Q&A with Arkansas Commit Tanner Kohlhepp

By Matt Huck
Area Scout

2018 SS/RHP Tanner Kohlhepp (Eau Claire Memorial) committed to Arkansas. Kohlhepp made one of the biggest impressions at the 2016 PBR Future Games while representing Team Wisconsin. Previously know for his work at shortstop, he took the mound to close out game one for Wisconsin and impressed with a 86-87 mph fastball to go along with a 75-77 mph wipeout slider. Here is a report on him from the Future Games.

Tanner KohlheppFuture Games 2016 - 6-foot-2, 165-pound left-handed hitting two-way player, long lean frame, highly projectable, loose limbed. Offensively hits from a tall balanced setup, quiet approach, loose hands with short path to the baseball and good hand eye. Showed ability to drive the baseball to the gap in game, finished 3-for-7 with a double, triple and three RBI, flashing pull side pop, 83 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively shows ability to move to multiple infield positions, may end up projecting best at third base, hands are soft and moves well laterally, arm carries with athleticism and ability to release on the move (84 mph across the infield. 7.39 runner in the 60, gets out of the box well, several home to first times ranging 4.43-4.51. On the mound delivery starts with rocker foot forward, short rocker step to balance, gets down the hill with tempo. Arm action is loose and live, ¾ slot, high ceiling on the mound. Fastball sat at 86-87 mph with sink to arm side. Complements it with wipe out slider at 75-77 mph, sharp lateral action that gets swing and miss, struck out two in one inning with slider.

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? Easy/Difficult?

Kohlhepp: For me I thought the recruiting process would take a lot more time than it did, but it went pretty smoothly. I was expecting it to drag out until about November or December of this year, but things fell into place for me earlier and I felt that when I made my decision the time was right.

PBR: What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Kohlhepp: I am a big believer in relationships, and the relationship I built with Coach Vitello and Coach Van Horn was one that made me very comfortable with the people and everything surrounding the program at the University of Arkansas. Secondly, I wanted a school that would develop me as a 2-way player. I also wanted a school that would provide me with a good degree after college because I know that I can only play baseball for so long. I am looking at studying business, and Arkansas has a very good business school.

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Kohlhepp: Not at all. I was looking towards getting out of the Midwest and trying to experience a new culture for 4 years, and with Arkansas being in the south that really excited me and gave me the chance to branch out.

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you?

Kohlhepp: The recruiting process started to heat up this summer playing for the GRB Rays, but it really heated up after the PBR Future Games. I was really fortunate to have a lot of success in that event and that really jump started the recruiting process for me.

PBR: Where did the college you chose first see you? How did your relationship develop with them?

Kohlhepp: Arkansas first saw me at the Future Games. We developed a great relationship after awhile and I knew that the University of Arkansas was where I wanted to be. 

PBR: What do you like most about the college you committed to and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Kohlhepp: It's hard for me not to like everything about the school. The campus felt like home and the atmosphere around the school felt right for me. On the baseball side, the way that the coaching staff has been able to develop players, all of the resources around the program and facilities, and the unbelievable support from the Razorback fans helped make the choice a lot easier for me, and I knew that I wanted to be at Arkansas.

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Kohlhepp: Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern, Kent State, Xavier, Ohio, and Saint Louis.

PBR: Who is the best player you have faced in your state, and why?

Kohlhepp:  The best player that I have faced in my state is Tanner Halvorson. I have played with and against him since I was 12 years old. He is not someone who is going to overpower you on the mound, but he knows how to command and keep you off-balance and is always a tough matchup for anyone. 

PBR: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

Kohlhepp: The point in my career where I realized I was a college caliber player was after the WWBA Underclass World Championships down in Ft. Myers, FL. I had a lot of success against some tough competition and is where I received my first college interest.

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Kohlhepp:  What I would recommend for young players striving to get to get to where I am is to work your butt off and stay positive. Use past experiences to help you through slumps and you never know where certain opportunities can take you so take advantage of them.

PBR: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

Kohlhepp: My most memorable moment in my baseball career is hitting my first home run. It was in coach pitch, but what made it special for me was that my dad was the pitcher. It is something I will never forget.

PBR: Preview your high school season for us. How do you feel your team will be? What are your expectations and goals?

Kohlhepp:  The Old Abes will be looking for another strong year. We have a lot of good pieces to work with and I am really excited to see what this team does and where we are able to go.

PBR: Where do you play in the summer? And what has been your most memorable experience with them?

Kohlhepp: I play for the GRB Rays out of Madison. The most memorable experience everyone will probably tell you are van rides. I've never had more fun with a group of guys riding to tournaments in Max's van. Greg and Max and great guys that I am very thankful for for all that they have done for me.

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