Top Unsigned Seniors



By: Zac Bottoms
Arkansas Scouting Director

With November 12th right around the corner we look at the top unsigned players at each positions. The 2015 class is very deep with 26 NCAA Division I signees, as well as others committing to NCAA Division II and Junior Colleges. Within in this group there is a fit for every need; whether it’s a power arm, power bat, a left hander hitter, a plus runner, or just some good baseball players.

Pitchers

Ben Madison, RHP/OF Bauxite HS
The 6-foot 2, 175- pound right hander, has a lean frame that is very projectable. He has never concentrated solely on baseball. He also excels in both football and basketball. That being said, I believe that his best baseball is in front of him. He has a clean quick arm, with a fastball 87-90. He has a loose arm and an effortless delivery.  The curveball has 12/6 action (71-74) with good depth. The change up is serviceable but is still a work in progress. He has been a solid high school hitter, but is very raw and uses his athleticism to compete at the plate, he tends to get long and works uphill. He is intriguing due to his plus arm, and the fact that he runs a 6.5 in the 60.

Robert Harrison, RHP, Wynne HS
Harrison is a 6-foot-1, 1 90- pound right-hander, works from a high ¾ arm slot with a short quick arm. He has smooth rhythm and comes to a controlled balance point. He commands his fastball on glove side with velocity of 82-84 mph. His command to arm side is not as good as his glove side command, but he competes on both sides of the plate. The fastball is heavy with late sink. He commands his curveball for strikes. It has 11/5 shape with sharp movement. He throws 72-73 mph, it has good deception due to throwing it with near fastball arm speed. His change-up is a work in progress, with little movement and velocity readings of 71 mph. If he will lengthen his arm action and have consistent extension, I believe his velocity will increase. His mound presence and his ability to pitch inside to right-handed hitters makes him ready to pitch when he steps on campus.

Chad Cox, RHP, Maumelle HS,
Cox is a 6-foot, 180-pound right-hander. He pitches off his fastball of 83-85 mph that has slight arm-side run when it is down in the zone. He throws his curveball for strikes with 11/5 action, near fastball arm speed, consistently at 71 mph. Mechanically he works from a ¾ arm slot. He has a quick arm but a short arm action, he stays online through the pitch landing square to hitters. Cox does not have a distinct balance point, which makes his arm drag behind and he gets very little extension at the end. He uses very little effort in his motion, that combined with some timing issues makes me believe he can easily pitch into the upper 80’s as he improves.

Gunnar Etzkorn, RHP, Southside HS,
Gunnar is a 6-foot-4, 180 pound right hander, with a quick and free arm from a ¾ arm slot. He has smooth rhythm and normal effort. He stays online, but I would like to see him get more extension. He locates his fastball (81-84 mph) for strikes. He maintains his arm speed to throw an 11/5 curveball with sharp break. The velocity on the curveball is 70-72 mph. His changeup is a work in progress, he threw it for strikes but it lacked deception due to slowing his arm down to throw it. Overall, Gunnar has tremendous upside with a free and easy arm, and a frame that can hold weight. He also is a good student scoring well on the ACT.

Catchers

Dillion Groves, C, Brookland HS, AR
Groves, the 6-foot, 200-pound catcher, is athletic with good arm strength from behind the plate. He has recorded a 1.97-sec pop time. Mechanically, he needs to gain ground while throwing to second instead of coming up. If he can gain more ground, his pop time may even be lower. His arm is strong with a carry and solid accuracy. He is raw offensively, but puts together good at-bats and finds barrel. He is well above average athletically as he run a 6.75-second 60. He is another dual sport player as he plays basketball also. Knowing he is not a baseball only player; he has good size, and is an above average athlete makes him very intriguing.

Jake Bever, C, Camden Fairview HS
The 6-foot, 200 pound catcher, has a solid frame and a strong upper body. He is an average athlete running a 7.38 in the 60. Bever is a strong armed catcher. He throws pop times ranging from 2.07-2.38. His arm is accurate with carry. His pop times will improve if he will clean up his foot work. He stands up instead of gaining ground toward second on his exchange. He received the ball deep and worked hard to block balls.  Offensively he starts from an athletic stance, from there he goes into a short stride with a short line drive swing. Bever maintains balance through his swing. Overall he has good bat speed registering 87 mph on our exit velocity testing. He stays to the pull side during batting practice, attacking every pitch. I personally would like to see him use his lower half more and implement some sort of hand load. At this point his power comes from physical strength. A few mechanical fixes and Bever will be a solid doubles threat on a consistent basis.

Infielders

Jaylen Jackson, SS, Watson Chapel HS, AR
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound shortstop, is a strong offensive player. He has good bat speed with an exit velocity up to 91. His bat speed and athleticism give him the ability to have good power to his pull side. Defensively, he has soft hands, fluid footwork, and a loose arm. He also has good instincts. A combination football/baseball player, which over time should become a complete middle of the order bat.

Josh Stephens, MIF, Har-Ber HS
Stephens is a 5-foot-9, 165 pound middle infielder, that has a good approach to the game with solid measurable tools. He ran a 6.69 in the 60 and a 4.2 home to first from the right side. Offensively he has a very quiet swing with very little movement. He starts from an athletic stance, from there he has a slight load back, which leads into a short stride. His bat speed is average, with level bat plane that produces line drives on a consistent basis. I would like to see him have a more distinct load and use the lower half more, overall he understands who he is and stays to his game, hitting line drives to the middle of the field.  Defensively he plays through the ball with soft hands and fluid footwork. His exchange is long and his arm strength measured 81 mph from short stop.

Ryan Mallison. MIF, Jacksonville HS,
Mallison, a 5-foot-8 160-pound second baseman. He has showed the ability to square up balls on a consistent basis. He stays inside balls on the inner third driving them, to show doubles power. He starts from an open stance, however he gets everything online and maintains good balance through extension. Mallison has an advanced approach, fast bat speed, and a line drive swing. He is an unknown commodity that is ready for a break out senior season. Defensively, he is impressive. He shows an average arm that is accurate. He makes up for whatever arm strength he is lacking with a quick and clean exchange. His footwork is fluid and plays through balls consistently.

Outfielder

Courtland McDonald, OF, Jacksonville HS
The 5-foot 8, 165 pound outfielder, may be a little undersized but is not lacking in strength. One of the most put together players in this class; it is very obvious that this compact athlete spends his spare time playing football. McDonald measures well running a 6.74 in the 60, he throws 85 mph from the outfield and registers an 88 mph exit velocity. Defensively he has good instincts and an accurate arm. He needs to clean up some footwork to get rid of the ball more efficiently. Offensively he starts from an open stance and he dives back in over the plate, this causes him to get around balls due to swinging around his front hip. As the swing progresses his balance is pulled backwards. He has success with balls on the outer third. If he can get his lower half cleaned up he will be a more consistent hitter.

 Zach Stanley, OF, Har-Ber HS
Stanley is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound outfielder, that has the size and frame that will catch any talent evaluators’ eye. Athletically superior, running a 6.65 in the 60, and a 3.85 home to first from the right side.  Defensively, he is sound with fluid footwork and clean exchange. He throws from a high ¾ arm slot that is accurate with carry. He registered 83 mph during outfield velocity testing. Offensively he is raw; he starts from an athletic stance and has a short stride. He has fast bat speed and a level line drive swing. He has choppy rhythm and struggles to use his lower half. Offensively he has a ways to go, but he finds barrel and is coachable.

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