Courtesy of Arkansas Athletics
Former Arkansas and current Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi has 10 homers for the Red Sox this season.

Former Hogs Dallas Keuchel and Andrew Benintendi headline impressive crop of major leaguers

With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.

Apologies to Danielle Harbin, but Monday, July 3 may have been the slowest day of 2017 when it comes to Arkansas Athletics.

Harbin, by the way, is a former Arkansas volleyball player who is playing with Team USA in the University Games this summer.

That was the only press release from the school, the only posting on the U of A athletics website. Neither SEC Country nor WholeHogSports had any news items.

Yes, these are the dog days. Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are about the only sports currently being played in America that have a pulse. Considering this is the state of Arkansas, the MLS isn’t counting much around here.

That leaves baseball. And former Diamond Hogs are balling up in the big leagues right now. Here is a breakdown on the 11 who have played in the majors this season as the MLB heads toward the All-Star break.

Andrew Benintendi, Boston outfielder

Benny Ball is a phenomenon up in Boston. And while Benintendi isn’t the lock for Rookie of the Year everyone figured at the beginning of the season, that has less to do with him and more to do with Mr. Judge down in the Bronx. Benintendi is still putting together a solid season, his first full one in the majors. He looks the part of future All-Star.

2017 stats: .274/.351/.431, 10 HRs, 42 RBI, 34 BBs, 52 Ks in 326 plate appearances

Dallas Keuchel, Houston starting pitcher

#OKpreps. Keuchel is an Oklahoma native, so you know I’m rooting for the guy. He’s also turned himself into one of the best five pitchers in the baseball these last three years. Keuchel doesn’t do it with flash. His stuff is simply average and he’s not a strikeout guy. Oh, he gets them, but they come more because his control is pinpoint. If Houston makes the World Series like a lot of folks figure they might, Keuchel is the biggest reason.

2017 stats: 75 2/3 IP in 11 starts, 48 Hs, 18 BBs, 69 Ks

Logan Forsythe, Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman

Injuries have nagged at the former Diamond Hogs third baseman this season. Forsythe isn’t the same hitter he has been the last two seasons for the Rays. His stick was never going to be good enough (read: have enough power) to carry him at third base, but he figured out how to play second and the bat plays just fine there. Less so this year, unfortunately for him. Hopefully, nothing is long term and Forsythe now is on the wrong side of 30.

2017 stats: .245/.329/.390, 2 HRs, 12 RBI, 28 BBs, 50 Ks in 192 plate appearances

James McCann, Detroit catcher

Now in his third season as the starting catcher for the Tigers, McCann is well-established as a major leaguer. He isn’t hitting for average— and the .264 clip from his rookie campaign is probably about the highest you can expect him to ever hit — but he has some pop and plays a good defensive role behind the plate, which is far more important, anyway. McCann is a favorite among the media who were around for his time in Fayetteville, so it’s good to see him sticking.

2017 stats: .210/.288/.434, 9 HRs, 25 RBI, 13 BBs, 41 Ks in 164 plate appearances

Matt Reynolds, New York Mets shortstop

My boy, here, Reynolds is an #OKpreps guy, so clearly I have the highest hopes for him. Hasn’t worked out yet, though. Reynolds stays in the majors pretty much at this point, but he’s a pinch-hitter/defensive replacement type. Reynolds is hitting his prime years (he’s 26 now), so he probably is what he is at this point. Ain’t half bad, man. Guys would kill to make The Show.

2017 stats: .212/.278/.364, HRs, 3 BBs, 11 Ks in 36 plate appearances

Brett Eibner, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder

The Arkansas baseball legend (remember?) spent most of May and the early parts of June with the Dodgers. He has never made enough contact to stick, though. A career .191 hitter, Eibner has enough power to entice and he’s too good for Triple-A. His big, long swing misses the ball too often and Eibner hasn’t been to the bigs in a month.

2017 stats: .182/.250/.364, 2 HRs, 2 BBs, 17 Ks in 36 plate appearances

Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Wow. You don’t get many breakout seasons from 32-year-olds with just four previous MLB seasons under their belt. But that’s exactly what the Fayetteville Purple Dog has done. Parker is a borderline All-Star working middle relief (which is why he isn’t an All-Star) for the Angels. His 40 games already are just nine short of the career high he had back with the Cubs in 2013. He’s behind only Keuchel when it comes to best seasons from former Diamond Hogs.

2017 stats: 40 games, 36 1/3 IP, 24 Hs, 8 ERs, 9 BBs, 52 Ks

Mike Bolsinger, Toronto starter

Bolsinger was just called back up the bigs on Monday, coincidentally. He has been on the shuttle between Triple-A and the majors since making his debut back in 2014. Bolsinger started five games for the Jays back in May but never worked more than 5 2/3 innings and gave up at least 2 earned runs in each start. Mostly he’s considered a serviceable spot starter.

2017 stats: 25 2/3 IP, 27 Hs, 16 ERs, 19 BBs, 21 Ks

Barrett Astin, Cincinnati reliever

The Forrest City native was taken back in 2013 and made his MLB debut in April for the Reds. He was fair during a four-game trial run during April but was lit up in two appearances in early May. He hasn’t seen time with the big club since.

2017 stats: 8 IP, 9 Hs, 6 ERs, 7 BBs, 2 Ks

Ryne Stanek, Tampa Bay reliever

Stanek has major league stuff. He always has and he finally made his MLB debut this season back in mid-May with the Rays. He struck out more batters than he had innings, which proved his stuff. His problem was catching too much of the plate. He gave up 4 homers in just over nine innings of work before being sent back down. Still some upside with Stanek, but he’ll be a reliever for his career.

2017 stats: 9 2/3 IP, 14 Hs, 6 ERs, 5 BBs, 11 Ks

Craig Gentry, Baltimore outfielder

The old hand of the crew, Gentry has been in pro ball for more than a decade. He isn’t the same player he was six or seven years ago when he could be a spot starter in the good outfields of Texas and Los Angeles. Now, he’s a runner and a fielder. Stick has kind of abandoned him (for what the stick ever was in the first place).

2017: .192/.283/.288, HRs, 6 BBs, 16 Ks in 62 plate appearances

The list does not include Drew Smyly (Seattle starter) who is out for the season because of Tommy John surgery.

Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.

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