Diamond Hogs going pro after 2021 MLB Draft
Arkansas signee Muncy taken in 1st round, Kopps 99th overall pick
arkansasrazorbacks.com FAYETTEVILLE — After Tuesday’s rounds, the second- most selections in the 2021 MLB Draft were former Arkansas Razorbacks.
Six Hogs heard their names called on Day Two of the MLB’s first-year player draft, which included rounds 2-10. Pitcher Kevin Kopps, the 2021 Dick Howser Trophy winner and current Golden Spikes Award finalist, led the way for Arkansas with his thirdround selection (No. 99 overall) by the San Diego Padres.
As college baseball’s most dominant pitcher, Kopps finished the 2021 campaign with a 12-1 record and 11 saves. He posted the nation’s lowest ERA (0.90) and WHIP (0.76), striking out 131 in 89 2/3 innings of work. Opposing hitters had a .162 average against the right-hander, who set the program’s single-season record for ERA during his historic year.
Outfielder Christian Franklin went to the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round (No. 123 overall) before pitcher Ryan Costeiu was picked up by the Los Angeles Angels in the seventh round (No.
201st overall). Catcher Casey Opitz and pitcher Patrick Wicklander were selected in the eighth round by the Cubs (No. 244 overall) and Tampa Bay Rays (No. 251 overall), respectively.
Franklin heads to the Cubs organization after slashing .274/.420/.544 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI during the 2021 campaign.
The outfielder also hit 15 doubles and two triples, swiping a team-best 11 bases on the year while playing elite defense in center.
Costeiu, meanwhile, struck out 40 in 30.0 innings of work out of the bullpen this past season. The right-hander, who made 26 appearances and posted an 8-3 record, held opposing hitters to a .198 batting average.
Opitz will join Franklin with the Cubs organization after slashing .257/.367/.346 in 2021. The Razorback captain swatted two homers and drove in 18 runs while providing strong defense behind the plate.
Wicklander emerged as the Razorbacks’ No. 1 starter after beginning the year out of the bullpen. The left-
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hander, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes prior to the season, finished with a 7-1 record and 2.09 ERA in 77 2/3 innings of work, punching out 85 batters while limiting opposing hitters to a .226 average.
Pitcher Lael Lockhart rounded out Monday’s haul of Razorback draftees. The left-hander was scooped up by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ninth round with the No. 282 overall pick.
Lockhart, a graduate transfer from Houston, was Arkansas’ regular Sunday starter this past season, pitching to a 3-3 record with a 4.47 ERA. The lefty struck out 68 in 58.1 innings and came within an out of tossing the first perfect game in program history against Georgia at the SEC Tournament.
The Hogs had four pitchers selected in the draft’s first 10 rounds for only the second time in program history. Arkansas also achieved the feat during the 2019 draft when Isaiah Campbell (CBB, No. 76 overall – Seattle Mariners), Matt Cronin (fourth round, No.
123 overall – Washington Nationals), Jacob Kostyshock (eighth round, No. 249 overall – Colorado Rockies) and Cody Scroggins (ninth round, No. 287 overall – Boston Red Sox) all went in the first 10 rounds.
Through the first two days of the 2021 MLB Draft, three Razorback signees were also selected, including one in the first round.
Infielder Max Muncy was drafted by the Oakland Athletics (first round, No.
25 overall) Sunday before infielder Jordan Viars (third round, No. 84 overall – Philadelphia Phillies) and
Photo courtesy of UofA DIAMOND HOGS (cont.)
pitcher/outfielder Drew Gray (third round, No. 93 overall – Chicago Cubs) heard their names called Monday.
Muncy, the heralded high school shortstop out of Thousands Oaks, Calif.
signed by the Razorbacks, now has a first-round option of turning professional.
Muncy is expected to sign a slotted $2.7 million from the A’s, but highly sought Arkansas signed high school shortstop Peyton Stovall of Haughton, La.
withdrew his name from draft consideration Monday after not selected in Sunday’s first round.
On Twitter Monday, Stovall posted, “Have decided it's best for me to withdraw my name from the MLB draft and continue my education and career at the best university in the country. Razorback nation.
Let's get to work.”
Draft eligible Razorbacks first baseman Brady Slavens, . 284 batting average, 14 home runs and 63 RBI for the 2021 Hogs, also posted he’s pulled out of the draft.
“After a lot of thought and consideration, I’ve decided to come back to Arkansas for my Junior season!!,” Slavens tweeted. “Very blessed and can’t wait to get back to work!!”
The two others signed out of high school by Coach Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks, outfielder Jordan Viars of Frisco, Texas, and outfielder-pitcher Drew Gray of Swansea, Ill., now weigh whether to turn pro or attend the UA and play for the Hogs.
Drew Gray is the brother of Razorbacks pitcher Evan Gray.
Photo courtesy of UofA