Arkansas athletics/courtesy
Grant Koch was taken in the fifth round.

Arkansas baseball will look lot different in 2019 after huge MLB draft

Eric Bolin

Arkansas football rules the world of Razorbacks sports. So, with your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast and get caught up. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas … especially Arkansas football. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.

What a wild few days for the Arkansas baseball team. A whirlwind.

On Sunday, the Diamond Hogs clinched their spot in the Super Regionals. A win over Dallas Baptist finished a perfect 3-0 weekend and allowed the Razorbacks to host a final set at Baum Stadium. Monday, the Hogs found out their opponent: South Carolina, a team they beat twice in three games earlier this year. The next day, Tuesday, five of the team’s players were taken in the MLB draft. And to cap things, on Wednesday, another six were off the board.

The inevitable question now comes: Which ones will leave Arkansas and which ones will return? Sorry to tease, but that’s a question to be tackled later Thursday in the Question of the Day. For now, we’re just taking a look at where they landed.

  • RHP Blaine Knight, third round, Baltimore
  • OF Eric Cole, fourth round, Kansas City
  • C Grant Koch, fifth round, Pittsburgh
  • SS Jax Biggers, eighth round, Texas
  • 2B Carson Shaddy, 10th round, Washington
  • LHP Kacey Murphy, 11th round, Detroit
  • OF/LHP/1B Evan Lee, 15th round, Washington
  • RHP Jake Reindl, 17th round, Chicago (NL)
  • RHP Barrett Loseke, 17th round, New York (AL)
  • RHP Isaiah Campbell, 24th round, Los Angeles (AL)
  • C Zach Plunkett, 37th round, Arizona

From top to bottom, the 2018 draft for Arkansas is the most impressive since 2013. That’s the year Ryne Stanek, Colby Suggs and Barrett Astin went in the first, second and third rounds. Another three were taken before round 20 and then four were taken after round 20. This year, it was better in the high-middle.

Reality is, those first five names up there all have good MLB chances. Cole and Koch were picked a couple of rounds ahead of projections, which suggest teams think even higher of them. Biggers went about where he was slotted. Shaddy and Murphy went higher, too. Reindl and Lee were about right.

The biggest, by far the biggest, surprise of the draft was Campbell. Arkansas’ draft-eligible sophomore (he redshirted a year for injury) was once projected to be a second-round pitcher. Big, strong body as a hard thrower; teams like that. Problem is the arm injury he dealt with in 2017 hurt his stock. And, honestly, said stock probably wasn’t helped by his performance this year. Campbell has always — since at Arkansas — struggled a bit with command. Throw in the injury and his tendency to not work deep into games this year, and teams, turns out, had questions.

It’s a tough break for him. Somewhat reminiscent of Keaton McKinney, the Arkansas righty who was once thought of as a third-round pick and who, now, in four seasons in Fayetteville, hasn’t pitched a single one without injury. McKinney has fallen completely off the radar.

How about Campbell? What’s he do? Stick around and hope the injury recovery continues? Or does he head out knowing that if it doesn’t get better next year, the stock drops further? It’s the most watchful question of the next few weeks.

Take me to church! (school)

The “New Guy,” Arkansas football coach Chad Morris, held a little meeting of The Breakfast Club on Wednesday morning. He invited the Clueless Arkansas media to campus for a tutorial on the Razorbacks offense. Really, it was like going Back to School, which most of my brethren took both as a challenge and an opportunity. Like, “Bring It On, Chad. I’ll be 17 Again.”

The goal of the get-together was so Morris could explain the offense from a more in-depth perspective. Instead of the old bird’s-eye view, Arkansas media could take a close-up look. We (they) don’t have to be Dazed and Confused when asked by fans just how Morris’ offense would be different. Really, though, Morris could Say Anything and it would have been enjoyable. His personality yields itself to such endeavors.

Our Trent Shadid went. I couldn’t. It was my Day Off so I was Hiding Out. But Trent’s recap sounds interesting. Morris was Pitch Perfect in the teaching. Judging by what was written, a bunch of my colleagues Can’t Hardly Wait for the event next year.

Take me to church! (school)

Skip breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.