Arkansas Righthander, 2022 Draft Prospect Peyton Pallette Out For Season With UCL Injury
The 2022 draft class and college baseball world received tough injury news Thursday morning.
Arkansas righthander Peyton Pallette will miss the 2022 season with an ulnar collateral ligament injury that will require Tommy John surgery.
Pallette was projected to be the Friday night starter for the Razorbacks and was ranked as the No. 2 college arm and the No. 13 overall prospect in the 2022 draft class on our recently released top 100 draft list.
Pallette already faced durability concerns from scouts prior to this news, but when healthy and on the mound he was one of the more electric arms in college baseball. Last spring, Pallette posted a 4.02 ERA over 56 innings and 11 starts while striking out 67 batters (10.8 K/9) and walking 20 (3.2 BB/9). After throwing just 5.2 innings during the Covid-shortened 2020 spring season, Pallette will now have only 61.2 total innings on his resume for the draft this summer.
Still, as we recently wrote about in-depth, Pallette’s stuff and arm talent are exceptional. He has been up to 99 mph and sits in the 93-95 mph range with impressive vertical break on his fastball. He also owned arguably the best breaking ball in the class—a 79-81 mph curve with standout spin rates that generated whiffs at a 44% rate last spring.
While it’s unlikely that he now is the first pitcher off the board, there’s a reasonable track record of high-profile, injured pitchers still being drafted among the first two rounds. Louisiana State righthander Jaden Hill signed for just under $1.7 million in the second round in 2021 after having Tommy John surgery and Mississippi State righthander J.T. Ginn signed for $2.9 million in the second round in 2020 after having the same procedure.
Both players were similarly regarded entering their draft years, and Pallette’s resume as a college starter is squarely in between the two.
This injury further depletes a college pitching class that has already suffered the losses of Alabama lefthander Connor Prielipp and Connecticut lefthander Reggie Crawford. Prielipp was a No. 1 overall candidate for the class before having Tommy John surgery last spring that ended his season, while Crawford was arguably the most electric pitcher scouts saw last summer, but has thrown just eight total innings with Connecticut and also required Tommy John surgery last year.
The news is a big blow for Arkansas, as well. The Razorbacks already were replacing relief ace Kevin Kopps, the 2021 Golden Spikes Award winner, and starting pitchers Patrick Wicklander and Lael Lockhart, who are now in pro ball, as well as swingman Caleb Bolden, who transferred to Texas Christian. Now without Pallette, Arkansas enters the 2022 season without its top five pitchers by innings pitched from last spring.
The Razorbacks will need young pitchers like sophomore righthander Jaxon Wiggins, who was inconsistent as a freshman but pitched for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team over the summer, and freshmen Nick Moten and Hagen Smith to step up. Those young pitchers will benefit from Arkansas’ powerful offense, which is one of the best in the country, and strong defense. But for the Razorbacks to make a run at repeating as SEC champions, they will need to quickly re-work their pitching staff.