(Photo credit to the Arkansas Razorbacks’ website)
The Razorbacks are coming off a great season in which they went 45-19, went to the SEC tournament championship game, and hosted a regional before falling to Missouri State in the regional final. They were tabbed with the third ranked 2017 recruiting class by Baseball America, one of the highest ranked recruiting classes in the Dave Van Horn era.
Caleb Bolden is name to look out for as he was drafted in the 16th round by the Tampa Bay Rays in this summer’s MLB draft. Bolden, from Texarkana, Texas, went 14-2 this past season for Pleasant Grove high with a 1.17 ERA in 90 innings and earned First Team All-State honors.
Bryce Bonnin is also a name to look out for as he was drafted in the 26th round by the Chicago Cubs in this summer’s MLB draft. On the mound he tops out at 92 mph and his slider has the potential to become a plus pitch in his arsenal. He can also swing it and play a little shortstop, so if the scenario comes up he could play on the left side of the infield if need be.
The Hogs return six everyday starters including senior Left fielder Luke Bonfield, junior catcher Grant Koch and junior shortstop Jax Biggers. Bonfield made the decision to come back to Arkansas for one more year and looks to be in the heart of the Razorback batting order again after being second on the team in RBIs and third in homers last season.
Grant Koch, who surprised everyone last year with his Hot start to the season, looks to build upon that success before he started to struggle at the end of the year. Koch had 13 homers and 48 RBIs to go along with a team high 33 walks last season. Koch, who earned first team all SEC honors behind the plate, will likely be the cleanup man once again for the Hogs.
Jax Biggers, who hit his stride in SEC play last year looks to once again be the reliable and sure-handed shortstop that Hog fans grew accustomed to last season. Biggers, who Dave Van Horn has repeatedly said is the best shortstop he has ever coached, hit a team leading .338 and led in OBP at .423. His size may hinder him, but he should be a high pick in next year’s MLB draft if he can repeat his success.
On the mound the Razorbacks return their ace Blaine Knight who had a team high eight wins last season. Blaine decided to come back to Fayetteville after being drafted by the Texas Rangers in the June draft. He looks to be the Friday night option for the Hogs in 2018.
Jake Reindl is an arm to look out for in the bullpen. Last season he finished with a 4-1 record with a 2.31 ERA in 50 innings and opponents hit just .212.
The Razorbacks are looking to build upon the success that they had this past spring. Their offense without a doubt will put up some runs, but the Saturday and Sunday starters in the rotation are still up for grabs. With the recruiting class they have coming in, I think they are in good shape to repeat the success from last year and be as good or better next spring.