Razorbacks

Casey Martin Selected by Phillies

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE –  Arkansas junior shortstop Casey Martin of Lonoke was selected by the  Philadelphia Phillies in the third round Thursday of the Major League Baseball Draft.

Martin, the 87th overall pick of the  5-round 2-day draft that completed its first round Wednesday, joins right fielder Heston Kjerstad as Razorbacks mainstays of Coach Dave Van Horn’s 2018 and 2019 College World Series teams to be drafted.

Last  year’s 87th pick was slotted to receive $689,300.

Kjerstad went to the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night as the second player in the entire draft slotted for $7million, 789,300 right behind Detroit Tigers’ No. 1 choice Spencer Torkelson, a first baseman from Arizona State. Though signed to play college ball  as 2021 freshmen for Van Horn’s Arkansas Razorbacks, right-handed pitcher-shortstop Masyn Winn of Kingwood, Texas and right-handed pitcher Markevian “Tink” Hence of Watson Chapel now have professional options as St. Louis Cardinals second round draft choices in Thursday’s second and final day of the Major League Baseball draft.

Outfielder David Calabrese of Canada and signed by Van Horn’s Razorbacks, now has a third-round option to sign with the Los Angeles Angels.

Winn was drafted 54th overall Thursday associated with a $1 million 338,000 financial slot in 2019

Hence was drafted 63rd overall in the second round Competitive Round B of the  draft and slotted $1million,076 last year.

Calabrese was  82nd player drafted overall, slotted $744,00 last year.

Serving as analysts for the Major League Baseball Network, Vanderbilt Coach Tim Corbin and former Major Leaguer Harold Reynolds both lauded Martin’s skills.

“We fortunate, or rather  unfortunate enough to play against Casey the past few years,” Corbin said.  “He was one of those you recognized immediately along with Heston Kjerstad as impacting those teams that went to Omaha.  His tools are very explosive with power and speed around the bases.  He goes down the line in under four seconds.  He’s a shortstop who also can play second base or third so you can always find him a position.”

Reynolds said, “When I saw Casey he reminded me of a young Dustin Pedroia (the Boston Red Sox second baseman).  He’s got power inside the ball and he can turn on the ball.  He’s explosive and can run really well.  I think he’s got a real good chance at second base. He can move around at that position. I think playing second base you would get the most out of his abilities.”

Martin occasionally played second base  as a 2018 freshman when he mainly played third while batting .345 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI. for the Razorbacks’ national runner-ups.

He played short in 2019 and while trouble up with offs-peed pitches upped his strikeouts and lowered his batting average to .286 his power upped to 15 home runs and 57 RBI.

For the 2020 11-5 Razorbacks, their season abbreviated by the coronavirus pandemic cancelling the season at mid March, Martin snapped a slump in his final Razorbacks game going 3 for 5 with a double and a home run and four RBI.

As a base-stealer, Martin stole 24 bases in 27 attempts.

Gavin Stone, a junior pitcher for the University of Central Arkansas, was drafted in the fifth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers as the 159th player selected among the 160 drafted.

All college draftees, eligible only as juniors, third-year sophomores redshirted or if turned 21, have the option of signing professionally or returning to their schools.

Because the college baseball season was coronavirus pandemic was  cancelled in mid March, all returning collegians retain their 2020 eligibility status for 2021.

That should prove important to junior Razorbacks switch-hitting catcher Casey Opitz, considered a draft candidate because of his quick arm and defense but undrafted with just five rounds.

Opitz still could receive a free agent offer but  on Twitter Thursday night expressed  he intends returning   to the Razorbacks.

“Incredibly thankful for all the teams that made offers today,” Opitz tweeted.  “Sadly, I didn’t feel that it was the right fit this year. I appreciate the love from @KP_Omaha! Blessed that this journey has brought me back to Fayetteville! Day 1 of 2021 starts tomorrow!”

Van Horn had said Winn, Hence and Calabrese  were candidates to be high draft picks out of high school. Adding to his  Wednesday first-round draft honors, Kjerstad was recognized academically Thursday on the COSIDA  (College Sports Information Directors of America) All-American  second team.

Photos courtesy of Craven Whitlow, CW3 Sports Action

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