FAYETTEVILLE –The Razorback baseball team received great news this week when its 2008-09 recruiting class was ranked fourth in the nation by “Collegiate Baseball,” its highest ranking in the 25-plus years of the annual ranking.
The Diamond Hogs welcomed a bevy of freshmen and transfers to campus in late August and the group has worked in with the returning players very well according to Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn who is excited about the prospects of the upcoming season.
“I’m optimistic about this team,” Van Horn said. “They have a great work ethic. We’ve pushed them pretty hard and challenged this team and they’ve responded.”
The fall roster boasts nine pitchers, five outfielders, four infielders and three catchers that hail from across the country. 14 of the new Razorbacks are true freshmen while seven others transferred to Arkansas from other schools.
Of the Arkansas newcomers, seven were selected in the 2008 Major League Baseball draft but chose academics and the Razorbacks over the professional ranks. Outfielder Seth Gardner was the highest drafted player when he was selected in the 13th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Infielder/pitcher Zack Cox was picked in the 20th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers and may have been chosen higher had he not made his intentions to play in college known. Other Razorback recruits drafted this season include James McCann (C, 31st round, Chicago White Sox), Trevor Cousineau (LHP, 31st round, Cleveland Indians), T.J. Forrest (RHP, 32nd round, Pittsburgh Pirates), Bryan Bingham (RHP, 40th round, Detroit Tigers) and Jeremy Heatly (RHP, 46th round, Boston Red Sox).
On the mound, the Razorback coaching staff is excited to see what the righthander Forrest and lefthanders Zack Hall and Geoffrey Davenport can bring to the table. Each has performed very well during intersquad meetings and has been outstanding during their bullpen sessions.
Catchers McCann and Zach Russell have shown a maturity beyond their years as both true freshmen backstops could challenge returning starter Ryan Cisterna for the starting position.
Around the infield, the Razorbacks feel that Cox could make a huge impact as both a corner infielder and a pitcher. Bo Bigham has shown considerable promise at second base while shortstop Kendall Wehrle also makes a bid to see time in the middle of the infield.
Big bats and big arms dot the Arkansas outfield this season. Jarrod McKinney, Gardner and Travis Sample have each impressed the Razorback coaching staff and could make bids for starting roles as the fall comes to a close.
For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.