Three Razorbacks Taken In MLB Draft

FAYETTEVILLE — Danny Hamblin was laying on his bed listening to names being rattled off by an Internet web cast when one finally came up that sounded very familiar.It was his.Hamblin was the first of three Arkansas players selected in Tuesday's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Hamblin was the first of three Arkansas players selected in Tuesday's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. The junior first baseman was selected as the 278th overall pick in the ninth round by the Oakland Athletics.

"It's always excited to get drafted, especially in the ninth round," Hamblin said. "But it's not a for sure bet that I'm going. It's still in the air because I'm not really sure myself."

The Razorbacks also are in danger of losing a couple of the five signees drafted on the opening day of the two-day draft that lasted 18 rounds. At least 32 more rounds are expected today, although the 30 teams involved can decided to stop at any time.

As a highly touted third baseman (he had shoulder surgery as a freshman) out of Rowlett, Texas, Hamblin's name would have been called three drafts ago. However, word spread quickly he might be unsignable since he was telling scouts he "wanted a whole lot of money or else he was going to college."

It turned out well for Arkansas where Hamblin hit 35 homers and drove in 159 runs in 182 starts over the past three seasons. Now, he stands to get some serious money if he opts to sign. Last year's 278th pick received a $60,000 signing bonus, but there's no set structure for the amount he could be offered.

"You always wish you'd get drafted higher, but going to college I think has paid off," Hamblin said. "I got a lot of experience and learned a lot about my swing, so I know it has helped."

Another player who believes his time with the Hogs improved his draft status is center fielder Craig Gentry. The senior speedster who transferred from Arkansas-Fort Smith two years ago was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 10th round with the 298th pick.

"I was hoping to be somewhere in the top 10 rounds," Gentry said. "I didn't really know (Texas) had that much interest in me, so it was kind of a surprise at first. But I knew they had some interest in me."

With no threat of returning to college like Hamblin, Gentry plans to sign a contract in the coming days, possibly before the end of the week. For him, it was nothing short of a dream come true. He said his two years with the Hogs paid off in improving his maturity and experience.

"It definitely helped me a lot in getting me better prepared for playing (professionally)," Gentry said. "I want to keep my baseball going as long as I can, basically until I can't play anymore.

"And this gives me a chance to keep going."

Despite playing third base this season, Blake Parker was selected No. 479 overall by the Chicago Cubs as a catcher. As a 16th-round pick, the junior from Fayetteville may get the amount of money needed to forgo his senior season with the Razorbacks.

"There are pros and cons about it," Parker said. "You could come back as a senior and then not get as much money (in next year's draft) or it could be the other way around. You could come back as a senior and go off and help your draft status.

"It's going to be a tough decision. I've just got to see all the details."

A phone call from a Cubs representative let Parker know he was going to be drafted several minutes before his name actually came up. Parker said he also wasn't surprised they wanted to put him behind the plate.

"I've always known that I'd probably end up a catcher," Parker said. "Some of the coaches like (former UA assistant Tom Pagnozzi) have told me like that it would probably be my ticket to pro ball and I guess they were right."

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