FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas set a program record when 11 players were selected in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft last year.
It’s pretty clear the Razorbacks won’t come close to that mark again in 2014.
Only two Razorbacks — and three total players with Arkansas ties — were selected through the first 10 rounds of the 2014 MLB Draft. Second baseman Brian Anderson was selected by the Miami Marlins in the third round, pitcher Chris Oliver was taken in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Phillies and signee Sam Hentges was drafted by the Cleveland Indians a few picks later Friday.
Anderson became the first Arkansas player selected when the Marlins took him with the 76th overall pick. The infielder led Arkansas at the plate in 2014, hitting .328 with 7 home runs and 51 RBIs. He also improved defensively after moving from the left side of the infield following his sophomore season to second base.
“Huge thanks to my friends, teammates, and coaches that helped make this moment possible for me #blessed,” Anderson said via Twitter.
Anderson couldn’t be reached for further comment Friday, but improved his draft stock after spending three seasons with the Razorbacks.
The Minnesota Twins selected the Oklahoma native in the 20th round (No. 628) of the 2011 MLB Draft. The slot value for the 76th pick in this year’s draft calls for a $737,200 signing bonus, according to Baseball America.
“There’s a lot of potential there, filling out,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said about Anderson before the draft. “I think you’ve got dream on him a little bit, but he has all the tools that you’re looking for.”
Oliver expected a higher selection after being rated No. 48 by MLB.com and No. 66 by Baseball America entering the draft. But the hard-throwing right-hander hurt his draft status after being arrested for driving while intoxicated on Tuesday night.
He was taken with the 112th pick, which has a slot value that calls for a $467,000 signing bonus. Oliver acknowledged the arrest in a statement released by the Razorbacks on Friday, saying he made a mistake and was moving on from it.
“I knew from the mistake I made that I would slide a little bit, but I was fortunate enough to reach terms with the Phillies and after we had that locked in it was pretty emotional,” said Oliver, who was a 27th-round pick out of high school. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be with the Phillies and keep chasing by dreams.”
Oliver will join an organization that also drafted former LSU pitcher Aaron Nola. The organization selected Nola with the seventh pick in the first round Thursday night.
“I know Nola is a heck of a pitcher and he has been consistently great,” Oliver said. “It’s an honor to be in the same organization with him and hopefully one day when we both reach the big leagues we can be a power duo in Philadelphia.”
Several other Razorbacks are hoping to receive a call today, when MLB wraps up its three-day draft with rounds 11 through 40. There are 13 more draft-eligible players who could be selected, including pitchers Jalen Beeks, Michael Gunn and Jacob Stone, first baseman Eric Fisher, and outfielders Tyler Spoon and Joe Serrano.
Van Horn said before the draft he believed Spoon and Serrano would be back at Arkansas next season. He was optimistic Stone could return as well.
There could be some good news with Arkansas’ 2014 signing class, too, after Hentges was the only one picked in the top 10 rounds. Cleveland selected him with the 128th pick.
“Honored and blessed to be drafted by the Cleveland Indians,” Hentges said via Twitter. “Thank you to everyone who has supported be along the way. #Tribe.”
Hentges was one of four Arkansas signees the Razorbacks were watching closely after being among Baseball America’s top 250 players entering the draft. Right-handed pitcher Keaton McKinney (No. 80), outfielder Luke Bonfield (No. 168) and catcher Nathan Rodriguez (No. 176) were not selected in the top 10 rounds.
The 6-foot-5 McKinney, who was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Iowa, has been the biggest surprise after slipping past the 10th round.
“If we could keep him, that would be huge,” Van Horn said before the draft. “He’s a 92, 93 mile an hour kid out of high school with a big-time changeup. What keeps him from going higher is he has just an OK breaking ball. He wants a lot of money. He could get it. Depends on who drafts him. But if he doesn’t go in the top two rounds, there’s a chance we could get him.”
Van Horn will continue to hold out hope Hentges will come to Arkansas as well even though he was a fourth-round pick. The slot value for the 128th pick in this year’s draft calls for a $400,200 signing bonus, according to Baseball America.
“He’s a guy that we desperately want,” Van Horn said. “If he goes in the first three rounds, he’ll sign. If he doesn’t, I think we’ve got a good shot at keeping him. So we’ll be keeping an eye on that one, too. If we keep one of those two guys, it will be big.”
ARKANSAS TIES TO 2014 MLB DRAFT
Through 10 Rounds
2B Brian Anderson (Rd. 3/No. 76) Miami Marlins
RHP Chris Oliver (Rd. 4/No. 112) Philadelphia Phillies
LHP Sam Hentges (Rd. 4/No. 128) Cleveland Indians