FAYETTEVILLE — Dave Van Horn expects all the juniors off his 2019 College World Series Razorbacks drafted during the recent Major League baseball draft to sign with the teams that selected them.
Ace pitcher Isaiah Campbell already has signed with the Seattle Mariners.
If not already come to terms, off Arkansas’ 2019 SEC West co-champions Van Horn expects center fielder Dominic Fletcher (Arizona Diamondbacks) second baseman Jack Kenley (Detroit Tigers) and relief pitchers Matt Cronin (Washington Nationals), Jacob Kostyshock (Colorado Rockies) and Cody Scroggins (Boston Red Sox) to sign.
Van Horn anticipated those departures even before the draft made it official.
What he didn’t anticipate was all those drafted among his incoming class of freshmen and junior college transfers so far have not signed and presumably are headed to the UA.
The announced signees, all freshmen unless otherwise designated, include right-handed pitcher Blake Adams, Springdale Har-Ber; junior college transfer outfielder Chet Allison; right-handed pitcher Gus Collins, Pryor, Oklahoma; right-handed pitcher Evan Gray, Belleville, Illinois; right-handed pitcher Kevin Heinrich, Stoneman, Florida; outfielder Jason Hodges, Marist, Illinois; left-handed pitcher Calvin Marks, San Antonio, Texas; outfielder Bryce Matthews, Chaparral, Colorado; right-handed pitcher Will McEntire, Bryant; left-handed pitcher Zack Morris, Cabot; right-handed pitcher Zane Ryne Neves, Jonesboro; right-handed pitcher Peyton pallet, Benton; outfielder Jessie Pierce, Arbor View, Nevada; right-handed pitcher Nathan Ritz, Schaumburg, Illinois; left-handed pitcher Corey Spain, Monett, Missouri; cancer Nathan Stevens, Waunaukee, Wisconsin; catcher Dominic Tamez, Johnson, Texas; catcher Cason Tollett, Little Rock Christian; right-handed pitcher Trey Valka, Oak Ridge, Texas; junior college transfer infielder-outfielder Braydon Webb, and shortstop Nolan Wosman, Palmyra, Missouri.
“We didn’t have anybody sign professionally of our incoming guys.,” Van Horn said. “So it was pretty amazing. You always expect to lose one or two.”
How good is that to sign them all then not lose them signed to the pros?
“I’ll tell you in a year or two how good it was,” Van Horn said. “But it’s nice knowing we’re going to have a good group of freshman coming in. We’ve got a couple of JC guys coming in and maybe a (graduate) transfer. It’s what you’ve got to do to keep your program going.”
Van Horn got a great graduate transfer 2019 via Southeast Missouri State out of All-SEC defensive first baseman Trevor Ezell of Bryant, a big hitter, too, second on the team in batting average, .329 with 10 home runs, 49 RBI and 19 steals in 20 attempts.
As for this present recruiting class, the hay isn’t yet in the Hogs’ barn.
Draftees have up until July 12 to sign before they can’t be signed out of the 2019 draft.
“I just need to make sure everybody shows up,” Van Horn said. “Like the Tamez kid out of San Antonio, he had a great year. He’s a catcher and could play another position if he needed to. He was drafted by Seattle. A couple of those other high school kids, they’ve got to get here so we can see what we have when we have them all together.”
Used to be for major college programs if they didn’t lose at least one or two players to draft they fretted if their whole class might be substandard because the pros weren’t interested.
However, with college baseball nationally so upgraded in facilities, caliber and player development, the pros are backing off from some of the graduated high school seniors they normally would have signed and checking back when they are again draft eligible as college juniors or in junior college.
Also, some pro prospects out of high school back off from the pros letting it be known they want some college education and college baseball seasoning that could enhance the draft money in three years that they would made signing out of high school.
This year’s draft reflected the wait until college trend, Van Horn said.
“The high school kids are too risky for them because they’re wasting a lot of money giving good bonuses to kids and they don’t pan out,” Van Horn said. “The college kids, you get to see them a little bit more what they’e all about and how tough they are. Can they handle the grind? Sometimes you give a kid out of high school a pretty good amount of money and it doesn’t go real well. They just move on and do something else. The kids that have been through, say an SEC schedule two or three years, you’re getting more of a realistic idea of what you’re getting. You’re seeing a lot more college guys drafted early, especially this year.”