FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas baseball team has received high praise from a pair of national publications for its 2010-11 recruiting class with the latest coming from Baseball America who has the Razorbacks ranked No. 8 in the nation.
Baseball America, one of the most respected publications in the nation for both amateur and professional baseball analyzed every team in the nation and touted the Razorbacks 17-player class as No. 8 in the nation. This ranking goes hand-in-hand with the Razorbacks No. 14 ranking from College Baseball Newspaper several weeks ago.
"To have a top 10 recruiting class this year even after everything that we lost to the draft speaks highly of the guys who chose to get their education rather than enter professional baseball," Arkansas Assistant Coach Todd Butler said. "I felt like if we could have kept our top three recruits, who we lost in the final 48 hours, that we could have had a top three class. To be able to get these players is a testament to the commitment by the University, Athletic Department and administration to keep our facilities the best in the country."
Arkansas’ recruiting class ranking was based off 15 freshmen and two junior college players including five who were drafted in last spring’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek was the highest drafted Razorback newcomer when he was taken in the third round with the 99th overall pick by the Seattle Mariners. Other freshmen that were taken in the draft but chose to attend college included shortstop Dominic Ficociello (23rd rd, Detroit), outfielder Nolan Sanburn (34th rd, Detroit), first baseman Sam Bates (39th rd, Florida) and left-handed pitcher Jeff Harvill (40th rd, Philadelphia).
Along with Arkansas’ quintet of draftees, Baseball America points to right-handed pitchers Barrett Astin, Bronson Gillam and Colby Suggs and outfielder Jacob Rice as impact players. Aaron Fitt, Baseball America’s national collegiate writer had this to say about the Razorback recruiting class.
"Despite losing three drafted players to well-above-slot bonuses, Arkansas welcomed a strong class anchored by a pair of potential superstars in Stanek and Ficociello," Fitt said. "Stanek is a bona fide ace. He entered last year as a projectable righty with excellent feel for pitching, and he maintained his feel even after his velocity jumped into the 91-96 range during his senior year. Ficociello is a switch-hitter with lightning-quick hands and loads of power potential as he fills out his rail-thin frame. ‘He’s got some serious levers from both sides,’ a National League scout said. The athletic but unrefined Sanburn has flashed plus fastball velocity in the past, while Harvill and Gillam both reached the low 90s before injuries derailed their springs. Suggs evokes former Arkansas ace Jess Todd for his size, his riding 88-94 mph fastball and his quality curveball. Astin has good command of an 87-91 fastball and good slider, giving this class another quality arm. Bates, like Ficociello, is a long-levered power hitter, but he’ll need to improve his defense and improve his contact rate. Rice oozes athleticism but lacks polish."
This is the fourth top 10 recruiting class for the Razorbacks in recent memory.
The Razorbacks take the field on Saturday for the first game of the Cardinal-White series at Baum Stadium beginning at 11:05 a.m.