Through the first half of the 2023 season, Jared Wegner has staked out his place among the best of the best college baseball players.
The Arkansas outfielder has picked up right where he left off as a star for Creighton last season, leading his new team in home runs (12) and RBIs (43) with a batting average of .370 that puts him behind only Jace Bohrofen.
Defensively, Wegner has played perfect defense while patrolling left field. He boasts a 1.000 fielding percentage, having not committed an error in 55 total chances.
Considering his importance to the No. 5 Razorbacks, it’s little wonder Wegner is one of three Razorbacks to garner midseason All-American honors. Perfect Game has also given those honors to pitchers Hunter Hollan and Hagen Smith, while today D1Baseball named Wegner to its second-team midseason All-American team.
But Wegner’s numbers through the season’s first half also put him in elite company when it comes to some of the greatest Arkansas baseball hitters of the SEC era. In fact, through 31 games, he is far ahead of Heston Kjerstad, Andrew Benintendi and Zach Cox in terms of home runs and RBIs:
Even though Wegner may not touch Zach Cox’s batting average of .429, all other categories are fair game for Wegner as Cox finished his historic 2010 season with 102 hits, 48 RBIs and 9 home runs.
If Wegner stays on this pace, it will be interesting to see what kind of postseason awards he could garner. Benintendi finished his Golden Spikes Award-winning season with a .376 average, 85 hits, 20 home runs and 57 RBIs. Wegner seems on track to at least compete with those numbers by season’s end.
Tommy White vs Jared Wegner
Through much of the first half of the season, Wegner has also been on par with LSU’s Tommy White, who entered the season with much more hype among the incoming SEC transfers.
At this point, Wegner could be the best everyday player to enter the SEC in 2023 through the transfer portal. While the stat lines are similar, Wegner did boast a greater on-base percentage, OPS, walks and home runs through the first 28 games of 2023:
Midway through the season, Wegner ranks top 15 within the SEC with a .370 average (t-14th), .800 slugging percentage (7th), .496 on-base percentage (13th), 34 runs (12th), 43 RBIs (3rd) and 12 home runs (5th).
“I call him the Silent Assassin,” Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn said of Wegner at the Swatter’s Club meeting earlier this week. “He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he’s about ready to kick your butt. The players love him. He’s just a grinder, man. That guy works hard every day. You see the same guy every day — working and working.”
While that work is already paying off in individual honors and team success, it could also land Wegner a few spots in the record book above some of Arkansas’ all-time greats.
Other Arkansas Baseball Impact Transfers
Primarily batting leadoff, Tavian Josenberger has exceeded expectations. He was named the SEC Player of the Week for his performance against Alabama this past weekend and has been tabbed as this year’s “moneyball” guy by the Diamond Hogs Podcast for his knack of getting on base at a .448 clip. He also has a .362 batting average, with his 38 hits tied for 13th in the SEC.
Bringing some “Big Hit Bob” vibes back to the Razorback dugout, Josenberger has come through in the clutch on more than one occasion throughout this season, including this past series against Alabama. Coupling hitting from the leadoff position with his stout defensive play in centerfield, “Josey” has claimed his stake as a prolific player for the Razorbacks down the stretch.
Pitchers Hunter Hollan, Dylan Carter and Cody Adcock have also been impact transfers from the JUCO ranks. Koty Frank is worth mentioning, as well, because before his season-ending injury, he had established himself as a lockdown, go-to bullpen arm for Matt Hobbs.
Since Van Horn announced Hagen Smith’s “wildcard role” similar to that of Kevin Kopp in 2021, Hollan has accepted the responsibility of going toe to toe with the premier arms in the SEC on Friday nights.
Hollan so far has spun it with the best of the best, most notably with LSU’s Paul Skenes, who most consider to be the best pitcher in college baseball this season. Dueling with Skenes, he allowed only three hits in 5 1/3 scoreless innings in Baton Rouge. On the year, the left-hander ranks in the top 15 of the SEC with a 3.50 ERA (14th), 36 innings pitched (12th) and 16 runs allowed (t-14th)
Carter has been the No. 2 option behind Smith in the bullpen while Brady Tygart continues to recover from a UCL strain. In 25 1/3 innings, Carter has a 3.91 ERA with 20 strikeouts and 9 walks.
Carter’s rise was more than a welcome sight for the pitching staff who was searching for answers while managing the injuries to Jaxon Wiggins, Tygart and Frank. He has provided a do-it-all piece for the Razorbacks, providing stability to end games while also exhibiting the versatility to pitch whenever he is needed.
Then there’s Cody Adcock. The Texarkana native leads the team with 13 appearances and has been a jack-of-all-trades, starting games and providing middle relief. He boasts a 3.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
*Arkansas’ record for home runs in a season is is held by Ryan Lundquist (24 in 1997).
**Evin Demirel contributed to this feature
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