State Report: Arkansas




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Arkansas reached the College World Series for the first time since 2004, but most of the Razorbacks' best prospects (righthander Brett Eibner, third baseman Zack Cox, first baseman Andy Wilkins, lefthander Drew Smyly) aren't eligible for the draft. Ace lefthander Dallas Keuchel is the only player in the state with a chance to go in the first five rounds, though the Hogs do boast the top three college prospects and have commitments from the three best high schoolers.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Dallas Keuchel, lhp, Arkansas (National Rank: 186)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. D.J. Baxendale, rhp, Sylvan Hills HS, Sherwood
3. Stephen Richards, lhp, Arkansas
4. Michael Bolsinger, rhp, Arkansas
5. Chase Ware, rhp, Arkansas State
6. Ben Crumpton, ss, Lakeside HS, Hot Springs
7. Ben Tschepikow, 2b, Arkansas
8. Jake Sullivan, lhp, Arkansas-Little Rock
9. Franco Broyles, of, Fayetteville HS
10. T.J. Forrest, rhp, Arkansas
11. Scott Lyons, ss, Arkansas
12. Chase Huchingson, lhp/of, Arkansas-Fort Smith JC
13. Kameron Walker, of, Jonesboro HS
14. Matt Vinson, ss, Alma HS
15. Ryan Cisterna, c, Arkansas

SCOUTING REPORTS

DALLAS KEUCHEL, LHP, ARKANSAS

Keuchel has been a solid contributor for Arkansas since his freshman season and has stood out in the Cape Cod League, leading the summer circuit in innings pitched in 2007 and earning all-star recognition in 2008. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has picked up a little velocity on his fastball in the last year, now working in the high 80s and touching 91, but he remains a finesse pitcher. He gets good sink on his fastball and locates it well, enabling him to set up a changeup that grades as his best offering. His curveball is fringy, though that's less of an issue for a southpaw who will face righty-dominated lineups. He doesn't have as much stuff and size as former Razorbacks lefty Nick Schmidt, a Padres first-round pick in 2007, but Keuchel has the same competitive edge and workhorse mentality. His pitchability and determination could make him a No. 4 starter in the big leagues, and he could get drafted as early as the fourth or fifth round.

Baxendale Exudes Polish

Righthander D.J. Baxendale pitched Sylvan Hills High to the state 6-A title in 2008 and a 5-A runner-up finish this year. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder has room for projection and already works in the high 80s and touches 92 mph with his fastball. The Arkansas recruit is polished for a high schooler, throwing strikes with his slurvy slider and his changeup.

Lefthanded Stephen Richards is a 5-foot-11, 175-pound reliever, and his stuff is good enough to get him drafted between the sixth and 10th rounds. His slider is a legitimate out pitch, and he sets it up with an 88-91 mph fastball. Going into the College World Series, he was 5-1, 1.09 with nine saves and 48 strikeouts in 33 innings.

Righthander Michael Bolsinger pitched five shutout innings of relief to beat Florida State in the first game of the NCAA super regionals. The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder has touched 95 mph in the past, but now operates at 88-90 mph with a sinker. He throws strikes with his two-seam fastball and a slurvy slider, and he competes. He projects as a middle reliever in pro ball.

Righthander Chase Ware has shown stuff similar to what he had in 2008, when the Giants drafted him in the 50th round. His changeup may be his best pitch, and the senior also touches 90 mph with his fastball and has a marginal curveball. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, he's built for durability.

The state's top position player is shortstop Ben Crumpton, who has committed to Arkansas. A star wide receiver for Lakeside HS, he caught 55 passes for 1,067 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall. He's a good athlete with plus speed, though his bat and instincts need work. At 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, he'll have to prove he's strong enough to handle quality pitching.

Another Arkansas recruit, outfielder Franco Broyles, is the grandson of former Razorbacks football coach and athletic director Frank Broyles. Franco led Fayetteville High to state 7-A championships in each of the last three seasons, hitting the championship-winning homer in 2007 and driving in both runs in the 2-0 finale this spring. He's a 6-foot-1, 185-pound athlete with good speed and a promising bat. He also starred as a wide receiver and defensive back in football.