Four Arkansas State players drafted

Arkansas State coach Tommy Raffo believes this week’s Major League Player Draft is a pretty good indicator of where the Red Wolves program stands.

“We had a good year except for about 6 weeks during the season,’’ said Raffo, who saw four of his players selected in the 3-day draft.

The Red Wolves had four players selected in the draft, which ties for the best showing of any school in the state. In all there were 16 players from Arkansas selected and the Red Wolves accounted for a quarter of that.

Junior pitcher David Owen was selected in the 19th round by the San Francisco Giants. Catcher Stuart Levy was picked in the 27th round by the Orioles, left-handed pitcher Chandler Hawkins in the 33rd round by the Cardinals and infielder Zach George in the 35th round by the Pirates.

“This is a great opportunity for all these guys,’’ said Raffo. “None of them were drafted coming out of high school and they have worked and developed to where they have the opportunity to continue their career in professional baseball.

“They are examples of what we are trying to do here. They all do the right thing, they play hard and they go to class and get their degrees. And now they are getting to fulfill their dream with a chance to play pro baseball.

“In the past 6 years we have had 13 guys get the opportunity to move on to professional baseball and coach Tighe (Dickinson) has had a pitcher selected in the last five drafts.”

The four players drafted is a high water mark for the program, matching 1995. The four selections accounted for 25 percent of the state’s draftees, a mark topped by no other school.

“This is really a great opportunity for all four,’’ said Raffo. “I’m very happy for them. This is another step forward for them.”

Owen is a junior who has been the Red Wolves’ Friday night starter the past two seasons. He could return for his season year if he does not reach a contract agreement. The switch-hitting George, who missed most of two seasons with knee injuries, has been granted a sixth season by the NCAA but is not expected to return.

Levy and Hawkins are both seniors who have been in the program for four years.

A-State had four selections in the 1995 MLB draft when Keith Horn, Chad Soden, J.D. French, and Toby Anglen were drafted. The Indians selected Horn in the 18th round, while the Seattle Mariners grabbed Soden in the 23rd. French was picked by the Oakland Athletics in the 35th round, while the Atlanta Braves tagged Anglen in the 45th round.

Raffo said the Red Wolves could still add a player to the 2016 roster but are deep into recruiting for the 2017 class, which already has commitments from Connor and Conrad Ray of Germantown, Tenn., and infielder Ross Messina of Kansas City.