Matt Jones has been the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2010. He is also a feature writer for Hawgs Illustrated magazine and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in journalism.
Denney, Stankiewicz highlight UA baseball signing class
Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn (center) received 16 letters of intent during the fall signing period.
FAYETTEVILLE Sixteen players signed letters of intent to play baseball at Arkansas during the fall signing period, while three invited walk-ons inked letters of admission to the university.
The signing class is highlighted by senior catcher Jonathan Denney of Yukon, Okla., and right-handed pitcher Teddy Stankiewicz, who opted to attend junior college this year after being selected in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft.
Denney (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) rocketed up draft boards after participating in the prestigious Area Code Games and the UnderArmour All-American Game at Wrigley Field over the summer. Earlier this month, Baseball America ranked him the No. 10 prep prospect for next year's MLB Draft.
Stankiewicz, who signed with Arkansas last fall, will pitch at Seminole State Junior College in 2013. He failed to come to terms with the New York Mets over the summer and can be drafted again next year by attending junior college. Signing again with the Razorbacks seems to indicate he is leaving the door open to play for the program should he not go pro following next season.
Arkansas added three signatures from right-handed pitchers ranked in the top 175 of the high school senior class by Perfect Game USA - Dominic Taccolini (Sugar Land, Texas), Andrew Kelley III (Spring, Texas) and James Teague (Bartlesville, Okla.).
Taccolini recorded a 0.57 earned run average as a junior in Texas' highest classification, recording 75 strikeouts in 49 innings on the mound. Kelley is measured at 6-foot-8, 220 pounds.
The Razorbacks added a true leadoff hitter in the signing class in outfielder Andrew Benintendi from Cincinnati, Ohio. The left-hander batted .526 as a junior with 16 extra-base hits and 25 stolen bases.
Parker Sanburn, the younger brother of former Arkansas pitcher and Oakland Athletics second-round draft pick Nolan Sanburn, also signed with the Razorbacks. In-state signees included outfielder Corey Campbell (Pottsville), right-handed pitchers Lawson Vassar (Pulaski Academy) and Aaron Kincaid (Prairie Grove), and catcher Alex Gosser (North Little Rock).
Unlike other sports, signing a letter of intent in baseball isn't necessarily an indication a player will make it to campus. Players can sign pro contracts if selected in next summer's MLB Draft or can sign a junior college letter of intent.
Arkansas' recruiting classes have been hit hard by the MLB Draft in recent years, losing four signees each of the last three summers. The Razorbacks are coming off their second trip to the College World Series in four years.
Arkansas Baseball Signing Class of 2013
Andrew Benintendi, OF, 5-10, 170, Cincinnati (Madeira), Ohio
Matt Brown, INF, 6-2, 208, St. Louis (St. John Vianney), Mo.
Corey Campbell, OF/INF, 5-11, 185, Pottsville, Ark.
Jon Denney, C, 6-3, 205, Yukon, Okla.
Clark Eagan, OF/INF, 6-2, 180, Appleton (North), Wisc.
Tre Edwards, INF, 5-9, 173, Moore (Southmoore), Okla.
Chris Falwell, LHP, 6-5, 170, Round Rock, Texas
Alex Gosser, C, 5-11, 210, North Little Rock, Ark.
Zach Jackson, RHP, 6-3, 195, Berryhill, Okla.
Andrew Kelley III, RHP, 6-7, 225, Spring (Klein), Texas
Aaron Kincaid, INF, 6-2, 175, Prairie Grove, Ark.
Nolan McCutcheon, LHP, 6-4, 175, Glenpool, Okla.
Alex Phillips, RHP, 6-4, 225, Nacogdoches (Central Heights), Texas
Parker Sanburn, RHP, 6-1, 180, Kokomo, Ind.
Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP, 6-4, 215, Keller, Texas/Seminole State College
Jacob Stone, RHP/INF, 6-3, 230, Saginaw, Texas/Weatherford College
Dominic Taccolini, RHP, 6-3, 230, Sugar Land (Fort Bend Kempner), Texas
James Teague, RHP, 6-0, 180, Bartlesville, Okla.
Lawson Vassar, RHP, 6-3, 190, Little Rock (Pulaski Academy), Ark.