Rangers select A-State's Hicks in ninth round

Arkansas State catcher Liam Hicks, shown during the SBC tournament, was selected by the Texas Rangers in the ninth round of the MLB Draft on Monday.

JONESBORO — The Texas Rangers selected Arkansas State junior catcher Liam Hicks in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball draft on Monday.

Hicks was chosen with the 254th overall selection. He is the 17th Arkansas State player drafted since Tommy Raffo became the Red Wolves’ head coach before the 2009 season.

In an interview last week, Hicks said he had pre-draft workouts with the Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals as well as contact with several other teams.

Hicks led the Red Wolves and finished third in the Sun Belt Conference with a .344 batting average. He led the league in on base percentage (.464) and was fifth in slugging percentage (.548).

Among the league’s top 10 hitters in batting average, Hicks drew the most walks (28) and had the second-fewest strikeouts (18).

Hicks, who was on the watch list for the Buster Posey Award, was named as one of D1 Baseball’s Top 100 Draft-Eligible Hitters (April 14). His season totals included 36 runs scored with 11 doubles, seven homers and 30 RBI in 41 games.

A Toronto native, Hicks transferred to ASU after spending two seasons at Mineral Area (Mo.) College. He started all 16 games in ASU’s pandemic-shortened 2020 season, ending with a .327 batting average.

ASU has had 45 players drafted and 48 total selections in the MLB draft since 1966.

Also Monday, six University of Arkansas players were selected, as was one from Central Arkansas.

All-American relief pitcher Kevin Kopps became the first Razorback drafted when he was chosen by the San Diego Padres with the 99th overall selection.

The Chicago Cubs selected outfielder Christian Franklin in the fourth round with the 123rd selection. Catcher Casey Opitz was also drafted by the Cubs in the eighth round with the 244th selection.

Relief pitcher Ryan Costeiu went to the Los Angeles Angels in the seventh round with the 201st overall selection. The Tampa Bay Rays took starting pitcher Patrick Wicklander in the eighth round with the 251st pick, while the Los Angeles Dodgers selected pitcher Lael Lockhart in the ninth round with the 282nd selection.

Kopps, who won the Dick Howser Trophy as the national player of the year, finished the season with a 12-1 record and 11 saves. He posted the nation’s lowest ERA (0.90), striking out 131 in 89 2/3 innings of work.

Franklin batted .274 as a junior at Arkansas, belting 13 home runs. He also drove in 54 runs and finished with 11 stolen bases.

Costeiu (8-3) struck out 40 batters and had a 5.10 earned run average in 30 innings for Arkansas (50-13). Wicklander put together a 7-1 record and a 2.09 earned run average while striking out 85 batters in 77 2/3 innings.

UCA pitcher Noah Cameron was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the seventh round with the 199th overall selection.