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Diamond Hogs return surplus of talent following 2021 MLB Draft

Following a season where they were ranked number one for most of the season, it was expected that Arkansas would lose a lot of production from their 2021 season. They did, losing nine players and five commits in the MLB Draft. Pitcher Kevin Kopps, outfielder Christian Franklin, pitcher Ryan Costeui, catcher Casey Opitz, pitcher Patrick Wicklander, pitcher Lael Lockhart, pitcher Caden Monke, pitcher Elijah Trest, and catcher/designated hitter Charlie Welch were all drafted as members of the 2021 team. It is unclear if Charlie Welch will return or go pro but all others are definitely not expected to return. Signees Max Muncy, Braylon Bishop, Jordan Viars, Drew Gray, Drake Varnado, and Brenden Dixon were drafted as well. Veteran outfielder/designated hitter Matt Goodheart was signed by the Phillies on Wednesday, thus he will not return either.

Surprising returnees from the 2021 team include first baseman Brady Slavens and shortstop Jalen Battles. Third baseman Jacob Nesbit announced he was stepping away from baseball yesterday. He will forgo his last two years and become an administrative graduate assistant.

Arkansas pitcher Kevin Kopps won the 43rd Golden Spikes Award on Thursday. Kopps becomes the second Razorback ever to win the award (Andrew Bennitendi) with a 12-1 record, 0.90 ERA. (best by Razorback of all-time), and 0.76 WHIP. Arkansas becomes the fifth school have multiple winners (Arizona State (3), Florida State (3), Cal State-Fullerton (3), and San Diego State (2). There’s an argument that can be made that Kopps is the most dominant reliever of all time. Kopps won all of the major college baseball awards this season including the Spikes, the Dick Howser Trophy, Collegiate Baseball and D1Baseball National Player of the Year awards, Perfect Game/Rawlings and College Baseball Foundation Pitcher of the Year awards and the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award in addition to being a unanimous first team All American and winning SEC Pitcher of the Year.He gave up less than 10 home runs, a few of them coming in his lone start of the season. In game three of the Fayetteville Super Regional, Kopps had a great outing. The final pitch he threw as a Razorback was a game-winning home run by NC State. But, he should definitely not be remembered for that.

By Carter Huff

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