FAYETTEVILLE – Apparently headed for arm surgery after the injury during the final SEC regular season series against Florida sidelined him Arkansas’ entire SEC Tournament, Fayetteville Regional and Fayetteville Super Regional Tournament postseason, sophomore pitcher Peyton Pallette may not require the surgery after all.
During his season wrapup press conference Wednesday, Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn offered encouraging news about the right-hander from Benton who went 1-2 in 15 games with 11 starts and four times in relief.
“As of right now, there’s no tear,” Van Horn said. “We finally got the results and he’s rehabbing and he’s gonna start throwing in a couple of weeks if he goes pain free, which he’s pain free now. We’ve got our fingers crossed that he’s gonna be OK.”
Pallette opened the 2021 season as Arkansas’ No. 1 starter and if healthy could again in 2022.
“Yeah, I think he could,” Van Horn said of Pallette taking the No. 1 starting role if healthy. We’re just wanting to wait and see how this goes. We’re extremely happy on what’s gone on from the very first day he hurt himself ’til now because it didn’t look good.”
Van Horn said Pallette has had an MRI and two diagnostic tests and none showed a tear.
“That doesn’t mean there’s not one in there,” Van Horn said of Pallette continuing to be monitored. “So rehab and start to throw and if he gets through the end of summer and fall with no pain, then he may be good to go. So we’re excited about that.”
Van Horn anticipates junior Patrick Wicklander, the eventual 2021 No. 1 starter and No. 2 on the staff to Dick Howser Award winning senior reliever Kevin Kopps both signing during the July Major League draft.
In addition Van Horn presumes that DicKopps, catcher Casey Opitz, center fielder Christian Franklin, and shortstop Jalen Battle, all draft eligible, will sign and that senior designated hitter/outfielder Matt Goodheart will, too, if presented a worthwhile offer.
Because 2021 seniors have been presented an option of 2022 college eligibility since the covid-19 pandemic affected the 2021 season and during mid-March entirely canceled the 2020 season, Goodheart could return.
Draft eligible first baseman Brady Slavens is another likely to weigh pro opportunities vs. returning to Arkansas.
A couple of Van Horn’s top high school signees, shortstops Peyton Stovall and Max Muncy, are draft eligible and likely will have decisions to make.
Between the later than usual draft, the roster uncertainties regarding older players weighing to start other endeavors or return to school, and the ever-popular transfer portal, Van Horn said it will take time for whom exactly to know who’s coming, who’s staying and who’s going.
“I think across the country all are still in the same predicament as last summer,” Van Horn. “Big rosters, there’s a lot of kids in the transfer portal and then you throw the draft on top of it. They moved it back into July so they could have it around the All-Star game. They didn’t really think about Division I coaches too much. Because it’s put us in a bind.”
Because baseball collegians attending NCAA Division 1 schools aren’t draft eligible until after their third college year or they turn 21,
Van Horn knows he’ll have Cayden Wallace, his All-SEC Freshman team, right-handed hitter from Greenbrier, back after contributing so much to the 50-13 Hogs’ SEC championship/SEC Tournament championship season.
Just where he’ll play him is unknown. Wallace played right field and left field and third base in 2021 and might be Franklin’s 2022 successor in center field.
“I could put Cayden Wallace in center field if I wanted to,” Van Horn said. “The kid can really really run. He’s fearless out there. We’ll see how it turns out.”
He’ll practice all the above in fall ball.
‘Yeah, he’ll play third base (his position at Greenbrier) he’ll play outfield,” Van Horn said. “Professionally a lot of the scouts like him in the outfield. He’s got a great arm out there. We’ll probably just talk to Cayden about that a little more.”
Van Horn figures the conversation will close with a nod.
“He doesn’t really care where he plays,” Van Horn said. “He’s just a good teammate and he’ll play wherever we ask him to play and whatever helps the team the most.”
Because of NCAA recruiting rules, Van Horn Wednesday could not comment on Michael Turner, a .337 hitting catcher from Kent State who has posted on Twitter that he’s transferring to Arkansas.
With Opitz expected to sign in the draft, Turner will challenge 2021 freshman Dylan Leach, this season’s backup to Opitz.
Leach and several other Hogs have been playing summer ball throughout the U.S since Arkansas’ season ended losing 2 of 3 to North Carolina State in the Super Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium.
“He’s out in the California League,” Van Horn said. “They like him. He hit a home run the other night.”