FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn typically holds his breath this time of year, waiting through the Major League Baseball Draft to find out which signees the Razorbacks will get to campus.
“It’s very nerve-wracking,” Van Horn said last week. “It’s make or break.”
It’s safe to say there was a sigh of relief from Van Horn by the time the 2014 MLB Draft ended. Most of the newcomers should be playing for him at Arkansas.
There wasn’t much damage done to the 2014 signing class during the three-day, 40-round draft, which wrapped up Saturday night. Five signees were selected, but only one of them — fourth-rounder Sam Hentges — was taken in the top 20 rounds.
Outfielder Luke Bonfield (21st round), pitcher Keaton McKinney (28th round), infielder Blake Wiggins (36th round) and catcher Nathan Rodriguez (39th round) were selected during the final 30 rounds Saturday. All five were regarded as the headliners of Arkansas’ 2014 signing class and most could be heading to the Hogs.
“Cool to get drafted by my Home town team but it’s gonna take a lot for me not to attend Arkansas at this point we will see what happens,” Bonfield said via Twitter after the New York Mets selected him Saturday.
“Excited to spend my next 3 years as a Razorback! Expect big things. #WPS #omahogs,” McKinney said via Twitter after being picked by the Mets as well.
Keeping McKinney is one of the biggest surprises. He was rated among the top 100 prospects in the draft according to MLB.com and Baseball America.
“If we could keep him, that would be huge,” Van Horn said.
The signees were joined by six current Razorbacks who were selected.
It included four who were pulled off the board Saturday. Left-handed pitchers Jalen Beeks (Rd. 12/No. 374) and Michael Gunn (Rd. 16/No. 494) were each selected by the Boston Red Sox. The Miami Marlins took first baseman Eric Fisher in the 17th round (No. 497), while outfielder Tyler Spoon was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 36th round (No. 1,092).
They joined second baseman Brian Anderson (Miami Marlins) and pitcher Chris Oliver (Philadelphia Phillies), who were selected in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, Friday.
All but Spoon are expected to sign and begin their professional careers. Van Horn said before the draft that Spoon will likely return to Arkansas. If so, he’ll join other draft-eligible Razorbacks who weren’t selected like outfielder Joe Serrano and pitcher Jacob Stone to form a solid core of returning players for the 2015 season.
“He didn’t have the year that he thought he was going to have and we have talked a lot about it,” Van Horn said about Spoon before the draft. “I think he wants to come back and have a big year next year.”