Hogs’ Poster Boy for Untapped Potential Needs Right Fit

Jayson Jones, Arkansas baseball, transfer portal
photo credit: Baumology

Jayson Jones entered the transfer portal Monday, becoming the first notable departure for Arkansas baseball this offseason.

A heralded recruit coming out of Braswell High in Texas, Jones started 32 games for the Razorbacks over the last two seasons and showed flashes of his potential, but inconsistencies at the plate prevented him from being an every day starter.

Arkansas was the last high-major program to lose a player to the transfer portal, but has now seen two enter in the span of four days. The first to do so was Hunter Grimes, who did not appear in a game this season and was believed to be out of eligibility.

The transfer portal has also yielded three commitments for the Razorbacks in Kuhio Aloy from BYU, Charles Davalan from Florida Gulf Coast and Carson Hansen from Milwaukee.

That movement, coupled with expected losses to the MLB Draft, has Arkansas at 48 players for next season, according to Best of Arkansas Sports’ projected roster. There is a 40-man limit, so more departures are likely to happen, either before the portal closes on July 2 or following fall ball, especially considering the Razorbacks will probably add more transfers in the coming weeks.

Jayson Jones’ Career

When he committed to the Razorbacks as a rising junior in the summer of 2020, Jayson Jones was considered one of the top high school players in the country.

In fact, many believed the slugger from Texas would never step foot on campus because Perfect Game tabbed him the top player in the Lone Star State and ranked him No. 7 overall. There was legitimate buzz that he could be a top-10 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.

However, as time went on, Jones slipped down draft boards and he eventually pulled out of the draft so he could go to college. He ended up at No. 35 overall in Perfect Game’s rankings for the Class of 2022, making him one of the highest ranked recruits to make it to Fayetteville.

Jones’ power was immediately evident, as he crushed a home run with a 117 mph exit velocity during a fall intrasquad scrimmage before his freshman season and also blasted a 408-foot homer in his second career at bat against TCU at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Unfortunately, the same issues that led to him dropping from first-round consideration out of high school eventually plagued Jones at Arkansas.

He appeared in 20 games, including 13 starts, as a freshman and slashed .196/.403/.370 with two home runs and 15 strikeouts in 46 at bats.

After starting games all over the infield in 2023, Jones made the permanent switch to corner outfield as a sophomore. The Razorbacks hoped he would make a significant jump in his second year and lock down the starting job in left field.

Jones got the nod on Opening Day and started nine of the first 12 games, but struggled. He eventually lost his job and made just 10 starts the rest of the year, as left field became a revolving door of inconsistency.

There were good moments, such as his two-homer game against Grambling and critical two-run home run that jump-started Arkansas’ comeback win over Mississippi State, but Jones still slashed .194/.301/.403 and struck out 26 times in 72 at bats.

What it Means for Arkansas Baseball

This is one of the rare instances of a transfer portal entry that benefits both parties.

Jayson Jones gave the Razorbacks two years, sticking around even after playing sporadically as a heralded freshman, but it never worked out.

While a change of scenery might help him unlock his full potential, Jones would probably also benefit from going somewhere he could play every day and work through the inconsistencies that have plagued him in Fayetteville. 

His performance in the Northwoods League last summer is a perfect example, as he got off to a strong start, slumped mightily and then got hot the final month of the season.

That kind of opportunity likely wasn’t going to happen at Arkansas, which is actively trying to rebuild its outfield after a massively disappointing season in which its five primary outfielders (not including Peyton Holt) combined to hit just .232.

With Kendall Diggs expected to get drafted, Holt, Ty Wilmsmeyer and Ross Lovich exhausting their eligibility, and Jones transferring out, the only holdover is Will Edmunson.

Perhaps Edmundson makes a big jump in his second year after transferring in from JUCO last offseason, but he slashed just .241/.362/.333 in 87 at bats last season.

The Razorbacks have since added a pair of outfielders via the transfer portal in Charles Davalan from Florida Gulf Coast and Carson Hansen from Milwaukee — and might not be done. 

Davalan is the athletic kind of player Dave Van Horn said he was hoping to add for next season, while Hansen is more of a traditional corner outfielder with some pop.

It’s worth noting that Kuhio Aloy, Wehiwa’s younger brother who is transferring in from BYU, could also play in the outfield, as well. 

The Razorbacks have also signed five outfielders in their 2024 class — two from the JUCO level (Kolton Reynolds and Justin Thomas) and three from the high school ranks (Brenton Clark, Sam Lee and Eli Lovich).

With so many options once again, Arkansas baseball coaches won’t feel obligated to pencil Jones in as one of its three starting outfielders and can try to find someone who hits more consistently, even if it means sacrificing some of the raw power that Jones possesses.

Best Available OF in Transfer Portal

Here’s a look at the top outfielders in the transfer portal who have yet to commit anywhere, according to 64Analytics

  • Logan Maxwell – TCU
  • Daylan Pena – Texas State
  • Rocco Peppi – Fresno State
  • Lorenzo Carrier – Miami (Fla.)
  • Jackson Mayo – South Florida


More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS… 

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