MLB Scout Discusses Kendall Diggs’ Uncertain Status + Injured UA Pitchers Update

Kendall Diggs, Arkansas baseball
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — It turns out Kendall Diggs was hurt worse than he let on for much of the 2024 Arkansas baseball season.

Head coach Dave Van Horn revealed Wednesday that the lingering shoulder injury that bothered his star right fielder throughout the year was actually a “complete tear” of the labrum, which he is now in the process of scheduling a surgery to get fixed.

The injury has further complicated Diggs’ draft stock that already plummeted after he slashed just .229/.346/.395 despite being a preseason All-SEC selection entering his junior season.

There is still a chance he gets picked and signs professionally next month, but Van Horn said the Razorbacks would “love to have him back” and gave him a lot of credit for the toughness he displayed by playing through it.

“How tough was he to play all year long with that injury?” Van Horn said. “He hurt it a couple of more times throughout the season. He ran into the wall at Kentucky. There was another time he hurt it. He made diving catches. He just played through it. Hats off to him.”

Diggs originally got hurt diving into second base during the McNeese State series. That was the final non-conference weekend tuneup of the year and he ended it slashing .352/.478/.574, looking every bit of the high-round draft pick he was expected to be.

However, his numbers fell off dramatically after that. Not only did his overall batting average drop by 123 points, but Diggs hit just .189 in SEC play.

“It really hurt his offense,” Van Horn said. “It altered his swing, it took away a little quickness. I know it probably had to hurt when he swung at certain pitches in certain areas. In a way, he disguised it. I’ve got to give credit to him with how tough he was.”

Exacerbating the issue was the fact that Arkansas’ other outfielders also massively underperformed compared to their expectations and there was no clear option to replace him.

It wasn’t until Peyton Holt moved out there that the Razorbacks finally got some production from any of their outfielders, as Ty Wilmsmeyer (.214), Will Edmunson (.241) and Jayson Jones (.194) scuffled at the plate and Ross Lovich (.286) was shaky defensively.

Of that group, only Edmunson is set to return, so getting a player of Diggs’ caliber back — assuming he’s healthy — would be a major boost to Arkansas’ 2025 roster. The Razorbacks have added several outfielders via the transfer portal, too, so he’s not necessarily a lock out there, plus Van Horn mentioned he could also move back to the infield or be the designated hitter if he returned.

MLB Scout Gives Thoughts on Kendall Diggs

Whether or not Kendall Diggs returns to Arkansas for his senior year likely boils down to how much his draft stock fell during a disappointing junior season.

Dave Van Horn indicated there’s a real chance he comes back, but that could be an optimistic view of a coach who knows how good he can be when fully healthy.

To get a perhaps more unbiased take on Diggs’ situation, Best of Arkansas Sports reached out to a scout for a National League team who has followed his career.

“I thought he showed enough (in 2023) to be a quality draft pick this year,” the scout told us. “Where? That was TBD based on what he did this year and what position he played.

“It will come down to the medical records and how comfortable the (pro) club is on rehabbing the shoulder and if the club believes he can come back stronger, which I’m sure he can. Anytime medical comes into play, things can get tricky.”

Typically, it’s a no-brainer for juniors to sign professionally rather than return to school because seniors no longer have leverage when it comes to contract negotiations. That leads to them signing for well under slot value.

Diggs answered the question about where he’d end up defensively, as he played a solid right field, but his offensive numbers plummeted because of the injury. That might scare off teams and torpedo his potential signing bonus. However, all it takes is one team to believe in Diggs enough to make it worthwhile to turn pro. Non-seniors taken in the top 10 rounds typically get six figures to sign.

If that doesn’t happen, though, he has a pretty good fallback plan in another year of eligibility with the Razorbacks.

Other Arkansas Baseball Injury Updates

One of two Razorbacks selected to try out for the Collegiate National Team, right-hander Christian Foutch had to turn down the invitation because of an injury suffered while pitching for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League.

After throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings on June 16, he came out of the bullpen two days later and faced only one batter before getting pulled. It doesn’t sound like a serious issue, though, because Van Horn said he’s “good to go,” so it’s probably a precautionary move.

“He threw up in the Cape, had a little discomfort underneath his arm, like a pull, so we shut him down,” Van Horn said. “He’s not going to go do that. He’s just going to rest and get ready.”

Foutch is expected to be a key pitcher for the Razorbacks in 2025, potentially as their closer. Armed with a fastball that regularly touches in triple-digits, he posted a 0.81 ERA in 22 1/3 innings last season.

Another electric arm who won’t be playing summer ball is left-hander Hunter Dietz. He made a couple of appearances as a freshman this season, but wasn’t quite ready after having a minor procedure to fix a stress fracture in his elbow following fall ball.

Van Horn said he’s back home in Florida, allowing “that bone (to) heal around that screw” and staying in shape before starting to throw again. His potential was evident last fall when opponents went just 2 for 25 (.080) with 13 strikeouts in his eight innings of work in intrasquad scrimmages open to the public.

“We’ve got to get him healthy because he’s really talented and he pitched so good for a little while last fall,” Van Horn said. “We got to see what he could do and the players knew what he could do. Hitters didn’t like hitting off of him.”

Right-hander Cooper Dossett was also shut down late in the season because of an elbow injury, but it isn’t believed to require surgery.

The Springdale Har-Ber product is staying around campus and working out this summer, hoping to build off of the promise he showed in flashes this past season.

“That injury was really scary when it happened, he thought he had really torn his elbow, (but) he didn’t as far as we know,” Van Horn said. “That’s MRIs and using every avenue to figure out what’s up there. I think mentally he’s okay. Now he’s just got to recover and if he stays healthy, he’s going to be really good.”

Van Horn confirmed that left-hander Colin Fisher is still on track, if not ahead of schedule, in his recovery from elbow surgery early last month. He should be back in time to pitch for Arkansas next spring because he avoided Tommy John surgery, instead getting the “internal brace” procedure that has a much quicker recovery time.

That’s the same procedure left-hander Adam Hachman had last spring, but he ended up redshirting his first year in Fayetteville nonetheless. Despite being a heralded prospect who checked in at No. 58 in Perfect Game’s rankings for the Class of 2023, it sounds like the St. Louis-area product is struggling with his command more than the return from injury.

“Really hard thrower, needs to be a pitcher, needs to be able to pitch,” Van Horn said. “We’re still figuring that one out but I’m sure in the next month, we’ll know where we’re at with that one.”

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Watch Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn’s full press conference here:

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More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…

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