Cole signs with Royals, becomes 6th Razorback to go pro

By: Matt Jones
Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Arkansas outfielder Eric Cole swings during a College World Series game against Florida on Friday, June 22, 2018, in Omaha, Neb.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas outfielder Eric Cole swings during a College World Series game against Florida on Friday, June 22, 2018, in Omaha, Neb.

— Arkansas outfielder Eric Cole signed with the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, ending his career with the Razorbacks.

Cole, a junior switch-hitter, was drafted by the Royals in the fourth round of the MLB Draft last month, 122nd overall. According to Jim Callis of MLB.com, Cole signed for $500,000, nearly 11 percent more than the suggested value of $451,200 for his slot in the draft.

"Razorback Nation, from sticking with us through a below .500 season my Freshman year, to finishing my college career playing for a National Championship, you’ve given me more than I could ever ask for," Cole wrote on his Twitter page Tuesday. "Woo Pig, and Go Royals!"

Cole batted first in the order for much of his junior season at Arkansas and finished the year batting .313 with a team-leading 14 home runs and 52 RBI.

Cole also drew 42 walks and had an on-base percentage of .407 and slugged .520. He fielded his position in right field without an error, and made a number of highlight-reel defensive plays, such as the leaping catch he made at the wall for a ninth-inning out in the Razorbacks' national semifinal win over Florida on June 22.

Cole is the sixth Arkansas player to sign a professional contract since Arkansas lost 5-0 to Oregon State in the final game of the national championship series last Thursday. Others to sign include catcher Grant Koch (fifth round, Pirates, $364,400); infielder Jax Biggers (eighth round, Rangers, $166,000); infielder Carson Shaddy (10th round, Nationals, $10,000); left-handed pitcher Kacey Murphy (11th round, Tigers, $145,000); and left-handed pitcher Evan Lee (15th round, Nationals, $125,000).

Junior pitchers Blaine Knight (third round, Orioles), Jake Reindl (17th round, Cubs) and Barrett Loseke (17th round, Yankees) are also expected to sign pro contracts.

Redshirt junior catcher Zack Plunkett (37th round, Diamondbacks) announced Monday that he would return for the 2019 season, and redshirt sophomore pitcher Isaiah Campbell (24th round, Angels) is expected to return.

The Razorbacks lost a pair of signees to the draft. Junior college catcher Josh Breaux (Yankees, second round) signed for $1.1 million - over slot value - and high school senior pitcher Wade Beasley (Brewers, 24th round) signed for $257,500. There are no slot values for picks after the 10th round, but signings of greater than $125,000 count toward a franchise's available bonus pool.

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