Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Jaksa Lands Five in Early Signing Period

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – The Central Michigan baseball program added five student athletes to its roster Wednesday as a part of the early signing period, head coach Steve Jaksa announced.

The five student athletes include Blake Cleveland (Nappanee, Ind./Northwood), Dazon Cole (Pontiac, Mich./West Bloomfield), Daniel Jipping (Canton, Mich./Plymouth Christian Academy), Pat Leatherman (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) and Zach McKinstry (Fort Wayne, Ind./North Side).

“We are very, very pleased with this five and we’re excited about what we are bringing in,” Jaksa said. “We tell all our guys when we recruit them they better be ready to play right away. Based on the team we have and where we will be in 2014-15, we have put together a versatile group that will help our program for four years.”

A complete bio of all five student-athletes is below

Blake Cleveland
6-0 • 195
Catcher • R/R
Nappanee, Ind. • Northwood HS
High School:
Rated No. 79 prospect in state of Indiana by Prep Baseball Report … hit .500 with 10 doubles and four home runs as a junior to earn First Team All-Northern Lakes Conference honors … also earned first-team all conference as a sophomore after hitting .354 with 21 doubles, seven home runs and 68 RBI … three-year varsity starter … also plays third base and first base for head coach Zach Benko of Northwood High School … played summer ball for Michiana Clippers (2007-12) and Michiana Scrapper (2013) under coach Todd Marazita.

Coach Jaksa says: “Workaholic catcher. He is exactly what you look for in a catcher. He continued to work through an injury and his arm strength just kept getting better and better. Every time he came to our camps we just came away impressed and we believe he’s going to be a great complement to the catchers we have on our roster.”


Dazon Cole
5-10 • 165
Pontiac, Mich. • West Bloomfield HS

High School: Rated No. 339 prospect nationally and No. 2 in state of Michigan by Perfect Game … rated No. 49 prospect in the Midwest and No. 3 in state of Michigan by Prep Baseball Report … two-time All-OAA Gold Division and All-District honoree … named All-North Oakland Area Honorable Mention as a sophomore … named by RBI Baseball, who is affiliated with Major League Baseball, to the Breakthrough Series, which gave him a chance to play at multiple major league parks as a part of the RBI World Series … hit .411 with three home runs, 11 doubles, four triples and 21 stolen bases as a junior, while posting a 1.47 ERA, four complete games and 77 strikeouts in 43 innings pitches on the mound … plays for Eddie Dewalt of Bloomfield Hills High School … plays summer ball for the Michigan Bulls.

Coach Jaksa says: “We saw Dazon many years ago and we really fell in love with him. We envision him as a middle infield guy that can come in and finish games for us on the mound. He’s a right handed hitter that runs very well and his work ethic is off the chart. He has worked really hard to put himself on the map and we are very pleased to have him on board.”


Daniel Jipping
6-3 • 215
Canton, Mich. • Plymouth Christian Academy

High School: Rated No. 128 prospect in the Midwest and No. 12 in the state of Michigan by Prep Baseball Report … two-time first-team all conference … earned all-area honors following junior season … three-time first-team all-district selection … hit .673 with eight doubles, nine triples, seven home runs and 46 stolen bases as a junior to earn league most valuable player honors … has batted .594 with 34 doubles, 12 triples, 18 home runs and 84 stolen bases during varsity career … won home run derby at the 18U Black Swamp Tournament … named captain of team as a junior … plays summer ball for the Michigan Bulls under coach Sean Gallagher … high school coach is Joe Bottorff … has also earned all-conference honorable mention honors in football and basketball.

Coach Jaksa says: “What a physical kid. The ball really carries for him and he has a ton of pop in his bat. He plays for a smaller school, but we were able to see him play for the Michigan Bulls and came away very impressed. We think he projects as a corner outfielder as his arm strength continues to improve.”


Pat Leatherman
6-4 • 210
Jenison, Mich. • Jenison HS

High School: Rated No. 500 prospect nationally and No. 6 in the state of Michigan by Perfect Game … rstruck out 47 batters over 33 innings pitched as a junior … three-year varsity starter … threw a no hitter in first varsity game as a sophomore versus Muskegon High School … plays summer ball for Elite Gold (18u) under coach Jim Abbott … high school coach is Joe DeVries.

Coach Jaksa says: “A kid that just keeps getting better. We were waiting to see him blossom and his skills came into his athletic build. He has worked closely with Dan Taylor [former CMU player] and we believe he’s going to be a tremendous right-handed pitcher for us.” 


Zach McKinstry
6-0 • 160
SS/2B • LR
Fort Wayne, Ind. • North Side HS

High School: Rated in the top 1,000 nationally and No. 21 in the state of Indiana by Perfect Game ... rated No. 77 in the Midwest and No. 8 prospect in the state of Indiana by Prep Baseball Report … three-time all-conference selection … named to All-Area team as a junior after hitting .595 with 17 stolen bases and 44 total hits … has 111 hits, 25 doubles, six triples, three home runs, 82 runs scored, 46 stolen bases and 39 RBI in three-year varsity career … plays summer ball for Fort Wayne Cubs … high school coach is Alex McKinstry.

Coach Jaksa says: “He is an outstanding student first and foremost. We saw him at a couple showcases and he is a very smooth fielding infielder that can hit. We believe he will have a big impact on our program very early.”