Baseball Welcomes 14 Newcomers for 2022 Season

App State Launches “The Rock Garden” Premium Field-Level Seating
August 27, 2021
Orville Gregory Blevins
August 27, 2021
Baseball Welcomes 14 Newcomers for 2022 Season


BOONE, N.C. – App State baseball is pleased to announce the student-athlete editions for the upcoming 2022 season.

The Mountaineers welcome a total of 14 newcomers, three freshmen and 11 transfers, after earning the first-ever Sun Belt Tournament win a season ago. Ten of the 14 newcomers are natives of the Tar Heel State.

“We are very excited to have these young men join our family,” head coach Kemit Smith said. “It was truly a team effort to complete this class. Without the assistance from our compliance office, our academic team, our administration, our coaching staff and our admissions office, this would not have been possible.

The thing I like the most about this class is that it has a little bit of everything. Every student-athlete has a great story about what led them to the High Country. I’m really looking forward to watching their journey over the next couple of years.”

The three incoming freshmen are Braxton Church, RJ Johnson and Seth Whitley.

Braxton Church: (Freshman, C)

Braxton Church is a North Wilkesboro native who competed for West Wilkes High School. As a West Wilkes senior catcher, Church averaged .475, tallying nine doubles, one triple, and three home runs.

He was named to the HighSchoolOT’s All-State Third Team which features the best high school players from across all state associations.

RJ Johnson: (Freshman, OF)

RJ Johnson is a speedy outfielder from the Kerr-Vance Academy out of Henderson, North Carolina. Johnson boasted a .512 batting average for the Spartans in 2021, tallying 17 RBIs, belting four home runs and scoring 29 runs.

On the base paths, Johnson recorded a total of 35 stolen bases. He was named to the HighSchoolOT’s All-State First Team.

Johnson was also named the Tar River Preps 2020-2021 Baseball Player of the Year helping Kerr-Vance clinch its fourth straight state title.

Seth Whitley: (Freshman, RHP)

The third and final incoming freshman is Seth Whitley, a right-handed pitcher from Maiden, North Carolina. Whitley led North Lincoln High School to an 11-4 overall record and a playoff appearance in 2021.

He had four appearances on the mound accumulating a 3.32 ERA and a 1-0 record. Whitley tossed 19 innings in 2021 fanning a total of 31 batters. Whitley recorded an 8-3 record on the bump as a sophomore and finished with a high school career ERA of 1.94, according to

The 11 transfers are Alex Aguila, Tim Cao, Cameron Carter, Caleb Cross, Xander Hamilton, Trey Jernigan, Grey LaSpaluto, Alex Reed, Dylan Rogers, Austin St. Laurent and Jacob Whitley.

Alex Aguila: (Junior, INF)

Alex Aguila is a Hillsborough Community College transfer where he competed in 32 games averaging .323 up at the plate to go along with an on-base percentage of .455. He drew 19 walks, stole 11 bases, scored 22 runs and recorded 14 RBIs in 96 at-bats for the Hawks.

Before transferring to Hillsborough, Aguila was originally a VCU Ram. He played in 11 games as a freshman for the Rams, earning a total of four starts at shortstop. Agulia scored three runs in 16 plate appearances and drove in a RBI in a VCU win over both Charlotte and Sacred Heart.

The Hialeah, Florida native attended the Elite Squad Academy and was ranked the No. 16 shortstop in the Sunshine State coming out of high school. He was named a 2019 Perfect Game Preseason All-American.

Tim Cao: (Sophomore, RHP)

Tim Cao is a NC State and Walters State Community College transfer from Oak Ridge, North Carolina. He did not compete for the Wolfpack as a freshman in 2020. Cao made one appearance for Walters State in 2021.

Cao attended Northwest Guilford High School compiling an ERA of 2.52 during his last three years of his high school career. He batted .250 as a senior and was named all-conference in 2017 and 2018.

Cameron Carter: (Sophomore, RHP)

Cameron Carter hurled team-leading 81.2 innings for Seminole State in 18 total appearances in 2021. Carter amassed a 5-3 overall record, tallied 71 strikeouts and produced a 4.08 ERA as a freshman.

The Seminole State transfer averaged 7.82 strikeouts per nine frames. He attended Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia, earning a Region 7A Pitcher of the Year Award honors.

Caleb Cross: (Sophomore, RHP)

Caleb will now join his brother Hayden upon the mountain after transferring from UNC-Asheville.

Caleb, a right-handed pitcher from Sanford, North Carolina, appeared in 13 games for the Bulldogs and made one start on the mound. He recorded 19.2 innings, struck out 11, and held opposing hitters to a .278 batting average in 2021.

He tossed more than one inning in eight of his 13 outings and finished his freshman season with a 5.03 ERA.

Xander Hamilton: (Sophomore, RHP/UTIL)

Xander Hamliton is a Virginia Tech transfer who played two seasons with the Hokies as a right-handed pitcher. Hamilton made nine relief appearances on the mound with four of his nine appearances coming against ACC opponents.

Hamilton held a career ERA of 5.40 for the Hokies accounting for 6.2 innings of work.

The right-hander was named the Cap 7 Pitcher of the Year as a high school senior for Needham B. Broughton. Hamilton recorded a 5-3 record, a 1.80 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 54.1 innings during his senior year of high school.

Trey Jernigan: (Grad Transfer, RHP)

Trey Jernigan is a grad transfer from UNC-Asheville. The right-handed pitcher made 58 appearances and three starts on the bump for the Bulldogs.

In four seasons with the Bulldogs, the Greenville, North Carolina native recorded a career ERA of 9.00 with a season-best ERA of 5.50 during his senior season. In 2021, Jernigan made a team-high 20 appearances, tossing more than one inning in 12 of those appearances and fanning 32 batters in 36 innings of work.

This summer, Jernigan helped the Coastal Plain League’s Morehead City Marlins clinch the West Division Title en route to the Pettit Cup Championship series. He pitched 15.1 innings for the Marlins boasting a 2-0 record, one save and 16 strikeouts.

Grey LaSpaluto: (Sophomore, RHP/INF)

Grey LaSpaluto comes to App State by the way of a Gardner-Webb and a Chattanooga State Community College transfer. The shortstop played 37 games for Chattanooga State in 2021 averaging .360 up at the dish.

LaSpaluto drove in 20 runs and hit three home runs. The two-way JUCO player also tossed 23.1 innings striking out 7.71 batters per game.

He attended Apex Friendship High School in Apex, North Carolina. LaSpaluto led his high school squad in hits, doubles, triples, walks and also earned academic all-conference honors.

Alex Reed: (Junior, INF)

Alex Reed is a JUCO transfer from Brunswick Community College and a Chester, South Carolina native. In two seasons with Brunswick, the first baseman averaged .321 up at the plate, tallied 52 RBIs and knocked 11 home runs.

Reed attended Lewisville High School in Richburg, South Carolina and was named all-state in his junior and senior seasons, winning a state championship during his senior campaign.

Dylan Rogers: (Sophomore, OF)

Dylan Rogers will now dawn the Black and Gold after attending Chattahoochee Valley Community College. Out of high school, the Spartanburg, South Carolina native was originally a Kentucky commit.

Rogers lit up the Appalachian League, a MLB and USA Baseball prospect developmental pipeline, this summer for the Princeton WhistlePigs. He belted a three-run home run in the 2021 Appalachian League All-Star Game. Rogers was named to the 2021 All-Appalachian League Team as an outfielder.

He held a .405 batting average for Chattahoochee Valley in 2021, boasting a slugging percentage of .647. Rodgers recorded seven home runs, three triples, and 10 doubles in his 62 hits.

Rodgers led his squad in stolen bases with five and was also named to the Alabama Community College Conference All-South Team.

Austin St. Laurent: (Redshirt Freshman, INF)

Austin St. Laurent joins Kermit Smith‘s squad after a freshman stint with East Carolina.

The North Carolina native infielder attended Western Alamance High School earning five total letters, four in baseball and one in football. He was named team captain at Western Alamance his senior year and helped the Warriors to a four-year composite record of 64-24 with 35 conference wins.

St. Laurent was a member of the 2018 conference championship squad. He posted a .368 career batting average to go along with five home runs, three triples and 12 doubles.

This summer, he competed for the Carolina Disco Turkeys, a collegiate summer ball team and a member of the Textile League. There, he held a .478 on-base percentage and possessed the squad’s second-best batting average with a .321.

Jacob Whitley: (Grad Transfer, C)

Jacob Whitley arrives to the High Country as an UNC-Charlotte transfer. Whitley averaged a .244 career batting average for the 49ers.

He boasted a .522 average in 2021, making an appearance in 19 games behind the plate.. Whitley tallied 12 hits, three doubles and a home run in just 23 plate appearances.

Originally, Whitley transferred to Charlotte from that of Gardner-Webb. The Clemmons, North Carolina native played his high school ball at West Forsyth High School. As a West Forsyth Titan, he won two all-conference awards, back-to-back Defensive Player of Year award honors and helped the Titans win a state title in 2014.