Former Hogs Player Goes High In MLB Draft

FAYETTEVILLE -- Former Arkansas second baseman Scott Bridges was the first ex-player picked in Tuesday's opening day of the Major League First-Year Draft.

Bridges, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior, was taken in the eighth round by the San Francisco Giants. He was the 252nd player chosen.

Bridges, along with senior center fielder Casey Rowlett, were suspended March 29 for violating a team rule.

Arkansas signees Travis Wood and Kyle Hancock were taken in the first three rounds Tuesday.

Wood, a 6-foot, 170-pound left-hander from Bryant, was taken in the second round (60th player overall) by the Cincinnati Reds. Hancock, a 6-3, 195 pounder from Rowlett, Texas, was taken in the third round (87th overall) by the Colorado Rockies.

Another signee, shortstop Kevin Carby of Tulsa Booker T. Washington, was drafted the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 18th round (556th overall).

There were 18 rounds completed Tuesday. The final day of the draft begins today at noon.

Expected to be chosen today are Rowlett and his successor, junior Craig Gentry, who helped Arkansas reach the championship game of the NCAA Austin (Texas) Regional on Monday.

Texas eliminated Arkansas 5-2 at Disch-Falk Field.Before his suspension, Bridges was hitting .410 and had stolen 22 of 24 bases. He played in 22 games, starting 21 of them. He had 3 home runs and 15 RBIs.

"I had no idea I would go that high in the draft," Bridges said. "I wasn't even paying attention to the draft. My mom (Vickie Cooper) called me and told me the Giants had taken me. I guess they called her first.

"It feels great.

"I think they drafted me because of my speed. This year was the first time I really starting putting up good numbers with my bat. I knew the Giants had been looking at me because I've been talking with them the last couple of weeks."

Bridges said he sincerely appreciated the support he received after his abrupt and controversial departure from the team.

"Oh man, if I could tell Arkansas fans anything, it would be I want to thank them for supporting me and Casey through all of this," Bridges said. "I truly appreciate all of them who backed us during this tough set of circumstances."

Hancock, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound right-hander, was 12-1 this season. He struck out 144 in 70 innings and had a 1.13 earned run average. His fastball has been clocked between 91-94 mph, his curveball (76-79) and his change-up (70-73) also are impressive.

Wood was 10-1 with a .52 ERA. He had 146 strikeouts in 67 innings.

Wood could not be reached for comment.

"It was pretty exciting hearing my name called (on the audio cast on the Internet)," Hancock said. "I felt like the Rockies were in the mix. I had a few calls from the Rockies up until the time I heard my name. It's a great feeling.

"I can't describe it."

Hancock is a former high school teammate of Razorbacks sophomore first baseman Danny Hamblin. Hamblin's younger brother, Miles, is a sophomore at Rowlett and earned second-team All-District 11-5A honors this season.

Hancock said he hasn't decided if he'll sign a professional contract or play for the Razorbacks next year.

"I really don't know at this point," he said. "We have talked with the Rockies organization. They know I have a great option of still going to Arkansas to play college baseball. So, they know what they are dealing with.

"We have no set dollar amount in mind. We'll listen to their offers, negotiate and make sure we are treated fairly and make sure everything is in line.

"It'll be a few days before I decide.

"I've talked with (Arkansas pitching) coach ((Dave) Jorn. He called to congratulate me and said he would stand by me and my decision."

Hancock said he might now have to go "get a Rockies hat."

But ...

"Don't worry, I'm already head-to-toe in Razorbacks stuff."

Arkansas, which finished 45-24 and made an appearance in the College World Series for the first time in 15 years in 2004, had four players drafted last year.

They were: Jay Sawatski, 6-2, 195, SR.,LHP (8th round, Minnesota Twins, 241st pick overall); Brady Toops, 6-3, 200, JR., C (10th round, St. Louis Cardinals, 300th overall pick); Haas Pratt, 6-3, 200, SR., 1B (30th round, Oakland A's, 907th overall pick); and Clint Brannon, 5-11, 205, JR., LHP (34th round, Texas Rangers, 1,011th overall pick).

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