FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorback baseball program and head coach Dave Van Horn announced this week the signing of 20 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2019 season.
Van Horn, who is entering his 16th season as the Arkansas skipper, along with pitching coach Wes Johnson and newest assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Nate Thompson, added a good variety of pitchers and position players as well as some of the top players in Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas.
“It’s a well-rounded class,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We’ve signed 12 pitchers, five lefties, seven righties, all with the chance to contribute right away. We’re excited with the potential of the pitching recruits that we’re bringing in. As for the position players, we tried to get athletic kids that are a good mix of right and left-handed hitters, some with power, and some that can really run. Overall, I think this group will really mesh with the freshman class that’s here now.”
As always, Van Horn and his staff made sure the best players in the state of Arkansas stayed home when deciding where to sign, including two standouts from nearby Bentonville High School. Infielders Tyler Johnson and Kam’ron Mays-Hunt both signed with the Razorbacks during the early signing period and will add even more depth on the defensive front as well as strong right-handed bats.
Johnson is the ninth-ranked player in the state of Arkansas 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 Mays-Hunt.
Mays-Hunt moved to Bentonville from White Hall, Arkansas after his freshman year and became the school’s all-time leading receiver earlier this year as he has 52 receptions for 813 yards and 12 touchdowns. His raw baseball talent has gotten plenty of notice lately while playing for the Arkansas Sticks Elite travel team. Last year with Bentonville, Mays-Hunt hit .340 with two home runs, five doubles, two triples, and 17 RBIs. He’s also pitched in the last year, making seven appearances with four saves and 19 strikeouts.
Along with the two Bentonville standouts, right-handed pitcher Wade Beasley of Horatio, Arkansas, and right-hander Connor McCullough from Maumelle, Arkansas, complete the group of in-state players, both of which are ranked in the top-10 of Arkansas players by Prep Baseball Report.
“We always want to get the local kids if we feel like they can come in and contribute,” Van Horn said. “The talent in the state of Arkansas continues to get better every year. There’s a lot of other schools trying to get in this state now with their recruiting. We’re already getting commitments from players for the 2019 and 2020 class and if you can keep the best players in the state at Arkansas, it’s such a good foundation. We’ve had a lot of success doing that.”
Even with signing some of the top in-state talent, Van Horn and his staff reached plenty of areas around the country including the top three players from Missouri in Christian Franklin, Liam Henry, and Allante’ Hall.
Hailing from talent-rich Kansas City or the surrounding area, the trio of Franklin, Henry, and Hall make up the three best players in Missouri, 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.
The only junior college player in the class is catcher Josh Breaux from McLennan Community College. Breaux batted .401 as a freshman with 82 RBIs, helping McLennan reach the JUCO World Series, where he hit four of his 19 home runs. He also spent the summer playing for the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod League and was drafted in the 36th round by the Houston Astros in the 2017 MLB Draft, just eight picks after his brother Joe was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies.
The 2018 Razorback baseball team will begin its season against Bucknell with a three-game series on Friday, Feb. 16.
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