Senior catcher Jake Wise is gone but don't assume that freshman Alex Gosser, who was impressive down the stretch, will have that job. "We've signed a big time catcher out of Southern California that's ranked like number 181," Van Horn said, explaining why the situation at catcher will be highly competitive next season. "He claims he's coming to school. Fullerton and Arizona were highly upset when he picked Arkansas."
There was also a surprise at shortstop where the injured Bret McAfee announced to Van Horn that he's coming back to do battle with Michael Bernal who took his place for most of the 2014 season. "We've also signed another shortstop," Van Horn revealed. "The other shortstop we signed was planning on McAfee not being here. There might be a situation you've got to release somebody."
The outfield appears to be set with sophomore Matthew Benintendi coming back coupled with the likely return of red-shirt junior Tyler Spoon and senior Joe Serrano but what about Arkansas' pitching for 2015? "It will be interesting to see if we can keep Jacob Stone," Van Horn observed. "Maybe he could be our closer next year. I think he'd really like to play here another year."
Trey Killian returns as the staff ace with sophomore Zach Jackson likely as the Saturday guy. Van Horn thinks that Jackson has a ton of potential telling reporters, "He just needs to get stronger. He's a skinny kid and he's put on a little weight. He's a guy, he could pitch and 225 or 230 and he probably weighs only 200 pounds now. He'll get there."
Next season's Sunday starter could come from the current bullpen or from among three very talented incoming freshmen, if all three don't sign pro contracts. "One of them is ranked in the top 100, the other one is ranked in the top 200. Another one's just out of it, a third one," Van Horn explained. "We really need to keep one of those big time arms."
Van Horn also said he will beef up the Hogs' non conference schedule with more road games against better opponents to try to avoid the RPI problem that sent his team to one of the toughest of the 16 NCAA regional sites this season.