Eight players, including seven from the state of Arkansas, highlight Arkansas State baseball’s 2022 signing class, which head coach Tommy Raffo unveiled Monday.
The class includes multiple versatile athletes, including mid-year transfer Cross Jumper, who joins the A-State roster in 2022 as a redshirt before beginning his career next season. Jumper originally signed with Tennessee after a standout career at Jonesboro High School.
“I would like to commend the hard work, time and effort our recruiting coordinator, Rick Guarno, dedicated to sign our 2021-22 recruiting class,” Raffo said. “Coach Guarno’s early recruiting approach helped identify talent from Marion to Springdale and everywhere in between! This group of young men represents solid athleticism from the 2022 graduating class and one great addition mid-year transfer in Jonesboro native Cross Jumper. We believe this group of talent will bring the skillset and desire needed to win games and championships in the Sun Belt.”
Including Jumper, seven Natural State standouts signed with the Red Wolves, including four from Northeast Arkansas: Chase Armstrong (Marion), Grayson Becker (Valley View) and Cason Campbell (McCrory) and Jumper (Jonesboro). Two players from Springdale – Ethan Fender and Clark Jenkins – and Cabot’s Grant Fitch round out the seven Arkansans. Kennett standout Tanner Duncan also inked with the Scarlet and Black, hailing from the Missouri Bootheel.
“This class of new Red Wolves brings significant leadership traits and well-rounded athleticism to the diamond,” Raffo added. “Five position players, two pitchers and one dual-position player are from all over Arkansas and the bootheel of Missouri. Several are successful multi-sport athletes at their high schools and are very coachable, having played in a variety of environments. We are excited for their potential and future for Arkansas State Baseball.”
CHASE ARMSTRONG | RHP | 6-3 | 180 | MARION, ARK. (MARION HS)
HIGH SCHOOL: Tall, athletic righty from Marion High School … Given a “9” rating by Perfect Game, indicating a potential top-10 round pick and/or highest-level college prospect, and ranked as one of the top 500 players in the class of 2022 … Rated by PrepBaseballReport.com as the No. 23 player in the state of Arkansas.
GUARNO ON ARMSTRONG: “Chase is one of the most college-ready high school arms we’ve brought to A-State in a while. He’s extremely athletic, and pounds the zone with a good fastball/slider combo and a developing changeup. He plays at Marion High school for Head Coach Pete Prater, and plays his summer baseball with Wow Factor Baseball.”
GRAYSON BECKER | RHP | 6-1 | 150 | JONESBORO, ARK. (VALLEY VIEW HS)
HIGH SCHOOL: Righty out of Jonesboro, prepping at Valley View High School for former A-State letter winner Josh Allison … Helped the Blazers win a 4A state title in 2021 … Played with current Red Wolves Sam Fagan and Wil French at Valley View.
GUARNO ON BECKER: “Grayson is another local pitcher who shows tremendous upside on the mound. With his quick arm and ability to spin a breaking ball, his ceiling is very high. Grayson plays at Valley View High School for Head Coach Josh Allison, and won the state championship in 2021. He plays summer baseball with the Arkansas Prospects.”
CASON CAMPBELL | INF | 6-0 | 170 | McCRORY, ARK. (McCRORY HS)
HIGH SCHOOL: Left-handed hitting middle infielder from McCrory HS, who is ranked by Prep Baseball Report as the 10th-best player in the class from the state of Arkansas, and the No. 3 shortstop … Also led the Jaguars on the gridiron as a quarterback, helping McCrory to a 2021 Class 2A state title.
GUARNO ON CAMPBELL: “Cason is a Northeast Arkansas product who can really defend in the middle of the infield, and adds to our depth of left-handed hitters. He projects to be a top of the order bat for us in the future, and will compete to get on the field early in his career. Cason comes to us from McCrory High School, where he is coached by his father, Glen Campbell, and plays summer baseball with Sticks Baseball.”
TANNER DUNCAN | C | 6-2 | 200 | KENNETT, MO. (KENNETT HS)
HIGH SCHOOL: Plays at Kennett High School in the Missouri Bootheel, helping the Indians to a Class 4 state title in 2021 … Ranked by PrepBaseballReport.com as the fifth-best third baseman in Missouri and No. 31 overall prospect in the class … Left-handed bat that brings power at the plate with an exit velocity of over 100 mph … Also plays football and basketball for the Indians.
GUARNO ON DUNCAN: “Tanner is a left-handed hitter who hits the ball as hard as anyone at the high school level. He’s strong, physically mature, and has a cannon for an arm. We are really excited about his potential to be a middle of the order bat in the future. Tanner plays for Head Coach Aaron New at Kennett High School, and plays summer baseball with Sticks Baseball.”
ETHAN FENDER | INF/OF | 5-10 | 180 | SPRINGDALE, ARK. (HAR-BER HS)
HIGH SCHOOL: Versatile player for Har-Ber High School in Springdale who can play in both the infield and outfield … Ranked as the No. 2 second baseman and the No. 19 overall prospect in the state by PrepBaseballReport … Graded an “8” by Perfect Game, indicating a potential draft pick and/or excellent college prospect … Teammate of fellow signee Clark Jenkins, helping the Wildcats to the 2021 6A state final.
GUARNO ON FENDER: “We identified Ethan very early on as a guy we wanted to make a Red Wolf. He will bring with him a unique blend of athleticism, speed, and pure hitting ability. He has the ability to play all over the field, and his all-around game will have him pushing for early playing time once he arrives on campus. Ethan plays at Har-Ber High School for Head Coach Dustin Helmkamp, and plays his summer ball with Sticks Baseball.”
GRANT FITCH | OF | 6-0 | 180 | AUSTIN, ARK. (CABOT HS)
HIGH SCHOOL: Preps at Cabot High School … Fast outfielder who also brings pop at the plate … Ranked by Prep Baseball Report as the No. 3 outfielder and No. 26 overall player in the state … Graded an “8” by Perfect Game, indicating a potential draft pick and/or excellent college prospect … High school teammate of current A-State freshman Kyler Carmack.
GUARNO ON FITCH: “Grant is an explosive athlete who can run, hit for power, and really go get it in the outfield. He brings tremendous athleticism from the left side of the plate that we’re always looking for in our position players. Grant comes to us from Cabot High School, where he played for Head Coach Ronnie Goodwin. He played summer ball for Sticks Baseball.”
CLARK JENKINS | OF | 6-2 | 185 | SPRINGDALE, ARK. (HAR-BER HS)
HIGH SCHOOL: Preps at Har-Ber High School in Springdale, alongside fellow A-State signee Ethan Fender … Ranked by Prep Baseball Report as the No. 2 outfielder and No. 25 player in the state of Arkansas … Presents gap-to-gap power and plus speed on the base paths … Graded an “8” by Perfect Game, indicating a potential draft pick and/or excellent college prospect … Also ranked inside the top 500 in the class of 2022 by Perfect Game … Teammate of fellow signee Ethan Fender, helping the Wildcats to the 2021 6A state final.
GUARNO ON JENKINS: “Clark was another guy we identified early in the recruiting process as a player we really liked. He is an all-around athlete who has all the tools necessary to be an impact player in the lineup for years to come. Clark plays at Har-Ber High School for Head Coach Dustin Helmkamp, and plays his summer ball with Sticks Baseball.”
CROSS JUMPER | OF/RHP | 6-2 | 200 | JONESBORO, ARK. (JONESBORO HS/TENNESSEE)
HIGH SCHOOL: Mid-year signee who will redshirt in 2022 after originally signing with Tennessee out of Jonesboro High School … Rated as a top-500 overall prospect out of high school by Perfect Game and the fifth-best player in the state of Arkansas … Ranked as the second-best outfielder by both PG and Prep Baseball Report … No. 255 overall player (No. 46 outfielder) nationally by Prep Baseball Report … Perfect Game High Honorable Mention All-American … Coached at JHS by former A-State player Mark Dobson and teammate of current A-State RHP Sawyer Bentley, helping the Hurricane to the 2021 5A state final.
GUARNO ON JUMPER: “Cross transferred to us from the University of Tennessee. He’s a dynamic athlete with a physical build who will compete to replace Jaylon Deshazier in center field next year. As a right-handed pitcher with two above-average pitches, he will also look to carve out a role on the pitching staff. Cross played his high school baseball for Head Coach Mark Dobson at Jonesboro High School, and played his summer baseball with Sticks Baseball.”