FAYETTEVILLE- Four members of the Arkansas baseball team have been recognized as top 50 prospects in their respective classes, as announced by Baseball America.
Baseball America ranked the top 50 players in each class, based on their pro potential, as part of the publication’s extensive college baseball preview. Catcher James McCann was ranked as the 28th best junior, while right-handed pitcher DJ Baxendale was tabbed as the 47th-best sophomore. A pair of Razorback freshmen were ranked in the top 10 as right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek was fourth, while infielder Dominic Ficociello was ninth.
Considered to be one of the top defensive catchers in college baseball, McCann was ranked as the second-best catcher among juniors and the eighth-best junior in the Southeastern Conference. A 2011 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American, McCann played in 59 games, including 58 starts, during the 2010 season and hit .286 with nine homers and 34 RBI. Defensively, McCann committed just three errors for a .994 fielding percentage and threw out 12 would-be base stealers on the season. Over his first two seasons as a Razorback, McCann has played in 108 games, with 93 starts, and has a .270 career batting average with 10 homers and 45 RBI. The Santa Barbara, Calif., native was drafted in the 31st round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox.
Baxendale, a product of Jacksonville, Ark., was tabbed as the 47th-best sophomore overall, the ninth-best sophomore in the SEC and the 26th-best sophomore pitcher in the country. Baxendale appeared in a team-high 29 games during his freshman season and posted a 0-2 record with a team-leading seven saves and a 3.58 ERA. Baxendale had his best outing of the season in the second game of the NCAA Tempe Super Regional against Arizona State. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-handed pitcher kept the Hogs in the game against the Sun Devils, throwing 6.1 innings and giving up just one unearned run on four hits. He continued his solid pitching over the summer in the Cape Cod League for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. Baxendale was named the Yarmouth-Dennis Pitcher of the Year after finishing second in the Cape Cod League with nine saves and having a 2-3 record with a 2.57 ERA.
A native of Overland Park, Kan., Stanek was ranked as the fourth-best freshman prospect in the country, the second-best freshman in the SEC and the third-best freshman pitcher nationally. A third-round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners in the 2010 MLB Draft, Stanek was named Kansas City Star Player of the Year, All-Metro Player of the Year and Proline Pitcher of the Year after leading Blue Valley High School to the Kansas 6A state championship. Stanek also earned first team all-state and first team all-Eastern Kansas League accolades as well following his senior season.
Ficociello, a native of Fullerton, Calif., was picked as the ninth-best freshman prospect, the fourth-best freshman in the SEC and the second-best position player among freshmen. Ficociello was selected in the 23rd round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers. A four-year starter at Fullerton Union High School, Ficociello earned first team all-league and first team all-California Interscholastic Federation honors following his junior season when he hit .495 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI.
Arkansas opens the 2011 season on Friday, February 18, at 3:05 p.m. against Delaware State. The series continues on Saturday and Sunday with first pitch both days scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Tickets for all Arkansas baseball home games may be purchased by calling 1-800-982-HOGS (4647) or by visiting the online ticket center at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.