Nine Ex-Razorbacks Showcase in Big Leagues


The University of Arkansas and Hog fans everywhere saw many familiar faces in Major League Baseball this season. Nine former Razorbacks played games at the big league level this season. Three Hogs made their debuts for the Diamondbacks, Tigers and White Sox.

September 14, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) pitches the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Keuchel was the most impressive of all as he landed the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for American League pitchers on Tuesday evening. He led all of Major League Baseball in total chances (66) and assists (47). Also, he ranked 4th among pitchers in putouts with 18. Keuchel made just one error all season that gave him a .985 fielding percentage.

Keuchel was equally impressive throwing from the mound too. He finished the 2014 season with a 2.93 earned run average and a 1.175 whip, collecting 146 strikeouts and just 48 walks in 200 innings, adding 12 wins and posting 1 shutout. He also led all of baseball with 5 complete games and became the first ever Houston Astros pitcher to win a Gold Glove.

Cliff Lee is another dominant lefty and former Razorback that made only 13 starts in 2014. He posted a 3.65 era in 81.1 innings while striking out 72 batters. Lee has battled injuries for much of the past few seasons, but remains a tremendous asset to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Lee has posted some incredible seasons in the past with four all-star selections and one Cy Young Award with the Indians and Phillies. In 2008, Lee went 22-3 with a 2.54 era and 4 complete games to earn his only Cy Young Award. In 2010, he posted a remarkable 7 complete games in 212 innings while striking out 185 batters and walking only 18. Lee has finished in the top 7 in Cy Young voting five times in his 13 year career.

Drew Smyly is the 3rd of this trio of lefties. Smyly quickly made the big leagues and hasn’t turned back since. He started the season with the Detroit Tigers, but was part of the huge trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that sent David Price to Detroit. Smyly went 3-1 with a 1.70 earned run average while in Tampa, and posted a 3.24 era with both teams. He added 133 strikeouts and just 42 walks in 153 innings and looks to be a mainstay at the professional level.

Craig Gentry played in 94 games for the Oakland Athletics this season after spending almost half of his time on the disabled list. When healthy, Gentry remains a speedster with an incredible glove. He batted .254 with Oakland, stole 20 bases and only got caught 2 times by opposing catchers.

Logan Forsythe spent the 2014 season with the Tampa Bay Rays, where he batted .223 in 110 games. However, Forsythe is most known for his fielding ability. In his four year career, Forsythe has a .976 fielding percentage while playing six different positions; most commonly at 2nd base.

Sep 1, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Blake Parker (50) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Parker has spent three seasons with the Chicago Cubs as a relief pitcher. Parker has a career 3.68 earned run average in 73.1 innings of work. He’s added a very good strikeout to walk ratio of 3.54. Blake was a catcher through his college days with the Razorbacks, but it didn’t take long for the Cubs to see the life in his arm. It’s hard to believe he was the one catching my soft tosses from the mound as young kids.

Mike Bolsinger is the first of the former players to make his debut in 2014. Bolsinger is a right-handed pitcher who made 10 appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitched 52.1 innings while striking out 48 batters. Bolsinger picked up his first Major League win on April 24th against the Chicago Cubs when he threw 6.2 innings of shutout ball.

Andy Wilkins made his debut on August 30th with the Chicago White Sox. Andy made 45 plate appearances while playing in 17 games. Wilkins could be setup for the majority of playing time at first base in Chicago with the departure of Adam Dunn and the retirement of Paul Konerko.

James McCann made his catching debut for the Detroit Tigers on September 1st. McCann appeared in 9 games and went 3 for 12 at the plate. He spent just 3 short seasons in the minors before his call up to the big leagues.

The Razorbacks lead the NCAA over the past two years with the amount of players (17) drafted to the MLB and the future only looks brighter for Arkansas. The Hogs have now been placed as the top ranked recruiting class in the nation by Perfect Game USA in 2015.