(Photo via the Arkansas Razorbacks website, seen here)
Sixth-ranked Arkansas (9-3) has a lineup of hitters that are worth watching. In their game against San Diego on February 25, Jax Biggers (SS, Jr.) and Grant Koch (C, Jr.) took some impressive at-bats.
Jax Biggers put together multiple quality at-bats versus Nick Sprengel, even with two strikeouts. His ability to see plenty of pitches, have a patient eye, and foul off pitches should continue to serve him well.
In his first at-bat versus Sprengel, he quickly backed away from a fastball low at his feet for ball one then he patiently took two fastballs in to work the count to 3-0. After taking a strike inside, he fouled off a pitch for strike two before swinging and missing on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.
In the second inning, he watched the first strike move across the corner of the plate. When Sprengel left a fastball at the belt, Biggers didn’t miss his chance. Biggers’ ability to stay balanced in his swing allowed him to rip a liner into left-center field for a two-run double, as he took advantage of Sprengel leaving the ball over the plate.
In his next at-bat in the fifth inning, Biggers displayed his patience against left-handed pitcher Anthony Donatella. After watching a first-pitch strike go by at thigh level, Biggers put an inside out swing to foul off the second pitch (0-2). His ability to quickly recognize a pitch that was low and away out of the zone pushed the count to 1-2. Staying patient on an inside pitch moved the count to 2-2.
He also displayed the ability to foul balls off to stay alive and spoil strikes. Biggers spoiled the next two pitches to keep the count at 2-2.
Picking up a breaking ball down and out of the zone ran the count full. While he didn’t put a strike over the plate in play, Biggers was able to foul it off on the third base side to stay alive. On the next pitch, Donatella finally retired Biggers on an offspeed pitch, but Biggers’ ability to battle in the nine-pitch at-bat bodes well for his patience and eye in 2018.
In the top of the seventh, Biggers let a pitch go low and away out of the zone for ball one. The next pitch jammed him, and his come backer to the pitcher resulted in a 1-3 putout.
Since that game, Biggers has remained patient during the 2018 season. He has drawn seven walks and has only struck out seven times. Bigger’s 13 hits is tied for the third-most on the top-ten team.
Grant Koch is part of Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list for the 2018 MLB Draft. Even though Koch had most of the February 25 game versus San Diego off, he did have an at-bat in the top of the eighth with two men on base.
Watching a first pitch ball go above the catcher moved to count (1-0) in Koch’s favor. A breaking ball at the knees evened the count. Then, Koch didn’t miss a breaking ball at the belt. His shallow fly ball fell for a hit just in front of USD’s center fielder, which led to two runs for Arkansas.
Koch has continued to hit in 2018. Through 12 games, he had a .303 batting average, .400 on-base percentage, and .424 slugging percentage. Like Biggers, he has a good eye for the zone, as he has drawn six walks to nine strikeouts.
As Arkansas start conference play (SEC) in March, monitor how often Jax Biggers and Grant Koch are posting quality at-bats. With the ability to take walks and foul off strikes, both can continue to find pitches to handle to help the Razorback offense in 2018.