Arkansas Baseball Notebook: Diggs played part of this season with a torn labrum

By Dudley E. Dawson
on 2024-06-26 16:17 PM


FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas right fielder Kendall Diggs played part of the 2024 season with a torn labrum per Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn.

Van Horn made the revelation on Diggs during a press conference looking back on the 2024 season and a look ahead to the Major League Baseball Draft and the 2025 campaign.

Diggs hit .229 with 7 homers and 34 RBIs last season, which was a dip from his 2023 season where he hit .299, 12 homers and a team-leading 63 RBIs.

“I was wondering when somebody was going to ask me about Kendall,” Van Horn said. “You look at Kendall’s year, the first 14 or 15 games of the year, he was hitting upper 300s. .380, .370, when he slid headfirst on a wet field or an over-watered field – whatever you want to call it.

“It was early in the game – and he kind of got stuck and he hurt that shoulder. We all kind of groaned in the dugout. We didn’t know it at the time. He shook it off.

“Well, it’s a complete tear in his labrum. I think it’s like front and back. He is right now in the process of getting lined up to have surgery to get that fixed. He could still sign and be drafted. I think somebody might draft him.”

It’s also possible that Diggs could return to Arkansas for another season noted Van Horn, who was not able to talk about his eight portal additions yet.

“We’d love to have him back,” Van Horn said. “He would have to miss all of Fall. It’s his non-throwing shoulder. It’s his left shoulder.

“You’ve got to give him credit. How tough was he to play all year long with that injury? He hurt it a couple of more times throughout the season. He ran into the wall at Kentucky. There was another time he hurt it. He made diving catches.

“He just played through it. Hats off to him. It really hurt his offense. It altered his swing, it took away a little quickness. I know it probably had to hurt when he swung at certain pitches in certain areas. In a way, he disguised it. I’ve got to give credit to him with how tough he was.”

It’s an injury that former Razorbacks Matt Goodheart and Trevor Ezell both went through.

“I hope we have an opportunity to coach him next year,” Van Horn said. “Because he can get back and play. Goodheart had the same injury, Ezell had the same injury. Those guys did nothing but hit here.

“Ezell’s was on his throwing arm and he hurt before he got to Arkansas when he was at SEMO. We took him in anyway and he learned how to throw side-armed. He played first base for us. Goodheart, it was pretty bad. He got through it and did a good job for us.”

Diggs would obviously be welcomed back by the Razorback staff and could play a few different spots.

“Kendall, if he comes back, will have an opportunity to play outfield,” Van Horn said. “Honestly, obviously he could DH, play outfield. Who’s to say he didn’t play in the infield for us as well because that’s what he came here as so we’ll see.

“I’ve been in contact with him a lot, when I say a lot, a few times since season ended. Through texting recently, couple of phone calls. I will talk to him in the next day or two about some things. He was invited to the combine to go do some conversations. I don’t know how many he had, if any. Appreciate him trying because he was hurt.”

• • •

Van Horn said that Arkansas will start its fall baseball early and end with two games in “a pretty cool spot.”

“Fall is going to be big this year for our team,” Van Horn said. “Real big. We are going to start really early and we are going to finish early as a squad and there is a reason. 

“I don’t think that it has been announced yet, but our last couple of days we are going to play out of town with a couple of teams in a pretty cool spot. We’ll inform you on that later when it gets put out there.”

• • •
Arkansas pitchers Gabe Gaeckle and Christian Foutch were both invited to the USA Baseball Training Camp in Cary, N.C., but Foutch (1-1, 0.81 ERA in 20 relief appearances and 22 1/3 innings) was unable to make it due to an injury according to Van Horn.

“I will tell you this about Christian, he threw up in the Cape (Cod Summer League), had a little discomfort underneath his arm,” Van Horn said. “Like a pull, so we shut him down. He’s not going to go do that. He’s just going to rest and get ready. Guy had an incredible year. Didn’t even have a 1.00 ERA and throws 100 miles an hour. He’s good to go.”

Because of lack of quality starting pitching at the end of the season, Van Horn said Gaeckle (3-3, 2.32 ERA, seven saves) likely would have moved from his closer spot to the starting rotation if Arkansas had advanced out of its regional.

“Well, it was just like at the end of the year, we were building him up and he was our best bullpen arm as far as giving two or three innings, finishing the game, he’s a defender in the middle of the field, can defend his position as well as anybody,” Van Horn said. “If we would’ve got through the regional, with the way we pitched, he might’ve been in the rotation for the super.”

• • •
Nolan Sozua had a stretch during his freshman season where he was hitting the ball well and in the lineup as a designated hitter.

Souza, playing in the Northwoods League this summer in California, ended up hitting .255 with 7 home runs and 28 RBIs on the season, but didn’t get many at bats at the end of the year.

“You think about an offensive guy like Nolan Souza on the west coast playing,” Van Horn said. “We saw about two weeks of Nolan Souza where we were all going, ‘Wow, I mean this is the next guy.’ Then it kind of went away and it just never returned. So, for him to go out and get a bunch of at-bats against college pitchers, it’s going to be big.”

Van Horn said Souza could end up at one of a few positions next season.

“…He is a good fielder,” Van Horn said. “He’s got a really good arm. He is playing third base this summer looks like most of the time. He has played some second. We had him working in the outfield. 

“I mean, honestly, his speed, as big as he is, he could really run. He was probably one of the fastest or right with (Ty) Wilmsmeyer running last year on our team. 

“So he can play anywhere, but ideally maybe in the infield. But who is to say. He looks like a big league right fielder, kind of looks like a big league third baseman as well. 

“So he is going to kind of show us what we need to do, but he is out working on the dirt so to speak this summer and putting in a lot of time there.”

(Last updated: 2024-06-26 16:17 PM)