By Jonathan Gipson, UAFS sports information director
FORT SMITH – It was no secret that UAFS right fielder Logan Allen likely would be drafted at some point during this week’s three-day Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Allen, who just finished his junior season with the Lions, had attracted interest during the spring from the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals. Exactly when and where he would be drafted was still anybody’s guess going into the draft.
Mid-morning on Wednesday, Allen got a phone call from the Rays scout who had been tracking his performance all spring. He asked Allen if he was watching the draft. Allen told him he wasn’t and asked if he should be.
“Yes,” the scout said.
Seconds later, Allen watched as his named appeared, and suddenly, his lifelong dream of playing professional baseball was a reality.
The Rays selected Allen with the 428th overall pick in the 14th round. The Bryant native was the eighth player from Arkansas selected in the draft and the first from a NCAA Division II program.
“My phone is blowing up,” said Allen, moments after being selected by the Rays. “This is a dream come true.”
Six players from the University of Arkansas and one from Little Rock preceded Allen in the draft – Arkansas outfielder Dominic Fletcher (No. 75), Arkansas pitcher Isaiah Campbell (No. 76), Arkansas pitcher Matt Cronin (No. 123), Arkansas shortstop Jack Kenley (No. 232), Arkansas pitcher Jacob Kostyshock (No. 249), Arkansas pitcher Cody Scroggins (No. 287) and Little Rock pitcher McKinley Moore (No. 410).
Allen is the first UAFS player during the NCAA Division II era to be drafted, and he is the eighth player overall to be drafted during Holland’s five-year career as a collegiate head coach.
“That’s great for him and great for our program,” UAFS coach Todd Holland said. “Some people say that DII players don’t get drafted, but this just shows you that if you put in the hard work that it pays off.”
Allen graduated from UAFS this past May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Finance, and even though he has one season of eligibility remaining, he said he will forego his senior season and sign with the Rays in the coming days.
“I’m not sure how all that works, but they said they would be in contact with me in the next few days,” Allen said. “(The scout) told me to just enjoy a few days.”
Allen started every game he played (36) this past season but missed 10 games after suffering a nearly season-ending eye injury in his last at-bat in the Lions’ 7-3 nonconference loss to Newman in the final game of the three-game series on March 2 at Crowder Field.
Still, Allen led the team in batting average (.362) and tied for the team lead in triples (one). He was second on the team in hits (50) and doubles (11), was third on the team in home runs (five) and fourth in RBIs (23). He led the team in stolen bases (eight) and compiled a perfect fielding percentage (1.000).
He was named First Team All-Heartland Conference and named to the Heartland Conference All-Defensive Team, was Preseason All-Heartland Conference, was named Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason South Central Region All-America and was named NCBWA Preseason All-South Central Region.
As a sophomore, he started all 41 games he played but missed the final 10 games of the season because of injury. He led the team in batting average (0.370), hits (61), doubles (17) and stolen bases (16) and tied for second in RBIs (33). He had two triples and two home runs and compiled a perfect fielding percentage (1.000).
He was named First Team All-Heartland Conference and named to the Heartland Conference All-Defensive Team.
As a freshman, hestarted all 57 games he played. He was second on the team in batting average (0.332) and doubles (15) and had four triples. He was tied for second on the team in home runs (seven). He compiled a 0.979 fielding percentage.
Allen was named Heartland Conference Freshman of the Year and named to the Heartland Conference All-Defensive Team. He also was named to the All-South Central Region Tournament Team.