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Arkansas loses three before draft deadline

By Matt Jones

This article was published August 15, 2011 at 11:51 p.m.

— Arkansas baseball signees Brandon Nimmo, Dillon Howard and Greg Bird signed professional contracts Monday night, just ahead of the MLB deadline for franchises to sign drafted players.

All three players signed seven-figure deals, according to reports. Nimmo, the 13th overall selection by the New York Mets, signed for a reported $2.1 million, while Howard ($1.85 million) and Bird ($1.1 million) signed bonuses of well over suggested slot guidelines from the commissioner’s office.

Nimmo, an outfielder from Cheyenee, Wyo., was the jewel of the Razorbacks’ 2011 signing class, possessing a bat many analysts called the best among high school seniors. He is the second first round pick Arkansas has lost to the draft in as many years, joining Justin O’Conner in 2010.

Howard, a right-handed pitcher from Searcy, was drafted by the Indians in the second round of June’s MLB Draft and was never thought to be a serious candidate to be on Arkansas’ campus this fall. He would have been a draft-eligible sophomore had he enrolled at the school.

Bird, a fifth round selection by the New York Yankees, signed for nearly seven times above the suggested bonus for that slot. The first baseman and reigning Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year would likely have been a starter at first base for the Razorbacks next season, according to coaches.

Arkansas lost four signees to the draft for the second consecutive year. Right-handed pitcher Michael Fulmer signed with the Mets in July. Fulmer was the 44th overall selection in the draft and signed for a reported $937,500.

Over the last two years, the Razorbacks have had seven signees drafted in the first five rounds; six of those have signed professional contracts.

In addition to the signees, Arkansas also lost five players off last season’s roster to the draft. James McCann, a second round pick of the Detroit Tigers, was the highest pick to sign, inking a deal last week with a bonus of around $600,000.

Outfielder Collin Kuhn (Chicago White Sox, 17th round), outfielder Kyle Robinson (White Sox, 28th round), outfielder Jarrod McKinney (Houston Astros, 31st round) and left-handed pitcher Geoffrey Davenport (Indians, 43rd round) also signed professional contracts this summer, ending their collegiate careers.

Left-handed pitcher Trent Daniel, a 23rd round pick of the Tigers, will return to Arkansas for his redshirt junior season in 2012.

Of drafted signees, the Razorbacks will retain infielder Joe Serrano (Cincinnati Reds, 12th round); infielder Conor Costello (Reds, 16th round); infielder Brian Anderson (Minnesota Twins, 20th round); right-handed pitcher Chris Oliver (Baltimore Orioles, 27th round); right-handed pitcher Greg Milhorn (Tigers, 30th round); left-handed pitcher Mark Reyes (Orioles, 46th round) and infielder David Masters (Arizona Diamondbacks, 50th round).

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