FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi was selected seventh overall in Monday night’s MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Boston Red Sox.

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi was selected seventh overall in Monday night’s MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Boston Red Sox.


The sophomore is the third highest draft pick in Arkansas history following Jeff King, who went first overall in 1986 and Kevin McReynolds, who went sixth, in 1981 and is the school’s second finalist in history for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation’s top amateur player.


He was eligible for the 2015 draft by 16 days, as rules stipulate a player must turn 21 within 45 days of the date of the draft. Benintendi turns 21 on July 6. Most underclassmen selected are juniors. That made Benintendi’s jump from middle-round pick to top 10 something of an anamoly said Red Sox director amateur scouting Mike Rickard.


"Not many guys make that type of stride from their freshman year to their sophomore year," Rickard said. "I do think it is a little bit unusual. He obviously had an outstanding year this year."


Benintendi has carried a .380 batting average, 55 RBIs, .715 slugging and .489 on-base to go with a Division I-high 19 home runs into the Razorbacks’ trip to the College World Series. His batting average is on pace to become the highest at Arkansas since Zack Cox hit .429 in 2010.


He joins Cox, Ryne Stanek (2013) and Nick Schmidt (2007) as Razorbacks selected in the first round during coach Dave Van Horn’s tenure.


Benintendi knew he was eligible, of course, when the season started. But he was projected as maybe a 10th-round pick. Perhaps a round or two higher. Maybe even a little lower. But as his season went on and his numbers got better, the pundits climbed him higher up the boards. He began to think about it, too.


Finally, about just a few weeks ago, he said forget it. When that time comes, it’ll come.


"Think I may have been thinking about it a little too much. I think I kind of settled down and started playing baseball, started playing better. Team got on a role about a month ago, where I was personally, I was pretty satisfied where I was," he said. "I realized I may have a good chance to go pretty high. It’s a great feeling."


Benintendi is also the third Razorbacks player to be selected by the Red Sox in the last two years. Boston took pitchers Jalen Beeks and Michael Gunn in the 12th and 16th rounds last year.


He’s eligible to come back for his junior season, but there is almost no way that happens. Van Horn chuckled at the suggestion after the Razorbacks clinched their spot in the College World Series on Sunday.


"No way (he comes back). Definitely gone," Van Horn said.