Arkansas Baseball 2023 Lineup Projection: Bench Players


We are three days away from Arkansas baseball, and HawgBeat is continuing its lineup preview series for the 2023 Diamond Hogs.

The Razorbacks will return just two starters from last year’s lineup, so fans will soon become familiar with all of the new faces.

With scrimmage coverage, weekly notebooks, position previews, the Diamond Hawgs Podcast and more, HawgBeat provides the best Arkansas baseball coverage around.

We wrap things up with a few names that could make their way into the lineup this season for the Diamond Hogs…

#1 – Harold Coll – SS

Jr. | R/R | 5′ 11″ | 190

Boston, Mass. / Georgia Premier Academy / San Jacinto College

2022: 48 games, .341/.440/.455, 41 R, 60 H, 9 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 32 RBI, 29 BB/37 K, 11 SB

Coll is right on John Bolton’s tail for the starting spot at shortstop, but it is Bolton’s job to lose going into opening weekend. The Boston native has the tools to be a great shortstop, and he posted a .911 fielding percentage with 11 errors for San Jac last season. Bolton’s performance at short just seems to be winning the job for him more than Coll’s is losing it for him.

Although Bolton has the edge in the field, Coll has the more powerful bat. He made contact on a few balls during the fall and pre-spring scrimmages that was very impressive.

Head coach Dave Van Horn’s leash at shortstop might be shorter than any other position, so if Bolton struggles in the field or goes cold at the plate, Coll could see his name on the lineup card.

“Harold Coll, coming from San Jac, and he played a lot of short and second last year,” Van Horn said Jan. 20. “Probably brings the bigger bat to shortstop, but does he bring the most consistency? In the fall, he wasn’t. I just felt like Bolton was ahead of him. They work together every day. They play catch together. They do everything together. That’s the way we have ’em do it. They get it. They’ve gotta know each other.”

Van Horn reiterated those thoughts following last Monday’s Swatter’s Club meeting.

“Coll’s gotten better, but Bolton’s been the most consistent,” Van Horn said. “They’re both going to get to play. Obviously, Coll’s going to bring a little more offense to the game, little power potential there, too. They both run about the same. You’ve got to play defense if you’re playing short, that’s the bottom line.”

Bolton and Coll are roommates, but both players said that doesn’t make things weird for the competition at shortstop.

#13 – Jayson Jones – INF

Fr. | R/R | 6′ 2″ | 225

Savannah, Texas / Braswell High School

Perfect Game’s No. 35 overall prospect, No. 6 shortstop, No. 3 overall prospect and N0. 2 shortstop in the state of Texas for 2022 class

Jones could end up being the best hitter in Arkansas’ lineup at some point during his career in Fayetteville, but there will be a learning curve during his freshman season.

Perfect Game gave Jones a grade of 10, and the righty is a powerful hitter with a max exit velocity of 105 miles per hour coming out of high school, which was in the 99.8th percentile for the 2022 class.

Jones put that next-level power on display during the fall, although Van Horn didn’t call for it.

“He’s got a lot of power,” Van Horn said on Jan 20. “I mean, he hit the hardest ball in the fall. It went 117 mph off the bat. Now, he shouldn’t have swung at it because his team was down 7-1, bottom of the last inning, it was a 3 -0 count, and he didn’t even look at me for a sign.

“So it wasn’t really fair, because the pitcher just threw it right down the middle and then he hit it 117 mph, and hit it halfway up that grass in left-center. It was kinda funny actually, looking back on it. Just kinda shaking our head. So that tells you something right there. That’s hard to do when you’re 18 years old, hit a ball that hard.”

Jones didn’t seem 100% during the final weekend of scrimmages after he left Saturday’s scrimmage and didn’t play in Sunday’s. No word was given on Jones’ health status.

The freshman from Savannah, Texas, has been primarily serving at third or first base when in the field.

#26 – Mason Neville – OF

Fr. | L/L | 6′ 3″ | 200

Las Vegas, Nev. / Basic High School

Perfect Game’s No. 86 overall prospect, No. 21 outfielder, No. 3 overall prospect and No. 2 outfielder in the state of Nevada for 2022 class, selected in 18th round (No. 543 overall) by Cincinnati Reds in 2022 MLB Draft

Another highly touted freshman, Neville has the tools to be an outstanding player for Arkansas. He has pro-ready speed and a lot of potential at the plate.

“I feel like really Mason Neville would be right there to play,” Van Horn said Jan 20. “A lot of tools, looks the part, left-left, can run, throw, hit and hit for power. He’s been looking really good. It’s like you kind of can see a different demeanor about him like, ‘Okay, last fall was the fall of my freshman year.’

“I’ve seen it 30-something times. But now it’s like, ‘Okay, I want to play.’ And so we’re getting close. You can just see a little bit of a different look in his face. I think he’s going to challenge to get out there.”

Neville earned a Perfect Game grade of 10, and his 6.28 60-yard dash and top exit velocity of 99 miles per hour both ranked above the 99th percentile of players in the 2022 class.

During fall and pre-spring scrimmages, Neville played in center field. He could use some work from a fielding perspective, but the potential is there.

#44 – Parker Rowland – C

Jr. | S/R | 6′ 3″ | 215

Tulsa, Okla. / Bishop Kelley High School / Arkansas State / Eastern Oklahoma State College

2022: 51 games, .408/.509/.668, 58 R, 75 H, 10 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 78 RBI, 31 BB/33 K, 6 SB

The primary competition for Hudson Polk behind the plate is Rowland, who had a very successful season at Eastern Oklahoma State College in 2022.

A former Arkansas State Red Wolf, Rowland has a loaded bat that’s been put on display in pre-spring scrimmages. The switch-hitting catcher had an average of .300 with a pair of doubles over the past three weeks in scrimmages that HawgBeat attended.

Rowland is just a step behind Polk in the defensive category, which is something Van Horn prioritizes with his catcher.

“Those are the guys that are going to log the innings and get it done for us back there,” Van Horn said Jan. 20. “I just feel like that someone will be the No. 1 guy. If you’re going off of fall ball, it’s Polk. But I feel like the other catcher’s right on his tail. And Rowland brings that left-handed bat . It’ll be a good one-two punch.”

#18 – Reese Robinett – INF

Fr. | L/R | 6′ 3″ | 215

Kennett, Mo. / Kennett High School

Perfect Game top-500 overall prospect, No. 35 third baseman, No. 4 overall prospect and No. 2 third baseman in the state of Missouri for the 2022 class

Robinett was a pleasant surprise during the fall season, as he slashed .375/.459/.784 with 10 RBIs and tied for a team-best four home runs in scrimmages that HawgBeat attended.

He’s a big lefty at the plate that just knows how to make contact no matter who he’s facing.

“You know, Robinett, the story with him growing up was he’s a good hitter,” Van Horn said in his fall recap press conference. “Big left-handed hitter up in Missouri and just, he’s a guy that we need to get on and move the ball around a little bit and he hit. After we committed him, I talked to a lot of people that watch their team or had kids on those teams, a lot of the parents, and they said he just hits.”

Nicknamed “Big Country,” Robinett has served at third and first base when in the field, but he seems like he would be a candidate for designated hitter if he were to see his name in the lineup.

#15 – Ben McLaughlin – INF

Jr. | L/R |6′ 3″ | 210

Golden, Colo. / Golden High School / Hutchinson CC

2022: 60 games, .411/.511/.804, 69 R, 88 H, 23 2B, 2 3B, 19 HR, 83 RBI, 33 BB/19 K, 7 SB

Although he earned the NJCAA Gold Glove Award at third base in 2022, McLaughlin’s performance at the plate was arguably more impressive. The left-handed hitter out of Golden, Colo., smashed 19 homers and posted a 1.315 OPS.

In the fall, McLaughlin tied for a team-best four homers, and he added nine RBIs. He served as the DH with the projected starting lineup on a few occasions in pre-spring scrimmages, and he’s looked solid.

McLaughlin’s primarily played at third or first when in the field, but he projects to be a DH if he’s in the lineup. It is worth noting that Brady Slaven’s starting first baseman has worked a bit at third in pre-spring scrimmages, and McLaughlin would be a candidate to play at first if Slavens were to move to third.

“I just think that he’s a left-handed hitter that can play some first,” Van Horn said post-fall. “He can DH. I think he could even pinch hit. He’s got a good makeup about him where he doesn’t get all worked up about things.”

Van Horn also added that McLaughlin pitched some at the JUCO level, and he had Tommy John surgery about a year and a half ago (quote on Nov. 9, so a year and a half from then). He mentioned that the coaching staff has talked about using him as a pitcher, but not necessarily for the 2023 season.

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