Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Change of plans: Razorback catcher signee going pro instead
Robert Emery spent four seasons at San Francisco. He finished the 2020 season on a 13-game hit streak.
FAYETTEVILLE — Robert Emery, a graduate-transfer catcher who signed to play at Arkansas last month, signed a free agent contract with his hometown San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
Emery confirmed the signing, which was first reported by Kerry Crowley of Bay Area News Group, citing a source. The Giants have not officially announced the signing.
Players who were not drafted can sign as free agents with signing bonuses up to $20,000 this year.
Emery's decision comes after two-year starter Casey Opitz said he will return to the Razorbacks' team after he was not selected in the MLB Draft. Opitz was expected to be drafted, and Arkansas signed two graduate catchers to add depth and experience.
In addition to Emery, catcher A.J. Lewis of Eastern Kentucky also signed with the Razorbacks last month. Lewis, who can also play corner infield and outfield, was named a Collegiate Baseball Newspaper All-American this year when he batted .451 with 3 home runs, 21 RBI and 15 runs scored in 13 games.
On June 12, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said it was possible one of the catcher transfers would not play for the Razorbacks.
“We’ve talked to both of our transfer catchers that were coming in about the outside chance if Opitz came back, they can do whatever they need to do if they don’t want to come in now," Van Horn said. "We’re in the process of working through that right now. Obviously we’d like to at least keep one of them, and if we don’t we’ll go from there."
Lewis is expected to play at Arkansas in 2021. In addition to Opitz, the Razorbacks will also return catcher Cason Tollett, who played in only one game and didn't catch this year because of an arm injury.
Emery played the past four seasons at the University of San Francisco after beginning his career at Dartmouth. He was able to play a sixth collegiate season at Arkansas because the NCAA restored a season of eligibility to baseball players earlier this year.
In 2020, Emery batted .381 and finished with a 13-game hit streak.
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