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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is nearing the end of fall ball, with the annual Fall World Series set to begin Friday and continue next week.

A few key players won’t participate in the intrasquad scrimmages because of injury, while a few others will be limited.

Here’s the latest injury report for the Razorbacks, as head coach Dave Van Horn met with the media Thursday morning…

RHP Peyton Pallette

One of Arkansas’ primary weekend starters in 2020, Pallette left his appearance in the final series of the regular season with an elbow injury and Van Horn didn’t sound particularly optimistic about it the following week at the SEC Tournament.

The right-hander didn’t pitch again, but he got some good news when doctors didn’t find a tear and determined he didn’t need Tommy John surgery. Instead, he took a non-surgical route and rehabbed it.

Although he hasn’t pitched to live batters in fall ball, Van Horn said he’s looked “incredible” in bullpen sessions and appears to have matured physically.

“He’s going to throw a couple more times off the mound and then we’re going to shut him down, but he seems to be 100 percent healthy,” Van Horn said. “Throwing the ball better than ever. He’s gotten bigger and stronger and he’s really starting to look the part.”

On top of the physical aspect, Van Horn said he noticed Pallette has progressed mentally, as well.

Even though he finished with a 4.02 ERA, a lot of projections have him going in the first round of next summer’s MLB Draft, with some slotting him among the top 10 picks, and the Razorbacks are expecting big things from him in 2022.

“He hasn’t been out there to show us, but the way he’s walking around here just looks different,” Van Horn said. “Physically he looks different. He’s still confident and – I’m not going to say cocky – but you can tell he thinks he can get anybody out even though he hasn’t been out on that mound.”

SS Jalen Battles

Arkansas’ infield received an unexpected boost when Battles announced he’d skip the draft this summer and return for another season in Fayetteville.

Unfortunately, he injured his non-throwing shoulder while playing summer ball and required surgery. That took him out of fall ball, but Van Horn said he’s recovering nicely and should be good when the season rolls around.

“He’s starting to lift lower half pretty good,” Van Horn said. “He’s staying in shape riding a stationary bike, treadmill work. He’ll be fine. He’ll be ready to go come February, but as far as the offensive part, he’s missed the fall, which is what it is – you’re going to have injuries. He’ll get caught up. He’s been out there, great attitude and we’re excited he’s back.”

While he’s been out, Robert Moore has slid over from second base to get work at shortstop. True freshmen Drake Varnado – who turned down the MLB Draft, as well – and Jude Putz have also played shortstop this fall in Battles’ absence.

LHP Nick Griffin

A top-100 prospect coming out of Monticello High, Griffin has yet to throw a pitch to live batters since arriving on campus a year ago. He was hurt when he got here and needed Tommy John, which made him miss his freshman season.

Now close to a year removed from surgery, the left-hander is throwing in the bullpen and showing signs of the promise that made him such a heralded recruit in the Class of 2020.

“Tall left-hander with a good arm (and) it’s coming back,” Van Horn said. “It’s probably going to be better than ever. The arm action is actually a little cleaner, a little shorter than it was before surgery. He’s throwing more strikes. Hadn’t faced any hitters, but we see him pitching for us in the spring. We’re just going to have to… Once he gets to a certain point, we’ll get him on the mound facing live hitters.”

RHP Issac Bracken

Similar to Lael Lockhart at Houston, Bracken was a Friday night starter at Northern Colorado before deciding to transfer to Arkansas for his final season of college baseball.

Unfortunately for him, he tweaked his elbow before getting a chance to pitch for the Razorbacks. It didn’t require Tommy John, but it did require a lot of rehab and he’s just now getting to where he’s throwing in the bullpen.

“We’re just hoping that he’s ready to go come spring time and we think he is,” Van Horn said. “He’s pain-free, he’s throwing the ball, but we’re just one a timeline with him.”

When he does get back on the mound, Bracken will give Arkansas a veteran arm that throws 92-93 mph and “maybe a little more,” Van Horn said. Had he been healthy, he likely would have been a key bullpen arm last season.

1B/OF Brady Slavens

Another guy Arkansas didn’t necessarily expect to get back, Slavens also chose to return to Fayetteville for an extra season instead of beginning his professional career.

He has been playing in scrimmage, but soreness in his shoulder has led to the coaches not letting him throw. It’s a precautionary move and one that will continue for the next 2-3 weeks before he starts a throwing program just to make sure there’s not anything more serious going on.

“It’s called not throwing a lot in the summer and then coming out and throwing too much and hurting it,” Van Horn said. “It happens with guys that don’t play summer ball or take some time off.”

If anything is hit to him in the outfield – where he’s been playing instead of first base this fall – Slavens will not throw it back in. He’ll toss it underhand or, as Van Horn joked, just kick it back to the infield.

OF/3B Cayden Wallace

There will be a similar rule for Wallace, who has been getting a lot of work in center field this fall. The freshman put up good numbers in the Cape Cod League before returning to Fayetteville early.

The decision to come home early likely cost him an opportunity to play in the Cape Cod all-star game, but he was fine with it because he needed the rest.

“Wallace was out at the Cape and had a little problem with his wrist, his back was bothering him, his arm was bothering him,” Van Horn said. “That’s why we pulled him out of there. … We thought it was more important (for him to come home) and so did he. He was ready to heal up.”

Van Horn said you won’t see him trying to gun down a runner at the plate during the Fall World Series. He also added that Wallace is probably the frontrunner to win the starting job at third base when the season rolls around.

INF Peyton Stovall

Despite being a projected first-round pick coming out of high school, Stovall turned down a seven-figure signing bonus to play for the Razorbacks.

Unfortunately, on his first day on campus, the heralded freshman suffered a minor rib injury in batting practice. Arkansas shut him down for a few weeks before bringing him back slowly and now he’s “good to go,” Van Horn said.

“His first live at bat that he’s had in a batter’s bocages since May was just a couple week ago and it’s gone pretty well for him, hitting the ball extremely well,” Van Horn said. “Peyton’s going to get in the lineup with that bat. He’s a very good hitter.”

Where exactly he’ll fit on the field remains to be seen, as Van Horn said he’s a candidate at third base and has also worked at first base. If Battles is unavailable and Moore shifts to shortstop, Stovall could fill in at his natural position of second base, and Van Horn also didn’t rule out him playing short.

Other Injury Tidbits

~Freshman right-hander Brady Tygart, another top-100 recruit, “tweaked his arm” this fall, but Van Horn said he’ll be fine. His fastball is in the mid-90s and he could be a contributor this season.

~Van Horn didn’t give any specifics, but mentioned freshman right-hander Austin Ledbetter was injured when he got to campus. Luckily he’s returned to the mound and has put together a couple of good outings, albeit his last one wasn’t very good. Armed with three or four pitches he throws for strikes, Van Horn said Ledbetter – who was also a talented quarterback at Bryant High – has starter-type stuff.

~Once again keeping it vague, Van Horn said freshman infielder Kendall Diggs – a top-150 recruit – had some “setbacks” with injuries and sickness this fall. He has “one of the prettiest left-handed swings on the team,” Van Horn said, though, but just needs to get stronger and in better shape.

Source: Yahoo Sports


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