Arkansas’ Sam Bates  is congratulated by teammates Dominic Ficociello  and Matt Reyolds  during the season-opening series with Vilanova this season. Bates was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 28th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft last week. (Photo by Chelsea Wideman)
Former Cabot Panthers baseball player Sam Bates is about to fulfill one of his career goals — playing professional baseball.
Bates, an outfielder for the Arkansas Razorbacks, was drafted in the 28th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft last week by the Kansas City Royals. Bates, who is a senior for the Razorbacks, was previous drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 39th round during the 2010 draft as he was coming out of Crowder Community College in Neosho, Mo.
“It’s good to see the improvement in the draft,” Bates said Friday after the Razorbacks’ practice at Waco, Texas, before the start of the NCAA Super Regional against Baylor. “Being a higher priority draft is good and being a senior. I improved my draft stock 11 rounds. I’m looking ahead to playing pro ball, continuing my career doing that.”
After the first two games of the Super Regional, Bates was hitting .240 for the season with six home runs, six doubles and 24 RBIs. Bates’ home run total is tied for second on the team with Dominic Ficociello and Derrick Bleeker.
Bates said he was excited to play in the Royals organization.
“It’s in the same region with Fayetteville and it’s only a three-hour drive,” Bates said. “The Naturals are even closer than that in Springdale,” referring to the Royals AA club.
“Hopefully, that will work out in our favor,” he said. “It’s great for the family, too, so they can come see me play.”
The Royals rookie teams are in Arizona; Burlington, N.C; and Idaho Falls, Idaho. The Class A team is in Geneva, Ill. The advanced-A club is in Wilmington, Del. The Class AA club is in Springdale, and the Class AAA club is located in Omaha, Neb.
“I’ll probably start out in Idaho Falls, which is farther away, but we’ll see what happens from there,” Bates said.
Bates has at least two more games with Arkansas before starting his professional career.
The Razorbacks beat Baylor 1-0 in 10 innings Monday to advance to the College World Series for the first time since 2009. Bates played in the first game of the Super Regional, an 8-1 Baylor victory Saturday.
He is the son of Sammy and Jennifer Bates of Cabot.