Arkansas has a boatload of right handed pitchers. We seem to have only one left handed relief pitcher, the late inning guy, who can throw strikes. Several of our SEC opponents have ample, good, left handed hitters.
Arkansas has a number of left-handed relievers - Liam Henry, Caden Monke, Evan Taylor - but all are freshmen. Patrick Wicklander was a lefty reliever for a while this season, too. Steven Sanchez is redshirting.
Henry, Monke and Taylor just haven’t thrown strikes enough to earn their way into SEC games. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of them have played their last game here this season, and maybe for good.
There are a number of reasons that have contributed to the inexperience of lefties at Arkansas. Evan Lee was draft-eligible as a sophomore and signed last year; Hunter Milligan had an injury that made it to where he is no longer on the team; Blake Lillis signed professionally after indicating he would come to school; and there have been lefties like Lucas Krull (now a tight end at Florida) who just could not command their pitches. All of those players, had they worked out, could have been on this year’s team.
The Razorbacks have three lefties signed for next season, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see one sign late from a JUCO.
It’s tough to get quality left-handed pitchers to campus, though, because that is the position MLB teams have shown they covet most in the draft, and left handers get compensated well. It’s not just an Arkansas problem. LSU had one lefty on its roster this season, and he suffered a season-ending injury.
It seems like it’s feast or famine with lefty pitchers in college baseball. No matter how many you sign, you can lose them all to pro baseball. There are just not many lefties in the world, as you probably know.
And, pro baseball offers lefty pitchers who can throw 92-95 mph lots of money.
Do you want to sign a bunch that throw 85? They may not be able to get anyone out in the SEC.
Do you go after the ones who can throw hard – 90 to 92 – and hope that they don’t jump up 2 mph in their senior year. If they do, you won’t get them.
LSU has zero right now. So it happens to everyone.
Southern Cal had 6-8 lefties, but not all of them were any good.
Sometimes you reach a little for a lefty that has some minus qualities, thinking you can develop them a little.
How about Cliff Lee? He was not much in junior college, but had some velocity. Norm DeBriyn got him to campus. And, he wasn’t very good in his one year at Arkansas. But he threw hard enough that pro baseball snapped him up as a development project. He developed into a Cy Young guy.
How about Dallas Keuchel? He threw 88 when Arkansas signed him. So he made it to campus. He did develop between his senior year in high school and first year at Arkansas. He picked up 2 mph and now he’s 90 and could locate. But you can’t get that with all of them. It just doesn’t happen.