FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorback baseball program and head coach Dave Van Horn announced the signing of 20 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2019 season this week. Complementing the 12 pitchers that signed, eight position players bring some big time talent to Baum Stadium.
While continuing to keep some of the best players from Arkansas in-state, Van Horn and his staff was able to keep one of the best infielders in Bentonville High standout Tyler Johnson.
Johnson is the ninth-ranked player in the state according to Prep Baseball Report and has hit over .350 in each of the last two seasons to earn back-to-back 7A All-Conference distinctions, as well as being named a First Team All-USA Today player last year. Johnson also plays football for the Bentonville High Tigers where he has been teammates with another Razorback Baseball signee in Kam’ron Mays-Hunt.
Van Horn credits the work of his assistant coaches in being able to continue recruiting at a high level.
“Nate (Thompson) and Coach (Wes) Johnson have done a tremendous job recruiting for us,” Van Horn said. “It’s definitely a team effort with all of us. Obviously, the 2017 class was really good and the 2018 class has ended up very strong. It should keep our program at a high level for many years to come.”
The region surrounding Fayetteville has seen an uptick in talent in recent years and the Arkansas staff has taken notice. Much of that talent has begun emanating from Kansas City where the top three players in the state of Missouri signed with the Razorbacks.
Hailing from talent-rich Kansas City or the surrounding area, the trio of outfielder Christian Franklin, lefty pitcher Liam Henry, and catcher Allante’ Hall make up the three best players in the state, according to Prep Baseball Report.
Franklin is top-rated player and hit .361 over the last two seasons, while also participating in the 2016 WWBA Underclass World Championships and 2017 WWBA World Championships, which were both wood bat tournaments. Henry participated in the 2016 Perfect Game Underclass All-American Game and the 2017 Perfect Game National Showcase, while compiling a 2.02 ERA for Park Hill High School, striking out 47 in 34.2 innings.
Hall, one of two catchers in the signing class, was named a high honorable mention for the 2017 Perfect Game Preseason Underclassmen All-American Team and played in the 2017 Ban Johnson All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium. He was selected to play in the 2017 Area Code Games for the White Sox and also named a 2017 First Team All-Suburban Gold Conference player.
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RAZORBACK BASEBALL POSITION PLAYER SIGNEES (8)
Name Position B/T Height Weight Hometown Previous School
Josh Breaux C R/R 6-2 215 Tomball, Texas McLennan C.C./Tomball HS
Caleb Denny INF L/R 6-1 175 Owasso, Okla. Owasso HS
Christian Franklin OF R/R 5-11 180 Kansas City, Mo. Rockhurst HS
Zack Gregory INF L/R 5-8 145 Fort Worth, Texas Timber Creek HS
Allante' Hall C R/R 6-0 183 Blue Springs, Mo. Blue Springs South HS
Tyler Johnson INF L/L 6-2 200 Bentonville, Ark. Bentonville HS
Dillon Lifrieri OF R/R 6-1 190 Wilton, Conn. Wilton HS
Jacob Wilk INF R/R 6-4 203 Harker Heights, Texas Salado HS
Josh Breaux | C | 6-2 | 215 | R/R | Tomball, Texas (McLennan Community College/Tomball HS)
Currently a sophomore at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas … Batted .401 as a freshman with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs in 59 games … Also hit four home runs at the JUCO World Series … Spent the summer playing for the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod League … Batted .271 for the Commodores with six home runs and 24 RBIs in 35 games … Received the Cape Cod League’s Silva Sportsmanship Award … Drafted in the 36th round by the Houston Astros in the 2017 MLB Draft … Hit .402 as a senior at Tomball High School with seven home runs and 38 RBIs … Was a first team all-district selection in Texas … Named to Texas High School Baseball Coaches’ Association All-Star Team and was also an all-state selection … Was Houston 5A Hitter of the Year … Played for head coach Doug rush at Tomball High School and Mitch Thompson at McLennan.
Caleb Denny | INF | 6-1 | 175 | L/R | Owasso, Okla. (Owasso HS)
Top 500 player in the nation by Perfect Game … 2017 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American Honorable Mention … 2017 Oklahoma All-State honorable mention Hit .393 as a junior with a team-leading 37 RBIs and six home runs … Finished second on the team in hits (42) and average … Had a two home run game against Collinsville and hit a solo shot in the Battle of the Bats win over Broken Arrow … Was a freshman starter at shortstop on the 2015 state championship team … Played for the Sandlot Sox Baseball Club during the summer … Played for coach Larry Turner at Owasso High School.
Christian Franklin | OF | 5-11 | 180 | R/R | Kansas City, Mo. (Rockhurst HS)
Ranked the top player in the state of Missouri by Perfect Game … Named to back-to-back Perfect Game Preseason Underclassmen All-American Teams in 2016 and 2017 … Participated in 2016 WWBA Underclass World Championships and 2017 WWBA World Championships … Has hit .361 over the last two seasons with 18 RBIs and 14 runs scored … Played for Jim Degraw at Rockhurst High School.
Zack Gregory | INF | 5-8 | 145 | L/R | Fort Worth, Texas (Timber Creek)
Hit .340 with two home runs, 14 RBIs, 29 runs and three triples last year at Timber Creek … Named to 2016-17 UIL All-District 3-6A First Team … Earned 5-6A Newcomer of the Year honors in 2016 … Played summer ball with the NTXBC Dirtbags … Played for coach Derek Watson at Timber Creek High School.
Allante’ Hall | C | 6-0 | 183 | R/R | Blue Springs, Mo. (Blue Springs South)
A top-500 player in the nation according to Perfect Game … Named a high honorable mention for the 2017 Perfect Game Preseason Underclassmen All-American Team … Played in 2017 Ban Johnson All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium … Selected to play in the 2017 Area Code Games for the White Sox team … Named a 2017 First Team All-Suburban Gold Conference player … Named to 2016 All-Area Team by the Examiner.
Tyler Johnson | INF | 6-2 | 200 | L/L | Bentonville, Ark. (Bentonville HS)
Ninth-ranked player in the state of Arkansas by Prep Baseball Report and No. 218 in the nation … Hit .359 as a junior, .444 in conference play with eight doubles, one triple, three home runs, and 15 RBIs … Had nearly identical numbers as a sophomore, hitting .375 at the plate with 10 doubles, four triples, two home runs, and 22 RBIs … 2016-17 All-USA Today High School First Team … Two-time 7A West All-Conference Player (2016 and 2017) … Part of 2016 7A West Conference champions … Also plays football at Bentonville High, where he had 21 catches for 268 yards and three touchdowns as a junior … Plays for head coach and former Razorback pitcher Todd Abbott at Bentonville High School.
Dillon Lifrieri | OF | 6-1 | 190 | R/R | Wilton, Conn. (Wilton HS)
Ranked No. 293 in the nation by Perfect Game … Sixth-ranked player in the state of Connecticut by Prep Baseball Report … Named to 2016 and 2017 Perfect Game Preseason Underclassmen All-American Teams … Played in WWBA World Championships in 2014, 2016, and 2017 … Part of 2015 and 2017 FCIAC state champion Wilton High School … Was only player on team to earn all-state honors in 2017 … Hit .426 last season with 24 RBIs and eight stolen bases … Earned honorable mention All-FCIAC honors after freshman season … Currently plays for Timothy Eagen at Wilton High School.
Jacob Wilk | INF | 6-4 | 203 | R/R | Harker Heights, Texas (Salado HS)
Part of district champion team in 2015 and state runner-up in 2016 with Salado High School … Won area championship in 2017 … Hit .379 as a junior with 30 RBIs, nine doubles, three triples, two home runs, and six stolen bases … 2017 Offensive MVP in District 19-4A … 2016 Second Team All-District 25-4A … Plays for Chad Krempin at Salado High School.