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Oregon St. Signs Area 3rd Baseman

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Oregon St. has signed Jackson Soto to its stellar 2014 recruiting class.
Oregon St. has signed Jackson Soto to its stellar 2014 recruiting class.

The primary focus during the early signing period for National Letters of Intent is basketball, and Oregon St. landed a pair of notables there, but baseball is also in play, and the Beavers also have the paperwork in place on what they expect to be another in a long line of notable third basemen.

Jackson Soto, from nearby Albany, OR, who has been a verbal commitment to Pat Casey's program, is now officially on board, having signed his LOI.

Soto, who played for West Albany High, is a 195 lb. multi-sport athlete, but he's considering skipping wrestling this winter, after placing at state twice (!), in order to prepare for the upcoming high school baseball season.

Playing for the Mid-Valley Rockets American Legion baseball team last summer, Soto led the team in batting average, .435, on-base percentage, .561, slugging percentage, .746, home runs, 7, and runs batted in, 39.

The one thing that could change Soto's plans to play for Casey is this spring's Major League Baseball draft in June, in which most expect Soto to be taken at some point. Whether it will be high enough to include a large enough signing bonus to make turning pro a better business season remains to be seen, but is a possibility.

Soto chose Oregon St. over other Pac-12 Northwest rivals Oregon, Washington, and Washington St., as well as Stanford, and Big West perennial contender Cal-St. Fullerton.

After returning to the College World Series this past season, Casey has a 2013 recruiting class that Baseball America has ranked the 5th best in the country, but if he doesn't lose them to the draft, Casey believes the 2014-15 academic year (2015 baseball) class will be even better.

Soto would be 1 of at least 4 Oregon products in that class, joining Jesuit left handed pitcher Christian Martinek, Putnam middle infielder Trace Loehr, considered the top high school prospect in the state, and South Salem pitcher Sam Tweedt. A 5th., Elliott Carey, is a transfer this season from Florida to Clackamas High.

"We are always looking for the best players we can get," Casey said. "Finding these guys in our home state is outstanding."

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com