By Jim Callis
(Talent Ranking: ** out of five) Though the University of Arkansas made a surprising run to the top of the Southeastern Conference, the Razorbacks don't have any standout draft prospects. Neither does the state as a whole. Hard-throwing righthander Josh Smith projected as the state's top draft pick before Tommy John surgery in March. Now that distinction belongs to teammate Jay Sawatski, a lefty whose best pitch is a slider. He'll go from the sixth to 10th round as a senior sign.
Projected First-Round Picks
Second- To Fifth-Round Talent
Others To Watch
• LHP Jay Sawatski didn't make the all-SEC first or second team, but he was the Razorbacks' most valuable component as they tied for the regular-season title. Pitching in a swing role, he earned a win or save in 10 of the Razorbacks' 19 SEC victories. He's a bulldog who throws strikes with a sharp slider and a fastball that sits at 88-90 mph and can reach 93 when he comes out of the bullpen. As a senior, he won't cost much to sign. He's the grandson of Carl Sawatski, who spent 11 seasons in the majors as a catcher and later became president of the Texas League.
• 3B Brad Hayes, who was battling for the Sun Belt Conference batting title with a .400 average through the end of the regular season, is the top hitter in the state. His righthanded swing should translate to wood, and he has gap power and an average arm.
• SS Blake Honey, the state's top high school prospect, moved from Missoula, Mont., to Arkansas for his senior year. He's a true shortstop with some pop in his bat.
• Cs Brady Toops and Matthew Clarkson stand out for their catch-and-throw skills but have to prove they can hit at the pro level. Toops, the SEC baseball scholar-athlete of the year, threw out 23 of 48 (48 percent) of basestealers during the regular season. Clarkson was a Red Sox 28th-round pick out of high school two years ago.
• 3B Clay Goodwin and SS Scott Hode bat third and fourth in the Arkansas lineup. Goodwin is a switch-hitter who controls the strike zone and produces line drives, but he'll need to hit for more power as a pro. Hode is an offensive-minded gamer who might have to move to second base at the next level.
• RHP Ryan Hamilton has a rubber arm and is deceptive. He throws 86-88 mph, but he gets righthanders out with his slurve and lefties out with the run on his fastball and changeup. His 82-22 strikeout-walk ratio in 64 innings could attract stat-minded teams.
• Arkansas-Little Rock has four senior sign candidates. The best is RHP Travis Trammell, a 6-foot-5, 235-pounder who throws his 88-92 mph fastball and his hard curveball for strikes. 2B Chris Becker and SS Matt Spatafora, both Canadians, played together for two years at Texarkana (Ark.) JC before being reunited this spring. Becker shows good hands at the plate and in the field. Spatafora, who faces a move to second base, doesn't have a standout tool but plays hard and has good instincts. RHP Brad Cherry fanned 158 in 117 combined innings as a sophomore and junior before tailing off as a fifth-year senior. He still throws 88-92 mph and has a hard curveball that's tough when it's on.
• Besides Clarkson, Arkansas-Fort Smith JC has several other interesting prospects. OF/1B Derek Chambers has a sweet lefthanded swing and a .419 average, but he may not show enough home run power for a team to lure him away from moving on to Missouri. Though RHP Derik Drewett hasn't had much success as a freshman, he's a projectable 6-foot-5, throws 90-91 mph and has a decent slider. He's under control to the Cardinals, who took him in the 22nd round a year ago. OF Craig Gentry, who's headed to Arkansas, is a speedster with plus arm strength who's raw at the plate.
• RHP Dylan Moseley's older brother Dustin was a Reds supplemental first-round pick in 2000, but Dylan isn't nearly as polished. He throws 85-86 mph.
• RHP Jeremy Burba went 15-0 to help Batesville win the Arkansas 4-A title. He has an 86-88 mph fastball and a feel for his secondary pitches.
• SS Ben Tschepikow is the state's most polished high schooler, but he missed his senior season after injuring his wrist playing basketball. Also a wide receiver, he's athletic and has solid tools across the board. His lack of exposure this year makes him more likely to matriculate at Arkansas than turn pro.
• Arkansas 1B Haas Pratt has a pro body at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds but has never shown the power scouts have hoped for.