KINGSTON, R.I. - Head coach Jim Foster has announced that five student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Rhode Island baseball program next season.
"We've added some quality arms that could have a big impact on our program as well as a position player that will certainly contribute," Foster said. "This recruiting class is a credit to the hard work of our entire coaching staff.
"More than anything else, these guys have a passion for the game and a strong desire to improve. Both on and off the field, this is a phenomenal group of guys. They are the right players for our program. I fully expect them to continue our tradition of success while also raising the bar and setting a new standard for those that follow."
Dom Grillo – LHP – 6-0/190 – North Kingstown, R.I. – North Kingstown HS
Chose to attend URI over Maine and Boston College… Selected Rhode Island based on the coaching staff, the current players and the success of the program.
High School: Plays baseball at North Kingstown High School under coach Kevin Gormley… Has posted a 30-3 record and a 0.69 ERA as a three-year starter for NKHS… Was selected as his team's MVP and won the SK Cy Young Award as both a sophomore and junior… Also earned All-State accolades those two seasons… Is a two-time All-Star Game participant and three-time All-Division player… Was a finalist for the Rhode Island Player of the Year Award his sophomore season… Threw a no-hitter his freshman year… Helped lead North Kingstown to the Division 1 championship game in 2011 and 2013… Also played for East Cobb New England (U17)… Team was ranked 10th in the nation this past summer and became the first-ever New England team to advance to the semifinals of the Perfect Game National Tournament… Earned All-Tournament honors as the team finished fourth out of the 340-team field… Also played hockey for the Providence Capitals (midgets) and the Cranston Reds (juniors)… Team won the Rhode Island State Championship and finished as national runners up in 2010… Was selected to play in the MJHL All-Star Game in 2012… Academically, he is an honor roll student… Also works with mentally challenged high school students through the Peer Partner gym class program.
Personal: Born October 21, 1995… Son of Wanda and Roger Grillo, who played hockey at the University of Maine and was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks… His father - who currently serves as a regional manager for USA Hockey - also spent two decades coaching collegiately at Vermont and Brown, in addition to coaching four different USA National teams… Favorite athlete is Martin St. Louis… Favorite teams are the Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Vikings… Plans to major/pursue a career in special education.
Foster on Grillo: Dom has been one of, if not the most, successful pitchers in the state of Rhode Island over the past couple of years. His best attributes are his toughness and competitiveness on the field. He is a winner who uses his work ethic and attitude to make his teammates better. We expect Dom to be an instant contributor at URI.
Nick Johnson – RHP – 6-2/215 – Worcester, Mass. – Worcester Academy
Chose to attend URI over UMass Lowell, St. John's, Coastal Carolina and Bryant… Selected Rhode Island based on the coaching staff, the new weight room/training facility and the general location of the university.
High School: Plays baseball at Worcester Academy under coach Dana Forsberg… Also has played for the Worcester Heat (4 years) and North East Baseball (1 year)… Academically, he is an honor roll student and recipient of the Athletic Achievement Award… Also is a member of the Backyard Sports Club as well as the Superfans Club, in addition to volunteering at The Mustard Seed - a Worcester-based soup kitchen that provides hot meals for the homeless.
Personal: Born July 21, 1995… Son of Angela and George Demake… Has an older brother, Alex… Favorite athlete is Clay Buchholz… Favorite teams are the Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins and New England Patriots… Undecided on a major.
Foster on Johnson: Nick is another quality arm in this recruiting class. He currently has a mid to upper 80's fastball with good sink and two solid secondary pitches. Once he gets to URI and focuses on strength, conditioning and throwing programs, we will see a great deal of development right away. We expect Nick to make an immediate impact with our pitching staff. He could be a weekend pitcher within his first couple of years at URI.
Sam Larson – RHP – 6-2/180 – Canton, Mass. – Canton HS
Chose to attend URI over Bryant, UMass Lowell, Stonehill, Curry, St. Anselm's and Salve Regina… Selected Rhode Island because the coaches, players and academics seemed like a perfect fit.
High School: Plays baseball at Canton High School under coaches JP Scott (2013-14) and Junior Medina (2011-12)… Led the Hockomock League with a 0.78 ERA in 2012, going 4-1 with 44 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched… Tossed a complete-game with 13 strikeouts and zero walks in 2013… Also played for the Canton American Legion Post 24 (2012-13) and was a member of the Nokona USA Baseball U17 Showcase team (2013) as well as the soccer and basketball teams at Canton… Was a two-time All-Hockomock League selection in soccer and was named to the HockomockSports.com Top XI in 2013… In basketball, was a Hockomock League All-Star as well as a Patriot Ledger All-Scholastic selection and Team MVP… Outside of competition, he has spent time as a volunteer coach in both soccer and basketball.
Personal: Born November 7, 1995… Son of Martha and Jeff Larson, who played volleyball at Yale from 1980-84… Has two sisters, Hannah and Jenna… Favorite teams are the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and New England Patriots… Enjoys playing sports, hanging out with friends, listening to music and playing video games… Undecided on a major.
Foster on Larson: As a three-sport star at Canton High School, Sam has not yet focused solely on baseball, which is why we see a huge upside for him on the mound. He has gone under the radar, but we think he will end up being one of New England's top collegiate pitchers from his high school class. He throws a very heavy fastball with great sink and has a plus slider. He currently is in the mid 80's with his fastball but projects to gain much more velocity. We expect him to be in our weekend rotation within a couple of years.
Jimmy Palmer – INF – 5-8/169 – Milford, Conn. – Jonathan Law HS
Selected Rhode Island because of the baseball program, the campus and the academic offerings.
High School: Plays baseball at Jonathan Law High School under coach Greg Simler… Hit .386 as a junior with a .491 on-base percentage and a .600 slugging percentage, en route to earning All-Division honors… Also was a member of his school's football and indoor track teams… Academically, he is an honor roll student.
Personal: Born April 15, 1996… Son of Jennifer and James Palmer… Has a younger sister, Leea… Favorite athlete is Bryce Harper… Favorite teams are the New York Yankees and New York Giants… Also enjoys fishing… Plans to major in Nursing.
Foster on Palmer: Jimmy is a middle infielder that really just fits the mold of a URI baseball player. He is very athletic, is a plus runner and has the ability to play multiple positions at a high level defensively. He always plays the game hard and runs the bases with aggressiveness. Jimmy projects as a #1 or #2 hitter and has pop for a smaller guy. We expect him to make immediate contributions as a freshman because he can do multiple things on the field to help a team win.
Tyler Wilson – LHP – 6-4/230 – Palmer, Mass. – Palmer HS
Chose to attend URI over St. John's and Virginia Tech… Selected Rhode Island based the coaching staff and the direction of the program.
High School: Plays baseball at Palmer High School under coach Peter Farr… Overall, in three years at Palmer, he has posted a 9-5 record with a 1.52 ERA over 101 innings pitched… Has struck out 175 batters while allowing just 41 walks and 52 hits… Also has tossed 12 complete games - seven of which have been shutouts… Offensively, he has hit .424 in 99 at-bats, recording 42 hits, 29 walks, 31 RBI and 30 runs scored… Threw a one-hitter in the Western Mass semifinals his freshman year… Helped lead his team to the 2011 Western Mass championship title as well as the state semifinals… Team also advanced to the Western Mass semifinals in 2012 and 2013… Recorded 16 strikeouts in a single game (vs. Greenfield) his sophomore year and struck out 15 in a no-hitter against the defending state champions (South Hadley) his junior season… His no-hitter earned him the 2013 Star Award, for the most outstanding in-season performance… Also collected All-League accolades in 2013 as well as All-Western Mass and Team MVP honors in 2012… Was an ESPN Player of the Week in 2011… Played for Palmer Legion Post 130 as well... Outside of competition, he has spent time volunteering at the Red Cross Blood Bank.
Personal: Born March 18, 1996… Son of Heidi and Jeff Wilson… Has a younger sister, Megan… Favorite athlete is Cliff Lee… Favorite team is the Cincinnati Reds… Also enjoys fishing… Undecided on a major.
Foster on Wilson: Tyler is one of the top high school lefties in the Northeast. He is currently in the mid to upper 80's with his fastball and has two very good breaking balls. Tyler has only scratched the surface on how good he can be. With a consistent weight training and conditioning program, we see a great deal of development in his future. We project Tyler as a weekend starter, hopefully very early in his career.