Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Van Horn lands baseball top class for '23
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn watches from the dugout Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, before the start of play against the Texas Rangers Instructional League team at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
University of Arkansas baseball Coach Dave Van Horn and his staff have the nation’s top 2023 recruiting class, according to Perfect Game.
It’s expected the Hogs will announce a list of signees next week.
The 12 of 19 commitments are in Perfect Game’s top 100 compared to seven for Vanderbilt and UCLA, whose classes come in at No. 2 and No. 3 nationally.
Perfect Game rankings began in 2011, and the previous best for an Arkansas class was No. 2 in 2014 when the Hogs had two pledges in the top 100.
According to the Perfect Game database, the 12 pledges in the top 100 are an all time high in their rankings. Florida has the next highest with nine from 2011.
Jheremy Brown of Perfect Game expects to see Arkansas lose a a few to the Major League Baseball Draft but still marvels at the class.
“To have this type of talent is pretty incredible,” Brown said. “In my 10 years of looking at it [recruiting classes], this is one of the best classes I’ve ever seen come across. Of those 12, six of them are ranked in the top 50 and six of them are Perfect Game All-Americans.”
Shortstop Aidan Miller, 6-2, 205 pounds, of Trinity (Fla.) JW Mitchell is the highest ranked prospect in the class at No. 4 nationally.
He, along with Hogs catcher commitment and the nation’s No. 33 prospect Ryder Helfrick, 6-1, 200, of Discovery Bay (Calif.) Clayton Valley, stood out at the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Chase Field in Phoenix on Aug. 28.
“You look at the accolades, Aiden Miller was the Jackie Robinson Player of the Year for us at the PG All-American game,” Brown said. “You have Ryder Helfrick, who was the MVP of the game. So the two biggest awards from our biggest event were both Arkansas signees.”
Brown had high praise for left-handed pitcher Adam Hachman.
“Adam Hachman is one of the most electric arms in the class and a left-hander in the upper 90s,” Brown said. “The spin metrics are unreal. If it all comes together, he’s probably not coming to campus.”
Hachman, 6-5, 210 of Wentzville (Mo.) Timberland is the No. 55 prospect in the nation. Brown believes Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs could do wonders with Hachman.
“If Matt Hobbs gets his hands on him, you better watch out because of what he possesses in raw talent and arm talent, it’s some of the best in the country and he’s not even the top rated arm in this recruiting class,” Brown said.
Other Arkansas pledges in the top 100 include right-handed pitcher/outfielder Dylan Questad, 6-0, 200, of Waterford, Wis., the No. 30 prospect, right-handed pitcher Gabe Gaeckle, 5-11, 185, of Aptos, Calif., is the No. 40 rated prospect, right-handed pitcher Barrett Kent, 6-4, 200, of Pottsboro, Texas is rated No. 42, while infielder Walker Martin, 6-2, 185, of Eaton, Colo., is the nation’s No. 44 recruit.
Honolulu Punahou infielder Nolan Souza, 6-2, 205, is rated No. 56 nationally, while third baseman Nazzan Zanetello, 6-2, 180, of Florissant (Mo.) Christian Brothers College is the No. 63 prospect, left-handed pitcher Tucker Holland, 6-3, 180, of Vian, Okla., comes in at No. 76 nationally, while Texarkana catcher Ty Waid, 6-1, 210, is the No. 80 prospect.
Waid was the top offensive performer of the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association World Championships in October while playing for Arkansas Sticks 18-under Brewster/White Sox Scout Team.
“Ty Waid just had a surge up the rankings,” Brown said. “He’s hitting big-boy bombs at some of the biggest events of the year.”
Outfielder Kendall George, 5-11, 165, of Humble (Texas) Atascocita rounds out the top 100 commitments at No. 90.
Brown said Hobbs’ ties to California helped the Hogs in the Golden State, while recruiting coordinator and hitting coach Nate Thompson’s ability to land talent is top-notch.
“I just think the track record, the development,” said Brown of how the Hogs recruit at a high level. “Arkansas is always in the late stages of the season. Obviously a couple seasons back, they had Kevin Kopps, who took the baseball world by storm and you heard about him all the time. But also I think the recruiting of Nate Thompson and Matt Hobbs speaks pretty loudly with this type of class.”
Arkansas’ recruiting footprint was nationwide for this class with Hawaii, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida and Texas some of the states represented in the class.
“They’re not doing this in the state of Arkansas and the surrounding border states,” Brown said.
Wanting to play with other elite prospects is also a motivating factor for recruits picking the Hogs.
“I think overall, the best wants to play with the best and clearly that holds true here with this recruiting class,” Brown said.
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
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