"We knew what was coming and we made the decision to spend less in our scholarships on hitting and more on pitching," Van Horn said. "We made our emphasis on pitching."
And that is why most of the national polls are putting Arkansas in the top 10 as college baseball teams opened practice Friday.
"You need pitching to win with what they've done (as far as bat modifications)," Van Horn said. "You want to win, you need a bullpen. That's why I like this team. We have a lot of options."
There are so many options that Van Horn could alter his starting pitching on SEC weekends to match the other team's lineups.
"I would think DJ Baxendale and Ryne Stanek will start every weekend," Van Horn said Friday just before the Hogs took the field for their opening workong.
"And we might start Barrett Astin in the other spot, but we might match righthanders and lefthanders. I don't think it matters that much. We've got a different ways to do it."
There's about 10 with returning experience. There's another four or five newcomers with just as much talent.
"We've got depth, experience and we are talented," Van Horn said of the pitching. "Then we have some young ones who can throw 89-91 and are very talented, too.
"We'd start out getting some of those guys weekday starts and if the older guys don't get it done, some of those can move in to the weekend. I think we are in real good shape with the pitching staff. We've got a lot of everything."
The Hogs may have one of the college baseball's best closers in sophomore fireballer Nolan Sanburn. He is more settled after a year of learning on the mound.
"When he got here last year, he didn't know how to pitch," Van Horn said. "If you go back to last year's pre-season roster, it said catcher-right field-pitcher. We literally didn't know what he'd play. We made the decision in February that he was going to pitch.
"He had issues. He tipped his pitches. We thought he was and it turned out he was. You can throw it 95 but if they know it's going to be a fast ball, they'll hit it.
"He's got that fixed now and he's under control. He also took care of some of his mannerisms."
Mannerisms might be a nice way of saying it.
"He doesn't talk to the batters any more," Van Horn said. "And he doesn't talk to the baseball. We calmed him down. We thought we had that fixed before he went to summer ball, but we saw it again in the fall. We got it taken care of. We want him to just pitch. Now he's worrying about location."
The key may be at catcher where sophomore Jake Wise is battling true freshman John Clay Reeves. Both have fine arms, but neither are truly experienced after James McCann caught almost every inning last year.
"On paper, they are the same," Van Horn said. "Both are very good receivers, can throw and have some power. We'll just go with the hot bat. We'll see how it goes.
"What you would say about catching though is that we are not as experienced as you'd like at such a vital spot.
"Wise has a little more experience, but Reeves has a lot of confidence. He's a little like Dominic Ficociello in that way. I like that."
Van Horn said the Hogs are working around some construction in right field where the fences are coming in about 10 feet from the alley to the foul line. With the slower bats and a steady south wind, the Hogs saw their power numbers drop for lefty hitters.
"I've wanted to do this since I got here," said Van Horn, beginning his 10th year. "We were going to replace the chain link fence in front of both bullpens anyway so the cost wasn't much different.
"It was becoming a factor in recruiting. Teams were using it against us. I like lefthand hitters so we thought it was time to do it."
That's probably a compliment to what Van Horn has built at Arkansas.
"It probably was," he said. "Now we can recruit to that change."
This time last year the Hogs didn't have to worry about any work taking place on a fence. They wouldn't have been out there anyway. Cold, wind and snow were the common denominators last January and February leading up to the season.
"It feels like spring," he said. "This is the first time we've been able to get this much outside work in a few years. This might be the best January in my nine years here and it looks good for the next week or so, lots of warm days."
Van Horn said the Hogs would take advantage of a nice weather weekend with three scrimmages.
"Our starters are going to get 40 pitches this weekend, build up to 50-55 for the next and then be able to go 70 with the Villanova weekend," Van Horn said.
Villanova comes to Baum Stadium on Feb. 17-19. That's the start of a nice home schedule that features BYU, Gonzaga, Nevada and Missouri. There's also a May 15 date in North Little Rock against Louisiana Tech.