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Four Razorbacks taken in MLB draft

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Four Razorbacks taken in MLB draft

FAYETTEVILLE – A quartet of University of Arkansas Razorback baseball players were taken on the second day of the 2009 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft on Wednesday headlined by left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel who went in the seventh round to the Houston Astros.

Keuchel was joined by teammates Stephen Richards, Scott Lyons and Ben Tschepikow on the draft board on Wednesday, learning of their status just before the team boarded its bus for the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Keuchel was Arkansas’ highest draftee on the day going in the seventh round with the 221st overall pick to Houston. Arkansas’ ace on the mound, Keuchel has been the Razorbacks’ Friday night starter all season and compiled an impressive 7-3 record with an ERA just over 4.00. Keuchel is scheduled to start Arkansas’ opening game against Cal St. Fullerton at the College World Series.

“This has been an amazing experience,” Keuchel said. “Houston is a good organization and I am happy to be with them. It is close to home so that is a bonus. Being drafted is great, but I came to Arkansas for a reason and that was to go to Omaha, so my focus is on that now.”

Richards was the second Razorback to get drafted on Wednesday, going in the eighth round with the 248th overall pick to the Florida Marlins. Richards has been fantastic the entire season as Arkansas’ closer with a 6-1 record and nine saves. His save total ranks tied for fifth in the Razorback record book for a single season and the back end anchor of the Razorbacks has just three blown saves in 12 opportunities with two coming on errors.

“It’s awesome,” Richards said. “It’s an honor to go to a quality organization like Florida. This is lifetime dream fulfilled. I just want to thank my family who has supported me throughout my baseball career.”

Arkansas’ first position player selected was Lyons who was taken by the Kansas City Royals in the 15th round with the 452nd overall pick. Lyons’ selection was the second time that the senior from Covina, Calif., has been taken in the MLB draft, having been selected by the Boston Red Sox in 2007 in the 36th round. Lyons was on fire before an injury slowed the slick fielding shortstop in the final weekend of the season, but he has rebounded to rejoin the lineup as the designated hitter.

“I am obviously excited,” Lyons said. “But I was more excited to see that Ben was drafted by the same team. That surprised me a little, but hopefully we can continue our careers for years to come. When Kansas City contacted me after they drafted me they told me that they were excited to have me in their organization.”

The hometown product and fifth-year senior, Tschepikow, was also drafted by the Royals, his position coming in the 17th round (512th overall). Arkansas’ team captain and emotional leader has been a sparkplug for the Razorbacks this season and ranks among the team leaders in batting average, doubles, triples and RBI. Moving from second base to shortstop in the post season, Tschepikow has been brilliant defensively since the move and has given the Razorbacks options since the NCAA Tournament began.

“I’m very happy,” Tschepikow said. “I’ve worked very hard on and off the field and this is proof that it all paid off. Right now though we are going to the College World Series and I want to end my senior year right. As a team we have accomplished a lot and it’s going to be fun. I just want to cherish every moment.”

The MLB Draft continues on Thursday with the final 20 rounds where several other Razorbacks could be selected. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.



Sports Category : Baseball