Continuing with our coverage of the 2017 MLB Draft, we switch to the college pitcher ranks with a look at University of South Carolina right-hander Clarke Schmidt. Schmidt is currently on the shelf with Tommy John surgery but there’s still a good chance he will be drafted early.
Clarke Schmidt played high school ball in Ackworth, Georgia, where he was known to scouts but viewed as a “needs to go to college and develop” type of player. Undrafted coming out in 2014, he went to the University of South Carolina and was used as both a starter and reliever as a freshman, posting a 4.81 ERA in 58 innings in 2015. He moved into the starting rotation full-time in 2016 and thrived, posting a 3.40 ERA in 111 innings with a 129/27 K/BB.
A potential first-rounder when 2017 began, he looked like a lock for the round by posting a 1.34 ERA in his first 60 innings with a 70/18 K/BB. Alas, he hurt his elbow after nine starts and is now out with Tommy John.
Born February 20, 1996, Clarke is listed at 6-1, 200. In high school he threw 87-88 MPH. That increased to 88-90 as a freshman, 90-93 as a sophomore, and up to 92-96 before he got hurt this spring. It is a 60-pitch with plus movement and velocity. He can mix in a plus slider and an improving change-up that he needs to use more often. Command and pitchability are additional plusses and his makeup is considered outstanding on and off the field.
His change-up needs more work and he needs innings to make it happen, innings he won’t get for at least another year due to the injury. His future role is uncertain as a result, with some teams viewing him as a potential mid-rotation arm should the change-up improve. If it doesn’t, or if durability remains a concern, he could still slot nicely into a bullpen.
Schmidt is still viewed as a potential pick late in the first round despite the injury, although the supplemental round or the second round may be more realistic.
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