Within days of the season coming to a close, a pair of Arkansas baseball players announced they had undergone surgery.
Second baseman Peyton Stovall had his torn labrum repaired Wednesday, while left-hander Hunter Hollan had a minor knee procedure Friday.
Both injuries had previously been reported, but it was not known that Hollan needed surgery until the day it happened, with HawgBeat first to report the news.
Stovall missed the final three weeks of the regular season and the entire postseason, but had been playing through the injury for about a month before being shut down.
Thank you to Dr. Meister and his staff for surgery!! Thank you Razorback nation for the unwavering support all season! Looking forward to next year 🐗🐗 pic.twitter.com/vPatgycaoA— Peyton Stovall (@peyton_stovall) June 8, 2023
In an interview on Out of Bounds, an afternoon radio show on 103.7 The Buzz, Stovall said he’s back home in Louisiana, but plans to be back in Fayetteville in about a week to begin the rehab process.
It will be 5-6 months before Stovall is able to hit and throw again, which puts him back sometime in November or December. That means he’ll likely miss most, if not all, of fall ball.
Hollan never missed any time, but was clearly hindered late in the season by what Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn initially described as shin splints. Hollan later said it was a nerve issue.
Surgery went as planned! I’ll be pushing off the mound again soon! pic.twitter.com/rDxuOMHrT5— Hunter Hollan (@hollanhunter1) June 9, 2023
That latter description proved to be more accurate, as his surgery was done “to relieve inflammation on the saphenous nerve in his knee,” his mother, Kimberly Hollan, revealed on Twitter. He had been dealing with numbness and pain since February, but it came to a head late in the season — particularly in back-to-back rough starts against Georgia and Mississippi State.
His timeline is much shorter than Stovall’s, as Kimberly Hollan added that he was able to walk out of the hospital and will be “completely healed in a few short weeks.”
What it Means for Peyton Stovall
As mentioned above, Peyton Stovall’s recovery timeline makes it unlikely he’ll be able to do much this fall.
As a rising junior with 350 career at bats, that’s not necessarily a huge deal. The bigger concern is how his shoulder recovers from the surgery.
While he should be healed in plenty of time for the 2024 season, Stovall could potentially be limited defensively because of his arm. A similar scenario has played out with the Razorbacks twice in recent years.
Trevor Ezell transferred to Arkansas following the 2018 season and figured to be Carson Shaddy’s replacement at second base, as that’s the position he played at Southeast Missouri State, but he never fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery.
Just before the start of the 2019 season, Ezell — despite standing just 5-foot-8 — converted to first base and ended up being selected to the SEC All-Defensive Team. He got a handful of reps at second, but never looked comfortable making the throws required at the position and later said he never made a pain-free throw during his lone year in Fayetteville.
The following offseason, it was Matt Goodheart who required shoulder surgery. Coming off a debut season in which he earned second-team All-SEC accolades as a designated hitter, he figured to get a look as a corner outfielder or first baseman in future seasons, but lingering effects of the injury limited him to playing almost exclusively as a DH.
“Labrum repair comes in a variety of ways,” Goodheart tweeted on May 17. “Some can be 3-5 months. Some, like mine and Trevor Ezell’s, never fully get back to normal. I hope it’s the former. I wouldn’t wish what I and Ezell went through on anyone.”
The best-case scenario would be Stovall returning as the starting second baseman in 2024. However, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he’s forced to follow a route similar to Ezell or Goodheart.
Assuming Peyton Holt comes back (he is draft eligible), the Razorbacks have an excellent second baseman waiting in the wings. Plus, Stovall is no stranger to first base — he played it, and played it well, as a freshman in 2022 — and Brady Slavens is out of eligibility, so Arkansas will need a new first baseman next season.
He also has a bat worth keeping in the lineup even if it’s as a designated hitter. Despite an up-and-down freshman year, he still hit .295 thanks to him getting scorching hot in the postseason. This year, he was hitting over .300 about the time he got hurt. The injury was a significant factor in him hitting just .253.
Listen to Peyton Stovall’s full interview on Out of Bounds below, starting at the 2:59 mark:
What it Means for Hunter Hollan
When he appeared on Out of Bounds, the same radio show Peyton Stovall went on later in the week, Hunter Hollan dropped a nugget that excited Arkansas baseball fans: The left-hander didn’t rule out a return to Fayetteville.
“I’m definitely thinking about it, man,” Hollan said. “Don’t get me wrong, I want to throw a baseball at Baum-Walker (again). I want to keep throwing baseballs and I want to do it at Arkansas. It depends, man. I really don’t know. I guess it’s something I haven’t thought about too much, but don’t be surprised if I’m in an Arkansas uniform again.”
At the time, the comment didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
In college baseball, prospects with a legitimate professional future almost never return for their senior year because of how the draft is structured.
Unlike its counterparts in football and basketball, the MLB Draft includes high school and college players who have the option of not signing and getting drafted again in a future year.
College seniors with no remaining eligibility are the exception to that. They have no choice but to take what is offered when they get drafted, leading to extremely low signing bonuses. That lack of leverage is why most leave as juniors or, in some cases, draft-eligible sophomores. In that scenario, they still have a return to college as a bargaining chip in contract negotiations.
Considering he is one of the top college lefties eligible for this summer’s MLB Draft, checking in at No. 83 overall on MLB Pipeline’s list of the 200 best draft prospects.
That ranking is no guarantee he’ll get drafted in that range, but if he was, that selection would come with a slot value of more than $800,000. Seniors with no leverage, on the other hand, typically sign for somewhere between $10,000-$20,000.
Hollan would be leaving a lot of money on the table if he chose to return…unless there was another factor at play. It turns out there was.
The nagging injury he dealt with all season required surgery. While minor, that could be enough for Hollan to drop some on draft boards. Will it be enough for him to decide to come back for his senior year? That’s a question only he and his family can answer.
Hypothetically, though, if Hollan returned to Arkansas in 2024, the Razorbacks would enter the year with arguably the best starting rotation in the country.
Left-hander Hagen Smith and right-hander Brady Tygart were both sophomores this past season and can’t enter the draft. They have experience out of the bullpen, but it seems most likely that they’ll be a 1-2 punch as starters next season. Throw in Hollan as the third starter and that’s three top-100 prospects in Arkansas’ rotation.
If everyone stays healthy, which didn’t happen this past season, the Razorbacks would be pretty salty on the mound.
2024 Arkansas Baseball Roster Tracker
Exhausted Eligibility (3)
- John Bolton
- Brady Slavens
- Jared Wegner
Can Return, but Eligible for MLB Draft (17)
- Cody Adcock – senior
- Jace Bohrofen – senior
- Caleb Cali – fifth-year senior
- Dylan Carter – fifth-year senior
- Harold Coll – senior
- Koty Frank – sixth-year super senior
- Nick Griffin – redshirt junior
- Hunter Grimes – sixth-year super senior
- Hunter Hollan – senior
- Peyton Holt – super senior
- Tavian Josenberger – senior
- Will McEntire – fifth-year senior
- Ben McLaughlin – senior
- Zack Morris – super senior
- Hudson Polk – senior
- Parker Rowland – senior
- Jaxon Wiggins – senior
Can Return, but Not Draft Eligible (18)
- Ben Bybee – sophomore
- Parker Coil – sophomore
- Kendall Diggs – junior
- Cooper Dossett – sophomore
- Jake Faherty – redshirt sophomore
- Sean Fitzpatrick – sophomore
- Christian Foutch – sophomore
- Jordan Huskey – redshirt freshman
- Josh Hyneman – redshirt freshman
- Jayson Jones – sophomore
- Cal Kilgore – redshirt sophomore
- Austin Ledbetter – junior
- Mason Neville – sophomore
- Reese Robinett – sophomore
- Hagen Smith – junior
- Peyton Stovall – junior
- Brady Tygart – junior
- Gage Wood – sophomore
Incoming Freshmen (20)
- RHP Jaewoo Choo
- RHP Jonah Conradt
- LHP Colin Fisher
- C/UTL Nate Franco
- RHP Gabe Gaeckle
- OF Kendall George
- LHP Adam Hachman
- C Ryder Helfrick
- LHP Tucker Holland
- RHP Barrett Kent
- INF Walker Martin
- RHP Tate McGuire
- INF Aidan Miller
- RHP Dylan Questad
- INF/RHP Diego Ramos
- LHP Jack Smith
- INF/RHP Kade Smith
- INF Nolan Souza
- C/INF Ty Waid
- INF Nazzan Zanetello
Incoming Transfers (1)
- Will Edmunson (Hutchinson C.C.)
Outgoing Transfers (1)
- Isaac Webb
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