FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said last Thursday he had no idea where infielder Dominic Ficociello would be drafted after a rough junior season.
He got his answer Saturday: The 12th round.
Ficociello was the first Arkansas player off the draft board during a final and busy day of the 2013 MLB Draft, going to the Detroit Tigers with the 366th overall pick in the 12th round. He was among eight Razorbacks selected in the final 30 rounds Saturday, bringing Arkansas’ three-day total to draft-leading 11 players picked.
The total also set a school record. The 1985 Razorbacks had 10 players drafted.
The rest of the drafted Razorbacks included: pitcher Trent Daniel (17th round to the Colorado Rockies), pitcher Brandon Moore 17th round to the Milwaukee Brewers), outfielder Jacob Morris (24th round to the Chicago White Sox), pitcher Tyler Wright (26th round to the Seattle Mariners), pitcher Randall Fant (29th round to the Houston Astros), first baseman Eric Fisher (30th round to the Miami Marlins) and outfielder Matt Vinson (37th round to the Arizona Diamondbacks).
Arkansas also had two more signees selected Saturday. Jacob Stone went in the 30th round to the Colorado Rockies. Andrew Benintendi – a Cincinnati native — was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 31st round.
Most of the drafted Razorbacks are expected to move on to begin their professional baseball careers. That includes Ficociello, who was regarded as an early-round pick entering his junior season, but fell after hitting just .247 in 2013.
“I think he's the biggest flip-a-coin we have as far as all the guys,” Van Horn said before the draft began Thursday. “There may be some team that really likes him that's not saying much, and they'll just go get him.”
Ficociello was among the 10 of 11 Arkansas draftees who did improve their positioning in the draft after playing for the Razorbacks.
The versatile infielder — who played first, second and third base in 2013 — also was selected by the Tigers out of high school in the 23rd round in 2010. Detroit announced him as a third baseman Saturday and Van Horn predicted before the draft Ficociello wouldn’t return to Arkansas as a senior.
“I think he wants to go play pro ball,” Van Horn said. “I guess that will be his battle, whether he can sign for whatever, if it's not what he expected.
“I think going into the year he probably figured he was going to be a third- fourth-, fifth-, sixth-round pick, somewhere in there at the latest. Offensively, if it would have happened, he probably would have been. Now he might just have to take what they give him and go prove it in the minor leagues.”
Seven of the 11 Arkansas players drafted came from a pitching staff that posted college baseball’s lowest ERA since 1976.
Moore, a Van Buren native, will join third-round pick Barrett Astin in the Brewers’ organization. Daniel heads to the Rockies as a 17th-round pick after being selected in the 23rd round by the Tigers in 2011. Wright was picked for the first time by the Mariners in the 26th round after two seasons with the Razorbacks.
Fant — who went 6-1 in 2013 — was selected for the third time in his career. He was a 21st-round pick by the Boston Red Sox out of high school in 2009. The Cleveland Indians also picked Fant in the 29th round of the 2012 MLB Draft.
“Everything about him was better this year,” Van Horn said about Fant’s senior season. “His pitch ability was better. His durability was better.”
The Razorbacks are confident they’ll be able to get Taccolini and Benintendi to campus after both signees were picked in the later rounds Saturday.
Taccolini posted a message on his Twitter page late Friday indicating he will play college baseball at Arkansas. Benintendi’s plans aren’t immediately known, but drafted players have until July 12 to sign with their teams.
Arkansas will wait to see if any current players return, too. Fisher is the only one likely to come back after being selected as a draft-eligible redshirt sophomore.
One player the Razorbacks should get back in 2013 is catcher Jake Wise, who went undrafted after suffering an elbow injury in the NCAA Tournament that will require Tommy John surgery. Wise will be sidelined until at least next March, but his return would give the Razorbacks some valuable experience at the position with redshirt freshman Blake Baxendale set to return from Tommy John surgery as well.
“He's not just going to sign for a few thousand bucks and go play,” Van Horn said of Wise’s situation before the draft. “He can come back and rehab and be ready to go in March … We'll figure it out in the next few weeks.”
ARKANSAS TIES TO 2013 MLB DRAFT
RHP Ryne Stanek (Rd. 1/No. 29) Tampa Bay Rays
RHP Teddy Stankiewicz (Rd. 2/No. 45) Boston Red Sox
RHP Colby Suggs (Rd. 2/No. 73) Miami Marlins
C Jon Denney (Rd. 3/No. 83) Boston Red Sox
RHP Barrett Astin (Rd. 3/No. 90) Milwaukee Brewers
INF Dominic Ficociello (Rd. 12/No. 366) Detroit Tigers
LHP Trent Daniel (Rd. 17/No. 499) Colorado Rockies
RHP Brandon Moore (Rd. 17/No. 512) Milwaukee Brewers
OF Jacob Morris (Rd. 24/No. 723) Chicago White Sox
LHP Tyler Wright (Rd. 26/No. 777) Seattle Mariners
LHP Randall Fant (Rd. 29/No. 857) Houston Astros
RHP Jacob Stone (Rd. 30/No. 889) Colorado Rockies
1B Eric Fisher (Rd. 30/No. 892) Miami Marlins
OF Andrew Benintendi (Rd. 31/No. 945) Cincinnati Reds
OF Matt Vinson (Rd. 37/No. 1,110) Arizona Diamondbacks