Reports: Lakind signs with Pirates

Arkansas coaches are eagerly awaiting Monday's 11 p.m. deadline for drafted players to sign. Reports Thursday indicate Razorback signee Jared Lakind has signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Arkansas signee Jared Lakind has signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to Baseball America. A blog report earlier Thursday on said Lakind had come to terms with the Pirates, according to multiple sources.

Lakind, a 23rd round draft pick in June, reportedly signed for $400,000, according to Baseball America.

The news comes as a surprise. Razorback coach Dave Van Horn seemed fairly confident Lakind and fellow 23rd round pick Dominic Ficociello (Tigers) would make it to campus next year when he spoke to Hawgs Illustrated last month.

"You know, Lakind and Ficociello could have been a lot higher picks if they didn't have their money up so high," Van Horn said. "We're very fortunate and it looks like they're both coming; they say they are. They've done all they're supposed to do to get here. If we can keep this class together it will be one of the best classes to ever come through here."

Van Horn said Lakind was a top five round talent, but fell so far because of a high asking price. But Pittsburgh has had trouble signing several of its top picks from the June draft, allowing more money to be used on lower round picks.

Last week Lakind helped the Houston Raiders win the Senior Division National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series, hitting three home runs during the playoffs en route to being named the tournament's most valuable player. He was expected to compete for the starting job at first base in 2011 for the Razorbacks.

It will be a tense week for Arkansas' coaches as Monday's 11 p.m. deadline to for MLB franchises to sign drafted players nears. First-rounder Zack Cox (Cardinals) is expected to sign, as are second-rounders Drew Smyly (Tigers) and Brett Eibner (Royals)

"I believe we're going to get a deal done (with Eibner)," Royals assistant general manager of scouting and player development J.J. Picollo told earlier this week. "We've made progress through the summer."

Arkansas outfielder Collin Kuhn has also yet to sign after being drafted in the 15th round by the Tigers. Van Horn said last month he expected Kuhn to return to school.

Razorback coaches are still awaiting word on at least three other signees. Pitchers Ryne Stanek (Mariners), Ben Wells (Cubs) and Robbie Ray (Nationals) are also possibilities to sign with their respective franchises. Wells seems to be the most likely candidate to sign early.

Justin O'Conner, drafted in the first round by the Tampa Bay Rays, was the only Razorback signee to sign a professional contract prior to Lakind. Van Horn said last month this could be one of the nation's top signing classes.

"If we lost three or four of them we lose a lot of the future," Van Horn said. "We have some guys in our program that are getting better and they'll be ready to go. If we can keep them together you'll definitely see three or four freshmen in our lineup next year that are very talented. Hopefully we can continue to watch them develop and we can make a run at the end of the year."

Former Razorbacks Andy Wilkins (White Sox), Mike Bolsinger (Diamondbacks), Jordan Pratt (Tigers) and Jeremy Heatley (Marlins) have also signed pro contracts this summer.

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