Knight, Lee sign on the dotted line

Former Bryant Hornet and now former Arkansas Razorbacks ace pitcher Blaine Knight throws a pitch during the College World Series. Knight and teammate Evan Lee signed with the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, respectively, this past week. CRAVEN WHITLOW/Nate Allen Sports ServiceFormer Bryant Hornet and former Arkansas Razorback Evan Lee catches a fly ball in a game earlier this season. Lee signed with the Washington Nationals on Thursday after being selected in the 15th round of the Major League Baseball Draft. CRAVEN WHITLOW/Nate Allen Sports Service
By: 
TONY LENAHAN
Staff Writer

Two former Bryant Hornets and now two former Arkansas Razorbacks will be moving on to the next level after signing professional contracts.
Drafted in the third round, 87th overall, by the Baltimore Orioles, Razorbacks junior right-hander Blaine Knight signed with the Orioles on Friday, just a couple hours before the deadline. Draft-eligible sophomore Evan Lee, taken in the 15th (461 overall) round by the Washington Nationals, signed on Thursday and reported to rookie ball with the GCL Nationals.
Knight was also drafted in last season’s MLB Draft, taken in the 29th round by the Texas Rangers. Though Knight was rated a top 100 player in the 2017 draft, he let professional teams know of his intent on returning to the Razorbacks for his junior season, setting his price tag high.
Knight was definitely rewarded for waiting a season as he was the Razorbacks’ ace, breaking a school record with 14 wins, while staying perfect on the year with a 14-0 record, leading the Hogs to a runner-up finish at the College World Series. Knight also sported a 2.80 ERA in a team-high 112.1 innings pitched, striking out 102 with just 25 walks.
Though his MLB Draft pick was valued at $663,200, Knight signed for $1,100,000.
Lee served as a left-handed batting and pitching utility player for the Razorbacks this year. Lee batted .300 this season with three home runs and 15 RBIs, and batted .315 with a .414 on-base percentage for his two-year Razorbacks career.
Lee also went 4-3 on the mound this year with a 5.00 ERA. In fact, Lee picked up a win and hit a home run in the same game this season. For his two-year pitching career at Arkansas, Lee had an ERA of 4.36 with 31 strikeouts vs. 16 walks in 33 innings. He signed with the Nationals for $125,000.
Knight and Lee weren’t the only Razorbacks drafted as 11 Hogs were drafted in total, with nine of them signing with their professional teams.
Arkansas junior outfielder Eric Cole, who hit .313 with 14 home runs, 64 runs and 52 RBIs, was drafted in the fourth round (122nd overall) by the Kansas City Royals and signed for $497,500.
Junior catcher Grant Koch was excellent defensively for the Hogs and also batted .245 with seven homers and 35 RBIs. Koch was selected in the fifth round (144) by the Pittsburgh Pirates and signed for $364,600.
Junior shortstop Jax Biggers hit .280 with four home runs, 26 RBIs and seven stolen bases and was picked in the eighth round (239) by the Texas Rangers, signing for $166,400.
Undrafted last season, senior second baseman Carson Shaddy had a breakout year his final go-around with the Hogs, batting .330 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs, and was also drafted by the Washington Nationals (like Lee) in the 10th round (311). But, with Shaddy being a senior and no college eligibility remaining, the Nationals could lowball him. Though his pick value was $136,900, Washington got a steal as Shaddy signed for $10,000.
Left-handed junior pitcher Kacey Murphy, who finished with an 8-5 record and 3.20 ERA, was the first pick of the 11th round (315) by the Detroit Tigers and signed for $145,000.
Junior right-handed relief pitcher Barrett Loseke went 4-2 with a 2.68 ERA, striking out 68 in 53.2 innings, and was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 17th round (517). Loseke signed for $125,000.
Another Razorbacks stalwart out of the bullpen, junior righty Jake Reindl was 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA, striking out 66 in 55.2 innings. Reindl was selected by the Chicago Cubs right after Loseke in the 17th round (518) and signed for $100,000.
Other Hogs drafted but returning to Arkansas next year are right-handed redshirt sophomore pitcher Isaiah Campbell, picked in the 24th round by the Anaheim Angels, and redshirt junior catcher Zack Plunkett, taken in the 37th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Though the Razorbacks lost nine pivotal players to this year’s College World Series team, Arkansas still has a solid nucleus returning. Freshman phenoms Casey Martin, third baseman, and SEC Freshman of the Year Heston Kjerstad, left fielder, both return, as does possibly the best defensive center fielder in the country, sophomore Dominic Fletcher. Sophomore closer Matt Cronin, who broke a school record with 14 saves, and freshman pitcher Kole Ramage will both see extended innings next year.

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