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Benton's Pfeiffer goes to Orioles

June 11, 2014

Former Benton Panther and UALR Trojan shortstop Austin Pfeiffer jumps to avoid being taken out at second base in a game this past season for UALR. Pfeiffer was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 27th round (811 overall) this past weekend. Special to The Saline Courier

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.”

“Austin had a great college career,” Benton Panthers Coach Mark Balisterri said. “Austin was kind of a smaller guy in high school until his senior year. He blossomed from a 5-9, 5-10 guy, had a lot of growing pains in his knee, had some knee trouble. His senior year he was probably 6-2, 200 pounds, and he stepped in as our starting shortstop. He hadn’t played any on varsity level until his senior year. We won the state championship that year and he played a vital role.”

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.

“He signed with North Central Community College in Texas,” Balisterri said of Pfeiffer’s first stop after high school. “I knew then his best years were ahead of him. He was redshirted, decided not to go back (coach was fired) and was going to go to school in Texas. He had a great year at Enid, played shortstop and pitched, and went to UALR as a pitcher. He hurt his back his first year at UALR and asked the coach if he could play a position. The rest is history. He always had great hands, has a tremendous arm and he can run.”

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 toward 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.

“He’s being rewarded for that and playing professional baseball,” Balisterri said. “You couldn’t ask it for a better guy. He’s always been a quiet, laid-back guy. He’s got a great family and we’re excited another one of our players is playing professional baseball. Showing these younger kids they can actually reach their dream if they just work hard. Austin has everything that he needs to make it; a guy that will climb the ladder in the professional ranks.”

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.

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