Three members of the record-setting University of Central Arkansas baseball team have been drafted by Major League teams.
Right fielder Forrestt Allday was picked in the eighth round by the Boston Red Sox, the highest a UCA player has gone in the draft since Marquis Riley went in the second round in 1992 (67th overall). The Southland Conference’s Most Valuable Player is UCA’s second draft pick since moving to NCAA Division I in 2007, joining pitcher Dustin Ward in 2011.
Center fielder Jonathan Davis went in the 15th round to the Toronto Blue Jays. Lefthanded pitcher Jeffrey Enloe was selected by San Diego in the 37th round.
Enloe’s selection on Saturday marked the first time in school history when three Bears were selected in a single draft. The only other time UCA teammates were drafted in the same year was when Kevin Booker was drafted in addition Riley in 1992.
The players were on a lot of scouts’ radar after leading UCA to a 42-22 season, a Southland Conference championship and a regional final.
"We kind of had an idea before the draft who was interested, but it’s really a very hectic process once it starts," Allday said. "But it’s really awesome and I like the way it turned out. It’s definitely a dream come true."
UCA coach Allen Gum said, "It just shows that good things come to those who work hard. His name fits him, no question... Allday, everyday. He got better in every phase of the game. He increased his power, increased his speed, increased his arm. It’s great to see him recognized because he’s a tremendous baseball player. We were blessed and fortunate to have him as a part of our program."
Gum said the scouts like everything about Allday, but particularly his work ethic.
"I think just his overall consistency," said Gum. "They love his bat. They think his bat is going to play on every level. They like the consistency in his plate discipline. He throws well, he defends well. He’s just one heck of a baseball player."
Allday ranked in the top 5 in the Southland in nearly every offensive category, including first in runs scored (59), on-base percentage (.503) and walks (53). The righthander from Friendswood, Texas, was second in hits (85), third in batting average (.365) and total bases (110) and fifth in stolen bases (15). His on-base percentage ranks fifth in the nation, while
he is 16th in walks and 30th in runs scored in NCAA Division I.
Allday, who transferred to UCA from Alvin Community College, started 113 of his 114 career games as a Bear, with 143 career hits and 106 career walks
and a career batting average of .356.
"It’s big for our program," said Gum. "It shows other players that you can come here and get drafted. It’s not necessarily where you’re at, it’s who you are and who you are around and how hard you work. You can come here and not only be drafted, but drafted high."
Davis, the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year in 2011, was the 445th overall pick by the Blue Jays. He is a career .315 hitter at UCA in 145 games, with 27 doubles, 10 triples, 8 home runs, 107 RBI, 81 walks and 61 stolen bases. He came to UCA as a multi-sport athlete out of Camden Fairview who had limited baseball experience.
As a junior this season, Davis hit .268 with a team-high 5 triples, 49 RBI and 25 stolen bases.
"I was just waiting it out and trying to be patient," he said. "I actually thought I might be drafted by the Royals because I felt like they had more interest in me coming into today. So I was watching the Royals in the 15th round and they didn’t draft me, but then one pick later I saw my name pop up for Toronto. It was so surreal. I was just at a loss for words.
"I can’t even describe the feeling my family has right now, with me being the first one to be drafted out of my family. I got a little discouraged earlier when I didn’t see my name come up the first two days, but my Pops just told me all my hard work would pay off. He said it’s a process and it will all work itself out."
Davis led the SLC in triples, was second in stolen bases and fourth in RBI, runs scored and walks.
"I think there’s no doubt he’s one of the top center fielders in the country defensively," Gum said. "He brings a lot of speed and a lot of defense. And he’s very offensive, because that speed works on both sides of the ball. And he brings a lot of toughness. He’s played hurt, battled some adversity with the injury. But he’s led us in hit by pitches, he takes walks. He just does all the little things to help you win ballgames. That will be big for a club, that toughness, that willingness to do the little things."
Gum said scouts were as impressed with Davis off the field as they were on.
"He’ll bring a lot to the Toronto organization,’ said Gum, "as far as his skills for sure, but also just his toughness and the ability to go out there and play every day. His character is off the chart. He’s a great student, his character is strong, his personality is unbelievable. He’s just the kind of guy you want to be around. He makes people around him better. He’s a great player but he makes people around him better as well."
Davis helped the Bears their first national ranking in the NCAA.
"I’m excited about the future of this program,’ said Davis. "I can’t wait to see where it’s going, and I know it can’t help but go up off of what we accomplished this year. I’m really excited to see what happens next."