2017 College Draft Profile: Clarke Schmidt

School: University of South Carolina; Class: Junior

Position: RHP; B/T: R/R

Height: 6-1; Weight: 205

Previously Drafted: N/A

 

Background: The South Carolina hurler got off to a stellar start in 2017. Through his first nine starts Schmidt was absolutely dominating, throwing 60.1 innings with an impeccable 70-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio en route to tallying a barely-there 1.34 ERA. Then his elbow gave out – an injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery in late April.

During his three-year stay in the Gamecocks’ rotation, Schmidt has been a consistent, oftentimes dominant hurler.

Despite not getting drafted coming out of Allatoona High School, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound right-hander looked at ease in his freshman season: he made 18 appearances, 10 of which were starts, throwing 58.0 innings with 55 strikeouts and just 20 free passes. He also threw an additional 8.2 innings in the Coastal Plain League during the summer as well.

Schmidt followed than up with a breakout season during his sophomore campaign: in a career best 17 starts (and one relief appearance), the hard-throwing right-hander struck out an impressive 129 and issued just 29 base on balls in 111.1 innings to go along with a 3.40 ERA and a 9-5 win-loss record.

 

Projection: Despite succumbing to a pretty serious – albeit all-too-common – arm injury, I wouldn’t count Schmidt out as a potential first round pick. Lucas Giolito, Erick Fedde, and Jeff Hoffman were all recent top picks in spite of undergoing similar procedures. Schmidt has been impressive over his last 170+ innings for Head Coach Chad Holbrook: he’s struck out 199 and walked just 45. The lone red flag – though, it’s a doozy – has been his propensity to surrender the long ball; his homerun rate was 0.78 HR/9 during his freshman season, 0.73 the following year, and 0.45 through his nine starts in 2017.

And just to add some context, consider the following:

  • Between 2011 and 2016, here’s a list of pitchers that have average at least 10.4 K/9 and fewer than 2.2 BB/9 (minimum 110 innings): Taylor Clarke, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, Danny Hultzen, Aaron Nola, and Clarke Schmidt.

Schmidt, by the way, accomplished the feat as a sophomore.

Assuming his medicals come back clean, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Schmidt go in the Top 20 picks to an aggressive, forward-thinking team could sign him to a below-slot bonus. Again, assuming that he comes back healthy, if Schmidt looks like a mid-rotation starter with upside if he can keep the ball in the ballpark.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Floor:  1.0-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

Grade: First/Second Round

 

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.