Arkansas Baseball Lands 19 Prospects On Signing Day
From the Arkansas Sports Information Department
FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – The Razorback baseball program and head coach Dave Van Horn announced the signing of 19 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2018 season.
Van Horn, who is entering his 15th season as the Arkansas skipper, along with assistant coach Tony Vitello and first year pitching coach Wes Johnson, added a good variety of pitchers and position players as well as four of the top players in the state of Arkansas.
“This class is a little larger than we were expecting,” Van Horn said. “It’s a good sized class that’s really talented. It’s a little heavier on the position players. We knew that was a need of ours going forward, but on the pitching side, we added a few late that bolstered the list really well. We do feel like the pitchers we have signed are guys that have a chance to come in and contribute right away.”
One year after signing top lefty pitcher Evan Lee out of Bryant, Arkansas, the Hogs added another lefty in Hunter Milligan from Greenbrier, Arkansas for the 2018 season. Milligan, who is considered the top player in the state according to Perfect Game was named a 5A All-State player last season after going 4-2 on the mound with a 1.50 ERA and striking out 69 batters over 42.0 innings.
Milligan joins infielder Casey Martin from Lonoke, Arkansas as another highly sought after in-state product that signed his intent to play for the Razorbacks. Martin is rated the No. 3 overall player in the state and batted .508 last year as a junior for the Jackrabbits. Martin was named a 4A All-State player and to the All-Tournament team in 2016.
Even with signing some of the top in-state talent, Van Horn and his staff reached plenty of areas around the country including nine players from talent-heavy Texas. Outfielder Cole Turney highlights as one of the best signees in the entire class as he brings a strong lefty bat from Richmond, Texas.
Turney is ranked as the No. 17 player in the nation by Perfect Game, second overall in Texas, and was selected to the Under Armour All-America Game last summer. Turney batted .344 as a high school junior with 25 runs scored, six home runs and 28 RBIs. He was also named the District 23-6A MVP and All-Area Offensive Player of the Year by the Fort Bend Herald.
The only junior college player in the class is left-handed pitcher Daniel Tillo from Iowa Western Community College. Tillo, who spent his freshman season at Kentucky before transferring, is considered one of the top arms in the junior college ranks. The Sioux City, Iowa native was 11-1 over his final two years of high school with a combined 2.03 ERA and was also a standout basketball player at Sioux City North as he was named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball in 2015. Tillo was also selected in the 39th round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins before deciding to go to college.
“We feel like we achieved what we wanted with this class,” Van Horn said. “It’s a great class that is going to help us continue to build for the future. I think this is a top five class given the amount of talent that each player brings to the table. Each of them adds some depth to our roster and we think a lot of them can play right away.”
RAZORBACK BASEBALL CLASS OF 2017 SIGNEES
|Dakota Bennett||LHP||R/L||6-3||170||Eva, Ala.||Albert Brewer HS|
|Dylan Bonds||LHP||L/L||5-10||170||Mt. Juliet, Tenn.||Mt. Juliet HS|
|Bryce Bonnin||INF||R/R||6-0||180||Baytown, Texas||Barbers Hill HS|
|Evan Hooper||OF||R/R||6-0||187||Cabot, Ark.||Cabot HS|
|Austin Kelly||RHP||R/R||6-2||185||Benton, Ark.||Bryant HS|
|Heston Kjerstad||INF||S/R||6-3||180||Amarillo, Texas||Randall HS|
|Casey Martin||INF||R/R||5-11||165||Lonoke, Ark.||Lonoke HS|
|Benjamin McClain||OF||L/L||5-11||185||Lee’s Summit, Mo.||West HS|
|Hunter Milligan||LHP||L/L||6-4||215||Greenbrier, Ark.||Greenbrier HS|
|Easton Murrell||INF||S/R||6-0||195||Prosper, Texas||Prosper HS|
|Jacob Nesbit||INF||R/R||6-0||170||Coppell, Texas||Coppell HS|
|Casey Opitz||C||S/R||5-11||170||Centennial, Co.||Heritage HS|
|Kole Ramage||RHP||R/R||6-0||180||Southlake, Texas||Carroll HS|
|Jackson Rutledge||RHP||R/R||6-8||240||St. Louis, Mo.||Rockwood Summit HS|
|Canaan Smith||C||L/R||6-0||210||Rockwall, Texas||Heath HS|
|Alerick Soularie||OF||R/R||6-0||165||Humble, Texas||Atascocita HS|
|Daniel Tillo||LHP||L/L||6-4||215||Sioux City, Iowa||Iowa Western CC|
|Cole Turney||OF||L/L||6-1||200||Richmond, Texas||Fort Bend Travis HS|
|Zebulon Vermillion||RHP||L/R||6-5||175||Prairie Village, Kan.||Shawnee Mission East HS|
Dakota Bennett | LHP | 6-3 | 170 | R/L | Eva, Ala. (Albert Brewer HS)
Ranked No. 35 overall in the state of Alabama by Perfect Game … Combined for a 1.44 ERA over his sophomore and junior seasons for Albert Brewer … Went 6-1 with 101 strikeouts over 56 innings in 2016 … Named Second Team 6A All-State and First Team All-Huntsville Region as a junior … Named First Team All-Area as a sophomore after posting a 0.99 ERA and 65 strikeouts … Also plays basketball … Plays for Kenneth Golden at Albert Brewer HS.
Dylan Bonds | LHP | 5-10 | 170 | L/L | Mt. Juliet, Tenn. (Mt. Juliet HS)
Went 5-0 with three saves after compiling a 0.91 ERA as a junior … Struck out 76 batters and only gave up 19 walks over 46 innings pitched … Named the District 9AAA Left-Handed Pitcher of the Year in 2016 … Plays for coach Josh Johnston at Mt. Juliet HS … Originally from Bee Branch, Arkansas, before moving to Tennessee during his sophomore year.
Bryce Bonnin | SS | 6-0 | 180 | R/R | Baytown, Texas (Barbers Hill HS)
Ranked No. 104 in the nation and No. 9 in the state of Texas by Perfect Game … Batted .405 as a freshman and was named District 19-4A Newcomer of the Year and Second Team All-Greater Houston … Was named preseason All-Greater Houston as a sophomore and junior … Went on to hit .355 at the plate with 25 runs scored, 11 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 32 RBI and 10 stolen bases … Named All-District and First Team All-Houston after his junior season … Played in the Texas Scout Association All-Star Game last summer, going 1-for-3 at the plate with an RBI and also striking out three on the mound … Played in the 2016 Area Code Games and attended the 2016 Perfect Game National Showcase … Plays for David Denny at Barbers Hill High School.
Evan Hooper | OF | 6-0 | 187 | R/R | Cabot, Ark. (Cabot HS)
Ranked the top outfielder and No. 4 player overall and in the state of Arkansas by Perfect Game … Also ranked No. 48 overall in the Prep Baseball Report 2017 Top 300 … Batted .333 as a sophomore with 13 runs, three doubles, one triple, three home runs and five RBI … Attended the 2015 Perfect Game Jr. National Showcase … Named to the 2016 Preseason 7A All-State Team by Prep Baseball Report … Named to the Second Team Rawlings-Perfect Game Preseason Underclass All-American in 2016 … Attended the 2016 Perfect Game National Showcase … Plays travel ball for Marucci Elite … Plays for Ronnie Goodwin at Cabot.
Austin Kelly | RHP | 6-2 | 185 | R/R | Benton, Ark. (Bryant HS)
Ranked the No. 4 overall player in the state of Arkansas by Prep Baseball Report … Also plays outfield and batted .300 with 10 runs, two doubles, one triple, three RBI and three stolen bases as a junior … Plays for coach Travis Queck at Bryant High School
Heston Kjerstad | SS | 6-3 | 180 | S/R | Amarillo, Texas (Randall HS)
Ranked No. 369 in the nation by Perfect Game and No. 26 in the state of Texas … Attended the Perfect Game South Underclass Showcase as a freshman … Named the District 3-5A Newcomer of the Year in 2015 … Part of Canyon Randall team that finished 2015 with a 33-6 record and a district championship … Was also a Third Team TSWA 5A All-State player as a sophomore … Completed a stellar junior campaign by batting .477 at the plate with 32 RBI … Named District 3-5A MVP and First Team 5A All-State player in 2016 … Member of Amarillo Globe-News 2016 Baseball Super Team … Attended the 2016 Perfect Game National Showcase … Played summer ball with D-Bat 17u Robertson and was part of the AABC Connie Mack World Series … Named to CMWS All-Tournament Team after batting .524 with five extra base hits … Plays for Cory Hamilton at Canyon Randall High School.
Casey Martin | SS | 5-11 | 165 | R/R | Lonoke, Ark. (Lonoke HS)
Ranked No. 270 in the nation by Perfect Game and No. 3 overall in the state of Arkansas … Batted .508 as a junior for Lonoke High School with 25 runs scored, 18 extra base hits and 30 RBIs … Also stole 11 bases and compiled a 0.70 ERA on the mound with 18 strikeouts in 10.0 innings pitched … Named First Team All-State by Arkansas Prep Baseball Report in 2016 … Was also named to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Baseball First Team … Named to 4A All-State and All-Tournament Teams as a junior … Plays for Darrick Lowery at Lonoke High School.
Benjamin McClain | OF | 5-11 | 185 | L/L | Lee’s Summit, Mo. (West HS)
Ranked No. 18 in the state of Missouri by Perfect Game … Attended the 2016 Perfect Game South Top Prospect Showcase … Part of Lee’s Summit West team that reached the Missouri Class 5 State Tournament semifinals in 2016 … Plays travel ball with KC Expos … Plays for Jay Meyer at West High School … Brother, Reggie, played baseball at Missouri and was a 13th-round draft pick last year and currently plays in Seattle Mariners organization.
Hunter Milligan | LHP | 6-4 | 215 | L/L | Greenbrier, Ark. (Greenbrier HS)
Ranked as the top player in the state of Arkansas by Perfect Game and No. 155 overall in the nation … Went 4-2 on the mound as a junior with a 1.50 ERA, giving up just 16 walks and striking out 69 batters over 42.0 innings … Struck out 16 batters in one game against Harrison … Also recorded a perfect game against Clarksville … Named 5A All-State in 2016 and attended the 2016 Perfect Game National Showcase … Plays travel ball for East Coast Sox … Greenbrier pitching coach is former Major Leaguer Dustin Mosley.
Easton Murrell | SS | 6-0 | 195 | S/R | Prosper, Texas (Prosper HS)
Ranked No. 401 in the nation by Perfect Game … Also plays second and third base … Batted .329 with three home runs and 25 RBI as a sophomore … Had a three-run triple in the 2015 5A State Baseball Championship … Named the District 10-5A Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore.
Jacob Nesbit | SS | 6-0 | 170 | R/R | Coppell, Texas (Coppell HS)
Ranked No. 31 in the state of Texas by Perfect Game and the No. 4 shortstop … Batted .294 with 21 RBI, 15 runs, four doubles and one home run as a junior … Went .354 at the plate as a sophomore with 26 stolen bases … Also added seven doubles, four triples and 15 RBI in 2015 … Named UIL All-District 7-6A Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore … Third Team Rawlings-Perfect Game Preseason Underclass All-American as a junior … Plays for Kendall Clark at Coppell HS.
Casey Opitz | C | 5-11 | 170 | S/R | Centennial, Co. (Heritage HS)
Ranked the No. 3 player in the state of Colorado and the top catcher overall by Perfect Game … Combined to hit .313 in his first two years of high school with 27 runs scored, 10 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs … Upped all of those totals as a junior in 2016, hitting .424 with 23 runs, seven extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in 21 games … Threw out eight base runners in 11 stolen base attempts … Named First Team All-Continental League as a sophomore and junior … Attended the 2016 Perfect Game Rocky Mountain Showcase … Plays summer ball with the Midland Redskins, which made the AABC Connie Mack World Series … Plays for head coach Scott Hormann for Heritage High School.
Kole Ramage | RHP | 6-0 | 180 | R/R | Southlake, Texas (Carroll HS)
Ranked No. 63 in the state of Texas by Perfect Game … Attended the 2015 Perfect Game South Underclass Showcase … Went 8-2 on the mound as a junior with a 1.10 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched … Named First Team 7-6A All-District in 2016 … Was 3-1 as a sophomore with a 2.37 ERA and 40 strikeouts … Also plays football for Southlake Carroll … Played summer ball with the Dallas Patriots-Stout Team … Currently plays for Larry Vucan at Southlake Carroll.
Jackson Rutledge | RHP | 6-8 | 240 | R/R | St. Louis, Mo. (Rockwood Summit HS)
Ranked No. 176 nationally by Perfect Game … Went 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA while allowing 36 hits, 14 walks and 30 strikeouts in 32.1 innings as a junior … Attended the 2015 Perfect Game Jr. National Showcase … As a senior, went 7-1 with a 2.73 ERA while allowing 37 hits, 28 walks, and 44 strikeouts in 41.0 innings … Pitched one complete game as a senior … First Team Suburban XII South All-Conference … Second Team 5A All-State as a senior … Attended both the 2016 Perfect Game National Indoor Showcase and the 2016 Perfect Game National Showcase… Selected to play for the White Sox in the 2016 Area Code Games.
Canaan Smith | C | 6-0 | 210 | L/R | Rockwall, Texas (Heath HS)
Ranked the No. 24 player and the top catcher in Texas by Perfect Game … Batted .434 as a junior in high school with seven home runs and 38 RBIs … Was named District 12-5A Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 … Was also Third Team SportsDay DFW All-Area and First Team TSWA 5A All-State during his junior season … Named Second Team Louisville Slugger High School All-American in 2016 … As a sophomore, batted .421 at the plate with 21 RBIs … Was named a 2015 First Team All-District 12-5A player and Second Team THSBCA All-State as a sophomore … Plays summer ball for the Dallas Tigers-Woods … Plays for head coach Greg Harvey at Rockwall Heath High School.
Alerick Soularie | OF | 6-0 | 165 | R/R | Humble, Texas (Atascocita HS)
Ranked the No. 156 player in the nation by Perfect Game … Also plays shortstop and catcher … First team All District as a sophomore and a junior … Attended the 2016 Perfect Game National Showcase.
Daniel Tillo | LHP | 6-4 | 215 | L/L | Sioux City, Iowa (Iowa Western CC)
Ranked the No. 254 player in the nation in 2015 … Was 6-0 with a 0.98 ERA, giving up just 18 hits in 43 innings, while batting .495 with two home runs and 36 RBI at the plate as a junior … Named Third Team All-State baseball as a junior … Went 5-1 with 68 strikeouts while having a 3.08 ERA in 50 innings, while batting .373 as a senior … Named Second Team All-State as a senior … Sioux City Journal 2015 Male Athlete of the Year … Iowa’s 2015 Mr. Basketball … Attended the 2015 Perfect Game National Pre-Draft Showcase … Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 39th round of the 2015 MLB Draft … Went 0-0 with a 7.36 ERA and seven strikeouts in 7.1 innings of work as a freshman at the University of Kentucky … Transferred to Iowa Western for the 2017 season and plays under Marc Rardin.
Cole Turney | OF | 6-1 | 200 | L/L | Richmond, Texas (Fort Bend Travis HS)
Ranked the No. 17 prospect in the nation by Perfect Game and No. 2 in the state of Texas … Selected to play for the Rangers in the 2015 Underclass Area Code Games as a sophomore … Also attended the 2015 Perfect Game Underclass All American Games … Played in the 2016 Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field after his junior season, hitting a double to knock in one run in his only at-bat … Named a First Team Rawlings-Perfect Game Preseason Underclass All-American prior to his junior season … Batted .344 with 25 runs scored in 2016, including four doubles, three triples, six home runs 28 RBIs and five stolen bases in 24 games … Named District 23-6A MVP and Third Team TSWA All-State in 2016 … Also named the Fort Bend Herald All-Area Team Offensive Player of the Year as a junior … Played in 2016 Area Code Games and Perfect Game All-American Classic … Third Team All-State by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association and Texas Sports Writers’ Association … First Team Texas Prep Baseball All-Houston 6A Team member … Plays summer ball with the South Texas Sliders … Currently plays for Rodney Hernandez at Fort Bend Travis HS.
Zebulon Vermillion | RHP | 6-5 | 175 | L/R | Prairie Village, Kan. (Shawnee Mission East HS)
Ranked the No. 375 player in the nation by Perfect Game … Played for the White Sox in the 2015 and 2016 Area Code Games … Honorable mention for All-Sunflower League in 2015 … 2016 Perfect Game Underclass High Honorable Mention … Currently plays for Shawnee Mission East Lancer for Jerrod Ryherd.