Recently, I had the chance to sit down one of the newest Arkansas Razorback recruits Angus Denton in a Facebook interview. Denton is a senior pitcher for my high school alma mater, Beebe High School.
I’m pretty excited about this interview, you guys. On a professional level, I’m excited the Razorbacks are getting a fantastic pitcher with .41 ERA that struck out 96 batters. Those are great numbers. But on a personal level, I’m ecstatic that a young kid from Beebe has achieved his dream of being an Arkansas Razorback. Denton stands as one of the few Badgers who signed with a division one school. This is an exclusive Razorbackers interview with newly committed Hog, Angus Denton.
Matt Jenkins (MJ): First of all, congratulations on signing with Arkansas! How excited are you about this opportunity? Has it always been a dream to be a Razorback?
Angus Denton (AD): I am very excited about the opportunity to play baseball for the U of A. It has always been just a dream to play there. I remember a time when I was 14 and I went to a game at Baum Stadium and I walked out afterwards and I remember saying, “This is where I want to play baseball.”
MJ: Let’s go back in time… where did your love for baseball begin, how long have you played baseball, what leagues have you played in, etc.?
AD: I started playing baseball when I was very young. I had always admired the game and grew up watching my brother play and I remember wanting to be just like him. I think I actually started playing when I was about 4 or 5 though. I started out just playing Beebe League and I did that all the way up to Pitching Machine, but then my dad realized that there were better opportunities out there, so I started playing in Cabot in a real competitive league. I did that until I was 9 years old. Then I discovered USSSA baseball or Travel Ball in other words. This league was based around tournaments every weekend traveling anywhere from Mississippi to Kansas. I played for a team called the Maumelle Bulldogs when I was 10 and we were a AAA team. Teams could be A, AA, AAA, or Major and we were a solid AAA team. I played for the Maumelle Bulldogs until I was 13, and then I played for another AAA team called the Lonoke Gators. This is when I really started learning how to pitch and become a competitive pitcher.
My last year of U-Trip Ball was my favorite. I played for the Arkansas Gators out of Conway, but we had kids from all over. We won 14 AAA State for Arkansas and that was a very memorable moment. After that, I began playing showcase ball. Summer after my 8thgrade year I started playing for the Arkansas Express coached by Greg Baxendale. I was 15 years old and I was playing on an 18 yr. old prospect team. It was pretty menacing for a 15 year old. I saw some of the best pitching and hitters, and it really helped me prepare for my freshman year of baseball. I played for the Express for two more years, and finally this past summer I played for Diamonds Baseball Club. Ever since I was 15, I was showcasing in front of college and some pro scouts.
MJ: You’re one of the best pitchers in Arkansas (#4 in Arkansas). You’ve struck out 96 batters in 51 innings of work and posted a 0.41 ERA in 2015, went 6-2 on the year with one save. Where do you attribute your success at a pitcher?
AD: There are so many people that helped me become a successful pitcher. First God, because without him, I know I would not be where I am today. I credit my dad and brother first, because they helped me as a young boy learn the fundamentals of pitching. Then I would have to say former Angel’s minor leaguer Dwight Turpin, and former Giants minor leaguer Jack McKnight. Also my Express coach Greg Baxendale. He really helped me develop into a sidearm/submarine pitcher. His son DJ Baxendale also helped me a great deal. Both my high school coaches Mark Crafton and Geral Williams have helped a ton. Chad Mercado who is teacher here at Beebe, a former Division 1 Catcher at SEMO has helped me a lot as well. Joe Newton, another pitching coach of mine from Elizabethtown, KY. He is the one who got me on my throwing program. Eric Cressey from Boston, MA also helped me get stronger. B.J. Maack from Little Rock as well. Tom House, who was Nolan Ryan’s pitching coach, helped me so much. I credit him a lot.
MJ: You’ll go down as one of the best pitchers in Beebe Badgers Athletics and Baseball History. How does that make you feel?
AD: It means a great deal to me. I always enjoyed watching former Badger pitchers like my brother, Griffin Glaude, and Logan Ballew. I try not to think about it too much and stay humble, but it is kind of a cool feeling being the ace of the team and breaking records and stuff like that. It means a lot to be a Badger and to be remembered as one of the best is a big deal to me.
MJ: I’m sure that your high school head coach Mark Crafton has had a huge impact on your baseball career. How much has Crafton’s coaching and guidance helped you along the way?
AD: Coach Crafton has not only been a great coach for me, but a great friend and role model. He told me as a young freshman. “Angus, you’re going to be big for us and we need you to be a utility player and step up.” He believed in me at a young age and I started at third freshman year every game, except games I pitched. He has always helped keep my head on straight and has encouraged me all my career. He’s definitely been a big impact on my baseball career.
MJ: As a senior and a leader for the Badgers, I’m sure you and the team has high expectations heading into the 2016 season?
AD: I do have very high expectations for our team this year. I believe we have the talent and right group. I think it’s just going to take having the right attitude and believing in ourselves. It would be great to win conference, and then eventually win the big one at Baum. We are going to have to show up every game looking to throttle the other team.
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MJ: Can we see Beebe in the 5A State Championship this year?
AD: I think there is a good shot of seeing us there. We are going to take one game at a time and then what happens happens.
MJ: Let’s talk about the signing; are you glad the process is over so you can solely focus on the upcoming
season, and not the outside noise?
AD: I’m kind of glad it’s over so I can now finally say “Hey, I’m signed.” I haven’t really thought about it too much or worried about the noise going on around me. I just keep working hard and preparing myself for this season.
MJ: How was your recruiting process? Were there other schools recruiting you besides Arkansas?
There were other schools interested. Arkansas State, Harding, Wichita State, Dallas Baptist, Mississippi State, Missouri State, Georgia, Army, Crowder JUCO. Some great schools, and some great opportunities, but I knew I wanted Arkansas.
MJ: What can the Razorback fan base expect when Angus Denton hits the field at Baum Stadium?
AD: I’m just another Razorback. I’m a part of that team and I will do what they ask me to do. I will give every chance I get my best. I want to make an impact on that team.
MJ: What’s your ultimate goal as a Razorback?
AD: I want to help the team win as many games as possible and help the team win the big one in Omaha.
MJ: One last questions, your name is awesome! Several media outlets have noted your awesome name, whats the story of your name, Angus?
AD: It is actually nothing special of a story. The name came from an old buddy of my Dads. Also we have Scottish ancestry in our family so I think it just went well. I like it, but at the same time I’m like really? (laughs)
MJ: Anything else your want to say to Razorbackers and the Razorbacks fan base?
MJ: Thank you Angus for your time and good luck on your senior year at Beebe, and your future as an Arkansas Razorback!
AD: Thanks Matt!