FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Junior right-handed pitcher Trevor Stephan was the first Razorback taken in the 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft Tuesday afternoon when he was selected in the third round, No. 92 overall, by the New York Yankees.
Stephan is the 13th Razorback to be taken in the draft’s first three rounds since 2010 and the fourth pitcher since 2013. Pitcher Zach Jackson went in the third round to the Toronto Blue Jays last year as the 102nd overall pick. Stephan is also the first Arkansas player to be picked by the Yankees since 2008 when catcher Jeff Nutt went in the 25th round.
With Stephan’s selection, Arkansas has had at least one player picked in each of the past 43 MLB Drafts dating back to 1975.
This is not the first time Stephan has been picked in the draft in his career. Last year, the Texas native was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 18th round, No. 538 overall, before deciding to come to Arkansas.
The 2017 season was Stephan’s first with the Razorbacks after transferring in from Hill College in Cleburne, Texas. With the help of new pitching coach Wes Johnson, Stephan was able to step right in and became one of the primary arms in the Hog rotation, making 16 starts and leading the team with a 2.87 ERA, good for 10th in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Stephan finished second on the team in wins with a 6-3 record and was one of two Hog pitchers to throw a complete game shutout last season. He threw a team-high 91 innings with 29 earned runs allowed, 20 walks, and 120 strikeouts. The strikeout total was the fifth highest by a Razorback in a single-season in program history and most since 2010 when Drew Smyly had 114. It was also good for third best in the SEC.
In six of his outings last season, Stephan notched 10 or more strikeouts, including in his complete game shutout at Tennessee (May 6). Against the Volunteers, the junior allowed just one hit and two walks to go along with 11 strikeouts to not only earn the 2-0 victory, but also SEC and NCBWA Pitcher of the Week Honors.
Stephan’s best outing came against Rhode Island (March 10), where he pitched a perfect game into the seventh inning and totaled a career-high 13 strikeouts, tying for the most in a game by an SEC pitcher last year. It was also the most by a Razorback pitcher since Jess Todd struck out 17 against South Carolina in the 2007 SEC Tournament.
Junior first baseman Chad Spanberger was the second Razorback taken in the 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft Tuesday afternoon when he was selected in the sixth round, No. 176 overall, by the Colorado Rockies.
Spanberger follows pitcher Trevor Stephan, who was drafted earlier in the day by the New York Yankees in the third round, and is the first Hog position player to be taken in this year’s draft.
With the selection, Arkansas has had multiple players drafted each year dating back to 1993.
Coming from Granite City, Illinois, Spanberger had a breakout season when he appeared in 60 games, making 58 starts, as the Hogs’ primary first baseman. The junior hit .305 with 13 doubles, one triple, 20 home runs, and 67 RBIs, all career-highs. His average was the second-highest on the team and he was one of just three Razorbacks to hit .300 or higher.
His home run total led the team and was good for second in the SEC, ninth in the nation. He also became the sixth player in program history to hit 20 or more home runs in a single season.
Spanberger was even better in conference play as he hit .304 with 11 home runs and a conference-leading 36 RBIs. Over 29 games, the junior notched 10 multi-hit performances and 11 multi-RBI games. In three of those games, he tallied three hits or more, including four hits against Alabama (April 2) and Auburn (April 23).
In this year’s SEC Tournament, Spanberger turned in one of the best weeks of the season when he earned tournament MVP honors after hitting .421 in five games to lead the Hogs to the tournament final for the fourth time in school history. He had three multi-hit games and all eight of his hits in the tournament went for extra bases. He also set a single-game tournament record for home runs and RBIs after going 3-for-4 with three home runs and seven RBIs against Auburn. Both the home run and RBI totals were personal single-game highs. Two days later, he hit home runs in consecutive at-bats against top-seeded Florida (May 27) in the semifinals.
Spanberger finished the conference tournament with five home runs, 10 RBIs, and 26 total bases. The home runs and total bases were the second most by a player in tournament history.
Seemingly clutch at the end of the season, Spanberger hit .313 over the final 16 games with 10 home runs and 20 RBIs, while slugging an astounding .859. To go along with his SEC Tournament performance, Spanberger hit .316 in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional with six hits and one home run. The home run was the go-ahead run in the seventh inning of an elimination game against Oral Roberts that sent Arkansas to the regional final.
Senior pitcher Cannon Chadwick was the third Razorback taken in the 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft Tuesday afternoon when he was selected in the ninth round, No. 277 overall, by the New York Mets.
Coming from Paris, Texas, Chadwick pitched three years for Arkansas after transferring in from Paris Junior College. Over the last three seasons, Chadwick threw for 62.2 innings, compiling a 6-3 record with a 4.02 ERA and 58 strikeouts.
His senior season was his best as he made a career-high 24 appearances out of the bullpen and struck out 38 batters over 32 innings, while also picking up two saves. Both of those saves came in Arkansas’ SEC opening series against Mississippi State, where Chadwick struck out two of the three batters he faced in game one and then struck out five of the final seven batters he faced in game two. The five strikeouts was also a career-high.
He earned victories against Rhode Island (March 10), Alcorn State (March 14), at Alabama (April 2), and at No. 10 Auburn (April 22). Both victories against SEC opponents consisted of three or more innings of work. Chadwick was able to go a career-long 4.1 innings without allowing a hit against Auburn, helping to preserve Arkansas’ first of two wins against the Tigers last season.
His game against Alcorn State on March 14 was one of the more memorable moments for Arkansas in 2017, as he not only secured the win, but also scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth after having to bat for himself and reaching base on a walk. Two batters later, Chadwick scored from second base on Jake Arledge’s walk-off single.
Senior pitcher Dominic Taccolini was the fourth Razorback taken in the 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft Tuesday afternoon when he was selected in the 10th round, No. 288 overall, by the San Diego Padres.
Coming from Sugar Land, Texas, Taccolini pitched for four seasons, compiling a 4.83 ERA with 231 innings pitched and 197 strikeouts. He totaled 45 or more strikeouts over each of the last three seasons, including 60+ strikeouts in 2015 and 2016.
Over the past season, Taccolini was used in both a starter’s and reliever’s role, generating a career-low 4.24 ERA in 51 innings. He held batters to a .225 average, the fourth lowest among all Razorback starting pitchers. He also picked up wins against Bryant (Feb. 24 and Feb. 25), ULM (March 7), and Vanderbilt (May 14), making him one of six pitchers with four or more victories.
The Texas native made five starts in his 20 appearances in 2017 and in those five starts, he was able to throw four or more innings four times and gave up two runs or less three times. Against ULM, Taccolini struck out 10 batters over six innings, walking two and giving up just two earned runs for, arguably, his best outing of the year.
Taccolini also earned two saves, going the final four innings against Mississippi State (March 19) with five strikeouts, and at Missouri, where he struck out four over the final three innings without giving up a run.
Back during his junior season, Taccolini turned in one of the best performances in school history when he threw a complete 10-inning shutout against Kentucky, which included a career-high 10 strikeouts and no walks, while allowing five hits.
The outing was the longest by any starting pitcher in the NCAA last season and longest by a Razorback since Clint Brannon went 11 innings in 2004.
Wednesday will be the final day of the draft and will include rounds 11-40 starting at 11 a.m. All selections can be followed on MLB.com.
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