Image credit: Gabe Gaeckle (Bill Mitchell)
While Arkansas’ recruiting class took a bit of a hit with Aidan Miller (first round, Philadelphia Phillies), Walker Martin (second round, San Francisco Giants) and Dylan Questad (fifth round, Minnesota Twins) all being drafted and subsequently signing, it still boasts one of the most impressive freshman classes in college baseball. Many are expected to contribute right away, including righthanded pitcher Gabe Gaeckle.
In 2022, Gaeckle had an outstanding showing on the summer circuit that culminated in a strong performance at the Area Code Games. He then went on to have one of the best spring seasons of any high school pitcher in the country to the tune of a minuscule 0.59 ERA and a sparkling strikeout-to-walk ratio of 117-to-9 across 59.1 innings. Gaeckle had interest as early as the second round of the draft, so needless to say that getting him to campus was a massive win for Coach Dave Van Horn and his staff.
Although a bit undersized at 5-foot-11 and 185-pounds, Gaeckle has a strong lower half and some physicality throughout his frame. A bulldog on the mound who is always in attack mode, Gaeckle pitches from a high–three quarter slot and has big-time arm speed with a short arm stroke.
Gaeckle has an electric arsenal and features a mid-90s fastball, high-70s power curveball and a mid-80s changeup. His fastball will sit in the 92-95 range, but this fall it has been up to 98. Gaeckle commands the pitch well, and it is at its best and generates the most swing-and-miss when located in the top half of the strike zone given its carrying life. Between its velocity and pitch traits, it would grade out as a plus offering.
Even with how good his fastball is, Gaeckle’s calling card is his power curveball. Its spin rates regularly eclipse the 3,000 rpm mark, and it has plenty of depth with sharp, downward bite. Gaeckle throws it with conviction, as he maintains his trademark arm speed. He throws it to both right and lefthanded hitters and is able to generate tons of swing-and-miss. Like Gaeckle’s heater, his curveball is also a plus pitch.
Though he throws it rather sparingly, Gaeckle’s changeup will at times flash late tumbling life and some fade to the arm side. He does not have advanced feel for the pitch, and its development will be key towards proving himself as a starter.
Gaeckle has had a productive fall for the Razorbacks, most notably throwing three innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts in game one of the Fall World Series. The weekend rotation seems to be set with Hagen Smith (8-2, 3.64 ERA), Texas Tech transfer Mason Molina (6-2, 3.67 ERA) and Brady Tygart (3-1, 3.20 ERA), but Gaeckle seems destined to log plenty of innings this spring.
With a jump to the rotation full time next season, Gaeckle will have an opportunity to establish himself as a potential starter at the next level. Should he be able to do so, it is reasonable to expect that he is one of the first college arms off the board in 2026.