South Carolina baseball: program outlook following MLB Draft

South Carolina baseball. Mandatory Credit, Syndication: The Greenville News.
South Carolina baseball. Mandatory Credit, Syndication: The Greenville News. /

8 South Carolina baseball players were selected in the MLB Draft.

The Major League Baseball Draft took place this week, putting the futures of a few South Carolina baseball players in limbo. When all was said and done, though, it looks like Mark Kingston and the rest of the coaching staff will be in good shape heading into the offseason.

All in all, a total of eight Gamecocks were chosen, as well as three members of the 2021 recruiting class. South Carolina shouldn’t see much attrition from that 15th-ranked class following the draft, and it appears that their pitching rotation should be able to build upon a fantastic showing from last year.

The team did see three players picked in the fifth round, as pitchers Brett Kerry and Thomas Farr, and outfielder Brady Allen heard their names called between picks 140 and 150. All three are likely to sign Major League deals, leaving the Gamecocks without their top starter, top reliever, and, arguably, top position player.

Kerry pitched both in the starting rotation and out of the bullpen in 2021, posting a 5-1 overall record with a 2.15 ERA. The righty struck out 84 hitters in just over 54 innings of work, and was South Carolina’s most consistent arm.

Allen, the Gamecocks’ leadoff hitter for the majority of the year, was taken just a few slots after Kerry. The centerfielder hit .276 with 13 home runs on the season, and was the best defender on the team. This creates a massive void at the top of the order.

One pick later, Farr was taken following a 3-7 season where he posted a 3.87 ERA. While the record doesn’t pop out, Farr’s effectiveness was seen throughout the year. He tallied 90 strikeouts and limited opposing hitters to a .247 average, but received very little run support on Friday nights, leading to low scoring losses.

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The next Gamecocks didn’t hear their names until round nine, when Brannon Jordan and Wes Clarke were picked up by the Brewers in back-to-back rounds. Jordan led the team with 98 strikeouts last season, while Clarke led the nation with 23 long balls. Andrew Peters was also taken in the 10th round, a few picks after Clarke. Pitchers Daniel Lloyd and Julian Bosnic were selected on day three in the 14th and 16th rounds, respectively.

What’s it mean for the current roster?

South Carolina should be in good shape heading into next year. The pitching losses will hurt, with Farr, Kerry, and Jordan all expected to sign professionally. That’s the entire starting pitching rotation. Relievers Andrew Peters and Daniel Lloyd could also opt to turn pro.

Even with the losses, the Gamecocks should be in good shape. Will Sanders returns following a fantastic freshman season, where he won a team-leading six games and posted an ERA of 3.54. Also returning could be left-hander Julian Bosnic. While Bosnic was picked up late in the draft, he may be more likely to come back to Columbia and join the starting rotation. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better 1-2 punch in all of college baseball. The lefty recorded an ERA of 2.84, winning four games and notching four saves.

On the offensive side of things, the losses of Allen and Clarke will sting, but South Carolina’s 2021 lineup should remain mostly intact. Back will be Josiah Sightler, Andrew Eyster, Colin Burgess, and Braylen Wimmer, which should leave the Gamecocks with a solid foundation to build upon.

How will the recruiting class be affected?

The 2021 recruiting class looks even better in comparison to the attrition it could’ve seen. Three signees were selected, including first-round pick Cooper Kinney. Pitchers Hunter Parks and Andrew Baker were also chosen, and are expected to go pro rather than attend college.

It hurts not to be able to add the class’s top hitter and a couple of quality arms, but the Gamecocks will see top 100 prospects Michael Braswell and Thad Ector join the roster next season. They’ll also have top 500 signees Carson Hurnung, Vytas Valincius, Cole Messina, Elijah Lambros, Samuel Simpson, and Aiden Hunter coming to Columbia.

The class contains a nice mix of pitching and hitting, and we’ll likely see a couple of these freshmen in the lineup early next season. Braswell could wind up being the starting shortstop, while Ector, Hornung, Valincius, and Lambros could make immediate contributions either in the outfield or at the corner infield spots.

While South Carolina tied for having the fourth-most players drafted this week, they managed to dodge a couple bullets, especially if Bosnic returns. Things should set up nicely for the 2022 season, as the Gamecocks try to build on a 34-win year and regional appearance.

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