Kiley shares rankings of the prospects in the Deep South to know for the MLB draft…
Arkansas Signee Blake Wiggins Eyes MLB Draft
The 2014 Major League Baseball Draft starts Thursday night with the first two rounds, but it is Friday that is expected to be the big day for Pulaski Academy standout and Arkansas signee Blake Wiggins.
Wiggins (6-1, 190) – likely a third baseman or catcher in the pros - has heard he could be taken somewhere between the third and fifth rounds and would then have a decision to make on turning professional or playing for the Razorbacks.
He is considered one of the best bats among the high school players eligible for the three-day draft.
"Right now it is basically a waiting game," Wiggins said. "You hear all kind of things – like that I will be going somewhere from the third to fifth rounds – but you just don't know if teams are telling you the truth. Really more teams keep quiet than talk.
"It's really a big day for me as you work so hard to get in this position and now you just wait and see what happens," Wiggins added. "For me it's really a win-win deal. I either start my career as a professional player and look at it as a every day job or I get to play for Arkansas and that's a great opportunity and something that I have been dreaming of doing for a long time."
Wiggins, a Pulaski Academy starter since he was a freshman, is coming off a senior season in which he hit .471 with 11 homers, 40 RBIs, nine doubles, six triples and an on-base percentage of .571.
"The teams that I have heard the most from during this process are the St. Louis Cardinals, the Baltimore Orioles and the Miami Marlins," Wiggins said. "What is going to make the decision for me is how much money are they willing to offer up front.
"If they offer you a lot of money, then that usually corresponds with them moving you up the ladder quicker," Wiggins added. "If they don't, then it's not as big a deal to them if you stay in a place longer."
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn got a commitment from Wiggins during his sophomore season and got him signed in November, but now has to recruit against professional teams ready to throw money around.
College baseball teams have to split 11.7 scholarships among some 30 players, but Van Horn stresses other aspects of college baseball and education.
"Coach Van Horn just tells me that he thinks I could be a great college player for him and that with the guys we have coming back and the ones we have coming that we would have a great shot at getting to the College World Series," Wiggins said. "I would also be getting a great education and that setting myself up for a future if baseball doesn't work out.
"He's also quick to point out that playing minor league baseball isn't that fun," Wiggins added. "It's a lot of long bus rides, small towns and it's better to be in college – especially in a league like the SEC."
Van Horn noted when Wiggins signed in November that he was the type of player that could impact his offense right away.
"Blake is one of the top hitters in the country and is probably the top hitter coming out of high school in the state of Arkansas," Van Horn said. "He has tremendous power. He has a chance to hit in the middle of the lineup as a true freshman. He can play both corner infield positions."
Wiggins has been a starter for Pulaski Academy since his freshman season and has been one of the nation's top prospects for a couple of years while playing summer baseball with the East Coast Grays.
He has grown out of the shortstop position during that time.
"My shortstop days are behind me now because I have outgrown the position," Wiggins said. "A lot of teams are looking at me as a corner infielder or a corner outfielder and some at catcher.
"If I come to Arkansas, Coach Van Horn has told me I would most likely be playing third base," Wiggins added. "He thinks I could come right in and make a big impact with my bat right away."
Other Arkansas signees expected to be taken high are right-handed pitcher/corner infielder Keaton McKinney (6-5, 220) of Ankeny, Iowa and New Jersey outfielder Luke Bonfield, who played his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., California prep catcher Nathan Rodriguez and right handed pitcher Jonah Patten.
McKinney is ranked as the 89th-best prospect overall and Bonfield No. 168 by MLB.com.