Arkansas Needs All The Portal Pop It Can Get for Vols Baseball Juggernaut

Landon Beidelschies, Arkansas baseball, transfer portal, Tennessee baseball, Ohio State baseball
photo credit: Tennessee Athletics / Ohio State Athletics

If Arkansas is going to take down the growing monster that is the Tennessee baseball program, it must make more transfer portal splashes like it did Monday when it secured a commitment from Landon Beidelschies.

The ace of Ohio State’s pitching staff this past season, Beidelschies was widely considered one of the best prospects in the transfer portal this cycle.

In fact, the left-hander is the highest-ranked member of the Razorbacks’ seven-man portal haul so far, according to 64Analytics. The analytics-driven site, which is best described as KenPom for college baseball, ranks him as the No. 3 overall transfer and second-best pitcher.

Each of Arkansas’ previous transfer additions have been position players: Kuhio Aloy from BYU, Charles Davalan from Florida Gulf Coast, Carson Hansen from Milwaukee, Maximus Martin from Georgia State and Logan Maxwell from TCU. It also added another one, Rocco Peppi from Fresno State, on Tuesday.

The additions of Beidelschies and Peppi in the past two days has moved the class up eight spots to No. 10 nationally on 64Analytics, which is good for fourth in the SEC. Georgia and Kentucky occupy the top two overall spots, followed by LSU at No. 4.

Landon Beidelschies with Ohio State Baseball

As a senior at Canfield High School in Ohio, Landon Beidelschies put up some gaudy numbers.

The left-hander threw three no-hitters, including a perfect game, on his way to posting a 1.24 ERA with 87 strikeouts while holding opponents to a miniscule .107 batting average.

That earned him Ohio Division II Player of the Year honors, but Beidelschies still wasn’t a heralded recruit in the Class of 2022. Perfect Game tabbed him the 201st-best left-handed pitcher in the country and had him No. 41 overall in just the state of Ohio.

It didn’t take long for the 6-foot-3, 225-pound lefty to prove he was a vastly underrated prospect.

Not only did he earn significant playing time as a freshman at Ohio State, but he emerged as the Buckeyes’ closer. His 4.15 ERA might not jump off the page, but he racked up seven saves with 45 strikeouts in just 30 1/3 innings – an impressive rate of 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings – while holding opponents to a .226 batting average.

Last summer, Beidelschies played with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the prestigious Cape Cod League and was named an All-Star, finishing the summer with a 3.20 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings.

That set the stage for him to move into a starting role as a sophomore. He actually won the Friday night job and was the Buckeyes’ ace this past season.

In 15 starts, Beidelschies posted another 4.15 ERA, but lowered his WHIP from 1.55 as a freshman to 1.20. He also had 91 strikeouts in 84 2/3 innings, which is 9.7 per nine innings, with only 31 walks.

It’s worth noting that he factored into the decision in all but two of his starts, going 6-7. That is likely due to him consistently working deep into games, as he averaged about 5 2/3 innings per start.

From a stuff perspective, he’s touched 98 mph and sits in the 92-95 range with his fastball, plus he has what has been described as a “nasty” gyro slider.

What it Means for Arkansas Baseball

Considering Arkansas led the country in ERA for much of the 2024 season, pitching probably wasn’t at the forefront of most fans’ minds when it came to needs in the transfer portal.

However, the addition of Landon Beidelschies is not particularly surprising, as the Razorbacks were likely in the market for a high-end starter to solidify next season’s starting rotation. It’s similar to them picking up Mason Molina from Texas Tech last offseason.

After all, Arkansas is losing its entire starting rotation from this past season. Hagen Smith is a projected top-10 pick, while Molina and Brady Tygart will almost certainly get drafted, as well.

It’s widely expected that Gabe Gaeckle will move into the rotation after being a lockdown closer as a freshman this year. Gage Wood, meanwhile, showed some promise as a starter late in the year, but that still left one spot open – which Beidelschies presumably now fills.

That three-man rotation is far from set in stone, though. Gaeckle must be stretched out even more than he was, Wood needs to work on his secondary pitches and Beidelschies is making the jump from the Big Ten to the SEC.

There is potential galore among the group of pitchers behind those three, but also a lot of uncertainty.

Perhaps Ben Bybee makes another jump. Maybe Colin Fisher or Hunter Dietz gets healthy and proves he’s ready. A freshman could assert himself this fall or a second-year guy could emerge.

Those uncertainties are why Arkansas went out and added a proven starter to the mix as a security blanket. Worst-case scenario, Beidelschies ends up back in the bullpen himself, like he was in 2023, or he pushes one of those other potential starters into a long reliever role.

The Razorbacks are already set to return Bybee, Dietz, Fisher, Christian Foutch, Parker Coil, Dylan Carter and Cooper Dossett, all of whom threw meaningful innings in 2024 and will presumably be a big part of next year’s staff in some way.

As we’ve seen play out plenty of times, though, you can never have too many dependable options in the bullpen.

It seems unlikely that Arkansas would add another proven starter like Beidelschies from the transfer portal, but it wouldn’t be shocking if it brought in someone like Stone Hewlett from Kansas last year to fill a particular bullpen role.

Dealing With the Tennessee Baseball Beast

Much of the focus this offseason has been on Arkansas’ transfer portal efforts in the field – and understandably so, as Dave Van Horn looks to fix the glaring issue that was his lineup in 2024.

The Razorbacks’ offensive struggles are especially noticeable when compared to what their SEC brethren are doing.

Just a few hours after Landon Beidelschies announced his commitment, Tennessee baseball beat Texas A&M to win its first national championship in program history. It was a matchup of high-powered offenses, as both teams finished the year ranked in the top 25 nationally in scoring – not to mention third and seventh, respectively, in OPS.

It’s especially tough to see the Volunteers win it all, as it meant former Arkansas hitting coach Tony Vitello won a title before his mentor, Van Horn.

He has turned Tennessee into arguably the most consistent baseball program in the country, a title that has been held by Arkansas. Winning the big trophy at the end of the year probably pushes the Tennessee baseball program ahead of the Razorbacks, even though the Vols haven’t had quite as much sustained success.

The Volunteers have certainly had very good pitching, but their bread and butter has been a high-octane offense that produced a .311 team batting average and 159 home runs this year. Tennessee’s numbers seem like they’re from a different planet compared to Arkansas’ .271 average and 87 home runs.

While it would certainly help to have more firepower in the lineup, another way the Razorbacks can combat that is with a consistently top-notch pitching staff.

For the first half of the 2024 season, it looked like Arkansas had just that, with arguably the best starting rotation in the game and a dynamite bullpen overflowing with talent.

The Razorbacks’ pitchers, outside of Hagen Smith, Gabe Gaeckle and a few others, crumbled down the stretch, though, and played just as big of a role in their late-season collapse as the rollercoaster offense.

He’s just one piece, but adding Beidelschies to the mix gives Arkansas another arm to combat the potent lineups both in Knoxville and across the SEC.

Some of those programs too, after all, are only getting stronger via the transfer portal. 


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