The Razorbacks have brought in a top three recruiting class for the 2017-18 season, according to the Baseball America site.
This year, the Hogs are looking for a push to bring them back to the NCAA College World Series. This recruiting class’ chemistry is nothing to be worried about, said Nate Thompson, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, who is in his first year with the Razorbacks.
“I think that we have a good group of kids,” Thompson said. “They seem to enjoy being together and playing together, and they’re working hard and making progress.”
The Razorbacks last year went 45-19 with a conference record of 18-11. That was good enough for them to be a regional location for the NCAA tournament and to earn the No. 4 seed in the Southeastern Conference tournament. They finished second in the Southeastern Conference tournament, losing to LSU in the championship game and their season ended with a loss, during the NCAA regionals, to the Missouri State Bears.
Last year, the Razorbacks lost pitcher Trevor Stephan to the New York Yankees, pitcher Dominic Taccolini to the San Diego Padres, pitcher Josh Alberius to the Miami Marlins, pitcher Cannon Chadwick to the New York Mets and first baseman Chad Spanberger to the Colorado Rockies. Catcher Alex Gosser and outfielder Jake Arledge were both seniors who ran out of eligibility and infielder Jaxon Williams transferred to Howard Junior College.
This year they are in a building process, Thompson said. The Razorbacks want to build onto the depth they already have, which includes leaders like pitcher Blaine Knight, outfielder Luke Bonfield, infielder Jared Gates and outfielder Dominic Fletcher.
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn and former assistant coach Tony Vitello worked on recruiting last year to bring in the 15 new freshman that make up the highly ranked recruit class.
“You throw all these guys in the mix, and they are going to give us depth, and they are going to help us too,” Thompson said. “Some of them are going to start periodically and some from time to time so it is going to be beneficial this year, but it is really gonna show a year from now as well.”
There are a couple of players who stand out in the class, Thompson said.
“Freshman infielder Casey Martin has been very good. He’s a very dynamic player with a good combination of speed and strength,” Thompson said. “He’s very versatile and athletic, so he can pretty much play anywhere on the field wherever you really needed him to.”
Freshman outfielder Heston Kjerstad looks like a very consistent player, and he is swinging the bat very well, and freshman infielder Easton Murrell is a very athletic switch hitter who can play any position in the infield, Thompson said.
Other coaches and players were not available for comment.
The Razorbacks start the Razorback Baseball Fall World Series at 3 p.m. today through Oct. 15 at Baum Stadium.