Matt Hobbs - Baseball - Arkansas Razorbacks

Matt Hobbs

Matt Hobbs enters his sixth season as an assistant coach for the Arkansas baseball program in 2024.

Hobbs, the Razorbacks’ pitching coach, has helped develop numerous All-Americans and All-SEC honorees as well as 19 MLB draft selections since joining Arkansas as an assistant coach ahead of the 2019 campaign. Under Hobbs’ tutelage, pitcher Kevin Kopps emerged as the best college baseball player in the country in 2021, winning both the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy.

Since Hobbs joined the coaching staff, Arkansas has made two trips to the College World Series (2019, 2022) and clinched a pair of overall SEC titles (2021, 2023) as well as three SEC Western Division titles (2019, 2021, 2023). Additionally, the Razorbacks won Collegiate Baseball’s national recruiting championship for the first time in program history in 2023 as Arkansas’ star-studded recruiting class was named the nation’s best by the publication.

Since 2019, Arkansas has had more pitchers selected in the MLB draft (19) than any program in the country, including a nation-leading 14 pitchers taken in the first 10 rounds. Razorback pitchers who blossomed under Hobbs’ guidance before, ultimately, hearing their names called in the MLB draft include:

2019 MLB Draft (5)
Isaiah Campbell — Seattle Mariners, CB-B round (76)
Matt Cronin — Washington Nationals, 4th round (123)
Jacob Kostyshock — Colorado Rockies, 8th round (249)
Cody Scroggins — Boston Red Sox, 9th round (287)
Zack Plunkett — Los Angeles Dodgers, 20th round (611)

2021 MLB Draft (6)
Kevin Kopps — San Diego Padres, 3rd round (99)
Ryan Costeiu — Los Angeles Angels, 7th round (201)
Patrick Wicklander — Tampa Bay Rays, 8th round (251)
Lael Lockhart — Los Angeles Dodgers, 9th round (282)
Caden Monke — Kansas City Royals, 14th round (409)
Elijah Trest — Colorado Rockies, 19th round (560)

2022 MLB Draft (5)
Peyton Pallette — Chicago White Sox, 2nd round (62)
Evan Taylor — Miami Marlins, 9th round (262)
Connor Noland — Chicago Cubs, 9th round (263)
Zebulon Vermillion — New York Mets, 10th round (299)
Mark Adamiak — Oakland Athletics, 15th round (454)

2023 MLB Draft (3)
Jaxon Wiggins — Chicago Cubs, 2nd-C round (68)
Hunter Hollan — Cincinnati Reds, 3rd round (74)
Cody Adcock — Cincinnati Reds, 13th round (378)

Since Hobbs began working with the Razorback pitching staff, Arkansas has struck out opposing hitters at a historic clip, posting three of the top five school records for strikeouts in a season under his watch: 674 (2022), 657 (2021) and 615 (2019).

In 2023, the Razorbacks posted a 43-18 overall record, claiming their fourth overall SEC championship and their second in the last three seasons. Arkansas became the only SEC program, and one of just two teams in the country along with Southern Miss, to record 40 or more wins in each of the last six full seasons. Three of Hobbs’ pitchers — Wiggins (2nd-C round, Chicago Cubs), Hollan (3rd round, Cincinnati Reds) and Adcock (13th round, Cincinnati Reds) — were selected in the 2023 MLB Draft.

In 2022, the Razorback pitching staff racked up 674 strikeouts to set a new single-season school record for the second consecutive year. Hobbs’ pitching staff, which included a pair of Freshman All-Americans in Hagen Smith and Brady Tygart as well as five MLB draftees in Pallette, Taylor, Noland, Vermillion and Adamiak, helped power the Hogs to a 46-21 overall record, culminating with the program’s 11th trip to the College World Series, and Hobbs’ second as a member of the coaching staff.

In 2021, Hobbs and his pitching staff helped Arkansas win its first SEC overall title since 2004 and its first outright SEC crown since 1999. The Razorbacks became only the second team since the SEC expanded to 30 games to win all 10 of their conference series. Arkansas capped its regular-season SEC championship with the program’s first SEC Tournament championship, becoming only the third SEC team since league play expanded in 2012 to win both the regular season and tournament championship in the same season.

With a stable of arms that featured Kopps, who was selected by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft, and five more MLB draftees, Hobbs oversaw a Razorback pitching staff that totaled 657 strikeouts, the previous school record, during the historic 50-win season in 2021.

Kopps, who became the second Arkansas player in school history to win the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy, posted a 12-1 record with 11 saves, logging a school-record 0.90 ERA during the year. The right-hander struck out 131, the third-most total in program history, and walked just 18 while allowing only nine earned runs all season.

Kopps was named SEC Pitcher of the Year and won nearly every single major award in the sport, including national player of the year praise from D1Baseball, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and the College Baseball Foundation.

Hobbs also oversaw Wicklander’s emergence as the Razorbacks’ Friday night starter during the 2021 season. The left-hander made 13 starts and posted a 7-1 record with a 2.09 ERA, the second-lowest earned run average among all SEC pitchers. Wicklander, who earned All-SEC Second Team honors at the year’s end, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth round of the 2021 MLB Draft.

Kopps and Wicklander were two of six Razorback pitchers selected in the 2021 MLB Draft, as Costeiu (8th round, Los Angeles Angels), Lockhart (10th round, Los Angeles Dodgers), Monke (14th round, Kansas City Royals) and Trest (19th round, Colorado Rockies) also heard their names called. Arkansas’ six pitchers taken, including four in the draft’s first 10 rounds, was the most the program has ever had selected in the first 20 rounds of the MLB draft.

For Arkansas, it was the second time in program history that it had four pitchers selected in the draft’s first 10 rounds. The Razorbacks also achieved the feat in 2019, Hobbs’ first year as pitching coach, when Campbell (CB-B, Seattle Mariners), Cronin (4th round, Washington Nationals), Kostyshock (8th round, Colorado Rockies) and Scroggins (9th round, Boston Red Sox) all went in the first 10 rounds.

Despite the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Hobbs’ pitchers were impressive over the first 16 games of the year. The Hogs put together a 3.68 ERA and an 11-5 record with three saves and one shutout. Arkansas racked up 143 strikeouts in 142.0 innings as seven pitchers tallied double-digit strikeout totals, with right-hander Connor Noland leading the way with 19.

Noland went 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA over three starts to lead Arkansas’ starting pitching. Pitcher Zebulon Vermillion was electric out of the bullpen, striking out 12 with only four hits allowed, all singles, in five outings, winning one game and picking up a save in another.

Hobbs helped craft the Razorback pitching staff into one of the top groups in the country in his first year on the job in 2019, led by Campbell. The Razorbacks’ Friday night starter, Campbell put together a 12-1 season and recorded a 2.13 ERA over 118.1 innings, striking out 125 in 18 starts. He was named a consensus All-American for his performance in 2019, earning a first-team nod from the ABCA and second-team honors from five other outlets.

Arkansas’ pitching staff was bookended by Cronin, who played the role of closer and posted 12 saves and a 1-0 record in 25 appearances. He recorded 42 strikeouts over 29.0 innings pitched for a team-best 1.86 ERA. Opponents hit just .165 against Cronin as he racked up five All-America awards, including second-team honors from Baseball America.

A majority of Arkansas’ game two and three starts came from a pair of freshmen in Noland and Wicklander, as the duo combined to start 34 games and appear in 42. The two totaled nine wins and 145 strikeouts, putting together a pair of low 4.00 ERAs as Noland picked up freshman All-America honors from Perfect Game.

The Razorback arms helped propel Arkansas to its second consecutive share of the SEC West behind a 20-10 conference record. The Hogs earned a No. 5 national seed for their postseason run, which featured a clean sweep in the NCAA Fayetteville Regionals and two wins over SEC foe Ole Miss in the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional. Arkansas’ season culminated with a trip to Omaha, the program’s 10th overall trip to the College World Series.

Four of Arkansas’ pitchers were taken in the 2019 MLB Draft, with Campbell getting selected in the second round by the Mariners. Cronin, Kostyshock and Scroggins were all drafted in the first 10 rounds and signed to pro squads following the 2019 season.

Before Arkansas, Hobbs spent four years at Wake Forest. During his time in Winston-Salem, 12 Demon Deacon pitchers were drafted or signed free-agent contracts in four years (2014-18), including four each following the 2016 and 2017 seasons and three after the 2018 season. In each of his first three years in Winston-Salem, the Demon Deacons improved in ERA (5.73 to 5.24 to 4.11), strikeouts (364 to 435 to a program-record 559), walks per nine (5.03 to 4.35 to 3.83) and opponent batting average (.281 to .280 to .247).

The Demon Deacons also significantly improved their win totals the first three years under Hobbs, from 27 to 35 to 43, winning the 2017 NCAA Winston-Salem Regional and falling a game short of the College World Series at the Gainesville Super Regional. The pitching staff excelled down the stretch in 2017, recording a 3.81 ERA, .240 opponent batting average and more than a strikeout per inning against the likes of Florida, West Virginia and UMBC in the NCAA Tournament.

In Hobbs’ final season at Wake Forest, the 2018 Demon Deacon pitching staff set a new program record for strikeouts per nine innings, fanning more than one batter per inning.

Hobbs oversaw Parker Dunshee’s development as he became a two-time all-conference starting pitcher, seventh-round draft pick in 2017 and Wake Forest’s all-time strikeout record holder. In addition, Donnie Sellers and Connor Johnstone were drafted for the first time in their careers in 2017 under Hobbs, and Griffin Roberts heard his name called in the following year’s draft. Fellow pitchers Rayne Supple and Chris Farish also started their pro careers in 2018.

Before arriving at Wake Forest, Hobbs spent four years as the pitching coach at Missouri, his alma mater. During his four years in Columbia, Hobbs had seven of his pitchers drafted in three seasons and guided four players to all-conference honors.

In 2013, Missouri’s first year in the SEC, Hobbs helped mentor Rob Zastryzny, who was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the second round of that year’s MLB draft. Hobbs also helped guide pitcher Keaton Steele to All-SEC First Team honors as Steele was the only player in the nation to lead his team in wins and saves.

Hobbs’ pitching staff in 2013, despite being made up of eight newcomers, ranked among the best in recent Mizzou history with a 3.87 ERA in 50 games. That was the best team mark by a Tiger team since 2006. His three regular starters all had ERAs 3.80 or lower and his staff allowed just 152 walks, which was third in the league.

In 2012, he mentored starter Zastryzny to honorable mention All-Big 12 honors and closer Dusty Ross to a spot on the All-Big 12 Second Team. In 2011, three of his pitchers were selected in the MLB draft, and he coached All-Big 12 Freshman Team honoree Zastryzny and All-Big 12 honorable mention Phil McCormick.

Prior to joining the Mizzou coaching staff ahead of the 2011 campaign, Hobbs spent the 2010 season as the pitching coach at San Francisco, where his staff ranked fourth in the West Coast Conference in ERA and was second in the league in fewest walks per nine innings. Most notably, Hobbs helped convert Kyle Zimmer from a third baseman into a pitcher. Hobbs’ tutelage and foresight paid off for Zimmer, who was drafted fifth overall by the Kansas City Royals in the 2012 MLB Draft.

Before his one season at San Francisco, Hobbs spent three years as the associate head coach, pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at UC San Diego. The Tritons made a trip to the Division II College World Series in 2009. They finished that year ranked No. 3 after claiming the school’s first ever Regional Championship.

Under Hobbs, UC San Diego’s staff allowed the fewest number of walks per nine innings in D-II and ranked 12th nationally in ERA (3.73) in 2009. Future MLB pitcher Guido Knudson earned NCBWA All-America honorable mention praise that season.

Prior to his stint at UC San Diego, Hobbs spent two seasons as the pitching coach at Santa Barbara City College. In 2006, Hobbs’ staff allowed the fewest walks in the Western State Conference, while his 2005 squad led the WSC with a 2.27 ERA.

During the summers, Hobbs was the pitching coach for Foresters Baseball, which won the National Baseball Congress World Series in 2006 after a runner-up finish in 2005. Hobbs also served one season as an assistant coach at Chapman, where he worked with the pitchers and catchers.

Over the course of Hobbs’ coaching career, more than 40 of his pitchers have either been drafted or signed pro contracts. Since joining the Razorback coaching staff ahead of the 2019 season, Hobbs has worked with 14 pitchers drafted in the first 10 rounds, including five top-100 overall selections in Campbell, Kopps, Pallette, Wiggins and Hollan. Hobbs has also helped develop numerous big leaguers over his college coaching career, including Dylan Axelrod (Santa Barbara City College), Campbell (Arkansas), Knudson (UC San Diego), Matt Stites (Missouri), Zastrysny (Missouri) and Zimmer (San Francisco).

Hobbs pitched at Missouri from 1999-2002, where he won 13 games and struck out 125 batters. Hobbs was drafted twice, first by the San Diego Padres in 2001 and then by the Kansas City Royals in 2002.

Hobbs and his wife, Marta, have two daughters, Addison and Taylor, and a son, Will.