RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Recent high-school graduate Nicholas Rivera (Staten Island, N.Y./La Salle Academy) and transfer students Justin Tucker (Neptune, N.J./Neptune) and Shawn Vazquez (Vineland, N.J./Vineland) signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) to continue their baseball careers at Felician University during the NCAA's recently-concluded 2018-19 signing period, Felician head coach Chris Langan announced today.
Felician is a member of NCAA Division II and competes in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). The Golden Falcons have won each of the last four CACC regular-season league or South Division championships and reached the NCAA Tournament following three of those seasons.
Rivera, a 5-foot-10, 150-pound outfielder/pitcher, played baseball and basketball at La Salle Academy of New York City and summer travel baseball for the Brooklyn Bonnies. He hit .326 with 27 stolen bases for the Cardinals in 2019. Rivera is undecided on a major course of study. His older brother, Tony Rivera Jr., recently completed a two-year pitching career for Felician. "Nick projects as a two-way player in college," said Langan, entering his 17th season. "He comes to us with a mid-80s (mile-per-hour) fastball, and in the outfield is a plus runner and defender."
Tucker was 3-1 with one save during two seasons at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, for which he was primarily a relief pitcher. The 6-foot, 162-pound left-hander is a 2017 graduate of Neptune High. He was an all-Division choice and played in the Shore Baseball Coaches Association Senior All-Star game that year. At Felician, he intends to major in communications. "Justin has a mid- to upper-80s type of arm," Langan said. "He can be an impact guy right away and will compete for a spot in our rotation."
Vazquez is a 6-foot-1, 220-pound catcher and a 2017 Vineland High product. He has played one season each for Cumberland County College in Vineland and Clarendon (Texas) College, and combined for a .316 batting average, 11 home runs and 59 runs batted in over 193 at-bats during his junior college career. Vazquez expects to study business administration. "Shawn is a promising catcher who can handle what we expect to be another strong pitching staff. He also has the ability to be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter."
Langan also announced on Tuesday that two additional rising freshmen – pitcher Ryan Kurczeski (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Township) and outfielder Michael Kuver (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) – have been accepted to Felician and intend to play baseball.
Rivera, Tucker and Vazquez increase the number of scholarship newcomers to the 2020 Felician baseball team to 10. Seven rising freshmen – pitchers Jeyco Grullon (Brooklyn, N.Y./Fort Hamilton), Jake Miller (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill West) and Quinten Romo (Wellington, Fla./Royal Palm Beach); infielders Christopher Polgano (Bronx, N.Y./St. Raymond) and Alex Torres (Jackson, N.J./Jackson Liberty); and outfielders Tyler Bruno (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) and Hakim Salaam (Vineland, N.J./Archbishop Ryan [Pa.]) – committed to the Golden Falcons during the first three weeks of the signing period in November and December.
Felician expects to begin the 2020 season with a four-game trip Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Feb. 20-23.
Felician University engages more than 2,400 undergraduate, graduate, and adult students through programs in Arts & Sciences, Business, Nursing, and Education. Universal Franciscan values of respect, social justice, and compassion form an inclusive foundation for transforming the lives of tomorrow's leaders. Felician University was ranked 3rd-best return on investment for private colleges in New Jersey in 2018 by the PayScale.com College ROI Report and is ranked the No. 1 safest college campus in the state by niche.com. Felician also sponsors 14 varsity intercollegiate sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level. To learn more about Felician University please visit www.felician.edu.