Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 | 2:30 p.m.
When Tim Chambers took over the UNLV baseball program following the 2010 season, he knew that the first step toward building a nationally-recognized product was to excel in recruiting from the deep local talent pool.
Last season, he was able to haul in several newcomers through his über-successful College of Southern Nevada pipeline.
Now, he's pulling in the top prep ballplayers the valley has to offer.
Collegiate Baseball ranks UNLV's 2011 recruiting class No. 32 in the nation, which is just three spots behind Mountain West powerhouse TCU.
"It's a great step towards building the program up," Chambers said. "We are excited and honored to be listed, but it needs to translate on the field. We need to continue to be aggressive in recruiting and then develop these recruits so that they reach their maximum potential.
This year's class is made up of 11 freshmen and one junior college transfer, including four freshmen who were selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball amateur draft. All four — Zak Qualls, Brandon Pletsch, Eric Fedde and Scott Thomassetti — opted to enroll at UNLV rather than turn pro, meaning they won't be eligible for the draft again until after their junior seasons.
Qualls, a left-handed pitcher who is in the running for a spot in the Rebels' starting rotation, was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 21st round. Pletsch, a speedy shortstop, was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 34th round. The two were teammates at Rancho High.
Fedde was a 24th round pick of the San Diego Padres' following a stellar career as a right-handed starting pitcher at Las Vegas High.
Tomassetti, who hit .449 with 15 home runs and 70 RBI as a senior at Sierra Vista High, was tapped by the Phillies in the 46th round.
UNLV went 33-25 overall and 10-13 in Mountain West play in Chambers' first season at the helm, and will open the 2012 season on Feb. 12 with a three-game series at Loyola Marymount. Their 2012 home opener takes place on Feb. 28 vs. Cal State Bakersfield.