baseball Edit

Injuries derail Milligan's once-promising career

Hunter Milligan made three regular-season appearances for the Razorbacks, all in 2018.
Hunter Milligan made three regular-season appearances for the Razorbacks, all in 2018. (Arkansas Athletics)

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FAYETTEVILLE — Dealing with yet another injury, Hunter Milligan’s career with the Razorbacks is likely over.

The talented left-handed pitcher has been plagued with multiple arm injuries since his senior year at Greenbrier, Ark., and the latest - in his shoulder - led head coach Dave Van Horn to tell reporter that “he’s done.”

“He came in the other day and talked to us,” Van Horn said. “He had surgery in high school and a couple since then. Now they are saying he needs to have another one. I think he's about had enough of it and I don't blame him.”

Milligan originally hurt his shoulder during the spring of his senior year in high school, but it wasn’t until he made it to campus in the fall of 2017 that he had surgery.

As a true freshman in 2018, Milligan made three appearances and allowed two earned runs on two hits and three walks while striking out four in four innings. That gave him a 4.50 ERA, but he held opponents to a .154 batting average in limited action.

Late in the season, Milligan suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery over the summer. He actually left the team for a year and rehabbed back home before coming back to school last fall as a redshirt sophomore.

After being “kind of wild” with really good stuff early in his career, Van Horn told reporters last fall that it was a “night and day” difference for Milligan. He looked good in intrasquad scrimmages and even struck out three batters in one inning against Oklahoma in one of the Razorbacks’ fall exhibitions.

“He’s in great physical shape, trim as I’ve ever seen him, ball’s jumping out of his hand,” Van Horn said last fall. “He threw really well tonight and he’s going to help us.”

Unfortunately, that never came to fruition. Milligan didn’t pitch in the shortened 2020 season and now the shoulder issue has flared up again. It’s a disappointing end to the career of a pitcher who had a lot of promise.

Although he ended up ranked 180th overall in the 2017 class by Perfect Game, Milligan was once as high as No. 7 nationally and viewed by some as a potential first-round MLB Draft pick.

Originally committed to Mississippi State, he flipped to the Razorbacks when they hired away the Bulldogs’ pitching coach, Wes Johnson. Even with the shoulder injury in high school, Milligan was still considered one of the top 20 left-handed pitchers in the country by Perfect Game when he arrived at Arkansas.

“What a great kid, too,” Van Horn said. “I feel bad for him. He never got to show us what he could do here. … What a talent coming out of high school as a young player. It's just never happened. Really heartbreaking, honestly.”