Arkansas hires Matt Hobbs as pitching coach

By: Matt Jones
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Matt Hobbs was pitching coach at Wake Forest from 2015-18 and has been hired as the Arkansas pitching coach for the 2019 season.
Photo by Brian Westerholt, Four Seam Images
Matt Hobbs was pitching coach at Wake Forest from 2015-18 and has been hired as the Arkansas pitching coach for the 2019 season.

— Arkansas has hired Matt Hobbs to replace Wes Johnson as the team's pitching coach.

Hobbs, 38, has spent the past four seasons as pitching coach at Wake Forest and the four seasons before that in the same role at Missouri. Hobbs reportedly accepted the Arkansas job last week, but the hire was not processed until this week because the University of Arkansas was closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Hobbs will be formally introduced during a news conference Wednesday morning at Baum Stadium.

“There’s always a short list of coaches out there that are on teams’ radars and Matt Hobbs is always on that list,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said in a statement. “He’s very highly respected throughout all levels of baseball around the country. His reputation is that he’s an extremely hard worker, enjoys recruiting and he’s very innovative. Young pitchers want to play for him and learn under him. He’s done a tremendous job wherever he’s been and he’s all about development. Matt’s excited to be here, back in the Midwest and back in the SEC.”

Arkansas' assistant job came open when Johnson was hired as the pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins two weeks ago. Johnson spent two seasons with the Razorbacks, helping the program to a national runner-up finish earlier this year.

Like Johnson, Hobbs is thought to be on the front edge of analytics-driven coaching, with an emphasis on the study of biomechanics and use of TrackMan, a radar that analyzes a pitcher's throwing motion, velocity and other data.

At Wake Forest, Hobbs was part of two NCAA Tournament teams. In 2017, the Demon Deacons came within one win of the College World Series, but were eliminated in the super regional round by Florida en route to the Gators' national championship.

Hobbs' 2017 staff was his best with a 2.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 4.11 ERA. The Demon Deacons had a 5.19 team ERA last season and a 1.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Wake averaged 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 2018, which was 29th-best nationally and fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

In June, Wake Forest pitcher Griffin Roberts was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals, 43rd overall. Hobbs had 12 pitchers drafted in four seasons. He has coached seven pitchers who made Major League Baseball rosters.

At Arkansas, Hobbs will inherit a pitching staff that much replace 430 innings pitched from last season. The Razorbacks have experience, but are short on starting experience. Isaiah Campbell, the No. 3 starter last season, was the only clear-cut weekend starter coming out of the fall.

Arkansas has an All-America candidate in junior left-handed closer Matt Cronin, a number of returning sophomores and juniors who were relievers during the NCAA Tournament and a handful of freshmen that are expected to be used in 2019.

“Arkansas is one of those places that has such a rich baseball history,” Hobbs said in a statement. “To have the opportunity to come here and work under someone like Dave Van Horn, it’s such an honor. Everyone speaks so highly of Coach Van Horn and of Arkansas, that I can’t wait to get started, get to know my new pitchers and get to work.”

Hobbs grew up in San Diego and was a four-year letterman as a pitcher at Missouri from 1999-2002. Prior to returning to Missouri as an assistant coach for the 2011 season, Hobbs spent time working for Division-I baseball programs at San Francisco, South Florida and San Diego.

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