FAYETTEVILLE - Of the 12 Arkansas-connected players taken in the weekend’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, a few have made their decisions.
Six of the draftees were on the Diamond Hogs roster last year. The other six were recruits, part of the 2016 class. Of those who were on the team in 2016, two had no eligibility left, anyway. That meant four - Dominic Taccolini, James Teague, Zach Jackson and Clark Eagan - had to decide if they were returning. Jackson and Eagan said on the weekend they were going pro. Teague announced his decision Tuesday.
"The last three years have far exceeded my childhood dreams of one day playing as a razorback (sic)," Teague wrote on Instagram. "I have decided to continue my career with the Baltimore Orioles as I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity they have given me to fulfill another dream of playing professional baseball."
Teague was taken in the 37th round by the Orioles on Saturday. He leaves Arkansas with 90 career strikeouts in 106 innings, a 4.58 earned-run average and a 10-8 record in 49 games (12 starts).
That leaves Taccolini as the only current Arkansas player yet to decide. As to whether he will go or not, Teague wasn’t sure about his teammate. Outside the top few rounds, the draft, Teague said, becomes individualized. It’s not necessarily about the money or draft spot or the options other than pro ball. It varies from player to player.
"You try to think about what you’ve done, where you’ve been and what’s best for yourself and for the team," Teague said. "For me, personally, I wasn’t going to price myself out. I was more realistic on how the season went for myself."
The six recruits selected were shortstop Cole Stobbe, catcher Ben Rortvedt, outfielder/first baseman Jordan McFarland and pitchers Tyler Benninghoff, Blake Lillis and Brenden Heiss. Stobbe and Rortvedt are going pro and McFarland is not. The other three have yet to decide or it remains unclear. Lillis’ Twitter account mentions being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, but his biography still reads he is an Arkansas commit.
Teague reports to Sarasota, Florida, for his assignment on Wednesday. It is likely is he will go to Baltimore’s short-season-A team in Aberdeen, Maryland. As part of the terms he agreed with Baltimore, Teague will finish school at Arkansas, he said. And he doesn’t figure the Diamond Hogs 2016 slide will continue for long, with him there or not.
"I thought ‘if I get the opportunity I think it’s time for me to kind of move on and take that next step,’" he said. "But I couldn’t talk highly enough about them (the coaching staff and players)."
Professional organizations have until July 15 to sign their draft picks or they are forfeit.