the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a
detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District
of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will
list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best
tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2
players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.
Arkansas State-by-State List
2011 Arkansas Overview
overall talent coming out of Arkansas in any year is almost wholly
dependent on the state’s major talent source, the University of
Arkansas. The Razorbacks are a perennial Top 25-caliber college
program, and enjoying another fine season at 35-16 overall, though
just 13-13 in Southeastern Conference play, and should have three or
four prospects drafted in the top 10 rounds.
there is a healthy balance of other top prospects in Arkansas this
year, especially from the state’s high-school ranks. Over the
previous five drafts, only two Arkansas high-school players have been
selected in the first 10 rounds: righthanders Dillon Howard (2nd round, 2011) and RHP Randy Wells (7th round, 2010). That total could potentially double this year,
depending on how pre-draft signability issues in a new draft
environment shake out.
Jacksonville High outfielder D’Vone McClure has emerged as the
state’s top prep position prospect in the last decade and could
conceivably land in the top three rounds, while Rogers Heritage High
catcher Blake Baxendale and Mountain Home High righthander Trey
Killian have also shown the potential to go in the top 5-6 rounds.
Baxendale is the younger brother of Razorbacks pitching stalwart D.J.
Baxendale, who was initially projected going in the top 2-3 rounds.
state’s No. 1-ranked prospect, Arkansas sophomore righthander Nolan
Sanburn, has thrown well at times this spring but hasn’t
established himself in a role where scouts can get a firm grip on
where his professional future lies—either in the bullpen with
closer-type potential, or as a starter. His raw stuff is first-round
quality, but Sanburn will likely be relegated to the second, or even
third round due to his lack of mound experience and related
uncertainties. There were also concerns in the weeks leading up to
the draft that Sanburn was battling a sore shoulder, or even fatigue.
would have had almost a sure-fire first-rounder had sophomore
righthander Ryne Stanek been eligible, but he narrowly missed the
deadline. Although Sanburn and Stanek were born only five days apart,
Sanburn’s birthdate (July 21) falls on the last allowable day for
eligibility—and within the 45-day window after the draft’s final
day (June 6)—while Stanek was born just outside the deadline.
Stanek, along with corner infielder Dominic Ficociello, will be
potential first-round picks for the Razorbacks in 2013.
doesn’t hold a monopoly on all the college talent in the state this
year as Arkansas State, which shared the Sun Belt Conference lead
with two weekends remaining in the regular season, has three
potential drafts of note in senior righthanders Jacob Lee and Brandon
Farley, and speedy outfielder Michael Faulkner.
in a nutshell:
Lack of a clearly-defined top prospect.
(1-to-5 scale): 4.
HIGH SCHOOL TEAM:
Rogers Heritage HS, Rogers.
ON THE RISE: Michael Faulkner, of, Arkansas State University. A
pick of the Oakland A’s in 2009, Faulkner hit .336 as a freshman
for Arkansas State, but flew under the radar as a sophomore as he
battled nagging hamstring and shoulder issues. Though he is hitting
just .279 this season and is still looking for his first collegiate
home run, Faulkner has stolen 33 bases in 34 attempts and scouts have
shown a renewed interest in him because of his one exceptional tool,
his blazing speed.
CARD: D.J. Baxendale, rhp, University of Arkansas. Baxendale
showed the raw stuff and advanced pitching ability in his first two
years at Arkansas to command second- or third-round interest, but his
velocity has taken a noticeable dip this year, even as he has
continued to pitch with skill and precision. Baxendale has too much
of a track record of success to fall too far.
OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Arkansas Connection:
Jalen Beeks, lhp, Crowder (Mo.) JC (Attended high school in Prairie
Ryne Stanek, rhp, University of Arkansas.
Blake Wiggins, ss, Pulaski Academy, Little Rock.
Jeff King, 3b, University of Arkansas (1986, Pirates/1st round, 1st pick).
Stegall, of, Greenwood HS (Mets/7th round).
Schmidt, lhp, University of Arkansas (Padres/1st round, 23rd pick).
Forsythe, 3b, University of Arkansas (Padres/1st round, 46th pick).
Keuchel, lhp, University of Arkansas (Astros/7th round)
Simpson, rhp, University of Southern Arkansas (Cubs/1st round, 16th pick)
Howard, rhp, Searcy HS (Indians/2nd round).
College Players Drafted/Signed:
School Players Drafted/Signed:
McClure, of, Jacksonville HS.
Matt Reynolds, 3b, University of Arkansas.
Blake Baxendale, c, Rogers Heritage HS, Sherwood.
Michael Faulkner, of, Arkansas State University.
Jacob Morris, of, University of Arkansas.
Nolan Sanburn, rhp, University of Arkansas.
D.J. Baxendale, rhp, University of Arkansas.
D.J. Baxendale, rhp, University of Arkansas.
PROSPECTS, GROUPS ONE and TWO
GROUP ONE (Projected
ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)
1. NOLAN SANBURN,
rhp, University of Arkansas (So.)
was a significant part of a promising freshman class at Arkansas in
2011, although he wasn't quite as heralded as teammates Ryne Stanek
and Dominic Ficociello (both potential first-rounders in 2013) to
begin his college career. The Razorbacks targeted the versatile
Sanburn as a pitcher from the start, even as he pitched and played
the outfield, and also caught at an Indiana high school. Sanburn had
just as strong an impact as a freshman for Arkansas as Ficiociello
and Stanek did, serving as the team’s primary closer, and posting
eight saves with a 3.62 ERA in 24 relief appearances. He carried that
success into last summer in the Northwoods League, where he was
recognized as that league's No. 1 prospect, although he appeared in
only six games (two starts). Most impressive, he showed sound command
of his 90-94 mph fastball, which topped out at 98. His slider also
projected as a plus pitch. Based on that showing, Sanburn projected
as a possible first-rounder this spring as a draft-eligible
sophomore, but he made little progress in establishing himself as
either a starter or closer, or in a set role of any kind. In 16
appearances (3 starts, no saves), he is 3-1, 2.43 with 15 walks and
37 strikeouts in 30 innings. Sanburn
has flashed dominating stuff at times, with his fastball sitting in
the mid-90s, but also topping at 98-99 mph, and continues to flash a
power breaking in the mid-80s. Although he has tried to mix in an
occasional changeup, Sanburn effectively projects as a power reliever
at the professional level. His
fastball remains his best pitch, not only for its velocity but for
the angles he throws it, and his aggressive, bulldog-like approach on
the mound makes it a true swing-and-miss pitch. Scouts
are well aware of his athleticism and powerful lower half, and
believe he could evolve into a starter if given the opportunity.
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