2022 College Top 25 Preview: No. 8 Arkansas
Last season: 50-13 (22-8 in SEC), reached super regionals
Final ranking: No. 5
Coach (record at school): Dave Van Horn (750-402, 19 years)
The good news: Arkansas last year had the most powerful offense in the country, leading the nation with 109 home runs. While the Razorbacks this season are replacing some key players in their lineup, they again have the makings of a dynamic offense. Their infield of Peyton Stovall—who had first-round buzz last July, all-SEC second baseman Robert Moore, Jalen Battles and Cayden Wallace is electric. Not only does it have significant offensive upside—Battles, Moore and Wallace last season combined for 36 home runs and 159 runs—it is a strong defensive group, especially up the middle with Moore and Battles as the double-play combination. Further bolstering the lineup are transfers catcher Michael Tuner (Kent State) and outfielders Jace Bohrofen (Oklahoma) and Chris Lanzilli (Wake Forest). Lanzilli hit 42 home runs in four years at Wake Forest, Bohrofen is coming off a standout summer in the Cape Cod League and Turner brings a lot of experience behind the plate. With the infield core and a lot of experience around the diamond, Arkansas should again have one of the elite offenses in college baseball.
The bad news: Arkansas last season was led on the mound by relief ace Kevin Kopps, the Golden Spikes Award winner, and lefthander Patrick Wicklander, who excelled as a Friday starter. Now, the Razorbacks must replace them both, in addition to lefthander Lael Lockhart, who led the team in starts. Arkansas will be without righthander Peyton Pallette, who in January was injured and had Tommy John surgery. It also lost righthander Caleb Bolden to transfer, leaving the Razorbacks without their top five pitchers in 2021 by innings pitched. Arkansas will need some younger pitchers to step up in its new-look staff. Sophomore righthander Jaxon Wiggins last year flashed tremendous stuff and spent the summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. He has the highest upside on staff, but needs to be more consistent. Arkansas also added some exciting recruits on the mound and pitchers like lefthander Hagen Smith and righthanders Dylan Carter and Nick Moten will have a chance to pitch important innings. The Razorbacks also have some veterans to lean on, including fourth-year righthander Connor Noland, who in 2019 made 19 starts for an Omaha team, but has been limited in the last two years.
Player to know: Robert Moore, 2B
Moore has started every game over the last two seasons for Arkansas and seemingly always finds a way to be at the heart of the action. He last season led the team in home runs (16) and runs (59) and came through in the clutch time and again. As he enters his third season of college baseball, he has a chance to be a first-round pick, but first will be trying to lead Arkansas to Omaha for the first time in his career.
Path to Omaha: The Razorbacks fell just shy of the College World Series in 2021 after playing like the best team in the country all season long and winning both the SEC regular-season and tournament titles. Now they must move on without Kopps, whose presence in the bullpen dramatically shortened games. For Arkansas to take the next step this season its offense will again need to be among the best in the country and it will need to find new answers on the mound.
Ranking College Baseball's Top 50 Names In 2022
The four-time winner of the award for the top name in college baseball, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Itchy Burts, graduated at the end of last season, leaving a void at the top of this list.
|LHP||Hagen Smith||Fr.||HS—Bullard, Texas|
|RP||Nick Moten||Fr.||HS—Florissant, Mo.|