2021 South Carolina Top MLB Draft Prospects
Today, Baseball America rolls out its state-by-state rankings for the 2021 MLB Draft. Additionally, you can find our:
Clemson routinely turns out professional athletes, but it’s perhaps a bit more rare for the program to have not one, but two commits to the football program who are also potential first-round talents on the baseball field. That’s the case this year with Taylor and Georgia two-way player Bubba Chandler. Taylor is a three-star athlete, according to 247Sports, and has gotten interest from Clemson as a quarterback and slot receiver, in addition to being a standout high school wrestler. Taylor jumped on draft boards in a big way last summer when he was arguably the most impressive performer at East Coast Pro, standing out for his running ability and hitting performance. He clocked a 6.45-second 60-yard dash and is a double-plus runner, and he also showed an ability to square up velocity and sit back and drive offspeed stuff. Taylor gets a bit rigid in his swing at times, but he has shown bat speed, the ability to manipulate the barrel and a line-drive approach that suits his running ability. Scouts think he has a chance to be an above-average hitter with the speed to profile as a leadoff type. His power is the one tool that evaluators question. It’s below-average now, but Taylor did add strength to his 6-foot, 175-pound frame over the offseason and could continue to get more physical in the future but barring a significant development in that area in addition to a more leveraged swing, he’s unlikely to be a huge power threat. Taylor will take some inconsistent routes in the outfield currently, but he has the running ability, foot speed and explosion to develop into a plus defensive center fielder, with above-average arm strength on top of it. The teams highest on Taylor’s hitting ability and swing likely have him as a first-round talent, but most of the industry sees him as a top-50 type in a class that gets fairly jumbled beyond the first 20 players. His football and baseball commitment to Clemson could complicate things depending on where he lands.
Farr spent two seasons at Northwest Florida JC, where he showed big-time pure stuff before a shoulder injury limited him during his second year. He transferred to South Carolina and showed a fastball that was up to 97 mph in the shortened 2020 season and in his first full year in the SEC this spring posted a 3.87 ERA over 15 starts and 83.2 innings, with 90 strikeouts (9.7 K/9) and 38 walks (4.1 BB/9). A 6-foot, 203-pound righthander, Farr throws with above-average velocity in the 93-95 mph range fairly consistently. He’s touched 97-98 mph again this spring, though he gets less whiffs with the pitch than you would expect given the velocity. His go-to secondary is a power breaking ball in the low 80s that has slurvy shape. Scouts think the pitch has improved over the last few years and now grade it as a solid, above-average offering, while his low-to-mid-80s changeup gives him a third pitch that could allow him to find success in a starting role at the next level. The pitch features solid drop and arm-side fading life at its best, but he has a tendency to slow his arm down at times. The pitch has been hit hard this spring, so he’ll need to continue refining it moving forward to get to an average offering, though some evaluators think it has above-average potential. Farr has a fairly simple, repeatable delivery with good balance in his finish, though his arm action has a decent amount of length, and his control has been spotty and inconsistent in the past. He has a chance to start in pro ball, with the stuff to succeed as a reliever.
Marks has been a terrific strike thrower for South Carolina-Upstate for four years, with a 2.0 BB/9 rate for his career. The Canadian native had a strong 2021 campaign, posting a 2.54 ERA over 15 starts and 95.2 innings, with 101 strikeouts (9.5 K/9) and 20 walks (1.9 BB/9). Listed at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Marks has a simple, repeatable delivery with a bit of head whack and a balanced finish. He pitches mostly in the 90-94 mph range with his fastball but has been up to 97-98 mph with the pitch this spring. While his fastball is a solid pitch that he can locate to any quadrant of the zone, Marks’ secondary offerings are a bit fringy. He throws a 78-82 mph slider that has moderate shape and depth, but the pitch lacks late or hard biting action and doesn’t feature much tilt. It’s gotten some whiffs against Big South competition, but likely because he spots the pitch well to his glove side and can mirror it well off his fastball more than any direct qualities of the breaking ball itself. Like the rest of his pitches, Marks shows good feel to land a low-80s changeup that is effective down and to his arm side, with good running life out of the zone that’s gotten whiffs against righties and lefties. How those secondaries play against professional hitters will determine how much upside Marks has, but his outstanding command and a fastball that’s gotten into the upper 90s should make him an attractive pick on the second day of the draft.
Chavers ranked as the No. 167 prospect in the 2020 class and likely would have ranked higher than that if it wasn’t for an arm issue that prevented him from playing at all in the shortened season. Plenty of scouts really liked the five-tool ability Chavers has shown, but they wanted to see more collegiate production and were a bit worried about some of his swing-and-miss tendencies. This spring, Chavers led the Chanticleers in hitting and posted a .318/.407/.477 line with five home runs and lowered his strikeout rate from 18% in 2019 to 13%. Listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Chavers is a plus-plus runner with above-average defense, above-average arm strength and at least solid raw power. He didn’t tap into as much in-game juice this spring as he showed in 2019, but that overall tool set from a lefthanded-hitting center fielder is typically coveted by scouts. What could complicate Chavers’ draft stock is his age. He’ll be 23 just after the draft and how teams decide to weigh that could lower him on some boards. While Chavers does have the tools for an everyday profile, he has struggled throughout his collegiate career against lefthanders, and this spring hit just .246/.313/.328 against them in an admittedly small sample—though he also struggled against southpaws in 2019.
Allen was a notable two-way prospect out of Jenkins High in Lakeland, Fla., and ranked at the back end of the 2018 BA 500. He’s improved his draft stock after three seasons with South Carolina, where he’s been a hitter only, and early this spring was one of the more impressive bats in the SEC. Through his first 18 games Allen hit .324/.405/.592 with four three-hit games, though he cooled off in the second half and finished with a .276/.375/.516 slash line. Allen has played all three outfield positions for South Carolina, but profiles best in a corner at the next level. He’s a solid runner, but not a burner and his best tool might be his above-average raw power, which should give him a chance to profile in a corner. Allen does have a solid approach at the plate and walked 12% of the time compared to an 18% strikeout rate, but most scouts view him as a power-over-hit bat. Each SEC team gets scouted heavily every year, but South Carolina was particularly loaded with draft prospects this spring and Allen was one of the better performers among the bats. He looks like a solid Day Two selection whose range will be determined by a team’s conviction in his hit tool.
Jordan had some interest as a top-five-round pick in the shortened 2020 draft, but he wound up going undrafted and made it back to South Carolina for his second season with the program after transferring in from Cowley County (Kan.) JC in 2019. Jordan was lights out for the Gamecocks in 2020, posting a 1.71 ERA over four starts, but his control backed up this spring and he managed just a 4.58 ERA over 15 starts and 72.2 innings. He still struck out batters at a decent clip (12.1 K/9), but his walk rate jumped from 3.9 BB/9 to 5.9 BB/9. Jordan has a four-pitch mix but primarily works off of his low-90s fastball and low-80s slider. The fastball has touched 95 mph at its peak and scouts like how it plays in the zone, while his slider flashes plus potential, but he doesn’t consistently hit on the pitch. When he throws a good one, it shows hard tilt in the 83-85 mph range and creates ugly swings from opposing batters from either side of the plate. Jordan also throws a slower curveball with more 12-to-6 shape and a seldomly used mid-80s changeup. The changeup has shown interesting tumbling life at times, but it’s tough for scouts to fully evaluate it with how often he’s thrown the pitch. Jordan was less consistent from start to start this season than scouts expected and there are starter/reliever questions given his strike throwing this year.
Bosnic was one of South Carolina’s most improved players during the fall, and was just starting to get to full strength in the 2020 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss 2019 entirely. Given the time he missed, scouts didn’t have a ton of looks at Bosnic since he’s been at South Carolina, but the 6-foot-3, 218-pound southpaw had a strong season this spring pitching mainly out of the bullpen. He posted a 2.84 ERA over 50.2 innings, while striking out 78 batters (13.9 K/9) and walking 25 (4.4 BB/9). Bosnic’s fastball mostly sits in the 90-93 mph range, but he’s been up to 96-97 at his best and scouts love how the pitch plays up in the zone, getting a significant number of whiffs when he elevates. Bosnic also shows great feel to spin a breaking ball and gets plenty of depth out of a mid-70s curve—his go-to secondary. Bosnic also throws a slider and a changeup, but they are fairly distant third and fourth pitches. Bosnic has some deception in his delivery with a crossfiring action that might help his stuff play up, but it could also hamper his control and limit him to a bullpen role at the next level. He’s never been a great strike thrower in college, but could have the two-pitch mix and spin characteristics that teams want in a bullpen arm.
No hitter in college baseball was off to a better start this spring than Clarke, who homered eight times in his first six games of the season and finished the year tied for first in the nation with 23 home runs—along with Florida State catcher Matheu Nelson. Clarke has plenty of strength in his 6-foot-2, 235-pound frame and a track record of hitting for power at South Carolina and in summer collegiate leagues. Clarke has the natural strength and hand power to hit balls out of the park from pole to pole and will occasionally mis-hit balls or just get under pitches that he’s still able to drive over the fence. Power is clearly Clarke’s calling card, but it did come with a 28% strikeout rate this spring. That’s notable, but probably not a deal-breaker because Clarke is more than capable of drawing a walk and his 19.5% walk rate was among the best of all SEC hitters. Clarke was a much better hitter against fastballs this spring than breaking or offspeed offerings, and because of that some scouts wonder what sort of hitter he’ll be at the next level when pitchers can more consistently throw those pitches for strikes. He hammered fastballs and had no problem with 93-plus mph velocity, but there are scouts who think he has below-average bat speed, and his numbers steadily declined throughout SEC play—with 15 of his 23 homers coming against non-SEC teams. Clarke has a limited defensive profile and will probably be suited for just first base in pro ball. He’s caught infrequently at South Carolina, but the industry doesn’t seem to view him as a candidate to play there in pro ball.
Anglin was a talented high school prospect out of Ohio who showed big-time stuff over the summer showcase circuit in 2018 but fell down draft boards when his stuff backed up during his senior spring. Draft-eligible in his second year at Clemson, Anglin has continued to tantalize scouts with his high-end pure stuff, which includes a fastball that sits in the 93-95 mph range and has been up to 98 and a potential wipeout slider with elite spin characteristics. Anglin has been described as a Trackman monster because of his overall spin profile, but he’s never been able to consistently throw strikes. This spring, he walked 33 batters in 56.1 innings (5.3 BB/9) and his career walk rate with Clemson is more than six walks per nine. Those walks come alongside plenty of strikeouts (12.2 K/9 career rate), but scouts think his only pro role is out of the bullpen because of his control. Teams that like Anglin might like the 6-foot-4, 220-pound righty’s stuff enough to profile as a back-end reliever, though he’s spent most of his time as a starter in the ACC.
If Kimball hadn’t transferred to P27 Academy in South Carolina, he would have made life even more difficult for area scouts in the Northeast who are dealing with one of the strongest draft classes they’ve seen in years. Kimball was originally from upstate New York and is committed to Notre Dame, but scouts really liked his quick arm and low-90s fastball over the summer. Add in the fact that he won’t turn 18 until September and plenty of scouts expected him to be drafted and signed out of that Notre Dame commitment. However, Kimball’s stuff backed up a tick this spring and he is a bit undersized for pro ball at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds. A team could still take a chance on him because he’ll throw a solid slider, has feel for a changeup and has a history of filling up the strike zone.
Brooks is a massive, 6-foot-8, 245-pound righthander who is one of the biggest prep players in the 2021 class. He took a big step forward last summer and impressed scouts at East Coast Pro by showing a fastball up to 94 mph and good strike-throwing ability as well. What was perhaps the most impressive sign of progress was an advanced curveball, which has terrific spin and 11-to-5 shape in the mid 70s. The pitch shows plenty of bite down and out of the zone and as he continues to learn how to land the pitch effectively it could be a chase pitch and an in-zone swing-and-miss offering. That new curveball upped his ceiling for many evaluators and Brooks has also thrown a slow changeup in the upper 70s that gives him a three-pitch mix. Brooks showed a pretty long arm action last summer but has shortened it up this spring and pitches out of a three-quarter slot with solid balance in his finish. He is committed to College of Charleston.
Heinecke got some interest last fall when his velocity spiked a bit and he touched 95 mph from the left side, but he hasn’t quite gotten back to that point this spring, pitching mostly in the 89-91 mph range and touching 94 at best. Even without a huge step forward with his pure stuff, scouts like the fact that Heinecke throws a ton of strikes. He posted a 4.40 ERA this spring over eight starts and 43 innings of work, with 43 strikeouts (9.0 K/9) and just 11 walks (2.3 BB/9). That walk rate was actually the highest of his career, which speaks to his track record as a control artist. His career walk rate after three seasons with Wofford is just 1.7 per nine innings. On top of his fastball Heinecke throws a slider, curveball and changeup, with the slider being his best bat-missing pitch this spring. Heinecke doesn’t have massive upside as a filled-out, 6-foot, 210-pound lefty, but southpaws who throw strikes will always have some interest for teams in the draft.
Raffield entered this spring with just 7.2 innings under his belt after missing his 2019 freshman season thanks to Tommy John surgery. Even without much collegiate track record, scouts thought he could work himself into the top-three-round range because of a big-time fastball and hard breaking ball. That’s unlikely to happen after a season where Raffield threw just 19 innings and struggled mightily with his control. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound righthander walked a batter per inning this spring (19) and posted a 5.68 ERA. Raffield has a three-pitch mix with a fastball that’s been up to 96 mph this spring but sits more frequently in the 91-93 mph range, a breaking ball with above-average potential in the 78-82 mph range that shows late power out of the zone at best, and a mid-80s changeup with solid fading life. At this point Raffield is extremely scattered with all his pitches, which leads to plenty of reliever questions. Still, a team could take a shot on his physicality and natural arm talent later in the draft.
White is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound outfielder committed to Indiana who performed last summer as a switch-hitter with impressive raw power. Some scouts have gone as far as putting 70-grade raw power on White, which would give him an obvious carrying tool, especially when combined with the hitting performance he showed last summer and fall. He’s a corner outfielder for his high school team, and scouts think he’ll certainly be limited to a corner at the next level and might have to move to first base as a below-average runner now who could get bigger and slow down even more in the future.
Petit is an extra-large, 6-foot-6, 300-pound righthander who has a big fastball that’s been up to 97 mph this spring, though he mostly sat in the 91-93 mph range in his first season as a full-time starter. It was a successful season for him, as Petit posted a 2.79 ERA over 13 starts and 84 innings, with 75 strikeouts (8.0 K/9) and 31 walks (3.3 BB/9) en route to a Big South First Team All-Conference selection. He was second in the league in ERA and opponent batting average (.223). His strong season might convince some teams to let him start at the next level, as he entered the year with the industry thinking he was best suited for a bullpen role at the next level. Petit largely used a fastball/slider combination this spring, and his best swing-and-miss pitch was the low-80s breaking ball. His strikes are scattered and he also has very little feel to land a low-to-mid-80s changeup.
Parks is a recent conversion arm who has some of the better pure arm speed that you’ll see in this draft class. Listed at 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, some scouts have said he has real 70-grade arm speed, which could allow him to throw 100 mph one day as he continues learning how to pitch and filling out a still-lean frame. Parks has already been up into the mid 90s with his fastball and has shown flashes of a sharp and hard slider as well, though scouts acknowledge that the pitch is in its nascent stages—as is much of Parks’ overall game. He is committed to South Carolina and has big-time upside but comes with plenty of risk as well, and a team will likely need to be patient with him if it decides to draft him out of Florence-Darlington.
Peters was draft-eligible in the 2020 class, ranking towards the back of the BA 500 after throwing in just three games in the shortened 2020 season. He struggled with control and posted a 23.14 ERA in just 2.1 innings after transferring in from junior college. This spring was much better for the athletic, 6-foot-2, 192-pound righthander. He posted a 3.62 ERA over 32.1 innings and struck out 45 batters (12.5 K/9) with 13 walks (3.6 BB/9). Peters throws hard, with a fastball that has been up to 97 mph this spring, and also throws a low-80s slider and changeup. He has a Tommy John surgery on his resume, which could be a concern for some teams, but his athleticism and raw arm strength make him an interesting bullpen candidate.
18. Davis Sharpe, RHP, Clemson
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 215 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Pirates 2018 (34)
19. Rocco Reid, LHP, Greenville (S.C.) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 175 • B-T: R-L • Commitment/Drafted: Clemson
20. Billy Amick, 3B/C, Wyman King Academy, Batesburg-Leesville, S.C.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 190 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Clemson
21. Carter Daniels, RHP, P27 Academy HS, Lexington, S.C.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 200 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Georgia Tech
22. Adam Hackenberg, C, Clemson
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 225 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Royals '18 (39)
23. Josiah Sightler, LHP, South Carolina
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 232 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Reds '18 (12)
24. Kier Meredith, OF, Clemson
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 180 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Cubs '17 (28)
25. Tyler Littlefield, INF, South Carolina Aiken
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-9 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Reds '17 (38)
26. Billy Barlow, RHP, North Myrtle Beach HS, Little River, S.C.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Clemson