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Post-2020 MLB Draft Thread

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Now that it's been a week since the MLB draft, the Gamecock Baseball program has a somewhat clearer perspective for its future. The cloud of the COVID-19 Pandemic still hovers over the nation, but we'll have some time to get a better idea of what that will mean in the months ahead.

 

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RHP Carmen Mlodzinski

As far as the players on the current roster, only one Gamecock was selected in the draft: RHP Carmen Mlodzinski was drafted in the "Competitive Balance Round A" of the 1st Round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, using the 31st pick overall. This was not unexpected before the season got underway, as Carmen was high up on a lot of mock draft orders. At the 31st overall pick, Mlodzinski was the highest Gamecock picked in the draft since Clarke Schmidt went No. 16 to the New York Yankees in 2017.

Mlodzinski, a Hilton Head, S.C., native, was 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 25.1 innings pitched in the CoVID-19-shortened 2020 season. He combined on a shutout in the 10-0 Opening Day win over Holy Cross (Feb. 14), going seven innings in the victory. He struck out six in seven innings against Northwestern on Feb. 21 and earned the win in 5.1 innings pitched with five strikeouts against Cornell (March 6). Injury cut his sophomore season short, when he made three starts, striking out 11 in 10.2 innings pitched. He made 19 appearances in his freshman season of 2018, earning the win in the Greenville Regional championship game against UNC Wilmington.

 

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RHP T.J. Shook

As far as other returning Gamecocks not drafted, red-shirt junior RHP T.J. Shook signed a free-agent deal with the Milwaukee Brewers this past Sunday (June 14th). Shook red-shirted his true freshman year in 2017, so he has spent 4 years in the program and most likely has earned his degree.

Shook, a native of Dutch Fork HS out of Columbia, S.C., made six appearances for the Gamecocks this past COVID-19 shortened season, striking out 16 batters in 8.2 innings pitched to go along with a 2.08 ERA and a pair of saves. Shook held opponents to a .107 batting average and struck out five in two innings of work to earn a save vs. UNF (Feb. 25). He had three strikeouts in a win over Clemson on Feb. 29 and picked up a save in a win over Furman (March 3). In his Carolina career, Shook was 6-1 with a 3.04 ERA and three saves with 92 strikeouts in 74 innings pitched.

 

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RHP Graham Lawson

Also signing free-agent MLB deals was red-shirt senior RHP Graham Lawson. Graham signed with Chicago Cubs also this past Sunday, which was the first day un-drafted college and high school players can sign deals with major league clubs.

Lawson made six appearances for the Gamecocks in 2020, striking out eight in six innings of work with a 1.50 ERA. He struck out the side in the Opening Day win over Holy Cross (Feb. 14) and had a pair of punch-outs in 1.2 innings in a win over Presbyterian (Feb. 19). Lawson missed 2019 with injury and was 1-1 with three saves in 22 appearances for Carolina in 2018, helping the Gamecocks to a super regional berth.

 

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LHP Luke Little

As for the incoming 2020 class, the Gamecocks lose only one signee in JUCO LHP Luke Little out of San Jacinto College North in Texas. Little was selected 117th overall in the 4th Round by the Chicago Cubs. Little originally signed his NLI to South Carolina last season as part of the 2019 class but opted to stay one more season at San Jacinto, and was finally drafted after this season. With a projected slot value signing bonus for his pick just under $500,000, Little should be considered gone from the class.

So what does this mean for the Gamecock program heading into the 2021 season? The 2020 class that Little was a part of was rated the overall #7 class by Perfect Game. With so few losses in the draft from returning players and incoming prospects, the roster is expected to be pretty full on talent - the Gamecocks are expected to have as much if not more talent for 2021 than all programs save Vanderbilt. That's not just in the SEC, but in the nation:

 

 

A lot will depend on how well the staff can develop and prepare the team. Also the loss of several veteran pitchers in Mlodzinski, Lawson, Shook, as well a pitching talent in Little means the staff will be hard-pressed to rebuild the pitching staff on the team as well. The Gamecocks still return starters Brannon Jordan and Thomas Farr who went a combined 5-0 in 7 starts with both having 1.72 ERAs, plus several other pitchers from the bullpen in Brett Kerry, Parker Coyne, Julian Bosnic, John Gilreath, Brett Thomas, and Cam Tringali to build a staff around.

Plus despite losing out on Little, the Gamecocks still bring in a talented pitching class headlined by another top 100 rated JUCO pitcher in RHP C.J. Weins, as well as top 200 high school prospects in #44 RHP Will Sanders, #79 LHP Jackson Phipps, and #132 RHP Travis Luensmann.

This should be a team where Coach Kingston and staff have some great opportunities to move the program forward in a very nice way. The program could be now in a place where Kingston cements his legacy as a collegiate head baseball coach....

 

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