Kyle Benoit has attracted tremendous attention in recent months both from college coaches and major league scouts.
Next fall, the hard-throwing righthander from Brampton, Ontario, will be attending the University of Maine.
Benoit, a former hockey player who only a year ago began to play baseball seriously, is among three players who have signed National Letters of Intent to play for coach Steve Trimper.
Trimper didn’t hold back when talking about the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder.
“He will have an absolute immediate impact on University of Maine baseball,” Trimper said. “I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be a dominant pitcher in the conference and probably nationally.”
The other recent signees are righthanders Matt Jebb, a teammate of Benoit’s on Team Canada, and Greg Doonan of Wallingford, Conn.
UMaine rekindled its Canada connection last fall when Bears graduate assistant coach Aaron Izaryk heard about Benoit from a friend in Ontario. With the help of former Bears assistant Greg Hamilton, the head coach of Team Canada, UMaine began recruiting him in earnest.
Because Benoit had concentrated on hockey and hadn’t pitched much, he wasn’t a well-known baseball commodity until Team Canada played against major league extended spring training teams last month in Florida. His fastball was clocked in the 91-96 mph range.
After that, Florida, Kentucky, and Coastal Carolina all jumped in and tried to recruit him. He chose UMaine.
Trimper said Benoit, who also throws a split-fingered fastball and a changeup, is expected to be drafted in the top 10 rounds of the major league draft. However, the 18-year-old has stated emphatically he will not sign a pro contract and will attend UMaine in the fall.
Benoit, originally from Newfoundland, is related to former UMaine hockey standout Teddy Purcell, Trimper said.
Jebb is a 6-6, 235-pound pitcher from Toronto. He throws in the mid to upper 80s and features an outstanding breaking ball.
“Matt is a pitcher who has a lot of potential to be a very successful Division I pitcher and is also an outstanding student,” Trimper said.
Doonan (6-5, 210) is a transfer from UConn Avery Point who possesses a good curveball.
“With two years of collegiate pitching experience at Avery Point, Greg adds depth to our pitching staff,” Trimper said.