While Friday marks the first Arkansas preseason summer soccer practice of the 2021 season, it will also be a big day for the Razorback baseball program.
That was when Diamond Hog second baseman Peyton Stovall (6-0, 180) in Haughton, La., Arrived on campus.
Stovall beat .505 and had an OPS (on base / slugging) of 1,795 as a senior while he beat 14 home races and ran in 43 races.
His presence in an Arkansas uniform in 2021 was not a given, as several fake drafts had him as a first or second round in July in the Major League Baseball Draft.
He was ranked as the 33rd best prospect by Baseball America.
But when he was not caught in the first round, Stovall’s mind crystallized that he wanted to play baseball in Fayetteville and told the team that there was no reason to throw away a draft.
“I have said this many times since I decided to withdraw my name, as far as I know I know I will be able to develop best in Arkansas because of what I have seen them do in the past,” said Stovall. . “Not just as a baseball player, but the success rate in players getting degrees and baseball pitches is really special.”
Stovall told the MLB clubs what it would take in terms of a signing bonus to give up going to Arkansas and admits it was a huge amount.
“It was one of those things where I put the number high and I and my family have always said that it would take a lot to make me not go to Arkansas because we feel so strong about the university and the baseball program, the staff and the fans and the atmosphere, “said Stovall.
“We had some conversations, and I got some messages, so I knew a little bit where I stood, but when I went into the draft, I also knew it, without knowing it in itself, there had to be someone outside the box to take me in the first round with the money I wanted. “
After getting out of bed the other day in the draft, Stovall was confident of his future.
“The first thing when I woke up the next day was that I wanted to play baseball, and I always wanted to do that,” said Stovall. “I’ve always wanted to play professional baseball, but just being able to compete for a national baseball championship, especially while playing in the SEC, is truly a dream come true.”
Stovall is part of a recruiting class in Arkansas in 2022 that was ranked third nationally by Baseball America to enter the draft.
Razorback signed Max Muncy, Drew Gray, Braylon Bishop, Jordan Viars and Brenden Dixon were drafted and became professionals.
But highly regarded shortstop Drake Varnado and throws Hagen Smith, Austin Ledbetter and Dylan Smith are among several expected influences newcomers.
“Hagen and I are very close, and we told each other that if I go to Arkansas that you will and vice versa. We’re glad we’re both on campus. The same with Drake. I have such a connection with him and that. same with Austin and everyone who’s going to be up there together.
Stovall is excited to work with Arkansas head and fitness coach Blaine Kinsley, who had the same title for the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league affiliates in Springfield, Mo., and Jupiter, Fla.
“I just talked to their strength trainer (Monday) and he was really great to talk to,” said Stovall. “The culture up there is just different, including the older guys who take the younger guys under the wings and show them how to work and be the best baseball player you can be.
“To experience it will only be a dream come true.”
Stovall is not sure where he will play in the field next season with shortstop Jalen Battles, second baseman Robert Moore and infielder-outfielder Cayden Wallace among those returning.
“They have not really said anything about it, but I know it will be about how hard I work and how much I put into it will be how much I get out of it,” said Stovall. “I have to work extremely hard to earn something up there, and that’s what I’m going to do.
“I’m looking forward to learning under Cayden, Jalen and Robert. I’m just going to try to suck it all in.”