Arkansas' Top Three Pitchers To Watch Draft

FAYETTEVILLE -- Nick Schmidt, Jess Todd and Duke Welker all agree on one thing. They'd much rather be spending today helping the Arkansas Razorbacks get ready for another baseball game.

For these three, though, there is a nice consolation prize. With the Razorbacks' season put to an end last Sunday by Oklahoma State in the Fayetteville Regional, Schmidt, Todd and Welker won't get the chance to help their team anymore this year.

But for Arkansas' top three pitchers, today should still provide plenty of excitement.

While there is no more good news for the Razorbacks' season, this threesome is another story. Today, when the Major League Baseball first-year player draft begins, Schmidt, Todd and Welker all expect to hear their names.

"It's amazing to have three guys like this," Schmidt said. "You know, it's unfortunate that Shaun (Seibert) got hurt or we would have had four guys like this. But we had three great pitchers this year and it was awesome."

With the Major League draft being televised for the first time -- the first five rounds airing live from 1-5 p.m. on ESPN2 today -- Schmidt, Todd and Welker are sure to be glued to the TV set.

For Schmidt, the high-round projections in the draft have been coming his way for quite some time. But for Todd and Welker, two junior college transfers in their first seasons with Arkansas, a late-season push might have helped their stock.

"I had a slow year until my last six starts," Todd said. "I guess that regional start didn't help too much, but I'm hoping those last six starts before that will help me."

While Todd and Welker figure to go somewhere between the second and fourth rounds, Schmidt is still being labeled as a high first-rounder. The junior left-hander -- who broke Arkansas' school strikeout record this season -- has been projected to go as high as eighth to the Colorado Rockies by

But just like his former Arkansas pitching mates, wherever Schmidt goes will make today a fine consolation prize to seeing the season come to an end.

"I just want to go play," Schmidt said. "I just want to get picked and get that chance."

Following today's first five rounds, the final 45 rounds of the draft will be selected on Friday. On that day, other Razorbacks -- including Danny Hamblin and Brian Walker -- are expected to be taken in the draft.

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