Today is Day 2 of the MLB Amateur Draft, and we didn’t have to wait very long to hear the first Hawkeye called, as Robert Neustrom was selected in the fifth round by the Baltimore Orioles.
Neustrom is coming off another astounding season for the Hawks in 2018, as he was able to equal or better the majority of his stats from the year before. The lefty hit .311 for Iowa this season, belting 11 home runs, 15 doubles, and driving in 36 runs despite accumulating 43 less at-bats than he did in 2017. He played a solid right field for the Hawks as well, committing just one error early in the season after not committing any in 2017.
Neustrom was considered a candidate to be selected in this year’s draft after last season, when he hit .310 with nine home runs and 55 RBI, but he really made a name for himself in the Cape Cod league last summer. Playing in the well-known wooden bat league, Neustrom was named an all-star, hitting .302 with five doubles, four homers, and 18 RBI despite only playing in 30 games. Dargan Southard wrote a pretty good piece chronicling his journey from D-1 hopeful to the Cape Cod league last month that’s worth checking out.
Neustrom took to Twitter earlier this afternoon to announce that he’s forgoing his final year of collegiate ball to sign with the Orioles. The 145th overall pick comes with a slot value of $361,000, meaning that’s about the bonus value that MLB assigns that pick. Of course, he could make a little more or a little less, depending on how Baltimore uses their bonus allotment. Generally, senior players who have exhausted their eligibility go under slot because they don’t have the option to decline and return to school. As a junior, Neustrom might be able to get a little larger of a signing bonus, but $361,000 is about where he’ll land.
As noted in the tweet embedded above, Neustrom is the highest drafted Hawkeyes position player since 1992, when Danan Hughes was selected in the third round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Iowa has now had at least one player selected in every year since 1965, when the MLB Amateur Draft first took place, and this is the second consecutive year that the Orioles have selected an Iowa player, as Mason McCoy was drafted by them in the sixth round last year.
Congratulations, Robert! Go get paid!