Hogs sign third-ranked baseball recruiting class

FAYETTEVILLE — Once again, Arkansas has recruited some of the best baseball talent in the nation to help fill next year’s roster.

Those new players have helped the program garner a top-three ranking by a national baseball magazine.

This year’s crop of new Razorbacks is one of the best in recent years as Baseball America ranked Arkansas’ 2018 class as No. 3 in the country earlier this week and the third highest of any team from the SEC.

The Razorbacks’ class, which consists of 15 players, all freshmen, was also ranked No. 3 by Perfect Game.

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This is the seventh time in the last nine years Arkansas’ recruiting class has been ranked in the top 25 by Baseball America, fifth in the top 15. It’s also the second time since 2015 that Arkansas has had a top-five class.

The rankings are based on players who enroll at school each fall. Athletes who initially signed letters of intent with a school but then sign a pro contract after being drafted do not count in the overall evaluation.

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Seven players in this year’s class were selected in the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and five of those players decided put their pro careers on hold to attend the University of Arkansas.

Right-hander Caleb Bolden (Texarkana, Texas) was picked by Tampa Bay in the 16th round, right-hander Bryce Bonnin (Baytown, Texas) was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 26th round, outfielder Heston Kjerstad (Amarillo, Texas) was taken in the 36th round by the Seattle Mariners, catcher Casey Opitz (Centennial, Colo.) was picked in the 27th round by the Cleveland Indians, and outfielder Cole Turney was selected in the 34th round, also by the Indians.

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Including the five draftees, six of the incoming players participated in prestigious high school events such as the Perfect Game National Showcase, the Area Code Games and the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field.

Along with its top rankings from Baseball America and Perfect Game, Arkansas is expected to have a high class ranking from D1Baseball.com and Collegiate Baseball, which are set to come out later this fall.