Arkansas’ Highest Rated Pitcher Recruit in 9 Years Has a Shot at Starting Midweek Games 

Hunter Dietz, Arkansas baseball
photo credit: Baumology

Arkansas baseball bolstered its 2024 pitching staff with the addition of freshman pitcher Hunter Dietz. He’s a 6-foot-6 lefty out of Trinity, Fla, and one of the highest rated left-handed pitchers the Hogs have ever brought into Fayetteville. 

Part of a loaded 2023 signing class for the Razorbacks, Dietz received a perfect 10 grade from Perfect Game and was the 57th-ranked player in the Class of 2023, which made him the seventh-ranked left-handed pitcher. He was also No. 141 on MLB Pipeline’s ranking of the top 2023 MLB Draft prospects. After the draft, he was the fourth-highest ranked high school lefty who made it to campus.

At No. 57, Dietz is the highest ranked pitcher to make it to campus since Keaton McKinney in the Class of 2014 and the highest ranked left-hander since at least 2002, which is as far back as the Perfect Game rankings go. 

The high rating “means more than some people realize,” Dietz told Dan Zielinski III of the Baseball Prospect Journal. “I try not to focus on it. When I do think about how far I have come from a year or two ago to now and how much I have improved, it’s insane. It feels surreal. Sometimes I don’t even realize it. It’s really cool to compare myself to some of the other guys up there.” 

Potential Role with Arkansas Baseball

Even though he hinted at a possible return, Hunter Hollan was selected in the third round and signed professionally this summer, opening up a spot in Arkansas’ rotation. With the Hogs struggling to find reliable pitchers down the stretch last season, it is very reasonable to think that spot will be filled by a new face to the Razorbacks.

They found that newcomer in Texas Tech transfer Mason Molina, who posted a 3.67 ERA over 16 starts for the Red Raiders last season. He’ll join junior pitchers Hagen Smith and Brady Tygart in what is projected to be one of the best starting rotations in the country.

That means Hunter Dietz will likely find his role in the bullpen this year, with the chance of starting midweek games. He could find himself in a similar role to the one Tygart held as a freshman — a closer with the ability to go multiple innings. Another possibility is starting a few midweek games early in the year and transitioning into the bullpen once conference play begins. Or perhaps he’s a middle reliever or set-up guy.

With the pitching staff struggling down the stretch last year, there is a wide array of potential uses for Dietz. However, being as talented as he is, head coach Dave Van Horn will find ways to get him on the mound. He is not opposed to using freshmen in important roles out of the bullpen for Arkansas baseball — cases in point are Gage Wood last season and Tygart the year before.

“When you watch me pitch, you won’t know if the bases are loaded or if no one is on,” Dietz told Baseball Prospect Journal. “If I’m doing really good or if I’m doing bad, you won’t know because I am the same person through the whole game. That plays a big role in how I pitch because I don’t let anything get to me.”

Hunter Dietz Scouting Report

At Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, Fla., Hunter Dietz had a career ERA of 1.20 over 105 innings pitched with 183 strikeouts, plus held batters to a .131 batting average. He had a record of 17-1 over 30 appearances and tallied two complete games and two saves. 

As a junior, Deitz posted a 0.49 ERA over 43 innings. He gave up only three runs the entire season and held batters to a .113 average. His senior season wasn’t bad either, with a  1.47 ERA over 57 innings and 102 strikeouts. 

According to Perfect Game’s 2022 report, Dietz has great control of his fastball and bumped his velocity from the mid 80s to low 90s during his junior year. He has a strong frame and has already filled in pretty well. He mostly uses a three-pitch mix of fastball, change-up and slider, but will occasionally use a sinker and a curveball, as well. Also, Perfect Game projects his stuff to get better over time because of the quick, short and easy motion he pitches with. 

Dietz displayed his arm at the 2022 Perfect Game showcase. He kept the ball down and he pitched away a lot. He mostly used his fastball to get ahead, but was not afraid to use all his off-speed in any count, showing the trust he has in his command. He also liked to mix in a high fastball to change the eye level when most of his pitches ended around the knees. 

He used pretty much just a fastball, slider mix in his session. His slider is very good, with a lot of lateral movement, and he is able to throw it for a strike. Most batters he faced were right-handed, but when facing a lefty, he primarily used his slider. His fastball was about 92-94 mph at the start, but only in the 88-90 mph range by the end of his session. The drop in velocity could imply his best situation is coming out of the bullpen, at least early in his career. 

Hunter Dietz is a very exciting prospect for the Razorbacks. It is hard to attract talents like him away from the pros, but the Arkansas baseball program is top of the line in every aspect — coaching, facilities and, of course, the fans. 

“Arkansas has an atmosphere that’s hard not to get better in,” Dietz said.

No doubt, the Razorbacks are banking on it.

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