Even with temperatures approaching the 90s, Dave Van Horn has been

feeling a draft.

Even with temperatures approaching the 90s, Dave Van Horn has been
feeling a draft.

Boy, has the Arkansas Razorbacks baseball coach been feeling a draft.

Eight of his Razorbacks, six of them underclassmen, were selected in the major
league teams’ professional draft, but Van Horn  thinks one underclassman,
fourth-year junior-to-be outfielder Collin Kuhn,  might step out of the draft and
back to Arkansas for another season.

Underclassmen hitters Zack Cox  Brett Eibner,  Andy Wilkins and underclassmen
pitchers Drew Smyly and Harrison’s Jordan Pratt are as good as gone along with, of
course, graduated senior drafted pitchers Mike Bolsinger and Jeremy Heatley, Van
Horn said.
Top-five round draft picks Cox, Eibner, Wilkins and Smyly, may wait until August to
sign, Van Horn said.
Especially Cox who needs time off to heal from the rib injury impacting his final
month as a Razorback.

Draft eligible as are all college baseball players either 21 years old or after
their third college season even  if one year, like in Kuhn’s case, was a redshirt
year,  Kuhn wasn’t taken until the 15th round by the Detroit Tigers.

That’s high enough to tempt,  but maybe outfielder Kuhn gets drafted a lot higher in
2011 than  the 15th round if he improves like this season’s jump to a .336 batting
average (second on the team) and 16 home runs (second on the team) plus a
team-leading 17 stolen bases in 19 attempts.

Kuhn blended all that power, average and speed as the leadoff hitter and versatile
all three positions outfielder. He was named Outstanding Player of the Fayetteville
Regional which Arkansas won to advance to Super Regionals and a pair of
heartbreaking 12-inning losses at Tempe, Ariz. to Arizona State, the nationally No.
1 seed heading into the College World Series in Omaha.

“Collin has the experience to hit leadoff again,” Van Horn said in Thursday’s
season-wrapup press conference,  “or hit in the 3-hole. With the experience he
gained, he would be huge for us. He does have another year bargaining power. He’s
only a sophomore. He could tell them, I am coming back here again.  They have to
treat him right and give him better than 15th-round money. That’s what he’s told me.
I hope it doesn’t go very long because that’s a big swing for us knowing if he’s
coming or if he’s not.”

Pending negotiations, Kuhn has not reported yet, but  is, like many Razorbacks,
scheduled to play amateur summer ball. The Beaver Dam,  Wisc. native is scheduled to
report to an amateur team in Green Bay, Van Horn said.

Other than early-round draftee Justin O’Connor who already has signed, Van Horn
remains cautiously optimistic the UA’s high school senior signees also chosen in the
pro draft will opt to come to college first.

“We signed a very talented group,” Van Horn said.  “If we keep them together, we
will have a nationally top-five recruiting class. Florida ( the 2010 SEC
Overall/East champion and advanced through Regionals and Super Regionals to the
College World Series)  had a No. 1 or No. 2 recruiting class the last could couple
of  years and there they are in Omaha because they are so talented.”

This Arkansas freshman class for 2011 should be good enough, Van Horn said, to put
pressure on Arkansas’ 2010 freshman class. The 2010 freshman class   already feels
the coach’s pressure for not producing the precocious 2009 rookies like Cox, draft
eligible in 2010 because he’s 21, catcher James McCann and second baseman Bo Bigham.

McCann and Bigham, set to return along with fourth-year junior shortstop Tim Carver
and possibly Kuhn, as next year’s nucleus, were instrumental in the 2009 team
finishing at the College World Series.

“Our freshman class (for 2010) didn’t do a whole lot,” Van Horn said. “I told them
the freshman class coming is going to try and pass them so they had better get it

Though only 0-2, freshman right-hander Drew Baxendale of Sylvan Hills, seven saves
and an exceptional relief outing in the Super Regional at Arizona State, did earn
Van Horn’s praise.

Outfielder Travis Sample and DH/first baseman Monk Kreder, both hard-hitting (.321
and .284) contributors to the 2010 Hogs’ 43-21 record, are fourth-year juniors set
to graduate and not return for a fifth-year of college baseball, Van Horn said.

Van Horn also said sophomore-to-be outfielder Kyle Atkins of De Queen will have
surgery on both wrists and that Bigham still is being evaluated whether the February
shoulder injury he played through requires postseason corrective surgery.