason first team all-state honors before senior campaign by receiving all-league and all-city accolades at first base ... batted .400 (26-65) with three home runs, seven doubles, 25 RBI and 20 runs scored ... helped squad win Philadelphia Catholic League Championship and city championship ... as a junior, claimed all-league and all-city honors at first base after helping La Salle win a city championship and the Class AAAA state championship ... batted .452 (38-84) with 14 doubles, 33 RBI and 29 runs scored ... played for two club teams - EvoShield Canes and the Philadelphia Whiz Kids ... participated in National Honor Society ... was a National AP Scholar and was selected to the school honor roll ... full name is Christopher Michael Melillo ... born in Abington, Pa., to Mark and Susan Melillo ... has two younger brothers, Ryan and Matthew ... father, Mark, played football at Delaware ... enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#27 Jim Orwick
Findlay, Ohio / Findlay
L / L
5-10 / 185
ABOUT ORWICK: Missed summer workouts while recovering from elbow surgery ... pitched well in fall, displaying a solid changeup and curveball ... sports a mid to upper 80's fastball ... can help the team in a variety of roles ... could earn some starts during mid-week games in addition to bullpen work.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Findlay High School in Findlay, Ohio in the spring of 2013 ... earned four letters in baseball and three in football ... named honorable mention all-region for the Central Region by Rawlings ... batted .409 (29-71) with 15 RBI, four triples and 22 runs scored as a senior ... also stole 11 bases and committed zero errors in right field to earn first team all-league accolades ... helped squad make it to the district semifinals ... was named first-team all-conference as a junior after hitting .354 with five triples, 23 runs scored, 10 RBI and eight stolen bases on offense and pitching three one-hitters and striking out 73 in 50 2/3 innings pitched on the mound ... named second team all-league after batting .297 with 13 RBI and 15 runs scored on offense and going 5-3 on the mound with a 1.21 ERA and 55 K's ... on the gridiron, was a first team all-league, second team all-NW Ohio and third team all-state as a senior and honorable mention all-district and second team all-league as a junior ... played club baseball for the Midwest Renegades, Ohio Hurricanes and Ohio Elite ... won a state championship with the Renegades ... finished runner up at the CABA World Series with the Ohio Elite ... named to the Three River Athletic Conference baseball all-academic team while also being placed on the honor roll and earning the student-athlete award ... participated in National Honor Society, the Student-Athlete Leadership Team and Junior Scholars ... volunteered with the Humane Society, Salvation Army and at local youth football and baseball camps ... full name is James Weston Orwick ... born in Findlay, Ohio to Todd and Pam Orwick ... has one younger sister, Rachel ... enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#3 Ryan Smoyer
Bowling Green, Ohio / Otsego
R / R
6-4 / 200
ABOUT SMOYER: Pleasant surprise in the fall with an upper 80's to touching 90 fastball ... has good breaking and changeup pitches ... could work himself into rotation with improvement ... expected to be a regular contributor out of the bullpen.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Otsego High School in Tontogany, Ohio in the spring of 2013 ... earned four letters each in baseball, basketball and football ... named the No. 13 RHP and the No. 26 overall high school prospect in Ohio for the high school class of 2013 by Perfect Game ... named honorable mention all-region for the Central Region by Rawlings ... went 6-0 with a 0.70 ERA and 58 strikeouts as a senior to earn Pitcher of the Year honors for the Northern Buckeye Conference ... also hit .440 with 21 RBI and two homers at the dish ... missed most of junior campaign with a broken right thumb ... in football, earned second team all-state honors ... full name is Ryan Vincent Smoyer ... born in Bowling Green, Ohio to Duane and Karen Smoyer ... has two younger sisters, Morgan and Hannah ... enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#38 Scott Tully
Reading Mass. / Reading Memorial
L / L
5-11 / 172
ABOUT TULLY: Injury-plagued fall but worked hard to get back on the field ... displays a good fastball and changeup as a lefty ... successful high school career that should transfer to college game once healthy.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Reading Memorial High School in Reading, Mass., in the spring of 2013 ... earned four letters each in baseball and golf ... ranked the No. 3 LHP and the No. 13 overall high school prospect for the class of 2013 in Massachusetts by Perfect Game ... named second team all-region for the Northeast Region by Rawlings in 2013 ... selected underclass honorable mention All-American by Perfect Game in 2012 ... hurled a no-hitter against Arlington (MA) ... won eight games and recorded two saves as a senior to earn league MVP honors ... had a minuscule 0.52 ERA with 97 strikeouts ... had seven wins and four saves as a junior by recording a 0.72 ERA with 120 strikeouts to earn league all-star accolades ... picked up seven wins and a save while posting a 1.21 ERA with 107 K's to earn league all-star honors as a sophomore ... opened career with seven wins while posting a 1.63 ERA with 86 strikeouts as a freshman to earn league all-star honors ... selected to the all-scholastic team as a junior and senior ... full name is Scott Richard Tully Jr. ... born in Winchester, Mass., to Scott and Sheila Tully ... has two brothers, Troy and Cole, and one younger sister, Grace ... father, Scott, played football at Yale ... uncle, Mark, played football at Dartmouth ... uncle, Rob, played hockey at Army ... cousin, Brian, played football at Dartmouth and cousin, Chris, played football at Brown ... cousin Melissa, played basketball at Williams College ... went to same high school and played for same coach as Irish assistant Jesse Woods ... enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#15 Miles Bland
Louisville, Ky. / Trinity
R / R
5-11 / 185
ABOUT BLAND: Joined the Irish squad in the fall as a walk on ... standout player in high school that missed senior year rehabbing an ACL injury ... very good runner ... athletic, team-oriented player that showed solid glove in high school.
AS A FRESHMAN: Did not play collegiately.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky., in the spring of 2012 ... earned three letters in football and baseball ... named a 2011 underclass honorable mention All-American by Perfect Game ... also named honorable mention all-region for the Central Region in 2012 by Rawlings ... tore ACL during final football game of career to miss senior baseball season ... selected to the Under Armour Preseason All-American baseball team before senior year ... despite missing season was still named school's "Mr. Baseball" by teammates and coaches ... football team won three state championships (2008, 2010, 2011) and one national championship (2011) during career ... advanced to state championship game in 2009 ... invited to the 2011 USA Baseball National Team Identification Series at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., and represented the Ohio Valley Region Team ... batted .355 as a sophomore to lead Trinity to the final of the 7th Region Tournament ... awarded the team's "Mr. Clutch" award as a freshman after batting .400 to lead the squad to a 7th Region Tournament title ... played club baseball for the Louisville Panthers ... participated in the International Market Watch program ... was in the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) ... won the 2012 Governor's Scholar Award and was a Jackie Robinson Scholarship semifinalist ... full name is Derek Miles Bland ... born in Kansas City, Mo., to Derek and Cecelia Bland ... has an older sister, Imani, and a younger sister, Jamila ... father, Derek, played baseball at Lincoln College and the University of Missouri-Rolla ... enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business and is majoring in finance with a supplementary major in Spanish.
#25 Robert Youngdahl
New Brighton, Minn. / Hill-Murray / Kansas State / Iowa Western JC
LHP / OF
L / L
6-2 / 190
ABOUT YOUNGDAHL: Athletic and veteran transfer that spent a season at Kansas State and a year at Iowa Western Junior College ... is capable in the outfield and on the mound ... has one of best power bats and outfield arms on team ... expected starter in right field and will hit in upper part of lineup ... is also expected to pitch a lot of significant innings as either a situational lefty or a mid-week starter ... could also break into the weekend rotation.
AS A SOPHOMRE (Iowa Western JC - 2013): Hit .328 with 19 hits, 18 runs scored, five doubles and 12 RBI in 58 at-bats ... played in 34 games ... also pitched in 12 games (42.0 innings pitched), putting together a 6-2 mark with a 3.21 ERA ... pitched two complete games ... had third-best ERA on team ... was perfect in the field in 21 chances.
AS A FRESHMAN (Kansas State - 2012): Went 2-2 with a 5.05 ERA in lone campaign at Kansas State ... made 27 appearances and started three games ... pitched 35.2 innings.
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Hill-Murray High School in the spring of 2011 ... earned four letters in baseball ... drafted in the 37th round (1,132) in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Boston Red Sox ... led team to a 17-3 record as a senior and was named the Classic Suburban Conference Player of the Year and the Gatorade Player of the Year in Minnesota ... also earned all-metro and all-state accolades after hitting .450 with five homers and 24 RBI on offense and going a perfect 7-0 with a 0.49 ERA in 42.1 innings on the mound ... named all-conference and all-state as a junior ... selected all-metro and all-conference as a sophomore ... finished career with two all-state and three all-metro scrolls ... threw a no-hitter against No. 1 team in the state ... also a standout in the classroom, earning academic letters and being named to the "A" Honor Roll ... played club baseball for the Minnesota Starz ... full name is Robert John Youngdahl ... born in Stillwater, Minn., to Mark and Barb Youngdahl ... has two younger sisters, Jocelyn and Elyse ... father, Mark, played hockey at Minnesota State ... enrolled in the College of Arts & Letters and is majoring in economics.
-- Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director