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Top Arkansas 2019 MLB Draft Prospects

Isaiah_Campbell_Arkansas_JamieSchwaberowGetty.jpg
Isaiah Campbell (Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

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State List Talent Ranking: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
(Stars are listed on a 1 to 5 scale relative to what the state typically produces, with 1 being the weakest)

1. Isaiah Campbell, RHP, Arkansas (BA RANK: 47)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 225 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Angels '18 (24)

With a father in the Air Force, Campbell was well-versed with picking up and moving as a child. He was born in Portugal and spent time in Germany and Turkey as well. He’s settled in at Arkansas for four years now, and the redshirt junior is reaping the benefits of patiently developing into the Razorbacks’ ace. Campbell was expected to be a breakout pitcher for Arkansas in 2017, but bone spurs in his elbow forced him to redshirt and he was inconsistent as a redshirt sophomore in 2018. He opted to turn down the Angels last June as a 24th-round pick in order to prove what he could do if he put everything together. This year, Campbell has proven to be one of the best Friday starters in the Southeastern Conference. Campbell has an excellent, 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, and he’s managed to maintain that weight this year. In 2018, he lost strength and stamina as the season wore on and struggled as a result. Campbell’s step forward this year has largely come because he’s significantly improved the power, shape and command of his slider. In the past, Campbell relied on a fringy, 75-80 mph curveball. Now, his slider is much harder in the 84-87 mph range, and he can confidently locate the pitch down in the zone. Having an above-average breaking ball has made his already above-average, 92-95 mph fastball play up even more. He’s also developed a much-improved split-changeup that flashes above-average with deception and tumble. Campbell’s command and control have significantly improved. Last year, his arm struggled to stay in-sync with his lower half, and he struggled to locate when trying to throw down in the zone. Now, he fills the bottom quadrants with his fastball and slider while also elevating his fastball up and out of the zone with purpose as needed. Campbell has some injuries and inconsistent performances in his past, but this year he’s started to convince scouts that he can remain a starter because of his improved secondary offerings. He’s shown the makings of a future No. 3 or No. 4 starter.

2. Matt Cronin, LHP, Arkansas (BA RANK: 71)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 190 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Every year, the draft seems to have several successful college relievers who have the pure stuff to move from Division I to the major leagues in short order. But most often, those relievers don’t move nearly as quickly as everyone expects. 2015 draft prospects Riley Ferrell, Drew Smith and Brandon Koch were all college relievers who fit this bill, yet none of them have become established major league relievers. 2016 draftees Seth Elledge and Lincoln Henzman still have several steps to go as well. But even with those caveats, Cronin is the kind of power lefthander with a fast arm who could move faster than most if it all clicks. He has a reliever’s delivery with some head movement and recoil at the end that sees him finish into a relatively stiff front side. That helps explain why he’s always struggled with below-average control, and as of early May he was walking 5.3 batters per nine innings. Cronin has an extreme trunk tilt that helps him throw from a true over-the-top release point. It also helps him get 12-to-6 movement on his curveball, which rates as a 60 on the 20-to-80 scale. His curveball has been much better this year than last, which has led to him being more effective. His 93-96 mph fastball gets swings and misses up in the zone, and he was striking out 13.9 batter per nine innings late in the regular season. The Razorbacks have used Cronin relatively lightly, and he is usually asked to get only three to five outs at a time and rarely pitches on back-to-back days. He has the stuff to fill a setup role in pro ball, although he’ll have to continue to improve his control.

3. Dominic Fletcher, OF, Arkansas (BA RANK: 106)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 185 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Fletcher has been making highlight-reel catches for three years at Arkansas while providing a steady bat for one of the best teams in college baseball. But as much as evaluators admire his production at Arkansas, they aren’t really sure how well his tools will translate in pro ball. As impressive as Fletcher’s routes and reads are—and they are some of the best in college baseball—he’s a fringe-average runner. Most scouts see him moving to a corner outfield spot in pro ball, but he does have a plus arm that could handle a move to right field. At the plate, Fletcher has short arms and a simple, contact-oriented approach. He has strength, as his massive forearms attest, but his swing produces gap power rather than home runs. Scouts project a fringe-average hitter with fringe-average power, and he’s not particularly patient at the plate. He generates plenty of contact, but doesn’t wait long enough in at-bats to draw the walks that would boost his on-base percentage. Fletcher is a solid college performer. A team who really likes his feel in the outfield and his makeup could take a chance in the second or third round and hope he gets the most out of his limited tools.

4. Jacob Kostyshock, RHP, Arkansas (BA RANK: 279)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 175 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Based purely on projection, Kostyshock is one of the better arms in the draft class. Having gained more than 20 pounds since arriving in Fayetteville, he’s continued to add easy velocity. He’s now 92-95 mph from a very low three-quarters arm slot and he’s touched 97. Kostyshock barely pitched in his first two years at Arkansas—he threw 21 erratic and ineffective innings over two seasons, but he started to figure things out in the Northwoods League last summer. After an erratic fall, he earned a spot in Arkansas’ rotation for the season opener, but quickly moved back to the bullpen. He missed a couple of weeks mid-season with a sore arm, but otherwise he’s been an impressive part of an excellent Razorbacks’ bullpen. Kostyshock is able to sink and run the ball from a tough arm slot and he mixes in an average slider and has toyed with a fringe-average changeup. There’s reason to think he can start, but he has to prove his durability to handle that role—he has just 46 innings in three years at Arkansas. His low-slot stuff and the possibility he could add even more velocity gives him a solid shot to be a useful reliever if staring doesn’t work.

5. Cody Scroggins, RHP, Arkansas
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

6. Jordan McFarland, 1B, Arkansas
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 225 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Nationals '16 (36)

7. Blake Adams, RHP, Har-Ber HS, Springdale, Ark.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 185 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Arkansas

8. Zach Morris, LHP, Cabot (Ark.) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 212 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Arkansas

9. Chandler Fidel, LHP, Little Rock
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 225 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

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How Moving The Draft Would Impact College Baseball

MLBs proposal to reshape the minor league would almost certainly impact amateur baseball as well.

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