Imagine a Casey Martin-like hitter with Jalen Battles’ defense.
That’s the kind of skill set Louisiana native Peyton Stovall, who was a projected first round draft pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, brings to the table for the Arkansas baseball program. He opted to remove his name during the draft to play for the Hogs. He brings a lot to the equation as an agile, left-handed hitting middle infielder with some legit power in his bat.
Stovall has the smooth swing, power and speed on the bases that former All-SEC standout Casey Martin had at Arkansas. He also strikes out less than Martin, only going down on strikes 7 times in 35 games as a high school senior.
Arkansas baseball fans will also learn Stovall is an agile fielder with a very good arm. Similar to current Razorback shortstop Jalen Battles, he tracks down balls in the gaps, but he also has room to improve. He had 7 errors as a senior at Haughton High in the Shreveport area, where he was Louisiana’s top-ranked player in the class of 2021.
And Stovall backed it up, too, hitting .505 with 14 home runs, 43 RBIs and 23 stolen bases on the year.
Why Peyton Stovall Chose Arkansas Baseball
“The player development is No. 1 in the country. That’s a proven fact,” Stovall said when explaining his decision to commit to Arkansas on Prospect Live’s Youtube channel. “All the SEC coaches have gotten together and they’ve talked about it. They voted that Arkansas was the number one player development place.”
“What every player at that level wants to do is play in the big leagues. I definitely took that into account. And also it just felt like home when I went up there on my visit. The coaches were awesome. We have a great connection. I talk to coach Van Horn and coach Thompson almost weekly.”
“It was awesome getting to talk to them as frequently as I have been just because of the connection we’ve had. On top of that, the atmosphere in Fayetteville and Baum-Walker, you can’t beat it. It’s one of the best atmospheres in college baseball.”
Stovall, the no. 47 national recruit in the class of 2021 according to Perfect Game, continued: “I’ve played baseball my whole entire life. It’s always been my passion, my dream.”
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to pursue into a career. Ever since I can remember I’ve told my parents that ultimately it’s something I want to do. And I’ve continuously tried to work as hard as I can in order to get to that position.”
Peyton Stovall and the MLB Draft
Stovall worked hard enough over the last few years to become the 29th ranked prospect on MLB.com’s prospect rankings for the 2021 MLB Draft.
His MLB Draft scouting report reads: “Stovall excels at barreling balls with his sweet left-handed stroke and makes hard contact to all fields. He consistently puts together quality at-bats and doesn’t try to do too much, displaying natural ability to lift balls to his pull side as well as some opposite-field pop.”
“He has the bat speed and strength to produce 20 or more homers per season, and he’s such a gifted hitter that his biggest proponents believe he may develop plus power.
Then, this doozy: “Some evaluators say he’s the best hitter in the Midwest — college or high school. One veteran scout said Stovall has the best swing in his area since Todd Walker, who played 12 seasons in the Majors after going eighth overall in the 1994 Draft.”
Stovall told Prospect Live his thoughts on that comparison: Todd Walker “came out of Louisiana, playing for LSU, and had a successful career in the big leagues. That’s a guy, the left-handed bat and second baseman, that I feel like we compare a lot in a sense.”
“That’s somebody I’ll think about and be like I have the tools and stuff he had. That’s really exciting. I’m really happy and excited to know that somebody of that caliber of talent, that I’m being compared to.”
It’s likely Peyton Stovall will make some serious side money during his Arkansas baseball career because of the new NIL laws, but he gave up a lot more by opting out of the MLB Draft after he wasn’t taken in the first round.
The pick value of the No. 29 pick in the MLB Draft was listed at $2.42 million.
“It would have been life changing money, but I want to win SEC championships and national championships at Arkansas,” he told The Shreveport Times. “The draft will still be there in three years.”
While Stovall declined to disclose what he was offered by pro teams to sign, “multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation say it was in the $2 million range,” the Shreveport Times’ Jimmy Watson reported.
That wouldn’t have been high enough to meet the number Stovall and his family needs to hear.
“We had a number that was pretty high – one that would make me financially stable for life,” Stovall said. “A number of teams contacted me with offers. I talked to my family and an adviser about it and prayed about it. What I was offered wasn’t my number.”
When Peyton Stovall contacted the Arkansas baseball coaching staff with the news he was coming to college, they were ecstatic.
“I talked to coach Van Horn when I made my decision and he was fired up,” Stovall said. “(Arkansas assistant) Coach (Nate) Thompson was screaming in the background.”
And for good reason. Stovall’s is part of a class that will likely see five top 100 recruits reach Fayetteville ahead of the 2022 season.
Looking ahead: Peyton Stovall as a Razorback
Personality-wise, Stovall appears to be a perfect fit for the Arkansas baseball program.
“They’re going to get a guy that loves to be around his teammates and that loves the atmosphere that he’s around, that loves the energy and creates energy off the fans and how much they value their team,” Stovall said on Prospect Live. “I love being around guys in the locker room. Ultimately just playing whatever position I can to make the team be successful and put the team in the best situation to win.”
Stovall passed up on an opportunity to compete for a football state championship as the starting quarterback of his high school team to focus his training on baseball. He put on 20-25 lbs. of muscle between his junior and senior seasons and that’s where his power really showed up.
He is a middle infielder, so he may have to change positions or wait a season before seeing serious playing time with Robert Moore and Jalen Battles staying in Fayetteville for the 2022 season. He could slide over to third, but if Wallace reclaims his natural position on the hot corner, he has the talent to play a corner outfield spot.
With Matt Goodheart and Charlie Welch both heading to the big leagues, the DH spot is also available.
He will also have to compete with fellow top-100 recruit Drake Vernado if he does not sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who selected him in the 17th round. Stovall and Varnado could be the middle infield come the 2023 season with Stovall being able to play second base as well as shortstop, similar to Robert Moore.
Stovall also discussed his favorite players to watch:
“I like watching Tatis play. Because his swagger and his electricity that he bring to the field,” Stovall said in the below video. “I’ve always loved the way Freddie Freeman hits and uses every part of the field, especially when it comes to the left field line. If you look at a spray chart of him when he won the MVP last year, it was ridiculous. He used the left field line just as much as the pull side.”
Stovall is an agile fielder with a strong arm. His scouting report described him as athletic and able to make difficult plays. He still has time to develop and improve.
“Medium to large athletic build with room to still fill into as he continues to develop, posted a 6.90 second 60 yard dash time,” according to Stovall’s scouting report on Perfect Game. “Primary infielder, athleticism is present, moves very well into the hole as well as up the middle. Controls his glove work while on the move. Good fluidity to and through the baseball. Makes difficult plays look easy with his agility. Arms strength across the diamond is good and is continuing to develop.”
In his senior year at Haughton High School, Stovall had a .649 on-base percentage, and .988 slugging, for a 1.638 ops.
“For me (Stovall) is the best high school hitter in the draft,” the host of 108 Performance said on his YouTube show. “When I watch him strike balls in-game, it’s like a combination of Mayer and Davis. Davis has juice because of the stopping power. Mayer is clean and sexy and pretty, but he doesn’t lay that weight into the ball. This young man (Stovall) does all this. He does all of it.”
Arkansas baseball fans will hope he can have a similar first year as what Cayden Wallace did this past season. Wallace was the no. 25 recruit from the class of 2020. In his last season of high school baseball as a junior (due to COVID-19 during his senior season), Wallace hit six home runs and 22 RBIs in 24 games. He had a .514 average and 1.667 OPS.
He hit 14 home runs and 44 RBIs in 60 games as a freshman for the Hogs. He slashed a .279 batting average, .369 on-base, .500 slugging, and .869 OPS.
Wallace was a solid middle of the order bat in a top SEC lineup as a freshman. That would be hard for Stovall to replicate, but when he gets his opportunity Hog faithful will cheer him on.
Coming out of high school in 2018, Jalen Battles was the 609th ranked shortstop by Perfect Game and 52nd out of Texas alone. Casey Martin was the 53rd ranked third baseman on Perfect Game, but the highest ranked third baseman from Arkansas.
Stovall is the 11th ranked shortstop on Perfect Game, to go along with no. 47 overall and being the no. 1 ranked player from Louisiana.
Recent No. 1 recruits from Louisiana include Landon Marceaux and Cade Doughty who both had great seasons at LSU in 2021.
Marceaux had a 2.54 ERA and 116 strikeouts in just over 100 innings pitched and was a third round pick in the recent MLB draft. Doughty hit .308 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs as a sophomore.
Battles and Martin proved themselves to be outstanding players, but by comparison Stovall should be an even better player based on his ranking. He very well has the potential to be a Casey Martin-like hitter with Jalen Battles’ defense, if he doesn’t surpass them both.
The ceiling is high for Stovall. Hopefully, he will pan out as expected for Dave Van Horn and the Razorbacks as they try to bring home the elusive National Championship.
For elite performers, there’s always a need to balance team and individual goals. Stovall has no problems embracing both.
“The goal that I’ve set is playing on TV one day,” he said. “Clicking on the TV and seeing Peyton Stovall with his stats up there and being able to play one day. That’s the ultimate goal that I’m getting to right now and I’m not going to stop until I get there.”
See a full breakdown of Stovall’s game here: