Former Eastern Kentucky University baseball catcher A.J. Lewis has signed to play his final year of eligibility at the University of Arkansas.
Lewis has played the last two seasons at EKU and earned a fifth year of eligibility when the NCAA restored eligibility to players whose 2020 season was lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think that the extra year is huge. It allows those who had a chance to go late in the (MLB) draft another chance at it,” Lewis said.
Lewis chose Arkansas over interest from LSU, a team that the Colonels defeated last season.
“Arkansas was a good fit and allowed me to continue my athletic track as well as academic,” Lewis said.
He is the second catcher to transfer into the Razorbacks’ program this offseason, joining San Francisco graduate transfer Robert Emery, a former summer teammate of Lewis' in the Cape Cod League.
“I think it will be a ton of fun. Rob and I were teammates and roommates and have a great relationship,” Lewis said about joining Emery again.
This season Lewis batted .451 with three home runs, 21 RBI and 15 runs scored.
He had a .541 on-base percentage and was slugging .843 when the season was suspended in March.
Before the collegiate baseball season ended, Lewis was named to the watch list for the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award, which honors the nation’s top NCAA Division I catcher. He was the only player from the Ohio Valley Conference on the watch list.
As a junior, Lewis started 54 games at EKU and batted .303 with nine home runs, 10 doubles, 49 RBI and 17 stolen bases.
“EKU has really helped me in my career and been an amazing place for me. Coach (Edwin) Thompson and his staff have helped me grow as a person, student, and as an athlete. Coach Thompson gave me an opportunity when many didn’t and I am more than grateful for him and EKU,” Lewis said.
The Chicago native will be immediately eligible next year, when Arkansas is expected to need to replace two-year starting catcher Casey Opitz, who is a prospect to be taken in this year's shortened Major League Baseball draft.