FAYETTEVILLE - It has been a long week for Arkansas baseball coaches.
Sandwiched between an NCAA Regional title win over Washington State on Monday and an impending trip to Arizona State this weekend was the 2010 MLB Draft in which eight Arkansas players and nine more Razorback signees were selected.
"It's a juggling act and it's really comical," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said Wednesday. "I didn't sleep at all last night worrying about who's going to come and who's not. It's just a hard time. Coach (Todd) Butler and I talked about it. I got to work at 7:30 but I got up at 5 and he got up at 4:30. We're both going through the same thing; a lot of anxiety about the draft. It's brutal and it's the worst part of my job.
"The players are glad it's over and we're glad it's over. Now we can move on to get mentally ready for this weekend."
Zack Cox, Brett Eibner, Drew Smyly, Andy Wilkins, Mike Bolsinger, Collin Kuhn, Jordan Pratt and Jeremy Heatley were all selected as part of the three-day, 50-round draft that ran Monday through Wednesday. Cox was selected with the 25th overall pick by the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming the third Razorback in four years taken in the first round.
Eibner (Kansas City Royals) and Smyly (Detroit Tigers) were each taken in the second round. It was just the second time three Razorbacks were taken in the first two rounds of the draft.
Coaches have been open in expecting Cox, Eibner, Smyly and Wilkins to go pro after this season. Bolsinger and Heatley are seniors, so they will be gone as well.
Kuhn and Pratt will have tougher decisions to make, however. Kuhn, a redshirt sophomore, will have more leverage in negotiations and could very well improve his draft stock by returning for another year and becoming the offensive star of the team. For Pratt, a junior reliever, the money might not get any better regardless of what he might do if he returns.
"We signed 15 kids this year because we knew we were going to lose, eight or nine or 10 guys off this team," Van Horn said. "We had eight drafted off this team and I'd say we lose at least seven of them, and maybe eight."
In addition Arkansas signee Justin O'Conner was taken in the first round by the Tampa Bay Rays and fellow signee Ryne Stanek was taken in the third round by the Seattle Mariners.
O'Conner and Stanek highlight a signing class that Arkansas hitting coach and recruiting coordinator Todd Butler calls the best in his five years at Arkansas. Pitchers Ben Wells (7th round) and Robbie Ray (12th round) were selected on the second day as were infielders Jared Lakind (23rd round) and Dominic Ficociello.
Signees Nolan Sanburn (34th round), Sam Bates (39th round) and Jeff Harvill (40th round) were all selected on the third day of the draft.
"It says the University of Arkansas baseball program under Dave Van Horn is doing very well," Butler said. "I'm proud of the recruiting we've done the last few years. We've had a couple of top 10 recruiting classes and a top four recruiting class. It all comes down to how many scholarships you have in a given season to go out and recruit. This class is a big class because we had scholarships. I think it's an outstanding class.
"Each year when the draft is over and the guys come to school I look at it and say, 'This is probably going to be our best recruiting class.' This one next year, if they make it to school, will be the top one. Will that equate to wins? We'll see over time, but we're going to be very young next year and these kids are very talented."
Butler said O'Conner isn't expected to come to school and it will be difficult to keep Stanek with the third round money that will be offered. It will be very important for Arkansas to get the rest of the players on campus, he said.
"It doesn't really matter what round they go in," Butler said. "It's how much money those teams have late in the summer and whether they're able to sign their top five to 10 picks. You never know if you're safe.
"If they're education-oriented - which we're trying to sign those that value education - those guys should come to school. A guy that comes to the University of Arkansas and betters himself like a Zack Cox, Brett Eibner or Drew Smyly, hopefully they'll make it through the minor league system much faster than they would have out of high school."
Zack Cox, 3B
St. Louis Cardinals
Round 1, Pick 25
*Justin O'Conner, C/RHP
Tampa Bay Rays
Round 1, Pick 31
Brett Eibner, OF/RHP
Kansas City Royals
Round 2, Pick 54
Drew Smyly, LHP
Round 2, Pick 68
*Ryne Stanek, RHP
Round 3, Pick 99
Andy Wilkins, 1B
Chicago White Sox
Round 5, Pick 158
*Ben Wells, RHP
Round 7, Pick 220
*Robbie Ray, LHP
Round 12, Pick 356
Mike Bolsinger, RHP
Round 15, Pick 451
Collin Kuhn, OF
Round 15, Pick 463
Jordan Pratt, RHP
Round 16, Pick 493
Jeremy Heatley, RHP
Round 22, Pick 677
*Jared Lakind, 1B
Round 23, Pick 687
*Dominic Ficociello, INF
Round 23, Pick 703
*Nolan Sanburn, OF/RHP
Round 34, Pick 1,033
*Sam Bates, 1B/OF
Round 39, Pick 1,187
*Jeff Harvill, LHP
Round 40, Pick 1,221
* - Denotes Razorback signee/commitment
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