Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Heiss turns down Cubs, opts to play for Razorbacks
Brenden Heiss says he will turn down a 31st-round offer by the Chicago Cubs to play for Arkansas next season.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas signee Brenden Heiss said he will turn down a contract offer from the Chicago Cubs and play for the Razorbacks next season.
Heiss, a right-handed pitcher from Algonquin, Ill., was drafted by the Cubs in the 31st round. He was ranked the No. 408 prospect in the draft by Baseball America.
"I like the coaching staff a lot and the opportunity I'm going to get there to work with them and get a college ring, and get better, I thought it was the better road right now," Heiss said. "It's a lot easier lifestyle than minor league ball."
Heiss, who grew up about 40 miles from Chicago, said his family includes many Cubs fans, but it wasn't a difficult decision to turn down the franchise. He said he was looking for a signing bonus worth a third- or fourth-round pick to forgo college.
According to MLB.com, slot values for third-round picks are between $563,100 and $813,500.
Fourth-round selections are valued between $421,600 and $557,600.
"If I would have gotten the money range around there it probably would have been a little different, but 31st round isn't good enough to give up a scholarship to a school to play baseball," Heiss said.
Heiss (6-foot-2, 205 lbs.) has a fastball that was clocked between 93-96 mph during a pre-draft workout at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He also throws a curveball and a change-up.
He finished his senior season at Jacobs High School with a 4-2 record, 1.15 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. He recorded a shutout in his team's fourth consecutive regional championship win.
"He has a very high ceiling," Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. "He can go as high as you can possibly go. I think he's just scratching the surface with his potential. He's blessed with a powerful arm. His curveball is like a power curve and he just started throwing a change-up in the last 12 months.
"He's got electric stuff; swing-and-miss kind of stuff."
Heiss is the second drafted signee who has opted to turn down pro baseball and attend Arkansas. Outfielder Jordan McFarland of Waterloo, Ill., turned down a 36th-round offer by the Washington Nationals.
The Razorbacks have lost three signees - catcher Ben Rortvedt (Minnesota Twins, second round), infielder Cole Stobbe (Philadelphia Phillies, third round) and right-handed pitcher Tyler Benninghoff (Twins, 11th round) - to professional contracts.
Stobbe received a signing bonus of $1.1 million, Rortvedt a signing bonus of $900,000 and Benninghoff a signing bonus of $600,000, according to MLB.com. Stobbe and Benninghoff signed for well over slot value.
Arkansas is still awaiting word on two pitcher signees who were drafted. Right-hander Trevor Stephan was selected in the 18th round by the Boston Red Sox and left-hander Blake Lillis was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 25th round.
Drafted players have until July 15 to sign a professional contract or decide to attend college.
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