Van Horn seeing more clarity in roster following MLB draft, transfer decisions

By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE — It appears Dave Van Horn pretty much knows who is coming and leaving as far as the 2023 roster is concerned.

Arkansas didn’t expect to keep anyone drafted in the first 10 rounds of the recent Major League Baseball Draft and once third baseman Cayden Wallace signs with the Kansas City Royals that will prove to be true.

Four players went on the first day, all in the second round, of the draft on Sunday, July 17, when 80 picks were made. Three Razorbacks and one recruit went on that day.

Wallace was the first Razorback off the board taken by the Royals with the No. 49-overall pick. Wallace hasn’t signed yet, but it seems just a matter of time before Monday’s deadline. The slot for the spot where Wallace was drafted is $1,584,900. Wallace was outstanding in his two seasons with the Hogs. In 2022, Wallace hit .298 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI.

Former Benton standout right-handed pitcher Peyton Pallette missed the 2022 season with Tommy John surgery. Pallette was expected to be Arkansas’ Friday starter before the injury. The Chicago White Sox took Pallette with the No. 62 pick. The White Sox were very impressed with getting Pallette at that spot since he was almost sure to be a first-round pick prior to the injury. The slot value for No. 62 is $1,159,200, but Pallette inked for a $1,500,000 bonus which is obviously well above the amount for that spot.

Second baseman Robert Moore was taken as a shortstop by the Milwaukee Brewers with the No. 72 pick. Moore saw his stock drop some in 2022 when he slumped at the plate. Moore, still was outstanding in the field, hit .232 with eight home runs and 44 RBI. Moore has received a bonus of $800,000 which was below the slot value of $915,300. It will be interesting to see how the slick fielding Moore does at shortstop in the Brewers farm system.

Boerne (Texas) right-handed pitcher Cole Phillips had signed with the Razorbacks. Van Horn knew the chances of getting Phillips to campus weren’t good. The No. 57 pick, taken by the Atlanta Braves, got a signing bonus of $1,497,500 which was above the slot value of $1,307,300.

UC Santa Barbara shortstop Jordan Sprinkle was expected to replace Jalen Battles. However, the White Sox took Sprinkle in Round 4 with the No. 131 pick. Sprinkle has signed and received $452,900 which was the exact slot amount for that spot.

Battles was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in Round 5 with the No. 164 pick. Battles, as expected, signed and received a bonus of $247,500. That is below the slot value of $328,400. Battles surprised many by returning to Arkansas for 2022 and there was virtually no chance he returned in 2023. In 2022, Battles hit .289 with 10 home runs and 45 RBI. Battles is very good in the field with outstanding range at shortstop.

Left-handed pitcher Evan Taylor was drafted by the Florida Marlins in Round 9 with the No. 262 pick. Taylor has inked with the Marlins for $140,000. That is below the slot value of $165,300. Taylor was 5-0 in 2022 in 33 appearances. Taylor pitched 44.1 innings struck out 54 and walked 16 with an ERA of .365.

The Chicago Cubs with the very next pick in Round 9, took Connor Noland at 263. The former Greenwood two-sport standout turned out to be Arkansas’ ace in 2022. He was 8-6 in 20 appearances, 19 starts, with an ERA of 3.65. He pitched 116 innings striking out 113 while walking only 34. Noland signed with the Cubs for $200,000 which was above the slot value of $164,600.

Catcher Michael Turner was also drafted by the White Sox in Round 9 with pick 281. Turner had no eligibility remaining. In his one season at Arkansas, Turner hit nine home runs, had 53 RBI and was second on the team hitting .323. He signed with the White Sox for a bonus of $35,000 which was well below slot value of $157,700.

Right-handed pitcher Zebulon Vermillion was drafted in Round 10 by the New York Mets with the No. 299-over pick. Vermillion appeared in 24 games in 2022 and was 2-0 with an ERA of 2.39. Vermillion signed and received a bonus of $20,000. The slot value for that spot is $152,500.

The Razorbacks are still sweating out if former South Carolina left-handed pitcher Julian Bosnic will make it to campus. Bosnic was drafted in Round 14 with the 410-overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bosnic would be in the mix to be the Friday starter at Arkansas. After losing both Pallette and Noland it would be huge for the Hogs to keep Bosnic

The Hogs did catch a big break when Las Vegas (Nev.) Basic outfielder Mason Neville, who can play center field, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in Round 18 with the No, 543 pick, but immediately chose to bypass professional baseball for now and attend Arkansas. 

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