Arkansas State baseball adds 22 players to 2023 roster
A total of 22 new players dot the Arkansas State baseball roster entering fall 2022, as Head Coach Tommy Raffo announced the completion of the 2022 recruiting class.
The class is composed of four from the high school ranks, along with 16 junior college transfers and two players transferring from other Division-I programs.
“I would like to commend the hard work, time and effort our recruiting coordinator, Drew LaBounty, dedicated to signing our 2022-23 recruiting class,” Raffo said. “Drew was hired last spring and spent countless hours evaluating needs and identifying talent. In addition to our three signees in November, Arkansas State Baseball added 19 young men to our roster this fall.
“This group of players represents solid athleticism and positional needs,” Raffo added. “We believe this group of talent will bring the skillset and desire needed to win games and compete in the expanded Sun Belt.”
The 19 summer newcomers join additions Chase Armstrong (Marion, Ark.), Grayson Becker (Jonesboro, Ark.) and Cason Campbell (McCrory, Ark.).
“This class of new Red Wolves brings significant leadership traits and well-rounded athleticism to the diamond,” LaBounty said. “We have added depth, maturity, and Division-1 experience. Above all, we have a group of young men that want to be at A-State and wear scarlet and black. We are excited for their potential and the future for Arkansas State Baseball.”
A breakdown of the Red Wolves’ 2022 signing class is below.
CHASE ARMSTRONG – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – MARION, ARK. (MARION HS)
Chase Armstrong is a high-ceiling right-handed pitcher from Marion High School, where he was a high-school teammate of current A-State infielder Daedrick Cail. Armstrong helped the Patriots to a state title in 2022 and was ranked by Perfect Game as one of the top 500 players in the class of 2022.
GRAYSON BECKER – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – JONESBORO, ARK. (VALLEY VIEW HS)
Grayson Becker is a local product out of Valley View High School, where he was coached by former A-State baseball players Josh Allison and Dustin Jones. A two-time all-conference selection, he helped the Blazers to the 2021 4A state title and played alongside current A-State infielder Wil French.
BLAKE BURRIS – OUTFIELDER – EDWARDSVILLE, ILL (LEWIS & CLARK CC)
Blake Burris is a speedy outfielder from Edwardsville, Ill. He spent the last three seasons at Lewis and Clark State Community College (2020-22). In 2021, Burris led the Trailblazers in hits (44), runs (36) and RBIs (26) in 2021, while being tied for the team lead with seven homers.
This summer, Burris played for the Alton River Dragons, setting the team’s single-season record for stolen bases (47). He also led the team in hitting (.361), hits (70), runs (50), doubles (11) and triples (7).
ARLON BUTTS – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – CADIZ, KY. (REND LAKE COLLEGE)
Arlon Butts pitched the last two seasons at Rend Lake College, where he made 13 appearances (two starts) in 2022, going 5-5 with 70 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings, while owning a 5.61 ERA … Butts prepped at Trigg County High School in Kentucky, where he was an all-region and all-district selection in 2019.
This summer, Butts pitched for the Amsterdam Mohawks of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, helping the team to a league title. He made nine appearances (five starts), owning a 2.88 ERA with 30 strikeouts and six walks in 25 innings pitched.
CASON CAMPBELL – INFIELDER – McCRORY, ARK. (McCRORY HS)
Cason Campbell, a November signee, joins the program after a standout career at McCrory High School, where he helped the Jaguars to conference crowns in 2021 and 2022. A four-time all-state selection, Campbell was tabbed as one of the top players in the state. He was also an all-state quarterback, leading the team to a 2021 state title.
BRAYDEN CASKEY – INFIELDER – PRAIRIEVILLE, LA. (DELGADO CC)
Brayden Caskey spent the last three seasons at Delgado Community College in New Orleans, where he was a part of two regional championship squads. An all-region pick in 2021, Caskey ranked second on the team with 42 runs scored and tied for the team lead with 10 stolen bases. He also hit .329 with six homers and 52 runs scored in that 2021 campaign. In 2022, Caskey managed a .401 on-base percentage and stellar .983 fielding mark in 51 starts at second base.
JACOB CONOVER – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – MIDDLETOWN, DEL. (WALLACE STATE CC)
Hard-throwing righty Jacob Conover made seven appearances for Wallace State-Hanceville in 2022, including four starts. He went 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA and 21 punchouts in 12 innings pitched.
Conover also spent a season at Indian River Community College in Florida, as well as Delaware State.
KODY DARCY – INFIELDER – KENT, WASH. (UTSA)
Kody Darcy transfers into the program after spending the 2022 season at UTSA. For the Roadrunners, he hit a pair of home runs and drove in 17 runs. Darcy began his career at Xavier (2019-21) and was D1 Baseball’s Big East Freshman of the Year in 2019. As a freshman, Darcy made 33 appearances (26 starts) with two homers. He also hit a pair of long balls as a sophomore, tying for the team lead.
In 2018, Darcy was drafted in the 39th round of the MLB Draft by the New York Mets before beginning his collegiate career at Xavier.
DYLAN DeBUTY – FIRST BASE – SACHSE, TEXAS (CARL ALBERT STATE COLLEGE)
Dylan DeButy played two seasons at Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Okla., the same junior college that produced former A-State third baseman Ben Klutts. He hit .310 in his two seasons with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs, while slugging .638. As a sophomore in 2022, DeButy belted 20 bombs and 18 doubles, slashing .345/.464/.747 with 53 RBIs en route to being named an NJCAA All-American. As a freshman in 2021, DeButy hit .274 with 10 homers, 18 doubles and 52 RBIs.
HUNTER DRAPER – LEFT-HANDED PITCHER – BATON ROUGE, LA. (DELGADO CC)
Southpaw Hunter Draper comes to Jonesboro by way of Delgado Community College, where he spent three seasons (2020-22). In 2022, Draper made 13 appearances (six starts), owning a 4-2 ledger while striking out 32 and walking 10 in 34 innings pitched.
AARON EVERS – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – SHREVEPORT, LA. (MINERAL AREA COLLEGE)
Aaron Evers spent the last two seasons at Mineral Area College, where he was a strikeout machine in his tenure. Evers fired 105 career strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings pitched, while owning a 7-5 record with two saves in 23 appearances (15 starts). He also compiled a 13.19 strikeouts per nine innings ratio during his two years.
MICHAEL FINAN – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – OMAHA, NEB. (IOWA WESTERN CC)
Michael Finan pitched the last two seasons at Iowa Western Community College. In 2022, Finan made nine appearances (one start), going 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 7 2/3 innings. Finan recorded a 12.91 strikeouts per nine innings ratio with 11 punchouts. In 2021, he owned a 3.63 ERA with 23 strikeouts and just six walks in 17 1/3 innings pitched out of the bullpen.
COBY GREINER – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – BRYANT, ARK. (CARL ALBERT STATE COLLEGE)
Coby Greiner joins the Red Wolves after spending last season at Carl Albert State College in Oklahoma. The Bryant native tossed 64 innings in 22 appearances out of the bullpen, striking out 82 with a 3.09 ERA.
Greiner spent the 2021 campaign at UA-Fort Smith, where he made 14 relief appearances and recorded a pair of saves. In 28 innings pitched, he struck out 28 batters. He pitched the shortened 2020 season at Murray State College, striking out 22 in 23 2/3 innings.
ALLEN GRIER – OUTFIELDER – ATLANTA, GA. (COASTAL ALABAMA CC-SOUTH)
Speedy outfielder Allen Grier spent the 2022 season at Coastal Alabama Community College- South after two years at Chattanooga State Community College. Last season, he hit .295 with two homers, 45 runs and 46 RBIs while swiping 37 bases in 43 tries, which ranked 12th nationally.
In two years at Chattanooga State, Grier combined for a .298 clip at the plate with 28 runs scored. During the shortened 2020 campaign, he hit. .370 in 17 games with 10 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
AUSTIN KAPELA – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – BRIDGEVILLE, DEL. (GULF COAST STATE COLLEGE)
Righty Austin Kapela pitched two seasons at Gulf Coast State College (2020 & 2022). In 2022, he made nine appearances (two starts), striking out 27 in 20 2/3 innings. In 2020, Kapela made seven mound trips, holding a 2-2 record while striking out 13 in 11 2/3 frames.
Kapela spent his freshman season at Division-II Mount Olive, pitching 14 2/3 innings and owning a 3.68 ERA.
JAMES McCORMICK – LEFT-HANDED PITCHER – BENTON, ARK. (UA-RICH MOUNTAIN)
Tall lefty James McCormick pitched two seasons at UA-Rich Mountain where he helped the Bucks finish 13th nationally in the NJCAA Division II poll in 2022. McCormick went 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA in seven appearance (five starts), striking out 30 and walking 11 in 30 2/3 innings.
McCormick prepped at Harmony Grove High School, where he played alongside A-State first baseman Jared Toler.
BRYCE SCHARES – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – GILBERTVILLE, IOWA (KIRKWOOD CC)
Bryce Schares (pronounced “Shares”) made 20 appearances for Kirkwood Community College in 2022, owning a 2-1 record with an NJCAA-most 12 saves in 20 1/3 innings pitched. He fanned 18 batters with a 2.66 ERA and helped the Eagles to the NJCAA Division-II World Series. Helped KCC to district and regional crowns and a No. 7 final national ranking.
AUGUSTO SCHROEDER – INFIELDER – EDMOND, OKLA. (BISHOP McGUINNESS HS)
Augusto Schroeder prepped at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in the Oklahoma City area, where he was a two-time team captain. He led the Fighting Irish in stolen bases as a senior and was an Oklahoma Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game selection.
HUNTER THOMAS – CATCHER – RUSSELL SPRINGS, KY. (REND LAKE COLLEGE)
Hunter Thomas played two seasons at Rend Lake College, where he was stellar at the plate in both campaigns. In 2022, was an all-conference selection after hitting a team-best .374 and slugging .615 with an on-base mark of .474. He led the team with 44 RBIs while roping 14 doubles and nine homers. In 2021, Thomas played in 19 games, hitting .443 with 18 runs driven in.
He spent the summer playing in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, helping the Amsterdam Mohawks to a league title. He hit .301 in 31 games with seven doubles, four home runs and 27 RBIs.
BRIAN VENIARD – RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER – JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE OF JACKSONVILLE)
Brian Veniard (pronounced “ven-ARD”) spent the 2022 season at Florida State College of Jacksonville after one year at St. John’s River State College. In 2022, Veniard drew 13 starts, owning a 6-3 ledger with a 4.60 ERA while striking out 41 batters in 62 2/3 innings pitched.
Veniard was a 2019 Perfect Game Preseason All-American at Fletcher High School. He finished his career with a 1.14 ERA over 90 innings, averaging two strikeouts per frame.
NATHAN VerMAAS – OUTFIELDER – OMAHA, NEB. (NORTH DAKOTA STATE)
Tall outfielder Nathan VerMaas (“ver-MAHS”) played two seasons at North Dakota State before transferring to Arkansas State. The Omaha native helped the Bisons to a Summit League crown and NCAA Regional appearance in 2021, playing in 13 games as a rookie.
He prepped at Millard North High School, where he was a Perfect Game All-American Honorable Mention selection.
JAKE HENRY WILLIAMS – OUTFIELDER – JONESBORO, ARK. (CONNORS STATE CC)
Local standout Jake Henry Williams returns to his hometown after a season at Connors State Community College. He hit .307 with seven homers and 42 RBIs in his lone season, helping the Cowboys to a 43-15 mark.
Williams prepped at Jonesboro High School, where he hit .472 as a senior with five homers and 51 RBIs. He earned all-state honors and helped the Golden Hurricane reach the 5A state title game while being tabbed the Jonesboro Sun’s Best Under the Sun Player of the Year.
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