Top MLB Draft Prospects In South Carolina
1. Seth Beer, 1B/OF, Clemson (BA Rank: 46)
4YR • 6-2 • 195 • L-R •
Over the last three seasons, Beer has been one of college baseball’s brightest stars—and not just because of his infinitely punnable last name. Beer made a huge splash in 2016, enrolling early at Clemson and playing his freshman season when he could have been a senior in high school. He won BA’s Freshman of the Year Award that season by hitting .369/.535/.700 with 18 home runs—several in clutch, game-deciding moments. Since that season, though, Beer has hit for less contact, batting .277/.421/.561 with 14 home runs through 173 at-bats this spring. While there’s little doubt in Beer’s power—earning some 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale—his other tools are points of concern for scouts. Beer boasts exceptional pitch recognition and plate discipline, but some evaluators are more bullish on his hit tool than others due to his lack of a wood-bat track record. An accomplished swimmer who at one point was on track to compete in the Olympics, Beer’s swimmer’s body hasn’t translated into defensive ability on the field. He’s a poor runner, and his inefficient routes give him little chance of sticking in the outfield at the next level. He’s been an inconsistent first baseman as well, and doesn’t have a clear position heading into the draft. The team that drafts Beer will do so because of its belief in his power, plate discipline and overall hit tool. He has game-changing pop, but he’ll need to continue to hit and find a defensive home in order to move up the professional ranks.
2. Adam Hill, RHP, South Carolina (BA Rank: 81)
4YR • Jr. • 6-6 • 215 • R-R •
A 39th-round selection by the Padres in 2015 out of high school, Hill bypassed the draft to attend South Carolina, where he’s been a three-year starter for the Gamecocks. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound righthander has the kind of durable frame scouts look for in starting pitchers and he’s been a workhouse at South Carolina, leading the rotation when the likes of Clarke Schmidt and Will Crowe went down with Tommy John surgery. Hill had the look of a first-round selection earlier this spring when he posted back-to-back starts with 14 strikeouts, including an electric outing against in-state rival Clemson in front of 10-15 scouts. He’s since backed up, with a 5-5, 4.58 record though 11 starts and 79 strikeouts to 35 walks in 57 innings. When he’s at his best, Hill sits 90-93 mph with a heavy fastball, touching 95-96 and getting a plethora of swings and misses due to the pitch’s late life. Hill had starts his first two seasons where his fastball would be the only pitch he needed to record outs, but he’s made a conscious effort to incorporate both his breaking ball and changeup into his arsenal this season. His slider is the better of the two pitches, a hard, low- to mid-80s pitch with bite and some depth, but he’s shown flashes with his changeup as well, particularly to lefthanded hitters. What holds Hill back is the lack of consistency with his secondary stuff and his, at times, erratic location. Hill has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter at the next level, but he’ll need to smooth these rough edges in order to get there.
3. Jason Bilous, RHP, Coastal Carolina (BA Rank: 175)
4YR • Jr. • 6-2 • 180 • R-R •
Drafted by the Dodgers in the 29th round out of high school despite not pitching his senior season due to Tommy John surgery, Bilous has long tantalized scouts with his potential. As a freshman at Coastal Carolina in 2016, he flashed electric stuff in Omaha, helping the Chanticleers win their first-ever national championship. Since then, he's been up-and-down as a weekend starter, going 3-2, 4.61 last season, and notching a 7-2, 3.00 record through 13 starts this spring. Bilous can look unhittable at times, featuring a 92-96 mph fastball with arm-side run, a hard, biting slider at 81-85 mph and an 84-87 mph changeup that he throws almost exclusively to lefties. The problem for the 6-foot-2, 190-pound righthander is that he struggles to repeat his release point and walks often pile up on him. In 169.1 college innings, Bilous has walked 135 batters—7.18 per nine innings. He's walked 58 (to 90 strikeouts) through 72 innings this spring—7.25 per nine. Because of his sheer lack of control, Bilous projects more as a reliever. He has the stuff to be dominant out of the bullpen, but he'll need to tighten up the location woes that have plagued him throughout his amateur career.
4. Carlos Cortes, OF, South Carolina (BA Rank: 177)
4YR • 5-8 • 185 • L-B •
An undersized, 5-foot-8, 185-pound draft-eligible sophomore without a true defensive home, Cortes has befuddled scouts dating back to his high school days when he was taken in the 20th round by the Mets. He hasn't been any easier to evaluate at South Carolina, where he's spent the first two seasons of his college career languishing through early season slumps at the plate before breaking out in the second half. After straddling the Mendoza line for the early part of this spring, Cortes has raised his slash line to .253/.380/.526 through 194 at-bats. Known for a short, compact, line drive-producing lefthanded swing, Cortes has swung with a more uphill bat path this season, reducing his contact but resulting in 15 home runs. When he’s at his best, Cortes controls the strike zone and shows a knack for finding the barrel, but his strong prep hitting track record has been shakier at the college level. How high Cortes goes in the 2018 draft will largely depend on how much belief teams have in his bat, as Cortes has an unusual defensive profile. Fully ambidextrous, Cortes throws lefthanded when he plays in the outfield, but his arm strength from both arms is fringy and he's a below-average runner. He'll always need to hit to move up the ranks in pro ball.
5. Garrett McDaniels, LHP, Pee Dee Academy, Mullins, S.C. (BA Rank: 203)
HS • 6-3 • 160 • L-L •
A pitchability lefthander who’s been up to 93 mph, McDaniels is a projectable Coastal Carolina commit who has shown three potential plus pitches. In addition to his sinking fastball, McDaniels has shown excellent feel to spin a 72-76 mph curveball with three-quarter breaking action, as well as a low-80s changeup that could be a third above-average offering in the future. McDaniels sat more in the upper 80s with his fastball throughout the summer, but he has a projectable, 6-foot-3, 160-pound frame that should be able to add more velocity in the future.
6. Ryley Gilliam, RHP, Clemson (BA Rank: 207)
4YR • 5-10 • 175 • R-R •
Gilliam had a breakout sophomore season for Clemson in 2017, seizing the closer’s role early in the year and then going on to pitch for both USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and in the Cape Cod League during the summer. Gilliam has been even better in 2018, finishing the regular season with a stingy 0.79 ERA, 11 saves and 50 strikeouts to 19 walks in 34.1 innings. Despite his smallish, 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame, Gilliam generates mid-90s velocity thanks to his lightning-quick arm speed. He works comfortably at 91-94 mph and can reach back for 95-96 when needed out of his upper three-quarters slot. A hard, high-spin power curveball is Gilliam’s out-pitch of choice—a plus, upper-70s hammer that Gilliam can spot on the corners or bury below the zone. With his electric fastball-curveball combo and a strong track record of closing games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Gilliam could make a quick ascension through pro ball as a high-floor power reliever.
7. Chris Williams, C, Clemson (BA Rank: 213)
4YR • 6-1 • 220 • R-R •
A 31st-round pick of the Rays in 2017, Williams would have been drafted in the first five rounds had he not injured his shoulder on a pickoff attempt late in the season—an injury that required surgery in the offseason. Williams opened this season still less than 100 percent, and for precautionary reasons, Clemson has had him playing primarily first base. When healthy, Williams showed solid-average arm strength behind the plate, throwing out 50 percent of basestealers; his defensive game needs polish, but he profiles as an offensively geared catcher. His draft stock this year will depend on how teams view the medical reports on his right shoulder and whether they believe he’ll be able to stick at catcher long-term. At the plate, Williams has been one of the best power hitters in the Atlantic Coast Conference since transferring from Golden West (Calif.) JC prior to his sophomore year. The righthanded hitter possesses plus pull power and has hit 14 home runs in back-to-back seasons, but his pull-heavy approach leads to swing-and-miss issues and makes him a below-average hitter. Williams’ power will get him drafted, but he’ll be a much more attractive option if teams believe he can catch.
8. Adam Scott, LHP, Wofford (BA Rank: 276)
4YR • Sr. • 6-4 • 220 • L-L •
Scott figures to be a solid top-10 round senior sign thanks to a very loud spring with Wofford during his fourth year in the Southern Conference. After striking out 108 batters in 2017 with a 10.4 K/9, Scott has gone to another level this spring with 137 strikeouts in 103 innings of work—good for an 11.9 K/9. A big, 6-foot-4, 220-pound lefthander, Scott throws a fastball that averages around 90 mph, in the 88-92 mph range. His secondaries are solid though none of the pitches project as above-average. His loudest game of the season came on April 27 vs. UNC-Greensboro when Scott went nine innings and struck out 17 batters on 124 pitches.
9. Cody Morris, RHP, South Carolina (BA Rank: 292)
4YR • DE-So. • 6-4 • 210 • R-R •
Drafted in the 32nd round by the Orioles out of high school in 2015, Morris is now a draft-eligible sophomore at South Carolina. Morris is a big-bodied righthander listed at 6-foot-5, 222 pounds who possesses a starter’s frame but fringy command. Morris can scrape the mid- to upper 90s with his fastball, generally working 92-95 mph, but due to his long arm action he has difficulty repeating his release point and has issues locating his power breaking ball. That slider grades below-average, but he does feature an above-average changeup. When he’s on, Morris has ace-like stuff and he’s shown improvement over the course of the season—actually pitching better for the Gamecocks during SEC play (4-2, 3.71, 51 IP, 15 BB, 57 K). That performance could be enough for Morris to enter pro ball after South Carolina’s postseason run, as he’s projected to land in the seventh or eighth round. But he does have leverage if he decides to return to South Carolina for his junior season.
10. Jake Higginbotham, LHP, Clemson (BA Rank: 305)
4YR • 6-0 • 175 • L-L •
A blue-chip recruit for the Clemson Tigers, Higginbotham made just seven starts his freshman year before he suffered a stress fracture in his throwing elbow that required surgery and kept him off the field in 2017. The Tigers slowly built him up this season and he made 15 starts as Clemson’s Sunday starter, going 6-1, 3.27 with 62 strikeouts to 30 walks in 77 innings. Higginbotham has shown few ill effects from that elbow injury, generally working 90-93 mph with his fastball and touching 94 mph with a loose arm. An athletic, 6-foot, 170-pounder, Higginbotham creates some deception with his delivery as he turns his back to the hitter. He has good feel for spinning an average, upper-70s breaking ball and serviceable, low-80s changeup. His control is ahead of command, as Higginbotham sometimes loses his release point and gets underneath the ball, creating some Jekyll and Hyde innings. But because of his lefthandedness, his athleticism and his raw stuff, Higginbotham should be an attractive option in the draft as long as teams are confident in his medical reports.
11. Nate Lamb, LHP/OF, Chesnee (S.C.) HS (BA Rank: 309)
HS • 6-5 • 200 • L-L •
A 6-foot-5, projectable lefthander committed to Clemson, there’s a chance Lamb never makes it to campus this fall as he’s a southpaw with athleticism whose fastball has been trending in the right direction for about a year now. Previously a lefty who was regularly in the mid 80s, Lamb ticked that up to the mid to upper-80s, then the upper-80s and finally the 89-92 mph range. He’s touched 94 at his best and as he continues to grow into his body and get better control of his long levers, that could continue to tick up. Lamb also has an above-average breaking ball with tremendous feel to spin the pitch. He was a basketball player in high school and could take huge strides forward when he begins to exclusively focus on baseball.
12. Josiah Sightler, LHP, Swansea HS, Gaston, S.C. (BA Rank: 383)
HS • 6-4 • 205 • L-L •
A 6-foot-4, 205-pound lefthander committed to South Carolina, Sightler throws in the mid- to upper 80s with his fastball, throwing out of a three-quarter slot with a long arm action. He also mixes in a mid-70s curveball and a low-80s changeup, and his fastball has touched 90 mph. He has some future upside thanks to a big frame that has more room to fill out, but Sightler also showed some potential with the bat at a few summer events, including USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars. At the event, he finished with the fourth-best average exit velocity (94 mph), ahead of names like Nolan Gorman, Will Banfield, Connor Scott and Matt McLain. It’s a pull-oriented approach and Sightler was inconsistent with his quality of contact, but scouts might also be interested in him as a hitter with power potential.
13. Gabe Austin, C, Florence-Darlington Tech (S.C.) JC (BA Rank: 422)
JC • So. • 6-1 • 196 • R-R •
A sophomore at Florence-Darlington Tech (S.C.) JC, Austin stands out for his plus arm strength and power potential. He hit .333/.409/.632 with nine home runs in 2018 and was routinely clocked with sub-2.00 second pop times behind the dish. Still, Austin wasn’t overly successful in throwing out baserunners, as he caught just two of the 15 players who stole against him this spring. A below-average runner, Austin is committed to College of Charleston.
14. Evan Sisk, LHP, College of Charleston (BA Rank: 423)
4YR • Jr. • 6-2 • 210 • L-L •
Sisk has improved every year with College of Charleston and posted a career-best 2.96 ERA with 78 strikeouts and 24 walks through 91 innings in 2018. His walk rate has trended in the right direction each year, and his strikeout rate is up from 2017, although Sisk’s best strikeout rate came as a freshman in 2016. He throws a fastball in the 89-93 mph range and also has a solid curveball. Sisk allowed just one extra-base hit against lefthanded hitters this spring. Righthanded hitters accounted for 12 of the 13 doubles he allowed, as well as the one triple and four home runs he surrendered. With those splits, Sisk could be viewed as a lefthanded specialist out of the bullpen in the future.
15. Chris Cullen, C, South Carolina (BA Rank: 449)
4YR • 6-5 • 226 • R-R •
Cullen has shown exceptional offensive and defensive potential in the past with South Carolina, but the 6-foot-5, 225-pound backstop has battled injuries throughout his career and ineffectiveness this spring. After a strong start to his sophomore campaign in 2017—when he hit .276/.377/.467 with five home runs in 34 games—Cullen was forced to end his season after undergoing surgery to remove torn cartilage in his left knee. After rehabbing and getting into better shape prior to this spring, Cullen was poised to take advantage of his developing power and replicate his success over a full SEC season. That didn’t happen, as Cullen has struggled with a .206/.310/.318 line in 36 games. Cullen has had some success in the Cape Cod League previously, but teams might be more wary of him than they would have anticipated a year ago.
16. Tanner Myatt, RHP, Florence-Darlington Tech (S.C.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
JC • So. •
Myatt touched 99 mph this spring and sat 94-96 mph at his best. He was 3-1, 1.80 with 39 strikeouts but 20 walks in 30 innings.
17. Jason Parker, RHP, Louisburg (S.C.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
JC • So. • 6-0 • 175 • R-R •
Parker was a solid performer this year (6-3, 3.72 with 11.1 K/9), but his stuff is better than that. The N.C. State signee sits 90-96 mph with an impressive slider and usable changeup.
18. Daniel Lloyd, RHP, Summerville (S.C.) HS (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 6-2 • 185 • R-R •
19. Tradd James, RHP, Florence-Darlington Tech (S.C.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
JC • So. •
An undersized righthander with solid stuff (92-94 mph fastball and a promising slider), James helped himself with a solid season as he went 4-2, 2.44 with 12.4 K/9.
20. Wesley Sweatt, RHP, Northwestern HS, Rock Hill, S.C. (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 6-3 • 200 • R-R •
21. Charlie Carpenter, C, South Carolina-Upstate (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Sr. • 6-6 • 225 • R-R •
22. Ryan Miller, RHP, Clemson (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Sr. • 6-0 • 180 • R-R •
Identifying Hit Tool Standouts Through Statistical Analysis
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23. Cam Pearcey, 2B, Coastal Carolina (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • R-So. • 5-9 • 180 • R-R •
24. Cross Holfert, OF, Florence-Darlington Tech (S.C.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
25. James Parker, SS, Hanna HS, Anderson, S.C. (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 6-2 • 180 • R-R •
26. Dallas Callahan, C/OF, Byrnes HS, Duncan, S.C. (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 43230 • 180 • L-R •
27. Chase Roberts, OF, Lugoff-Elgin HS, Lugoff, S.C. (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 5-11 • 195 • L-L •
28. Nik Constantakos, RHP, Charleston Southern (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • DE-So. •
29. TJ Hopkins, OF, South Carolina (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-0 • 199 • R-R •
30. Eddy Demurias, RHP, South Carolina (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-0 • 184 • R-R •
31. Nate Pawelcyzk, RHP, Winthrop (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-1 • 190 • R-R •
31. Mitchell Miller, LHP, Clemson (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • De. So. • 6-4 • 185 • L-L •
32. Connor Grant, OF, North Greenville (S.C.) (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-3 • 190 • R-R •
33. Blake Whitney, RHP, South Carolina-Upstate (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Sr. • 6-3 • 195 • R-R •