Once considered one of the top mid-major programs in the country, Wichita State now finds itself in the wilderness of the transfer portal era — in which Arkansas baseball and other programs circle it like vultures.
The Shockers are in the midst of a decade-long NCAA Tournament drought that began following the firing of legendary coach Gene Stephenson in 2013, but have still produced some solid players over the years.
Even this year’s team, which went 30-25 under the direction of an interim coach, had multiple all-conference selections and an All-American. Now, with a new head coach coming in, many of those players are exploring their options in the portal.
In fact, Wichita State has seen 31 players — out of 36 on the roster — enter the transfer portal, according to D1Baseball’s Kendall Rogers. Three of them have since withdrawn, but that is still a very large number.
Looking to reload for another run at the College World Series, the Razorbacks will probably kick the tires on a handful of those players.
The crown jewel of the bunch is likely Payton Tolle, who was one of five finalists for the 2023 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. Not only did he hit .311 with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs, but he was also a weekend starter who racked up 97 strikeouts with only 19 walks.
A trio of the Shockers’ All-AAC selections – right-hander Grant Adler (Kansas), outfielder Chuck Ingram (Kansas State) and left-hander Jace Miner (Oklahoma) – are already off the board, but there are still a couple others who might be worth checking out, in addition to Tolle.
Right-hander Nate Snead landed on the AAC’s All-Freshman Team and first baseman Garrett Pennington finished second on the team in home runs and RBIs — behind only All-American Brock Rodden.
(UPDATE: Pennington has since committed to North Carolina State.)
Whether or not Arkansas baseball seriously pursues any of those players remains to be seen, but it’s probably a safe bet it will end up landing a few of the now more than 2,000 players in the transfer portal as of Monday afternoon.
Here’s a look at a few potential portal targets for the Razorbacks…
Arkansas Baseball Transfer Portal Commits
Hudson White — Texas Tech
2023 Stats: 49 G/44 GS, .296/.397/.550, .947 OPS, 10 2B, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 39 R, 27 BB/31 K, 2-3 SB
HT: 6-1 | WT: 200
The Razorbacks got limited offensive production from their catchers in 2023 and have seemingly addressed that by reportedly landing Hudson White as a transfer from Texas Tech. A rising junior, he is considered one of the top college catchers for the 2024 MLB Draft. Last year, he was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year when he also spent some time at first base. White’s offensive numbers improved this past season, as his OPS jumped from .764 to .947.
Ty Wilmsmeyer — Missouri
Position: OF (CF)
2023 Stats: 54 G/54 GS, .311/.380/.482, .862 OPS, 10 2B, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 40 R, 15 BB/43 K, 21-24 SB
HT: 6-1 | WT: 180
Ty Wilmseyer went to Missouri as a shortstop, but ended up becoming the Tigers’ starting center fielder the last two years. He doesn’t draw a lot of walks, but his batting average has ticked up each year, from .244 to .273 and finally to .311. The Springfield, Mo., native will be a super senior next season.
Jack Wagner — Tarleton State
2023 Stats: 48 G/48 GS, .337/.451/.692, 1.143 OPS, 8 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 56 RBI, 41 R, 28 BB/42 K, 7-9 SB
HT: 6-0 | WT: 205
After four years at Kansas, where he played alongside Tavian Josenberger, Jack Wagner transferred to Tarleton State and put up some big numbers in 2023. He was even the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week at one point late in the season. Listed as a utility player on the Texans’ roster, he was a first baseman with them and a right fielder at Kansas in 2021. An injury forced Wagner to miss the 2022 season, which is why he’s eligible for a sixth-year senior season in 2024.
Wehiwa Aloy — Sacramento State
2023 Stats: 56 G/55 GS, .376/.427/.662, 1.089 OPS, 15 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 46 RBI, 69 R, 15 BB/44 K, 2-3 SB
HT: 6-1 | WT: 195
Wehiwa Aloy is from Hawaii, which the Razorbacks are no stranger to because of Rick Nomura (second baseman from 2015-16) and Nolan Souza (2023 signee). Playing at Sacramento State this season, he was named the WAC Freshman of the Year and selected as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball.
Stone Hewlett — Kansas
2023 Stats: 28 G/0 GS, 3 saves, 4.68 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 42 K/13 BB, 42 1/3 IP, .281 BAA
HT: 6-1 | WT: 190
In three years with the Jayhawks, Stone Hewlett threw 93 2/3 innings across 65 outings, all but one of which came out of the bullpen. His numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but his strikeouts increased and his walks decreased each season. The result was a steadily improving strikeout-to-walk ratio, which was a solid 3.23 this past season. It’s also worth noting that Hewlett is from the Kansas City area, attending Rockhurst High School.
Potential Arkansas Transfer Targets — Pitchers
Luke Holman — Alabama
2023 Stats: 16 G/15 GS, 3.67 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 87 K/31 BB, 81 IP, .186 BAA
HT: 6-4 | WT: 195
After struggling some in 15 relief appearances as a true freshman, Luke Holman looked like the No. 209 overall recruit in the 2021 class (according to Perfect Game) this past season. He was Alabama’s Friday night starter and held opponents to a .186 batting average. Even SEC opponents hit just .191 against him. Holman performed well enough to earn an invite to training camp for the Collegiate National Team, where he’ll compete for a spot on Team USA alongside Hagen Smith and Brady Tygart.
Jack Sellinger — UNLV
2023 Stats: 18 G/0 GS, 5 saves, 3.46 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 64 K/17 BB, 39 IP, .241 BAA
HT: 6-3 | WT: 210
There isn’t a ton of information out there on Jack Sellinger. The Las Vegas native will be a sixth-year super senior in 2024, but we could find a record of only two of his seasons. Originally committed to Texas Tech, he ended up at the College of Southern Nevada – the JUCO that Bryce Harper attended – and spent one year there in 2019. Sellinger didn’t pop up again until this year at UNLV, when he averaged a whopping 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He actually pitched at Baum-Walker Stadium this year, giving up two hits and notching two strikeouts against the four batters he faced.
Nate Snead — Wichita State
2023 Stats: 24 G/1 GS, 3.16 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 53 K/17 BB, 42 2/3 IP, .230 BAA
HT: 6-2 | WT: 200
Despite being just a freshman, Nate Snead was one of Wichita State’s top high-leverage relievers this past season. The Wisconsin native is armed with a fastball that has touched 100 mph and he landed on the AAC All-Freshman Team.
Payton Tolle — Wichita State
2023 Stats: 55 G/55 GS, .311/.361/.538, .899 OPS, 9 2B, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 32 R, 18 BB/53 K, 1-4 SB; 15 G/14 GS, 4.62 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 97 K/19 BB, 85 2/3 IP, .245 BAA
HT: 6-6 | WT: 250
As mentioned above, Payton Tolle was an exceptional two-way player for the Shockers in 2023, so he could be included in this section or the next. Earning first-team All-AAC honors as a utility player, he was Wichita State’s designated hitter and Saturday starter as a sophomore. Tolle flashed his potential early in his career, earning Frisco Classic MVP honors as a freshman. His listed hometown is Yukon, Okla., but he attended Bethany High – both of which are just outside of Oklahoma City.
Potential Transfer Targets — Position Players
Justin Cassella — Elon
2023 Stats: 51 G/44 GS, .343/.402/.715, 1.117 OPS, 11 2B, 17 HR, 46 RBI, 46 R, 13 BB/55 K, 10-12 SB
HT: 6-1 | WT: 213
After hitting just .237 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs over his first two years of college baseball combined, Justin Cassella enjoyed a breakout 2023 season in which he was a first-team All-CAA selection. The New Jersey native is also a speedster with 39 career stolen bases, including 19 in 2022. He’ll be a senior in 2024.
Ross Lovich — Missouri
2023 Stats: 28 G/27 GS, .306/.383/.541, .924 OPS, 9 2B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 30 R, 8 BB/19 K, 2-5 SB
HT: 6-0 | WT: 186
Coming to Missouri from the Kansas City area – where he went to Blue Valley West High in Overland Park, Kan. – Ross Lovich has steadily gotten better throughout his career. He hit .167 in 36 at bats as a freshman in 2021 and then became a full-time starter ini 2022, when he hit .260. That ticked above .300 this year, despite him missing a month of the season with an injury. Lovich has played all three outfield spots, but was the Tigers’ primary right fielder in 2023, when he also spent some time in the leadoff spot.
Max Martin — Rutgers
2023 Stats: 25 G/14 GS, .203/.342/.475, .817 OPS, 2 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 12 R, 10 BB/14 K, 1-1 SB
HT: 6-0 | WT: 180
A former top-100 recruit from New Jersey, Max Martin chose to stay close to home and play at Rutgers. He didn’t play a whole lot, but he did have nearly as many free passes (13) as strikeouts (14) in 59 at bats. He started games at second base and designated hitter.
Parker Noland — Vanderbilt
2023 Stats: 61 G/61 GS, .277/.367/.455, .822 OPS, 12 2B, 9 HR, 39 RBI, 36 R, 27 BB/57 K, 0-1 SB
HT: 6-1 | WT: 208
A four-year starter at Vanderbilt, Parker Noland is coming off the best season of his career. His OPS has steadily increased during his time with the Commodores, from .634 as a freshman during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season to .822 as a senior this past year. Defensively, Noland has played all over the infield, but has primarily played first base the last two years. He will be a super senior in 2024.
Matt Ruiz — Georgia State
2023 Stats: 54 G/53 GS, .308/.412/.548, .960 OPS, 12 2B, 4 3B, 10 HR, 49 RBI, 57 R, 36 BB/44 K, 13-17 SB
HT: 6-3 | WT: 197
Originally from Miami, Matt Ruiz actually began his career at South Florida, where he started several games at third base, second base and center field. At a new school this past season, his OPS jumped more than 200 points while playing for Georgia State. He’ll be a senior next season.
Paul Toetz — Purdue
Position: INF (2B)
2023 Stats: 53 G/53 GS, .335/.425/.579, 1.004 OPS, 14 2B, 10 HR, 53 RBI, 43 R, 25 BB/42 K, 2-3 SB
HT: 5-11 | WT: 190
Another second-time transfer, Paul Toetz’s entire life has been in Big Ten country. A native of Wisconsin, he spent two years at Indiana before transferring to Purdue, where he’s played the last two years. With the Hoosiers, Toetz was a Freshman All-American. With the Boilermakers, he started 103 straight games and was a third-team All-Big Ten selection this past season, when he led the team in all three Triple Crown categories. Toetz will be a super senior in 2024.
Ryland Zaborowski — Miami (Ohio)
2023 Stats: 52 G/51 GS, .300/.402/.686, 1.088 OPS, 14 2B, 3 3B, 20 HR, 52 RBI, 52 R, 30 BB/62 K, 2-3 SB
HT: 6-6 | WT: 235
Originally from Arizona, Ryland Zaborowski is looking for his fourth school in as many years. He started out at Grand Canyon in 2021, spent a year playing JUCO ball at Yavapai College in 2022 and then landed at Miami (Ohio) last season, where he hit 20 home runs. Defensively, he opened the year at third base, but ended the year at first base, while also playing some center and left field during the season.
Grant Adler — Wichita State → Kansas
2023 Stats: 14 G/14 GS, 2.55 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 75 K/23 BB, 77 2/3 IP, .248 BAA
HT: 6-3 | WT: 195
After two years of junior college ball, Grant Adler returned to his hometown to pitch for the Shockers and was their most consistent weekend starter. Although he didn’t have a ton of strikeouts, he still posted a 2.55 ERA that helped him earn first-team All-AAC and AAC Newcomer Pitcher of the Year honors. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
Ted Burton — Michigan → Texas A&M
2023 Stats: 56 G/56 GS, .301/.414/.565, .979 OPS, 14 2B, 13 HR, 45 RBI, 40 R, 32 BB/53 K, 4-7 SB
HT: 6-3 | WT: 190
It has been an up-and-down career for Ted Burton, who will be a super senior in 2024. In his first full season of college baseball, he posted a 1.101 OPS on an NCAA Tournament team and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. That led to D1Baseball ranking him as the eighth-best MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten for 2022. The California native still had 10 home runs and 53 RBIs that season, but his average dipped to .251 and his strikeouts spiked. Burton chose to return to school and he bounced back with a campaign that earned him third-team All-Big Ten accolades, leading the Wolverines in doubles, home runs and RBIs.
Chuck Ingram — Wichita State → Kansas State
2023 Stats: 54 G/54 GS, .362/.437/.579, 1.016 OPS, 19 2B, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 57 R, 25 BB/65 K, 16-19 SB
HT: 6-1 | WT: 225
A native of Kansas City, Chuck Ingram is a two-time first-team All-AAC performer, as he also slashed .310/.362/.582 with 14 homers and a team-high 53 RBIs last season. One of his nine long balls this season was a 501-foot blast (confirmed by TrackMan) against Tulane. He’ll be a senior next season.
Kennedy Jones — UNC Greensboro → South Carolina
2023 Stats: 59 G/59 GS, .357/.445/.598, 1.043 OPS, 14 2B, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 46 R, 26 BB/44 K, 5-7 SB
HT: 6-1 | WT: 212
As a sophomore, Kennedy Jones spent the entire season in the top-third of UNC Greensboro’s lineup, including time as the leadoff man. The Virginia native earned first-team All-SoCon honors for his efforts, a year after he was a second-team selection as a freshman. He also earned Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball in 2022.
Will Mercer — Notre Dame → Texas
2023 Stats: 17 G/0 GS, 3 saves, 2.43 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 37 K/14 BB, 33 1/3 IP, .185 BAA
HT: 6-1 | WT: 210
The 2023 season was easily the best of Will Mercer’s career, which began with missing his freshman campaign because of Tommy John surgery way back in 2019. With 18 career starts, it seems the full-time move to the bullpen really paid off for the Houston native, who will be a sixth-year super senior next season.
Jace Miner — Wichita State → Oklahoma
2023 Stats: 24 G/0 GS, 2 saves, 2.05 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 38 K/19 BB, 44 IP, .148 BAA
HT: 6-3 | WT: 190
After evolving into a midweek starter as a freshman in 2022, Jace Miner returned to the bullpen this past season and was a shutdown reliever for the Shockers, earning second-team All-AAC honors. Originally from Justin, Texas, he attended Brookville High School in Pennsylvania. Miner will be a true junior in 2024.
Garrett Pennington — Wichita State → North Carolina State
2023 Stats: 54 G/54 GS, .307/.372/.560, .932 OPS, 12 2B, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 47 R, 14 BB/39 K, 11-14 SB
HT: 6-0 | WT: 205
A former Division II All-American at Central Missouri, Garrett Pennington opted to try his hand at the DI level in 2023 and it went well. He finished second on Wichita State in home runs and RBIs, behind only All-American Brock Rodden. Listed as an outfielder/first baseman on the roster, he was the Shockers’ everyday starter at first. The Shawnee Mission West product will be a super senior in 2024.
Cooper Weiss — Miami (Ohio) → Auburn
2023 Stats: 53 G/53 GS, .303/.424/.567, .991 OPS, 15 2B, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 48 R, 35 BB/53 K, 17-18 SB
HT: 5-11 | WT: 185
A former Freshman All-American at Coastal Carolina, Cooper Weiss has played all over the infield during his career, but it was at shortstop where he was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year at Miami (Ohio) this past season. The Fort Myers, Fla., native didn’t make an error over his final 49 games. He’ll be a super senior in 2024.
According to HawgBeat, Weiss visited Arkansas baseball on June 15.
The transfer portal is just part of the equation that is the roster calculus Arkansas baseball must figure out before 2024:
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…