Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Benton pitcher 'a different player,' commits to Arkansas
Benton pitcher Peyton Pallette poses for a picture with Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' first commit after finishing national runner-up came from an in-state prospect.
Benton High School right-handed pitcher Peyton Pallette committed to the Razorbacks on Tuesday, about a month after first receiving interest from the program. Pallette, a rising high school senior, is committed to Arkansas' 2019 class that will sign later this year.
"It's been a dream ever since I was young and it's finally coming true," Pallette said. "It feels like all my hard work is paying off.
"Just the feeling that I'll be able to be part of a team that was in the national championship in Omaha, I mean it's such a great feeling. I'm really honored."
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Pallette (6-0, 155 pounds) said he pitched in front of Arkansas coaches at a camp last month and that he and pitching coach Wes Johnson have remained in touch since that time. Pallette said he also has received interest from in-state programs Arkansas-Little Rock, Arkansas State and Central Arkansas, as well as some out-of-state junior colleges.
Pallette plays summer baseball for the Arkansas Sticks, a program that includes several other players committed to the Razorbacks in future years, such as pitcher Blake Adams of Springdale Har-Ber and catcher Cason Tollett of Little Rock Christian, the top 2019 prospects in the state.
Sticks coach Chase Brewster said Pallette has shined as a pitcher this summer after playing mostly third base as a junior at Benton. He helped the Panthers to a Class 6A runner-up finish in 2018.
"He's just a really high quality, one of the better defensive guys in the state," Brewster said. "He never really succeeded (on the mound) like he should, and then in April he shot me a text and said, 'Coach, I think I just want to pitch this summer.'"
Brewster said Pallette's fastball was clocked between 86-89 mph on Memorial Day weekend, and the velocity has increased to 87-90 mph with a high of 91 mph in the weeks since. Pallette also throws a "big-time 12-6" curveball and throws a changeup, Brewster said.
"He's started to get in a groove in the bullpen," Brewster said. "He's got in the weight room a little bit and has turned himself into a different player, from a defensive specialist to a back of the bullpen, shutdown reliever.
"If he can put on 30 pounds and stay in that weight room, that 87-90 can become 90-93 before you know it."
Verbal commitments are not binding.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Peyton Pallette's last name. That error has been corrected.
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