South Carolina Baseball: Former Gamecock finds new MLB home

South Carolina baseball alum TJ Hopkins was picked up by the Detroit Tigers via waivers.

Former South Carolina baseball star TJ Hopkins sliding into 2nd base when he played for the Cincinnati Reds.
Former South Carolina baseball star TJ Hopkins sliding into 2nd base when he played for the Cincinnati Reds. / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina baseball fans have had to pay close attention to the professional ranks this offseason as several former Gamecocks have been on the move since the end of the Major League Baseball season.

Super-utilityman Whit Merrifield recently signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, and the 3-time All-Star will move into the toughest division in baseball as he seeks his first World Series title.

Outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was reported to be retiring, but he denied those reports and said he has not decided yet on what he might do.

Pitcher Jordan Montgomery won the World Series with the Texas Rangers but is now a free agent who is set to command a lot of money on the open market sometime over the next month.

A handful of Gamecocks have been traded, as well, as pitcher Cody Morris (Cleveland Guardians to New York Yankees), infielder Jonah Bride (Oakland Athletics to Miami Marlins), and outfielder TJ Hopkins (Cincinnati Reds to San Francisco Giants) have been moved this offseason.

Now, one of those players is on the move again.

TJ Hopkins, after being waived recently by the San Francisco Giants, was picked up by the Detroit Tigers.

Before being called up to the Big League club in Cincinnati, Hopkins had been on the best hitters in the Minor Leagues. That offensive upside (paired with nice athleticism on the bases and in the outfield) intrigued the Tigers enough to take a chance on the Summerville, South Carolina native despite his strugles at the Major League level last season.

South Carolina baseball fans are familiar with that upside, having witnessed him play for four years in Columbia. The talented outfielder showed elite on-base skills (.448 OBP as a junior), real power potential (.519 SLG as a senior), and enough speed to make things interesting on the base paths (46 career steals in 57 attempts).

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