On this episode of the College Baseball Central Podcast, Joe Healy talks Arkansas Razorbacks baseball with Matt Jones, Online Sports Director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The Razorbacks enjoyed a turnaround season in 2017 after a tough 2016 campaign. They went 45-19, including an 18-11 mark in conference play, and earned their place as a host in the regional round, before falling short in a deciding seventh game to Missouri State.
Now, heading into 2018, there is incredible optimism around the program. The most recent MLB Draft claimed a couple of key pieces from the roster, like power bat Chad Spanberger and starting pitcher Trevor Stephan, but for the most part, the core of the 2017 team will be back for another season. This includes starting pitcher Blaine Knight, who was considered a draft risk, but after being drafted in the 29th round, has chosen to come back to Fayetteville. As a result of his and others’ return, Arkansas will be on the short list of Omaha favorites heading into the season.
Among the topics discussed on this episode are:
- The difference in 2017 that allowed for the turnaround season
- The impact of Wes Johnson in his first year as pitching coach in 2017 and what is expected from Nate Thompson in his new role on the staff
- The level of surprise that Arkansas wasn’t hit harder in the draft
- Position battles to watch in the fall
- New faces or those who didn’t see much time in 2017 who will have a chance to see some playing time in 2018
- What will have gone right during the 2018 season if Arkansas indeed ends up in Omaha at the end of the season