The East Texas Pump Jacks turned their attention westward Monday, announcing the signing of a top young slugger and one of the west’s best starting pitchers.
Marcus Pointer, a pitcher at the University of the Pacific, and third baseman R.J. Arnold from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, will make the trek to East Texas for the 2010 season.
Pump Jacks head coach Ben Taylor believes both players will play important roles this summer.
“Pointer is a top-of-the-rotation starter,” said head coach Ben Taylor. “He’s an experienced player who can anchor our staff this season.
“Arnold may be a freshman, but he’s playing like a veteran already this spring,” added the second-year skipper. “He has a chance to continue the growing Pump Jacks tradition at third base.”
Arnold is looking to succeed Matt Juengel, who last year captured TCL Freshman of the Year and All-TCL honors as the Jacks’ third baseman. In 2008, Paige Hodges was also named to the All-TCL team at the hot corner.
The UNLV freshman has kicked off his collegiate career with a bang, batting .418 while appearing in 17 of UNLV’s 18 games this season. He is tied with former Pump Jack and current TCU star Matt Curry atop the Mountain West Conference with five home runs. He also ranks among the conference leaders in hits (28), runs (20), RBI (22), and slugging percentage (.701).
Arnold has already had a season full of highlights in the spring’s first month. In just his fourth career start, Arnold crushed two homers, drove in six runs, and scored five more while going 4-for-5 against Temple. He posted a five-hit game a week later against Columbia. He strung together a twelve-game hitting streak that came to an end this past weekend against Northwestern – and then rebounded the next day with three hits in five at-bats.
Arnold starred at North View High School in his hometown of Covina, Calif., where he batted .480 with seven home runs and 25 extra-base hits as a senior. Arnold was twice named to the prestigious all-CIF team and three times to the all-league squad. He helped lead the Vikings to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section title in 2008.
While Arnold moved to Las Vegas for his college career, Pointer is a California native who continues to thrive in the Golden State. A junior transfer at Pacific, he has made four starts for the Tigers – and won every one. He’s posted a 1.91 ERA, third in the Big West conference, and his .144 opponents’ batting average is best in the league. In 28.1 innings, he’s allowed only 14 hits with 17 strikeouts.
Pointer’s last outing was his best yet this season. In Pacific’s first game at Notre Dame’s Irish Baseball Classic on Thursday, he tossed a complete-game three-hitter against Gonzaga. He walked one and allowed just one run, striking out six. The Tigers defeated Gonzaga, 6-1, and beat Notre Dame twice to capture the tournament title.
Pointer transferred from Skyline Junior College, where he was named a junior college All-American in 2009. Last spring, he went 9-3 with a 3.71 ERA, striking out 118 in 104.1 inning pitched. He led the Trojans in wins, starts, and complete games, finishing second in innings and strikeouts, to earn the Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year award.
He also went 10-5 as a freshman, posting a 4.24 ERA. Pointer left Skyline second on the school’s all-time wins list.
Pointer prepped at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., a school with some distinguished alumni. All-time major league home run king Barry Bonds played at Junipero Serra, as did longtime big leaguer Gregg Jefferies and former major league player and manager Jim Fregosi.
The San Francisco-area native made quite a name for himself, too, going 10-0 as a senior to earn the league Pitcher of the Year award. He helped lead the Padres to back-to-back league titles, in the process earning all-league and all-county honors.
Pointer and Arnold join a strong core for the Pump Jacks that includes returning All-TCL performers Greg Fontenot (University of Louisiana-Lafayette) and Russell LaFleur (Missouri). This season’s Jacks also include East Texas natives and Nebraska hurlers Chase Adams and Khris Tate, and McNeese State outfielder Lee Orr, a Freshman All-American in 2009.
The Pump Jacks will open the 2010 season on Wednesday, June 2, when they visit the defending TCL regular season champion Victoria Generals.
The Jacks’ home opener is scheduled for Friday, June 4, against the expansion Texas Tomcats. East Texas will play a 56-game season in 2010 with 28 home games, both record highs. The full schedule can be found by clicking here.
Season tickets for the 2010 season are on sale now. Despite the longer schedule, season ticket prices have not changed since the Pump Jacks arrived in East Texas in 2008. Prices start at $105 – and $85 for children and seniors – saving fans as much as 25%. Season ticket information and an order form can be found here.
To follow all the Pump Jacks off-season news, including player announcements, promotions, and preparations for the upcoming season, log on to the team’s official web site at www.pumpjacksbaseball.com.