— Michael Lananna (@mlananna) April 8, 2017
SEE ALSO: Top 100 Draft Prospects
South Carolina righthander Clarke Schmidt needs Tommy John surgery after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow last Thursday, a source told Baseball America on Monday, and the school confirmed Tuesday.
Schmidt left his outing against Florida after 5.1 innings and 84 pitches.
“This is obviously tough news for Clarke and everyone associated with our baseball program,” South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook said in a news release. “Clarke is a special kid with a bright future in front of him and our program will be with him every step of the way. He has been an incredible representative of our university and baseball program and I’m sure he will make a full recovery. I have no doubt he will achieve his goal and dream of pitching in the major leagues.”
Schmidt’s stock was on the rise this spring and he had asserted himself as one of the best college pitchers in this year’s draft class. He ranked 25th on our Top 100 Draft Prospects, and was projected to go 15th overall to the Astros in the latest mock draft. Schmidt has a 1.34 ERA and a 70/18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 60.1 innings this season.
Most scouts envision Schmidt as a potential middle-of-the-rotation starter. He pitches in the mid-90s with his four-seam fastball and has reached 96 mph this season. Schmidt has shown a plus slider at his best and he flashes feel for an upper 80s changeup.
Schmidt’s combination of size, athleticism, and track record of improvement made him a candidate to be selected in the top 20 picks. College pitchers with similar circumstances (such as Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde in 2014) have still been high draft picks in recent years, though teams’ medical staffs will have to examine the specifics of Schmidt’s health before it becomes clear how this news will affect his draft stock.
The loss of Schmidt is a big blow to the Gamecocks. South Carolina is 24-15 (9-9) and in third in the Southeastern Conference East Division. The unranked Gamecocks are No. 23 in the RPI and have a challenging opponent in No. 10 Kentucky next weekend.