Arkansas Baseball Players Taken in the 2014 MLB Draft

 

Arkansas college baseball teams saw several players drafted into the Major League Baseball ranks between Thursday and Saturday. Below is a roundup of those players.

Junior first baseman Eric Fisher was selected by the Miami Marlins in the 17th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Saturday.

Fisher, who was the 497th overall pick, is the fifth Arkansas player selected and joins teammateBrian Anderson who was taken in the third round by the Marlins. Chris Oliver (112 overall, Philadelphia), Jalen Beeks (374 overall, Boston) and Michael Gunn (494 overall, Boston) have also been selected during the 2014 MLB Draft.

Redshirt sophomore outfielder Tyler Spoon was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 36th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Saturday.

A native of Spring, Texas, Fisher became one of the top power hitters in the Southeastern Conference during the 2014 season, recording nine home runs, 45 runs batted in and a .268 batting average. He tallied 15 multi-hit games during the year and added a team-best 12 multi-RBI games.

Fisher ended the year with a 10-game reached base streak after earning second team All-SEC honors at first base and making an appearance on the All-Defensive Team.

He had a power stretch of four home runs in a five-game span midway through the season, launching three home runs in a three-game set at No. 8 LSU, before returning home and leading Arkansas to a series opening victory over No. 11 Vanderbilt with a three-run blast in the first inning.

Spoon, who was the 1092nd overall pick, became the sixth Arkansas player selected in the 2014 MLB Draft. He joins Brian Anderson (76 overall, Miami), Chris Oliver (112 overall, Philadelphia), Jalen Beeks (374 overall, Boston), Michael Gunn (494 overall, Boston) and Eric Fisher (497 overall, Miami).

A native of Van Buren, Ark., Tyler Spoon played in 64 games as a redshirt sophomore for the Razorbacks in 2014, hitting .256 with 12 doubles, two triples and three home runs. He had 13 multi-hit games and ranked third on the team with nine multi-RBI games.

He had a breakout game against Alabama in the series opener on March 21, launching a grand slam for one of his three home runs on the year. Spoon finished the 2014 season with two three-hit games and reached base safely a season-best 13 straight games.

After redshirting the 2012 season, Spoon made his collegiate debut in 2013 and hit .288 in 61 games with four home runs and 49 runs batted in to earn Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Honors.

He has a .272 career batting average in 125 games for the Razorbacks and has made just one error in two seasons, posting a .996 fielding percentage with 17 assists from the outfield.

Red Wolves’ Bradley Wallace Picked Up By Tampa Bay in 2014 MLB Draft

JONESBORO, Ark. – Arkansas State senior pitcher Bradley Wallace was selected in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Rays Friday afternoon. He was the 307th player taken overall and becomes the second-highest draft pick in A-State history.

Wallace, a native of Rison, Ark., led the Red Wolves to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament for a second straight season in 2014 and ensured that the team won at least two games in the postseason for a fifth consecutive year.

He was named among the top 100 seniors in the class of 2014 by Perfect Game USA and the 16th best right-handed pitcher in the class. He was a 2014 CollegeSportsMadness.com Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection.

“The last four years have been an amazing journey and I could not have done it without the support of the A-State fans and the amazing coaches I’ve worked with,” Wallace said.  “Coach (Tommy) Raffo and Coach (Tighe) Dickinson have supported me and had faith in me during my four years at Arkansas State.  I just want to thank my teammates and family and I’m excited about seeing what the future holds with the Tampa Bay Rays.”

Wallace finished his senior campaign with a 4-5 record and a 4.37 ERA in 15 starts. He led the pitching staff with 78.1 innings pitched and was second on the staff with 69 strikeouts. Opposing batters hit just .280 against him and his WHIP of 1.48 was the lowest among any of the Red Wolves’ starters.

In the Sun Belt Conference tournament, the right-hander tossed a career-high eight innings and gave up just two runs as Arkansas State fought off elimination in a 4-3 victory over South Alabama. He finished the afternoon with a career-best 119 pitches and struck out six.

Wallace also turned in a stellar performance against the No. 2 team in the nation, Louisiana-Lafayette, during the regular season. He tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts against the Ragin’ Cajuns.

“We are very excited about this opportunity for Bradley,” Raffo said.  “Bradley had a strong second half of the season and a strong performance in the conference tournament.  That success gives him plenty of momentum heading into his professional career with the Rays organization.  Coach Dickinson does a great job with our pitchers every year and this is just another testament to how good of a coach he is.”

As a junior he went 5-2 with a 4.33 ERA and struck out a career best 78 batters. He fanned 12 against Western Kentucky on 93 pitches and also retired 18 in a row during the game.

A-State has now had a player drafted in each of the last five seasons and Wallace is the ninth player drafted from Arkansas State during the Raffo era. He is also the 18th pitcher that Dickinson has had drafted in his coaching career and the fifth from Arkansas State in four seasons.

Trojans Shortstop Picked Up By Orioles

LITTLE ROCK – Former UALR shortstop Austin Pfeiffer has been selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 27th round on the 2014 MLB Draft. In 2014 Pfeiffer hit .253 with five home runs while starting every one of the Trojans 54 games at shortstop.

“Well the first person to contact me was my mother,” Pfeiffer said about how he found out he had been selected. “She called me and told me the good news shortly before the Orioles contacted me.”

Pfeiffer said the Orioles congratulated him and said they look forward to what he can bring to their organization.

“We are all proud of Austin,” UALR head coach Scott Norwood continued. “The Orioles are getting a hard worker that will make their organization better and I look forward to watching his progress in the coming years.”

The Benton, Ark. native came to UALR from Northern Oklahoma-Enid, where he batted .322 and posted a 1.96 earned run average on the mound. In 2012, Pfeiffer’s first year with the Trojans, he was used solely as a pitcher logging 43 innings in 20 appearances including three starts. Before the 2013 season the right-hander was moved to shortstop where he started the final 110 games of his collegiate career.

In his junior season he posted a .296 batting average with nine home runs, 43 RBIs and 19 stolen bases, which was good for second in the Sun Belt Conference. His combination of power and speed left him just outside the top-10 in UALR history with 14 home runs and 35 stolen bases. Pfeiffer finished his career as a Trojans with 20 doubles, two triples while hitting at a .274 clip with a .420 slugging percentage.

Pfeiffer got off to a slow start in his senior season but came on strong towards the end of the year. From April 13 to May 3 he had a hit in all of UALR’s 14 games and posted a .417 batting average with three homers over that stretch. The 14-game hitting streak was the longest for any Trojan this season. In his junior season he had a similar hot streak that earned him Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week honors on April 1, 2013. He tallied seven hits, six runs scored, six RBIs, five walks, four steals to bat .500 with a .650 on-base percentage in the week’s action.

“Thank you to my coaches and teammates for making this opportunity possible,” Pfeiffer concluded.

In last year’s draft Tyler Buckley was the only Trojans drafted when he was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies with the 811th overall pick in the 27th round, which was exactly where Pfeiffer went this year.

Two UALR signees were selected in the draft as well. Chris Gittens was chosen by the Ney York Yankees in the 12th round and Eric White was picked in the 32nd round by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Gittens (Sherman, Texas) played at Grayson County College where he slugged 12 homers and 16 doubles while batting .424. The 6’4” right-hander also went 8-0 on the mound while posting a 4.62 earned run average in 72.0 innings.

White (El Dorado, Arkansas) from Parkers Chapel High School is a right-handed pitcher and a corner infielder. He led his high school team with six home runs and a .509 batting average while maintaining a 1.60 earned run average on the mound to earn 2014 All-State honors.

UCA Bears See Doug Votolato Taken in 2014 MLB Draft

CONWAY, Ark. - Some of the first photos ever taken of Doug Votolato as a baby had him wearing Texas Rangers gear. His next photo will have him decked out in the real thing.

After turning in one of the best seasons in recent history at the University of Central Arkansas this spring, the senior center fielder was drafted by his home-state Rangers in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball draft on Friday.

Votolato, a first-team All-Southland Conference player from Flower Mound, Texas, is the fourth UCA player drafted in the past year. Votolato was the 276th player picked, joining last year’s threesome of Forrestt Allday, Jonathan Davis and Jeffery Enloe as UCA draftees. His selection in the ninth round is the third-highest of any UCA player in history.

Votolato found out mid-afternoon that his favorite team was interested.

“I probably had the biggest smile I’ve ever had on my face when they called. It was huge,” said Votolato, who signed his contract in a suite at the Rangers-Cleveland Indians game on Friday night. “They said they were going to take me in either the ninth of 10th rounds. When they called right before they drafted me in the ninth, it was like a dream come true, really.”

“Good things come to those that work hard,” said UCA head coach Allen Gum, “and Doug worked tremendously hard on all parts of his game. One thing we always talk about is being a ‘triangle player.’ Somebody that can score runs, somebody that can drive in runs and somebody that can keep the other team from scoring.

“Doug was that kind of player for us this year. He did all three at a very high level. And most importantly, he did it consistently from the beginning of the year until the very end of the year. This game demands consistency, and his approach every day was consistent throughout the year.”

Votolato finished second in the SLC in hitting with a .379 average. He also led the league in stolen bases with 26, was third in hits (83), fifth in runs batted in (50) and second in on-base percentage (.456). The hits mark is third-best in UCA history, while the stolen base total is fourth.

“He was a vital, a big, big part of our team this year, to give us a chance to get back to the (SLC) championship game, with a chance to go to regionals again,” Gum said. “We wouldn’t have gotten there without him, there’s no question about that.

“He led our team on the field, was a great leadoff hitter and was a great defensive center fielder for us. He scored us a lot of runs but he also saved us a lot of runs with his play in the outfield. You can’t say enough about the job he did in center field, how many balls he ran down that would have been extra-base hits. 

“Just a complete player. A great student that has his degree. An all-around complete student-athlete if there ever was one.”

Votolato helped the Bears to a 32-22 record this season and a spot in the SLC Tournament championship game for the second straight year. He started in all 52 games he played, missing two games with an injury. The Bears lost 12 players from their NCAA Regional team of 2013.

“He played hurt, he grinded it out when we had to have him out there,’ Gum said. “He just had a great year and I’m really proud of him.”

“I was just proud of our team,” said Votolato. “This year was a complete, total team effort, without a doubt. We had freshmen in there doing their thing everyday, playing as hard as they could. It really took everybody this year. Last year there was really a set group of guys who were playing everyday, but this year we had not idea what the lineup was even going to be.

“We dealt with it amazingly well. I don’t think there was another group of guys that could have done what we did this year. I’m just really proud of everyone.”

Wonder Boy Ryan Taylor Makes History

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Senior right-hander Ryan Taylor, who posted a 16-5 record with a 3.01 ERA over his two-year career at Arkansas Tech, has become the 11th player to be selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, going in the 13th round to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Taylor is the first Arkansas Tech player since Matt Johnson in 2011 to be selected, and his 13th-round selection makes him the highest picked Wonder Boy by round in the history of the MLB draft, eclipsing the previous mark set by Jim Adamczak, who was drafted in the 14th round by the Chicago Cubs in 1981.

Taylor went 10-6 with a 2.53 ERA as a junior and 6-2 with a 3.55 ERA as a senior, and in both seasons, Taylor saved his best work for the end of the season. During his junior year, Taylor picked up the win in his final appearance of the season, a 10-3 win over Southern Arkansas in the GAC Tournament where he went the distance, allowing one earned run and fanning ten.

In his final game in a Wonder Boys uniform, Taylor picked up the win over Augustana in the GAC tournament, allowing one run on three hits in eight innings, fanning seven.

A two-time all-Great American Conference and all-Central Region selection, Taylor helped the Wonder Boys to their first outright conference title since 1992 this season.

Ouachita Sees Two Drafted

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Ouachita Tigers Davis Ward (Little Rock, Ark,) and Keegan Ghidotti (Elizabethtown, Colo.) will get the opportunity to showcase their talents at the next level after being drafted in the 2014 Major League Draft. Ghidotti was selected in the 38th round by the Baltimore Orioles and Davis Ward was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 40th round as the final pick in the draft.

The First Team All-GAC duo led the Tigers to the GAC Tournament in Enid, Oklahoma this season. Both turned in stellar performances and were named OBU Baseball Co-MVPs.  Ouachita Tiger Head Coach Jeremy Haworth was happy to see his players hard work rewarded.

“I can’t even express into words how proud I am of both Keegan and Davis,” Coach Haworth said. “It is a great day for these two young men and also a great day for the Tiger Baseball program.” 

Keegan Ghidotti was the offensive leader for the Tigers, but made his biggest impression on Major League scouts on the mound. Working as the Tiger closer, he recorded eight saves, tying him for second on the Tiger single-season save record list. He posted an ERA of 2.06 with 31 strikeouts. 

Ghidotti gives credit to his coaches and their instruction for the success he had on the mound.

“This was my first year to pitch consistently,” Ghidotti said. “All the coaches really worked with me on my mechanics. They really helped me learn how to pitch and get in the right mindset.”

Ghidotti said that the Orioles organization saw him pitch at the conference tournament in Enid and their interest in him had not dwindled since then.

“Their scout contacted me and to be looking for my name somewhere after the 20th round. I was so relieved when I saw my name called. I’m excited to be a part of a great organization like Baltimore.”

Ghidotti will now wait to hear from the Orioles where he goes next to begin his career as a pro.

Two-time GAC Pitcher of the Year Davis Ward had the longest wait of any player selected in this year’s draft, but his selection was a surprise to no one who’s seen him take the mound over the past two seasons. Like Keegan, Davis was looking to see his called anywhere after the 20th round.

“I’m really excited to be a member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization,” said Ward. “They had expressed the most interest in me, so I had a good feeling that’s where I was heading. Now I’ll wait to see where they send me”

Ward was also quick to praise the Tiger coaching staff and their role in his development.

“Coach Haworth really helped with approaching my starts with the right mentality. Coach (Kyle) Hope and Coach (Kolby) Moore worked with helping develop my mechanics.”

Ward added, “The fact that we had two pitchers selected in the draft says a lot about the coaching staff at Ouachita.”

Ward finished his career at OBU tied for first in career wins, first in career complete games and second all-time in strike-outs.

Tampa Bay Rays draft UAPB’s Isias Alcantar in MLB Round 36

PINE BLUFF, Arkansas  –  Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Isias Alcantar,  who played shortstop for the Golden Lions but is projected as a catcher in the pros, went to the Tampa Bay Rays in the 36th round with the No. 1,087 pick.

Hendrix College Player to the Cards

Hendrix College All-American Collin Radack was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 20th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Draft on Saturday.

Radack, a 6’3”, 205 right-handed center fielder from Austin, Texas, was taken as the 615th overall pick, the highest pick in Hendrix history. Left-handed pitcher Matt Blanton was taken by the Cardinals in the 23rd round and 695th overall in the 2003 draft.

“I’m beyond excited for my opportunity to play with the Cardinals,” said Radack. “Thank you so much to all my teammates, coaches, family and Hendrix College for everything they have done for me over the years. God has truly blessed me with some amazing people in my life. This is an absolute dream come true for me!”

Courtesy School Athletic Departments and other sources.

 

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