Gophers sign four to letters of intent for 2006 season

Minnesota baseball coach John Anderson announced Wednesday the signing of four players to national letters of intent.

Nate Hanson, Dan Lyons, Chuck Lukanen and Tyler Oakes will all be eligible to play for the Gophers beginning in the 2006 season.

Hanson, an infielder from Eden Prairie, Minn., led his high school team to a Class 3A state title and his Eden Prairie American Legion team to the American Legion World Series during the summer. He batted .478 with 27 runs, five home runs and 27 RBIs during his junior season.

Lukanen is a pitcher from Apple Valley, Minn., who was 5-4 with a 3.60 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 48 innings last year at Eastview High School.

Lyons is an infielder from Rochester, Minn., who is currently a sophomore at Iowa Central Community College. He stole 32 bases in 51 games this last season with the Rochester Honkers of the Northwoods League.

Oakes, the son of Gophers pitching coach Todd Oakes, is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound, right-handed pitcher from Jordan, Minn. Tyler Oakes was 8-0 with a 0.93 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 75 innings this past summer in Legion ball.

“Obviously, we tried to look for people who are good matches for our program based in terms of our philosophy and the institution as a whole,” Anderson said in a release. “I think all four of these young men are great matches for our program.”

Hunter on watch list

Junior first baseman Andy Hunter was named one of 58 players on the watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award, presented annually to the top collegiate player in the nation.

The list will be trimmed to 12 by May 24 and three by June 16.

Hunter batted .366 last season, driving in 66 runs to lead the Big Ten. He was third in slugging percentage (.606), tied for sixth in hits (79) and second in doubles (20).