Nebraska baseball nation’s Texas prep strikeout leader JC Gutierrez | Baseball

The pitcher who led the state of Texas in strikeouts last spring is coming to Nebraska.

JC Gutierrez — formerly a Texas Tech commit for nearly two years — becomes the latest and likely the last addition to a mega-sized Husker recruiting class that now sits at 25 members. The left-hander from La Joya, Texas, gave his pledge to Husker coaches earlier this month and confirmed his decision on Friday.

“Everyone there is excited for you to succeed and all the resources are there,” said Gutierrez, who visited the campus in late July. “Ultimately, that’s what I was looking for. That’s what really made me content. That’s what made me love Nebraska.”

Gutierrez dominated the biggest classification of prep baseball in Texas last season, striking out 153 batters and walking just 42 with a 2.30 earned-run average across 82 1/3 innings. Perfect Game ranks him the No. 115 lefties in his class nationally. He posted a 2.20 ERA across his high school career with 348 punchouts in 203 1/3 innings.

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The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder had been set to join Texas Tech until mid-July, when the program informed him in the wake of the major-league draft that scholarship money was no longer available. He knew of Nebraska through one of his longtime travel-ball teammates, Max Childress, the son of NU director of player development Rob Childress. Husker’s coaches reached out and he toured Lincoln soon after.

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Seeing a familiar face right away was a “major” factor in choosing Nebraska, he said.

“I had quite a few offers but nothing else where I felt like I belonged,” Gutierrez said. “Coming where I’m from, having a scholarship and not having your parents pay for college is a goal. I really didn’t want my parents to pay.”

Gutierrez will be living outside La Joya — a community of about 4,300 hugging the Mexico border near the southernmost tip of Texas — for the first time when he reports to Nebraska on Thursday.

He’ll arrive with no preconceived notions about his role. He’s willing to start, close or pitch anywhere in between, he said. He throws a fastball sitting around 88 to 90 mph along with a change-up, curveball and slider. The latter two offerings tend to induce the most swings and misses.

“On my travel team, I was old reliable,” Gutierrez said. “I go into a game with a mentality of we’re going to win and I have to put up zeros.”

Nebraska has now added two left-handed arms late in the process. Former Lincoln East ace Jalen Worthley was the other and also became available in mid-July after the school he was committed to, San Jose State, made a coaching change. Both recruits immediately become among the most intriguing new left-handed additions for the Huskers, who finished last season with three healthy southpaws and return six from the 2021 roster.

Gutierrez — whose given name is Juan Carlos — is anxious to complete the quick turnaround and get to work.

“There’s plenty to prove,” Gutierrez said. “I’m not a stats guy. I just try to perform to the best I can.”

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