In the weeks leading
up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview
of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as
well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the
state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as
well as providing mini-scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players.
South Carolina State-by-State List
Surges as Prospect, Offsets Dose of Injuries to College Talent
Carolina has become one of the nation’s hotbeds for college
baseball—and a popular destination state for many top out-of-state
the top 18 college prospects on this year’s list of South
Carolina’s best draftable talent, only two are products of in-state
high schools. The list is so diverse that it includes players from 11
different states, including five from Florida and three from
recruiting power of South Carolina and Clemson, the state’s
long-standing flagship colleges, has enabled those schools, in
particular, and emerging programs like Coastal Carolina and the
College of Charleston, to reach outside state lines and tap into
numerous top prospects eager to play in a climate suitable for
state’s top college product, South Carolina outfielder Jackie
Bradley, hails from Virginia. So does No. 4-ranked Will Lamb,
Clemson’s intriguing two-way talent. Coastal Carolina’s
hard-throwing righthander Anthony Meo, ranked No. 2, is from Rhode
Island. No. 3-ranked Brad Miller, Clemson’s shortstop, is from
infusion of significant out-of-state talent has again pushed South
Carolina to the top of the national college polls this season, just a
year after the Gamecocks stormed to their first College World Series
championship—mainly on the exploits of Bradley, the tournament MVP.
A talent-rich Clemson club has struggled more than expected this
season, but seems to be getting hot at the right time, particularly
with the inspired play of Miller.
chances of both clubs making a deep run in post-season play, however,
may depend on their ability to overcome some disabling injuries to
Carolina has lost its two best position prospects for this year’s
draft, Bradley and outfielder Adam Matthews, to season-ending
injuries. Bradley, who led the Gamecocks in batting (.368), homers
(13) and RBIs (60) a year ago, was slowed most of this season by a
wrist injury and finally underwent surgery to repair a damaged
ligament in late April. Matthews, the fastest player on the Gamecocks
roster, was shut down after he aggravated a sore hamstring a week
meanwhile, has had to withstand an injury to its best pitching
prospect, righthander Kevin Brady, who was shelved by a forearm
strain after just four appearances. He has a chance to return to the
Tigers lineup by the end of the season, depending on how far his team
advances in post-season play. The Tigers had previously been forced
to deal with a broken finger sustained by Miller, who was relegated
to a DH role for several weeks.
his return, Miller has sparked Clemson’s resurgence. He is hitting
.429 and his steady play in the field has finally convinced scouts,
who were doubtful of Miller’s range before his injury, that he can
now play the position at the professional level. He has elevated his
draft worth as much as any college player this spring since his
return to full-time status, possibly by two full rounds.
perhaps as much as any South Carolina college player who has dealt
with a significant injury this spring, is the talent whose draft
stock is the most open to scrutiny. He is a gifted athlete is his
long, lean frame, but scouts have had difficulty determining whether
he’s a better prospect as a pitcher or position player.
prevailing sentiment is that Lamb’s greatest upside is on the
mound, but he has spent most of the 2011 season in center field for
Clemson, and has pitched only sporadically. If 2011 performance means
anything, then Lamb has been more valuable as an everyday player. He
is hitting .344-1-33 for the Tigers and recently ran off a 25-game
hitting streak, longest in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.
His 6.6-second speed in the 60 is also an asset in center field, as
is his superior arm strength. Though he has yet to tap into it on a
consistent basis, Lamb’s power potential is another obvious tool.
Lamb has also been clocked up to 95 on the mound, and there’s no
telling how good a pitcher (a lefthander, at that) he might become if
he concentrated on that position full-time.
now, the state’s two best college pitching prospects are Meo and
South Carolina closer Matt Price. Meo is one of the elite power arms
in the entire draft with a fastball that has been clocked up to 98
mph. He has been dominant over the last two years as a starter for
Coastal Carolina, though his performance has backed off slightly this
spring. The sophomore-eligible Price, meanwhile, has been a stalwart
at the back end of the South Carolina bullpen over the same period
with his own above-average fastball that has peaked at 96.
some of the shine has come off the South Carolina college crop with
the loss of Bradley, Brady and Matthews, their injuries are expected
to only marginally impact their draft status.
once projected to be among the first 10-15 selections, should now go
late in the first round or early in the compensation round. Matthews
is still a candidate for Rounds 4-6 because of his impressive tools,
while Brady’s status could fluctuate, depending on whether he has a
chance to pitch again before the draft. If he does pitch and shows
signs of his pre-injury form, when his fastball was clocked as high
as 96 mph, he could go in the first 2-3 rounds. Otherwise, he may
settle into Rounds 4-8.
unsettled status of that trio of prospects has been offset, though,
by the inspired play of Clemson’s Miller, along with a number of
other top college prospects. But the greatest development has been
the impressive work turned in by Spring Valley High righthander
Taylor Guerrieri, possibly the best arm ever to come from the South
Carolina high-school ranks.
whose fastball has been a steady 93-96 mph, touching 98 (with
unconfirmed reports of his even hitting 100), could be one of the
first 8-12 players drafted overall. He almost certainly will be the
first from South Carolina, especially in the wake of Bradley’s
surge as a prospect has symbolized the surprising strength of the
high-school talent overall in South Carolina this spring. Over the
last seven drafts, the state ranks only 21st nationally in terms of talent produced by state high schools, and yet
this year’s draft alone could produce as many as a half-dozen prep
players in the first 10 rounds from South Carolina.
there is not another area in the country that has a greater annual
disparity between the talent produced for the draft from the
high-school ranks vs. the college ranks than in the Carolinas. The
phenomenon is particularly pronounced in South Carolina—a tribute
to the power of the state’s college programs, but a blight on the
draftable talent coming directly from the high-school ranks.
this year is an exception as Guerrieri, a South Carolina recruit who
transferred from North Augusta High to Spring Valley High for his
senior year, leads a wave of significant, though uncharacteristic
wave of talent at the prep level.
of the more intriguing high-school prospects in this year’s draft
is 5-foot-10 outfielder Tanner English, a stalwart on the state’s
best team, St. James High. He has tools that totally belie his modest
frame. Few outfielders in this class, college or high school, has arm
strength to match English’s howitzer, and his raw speed is a second
tool that grades out as well-above average.
Guerrieri and English are South Carolina recruits, which may throw
their draft status into question as the Gamecocks have a
well-established tradition for hanging on to most of their prized
in-state recruits. Outfielder Shon Carson, another of the state’s
top prep prospects, is also South Carolina-bound, and he may be even
tougher to pry away as he is one of the school’s top football
recruits. Along with Matthews and English, he is one of three players
in the state with a USC connection that has been clocked in the 60 as
low as 6.4 seconds.
only are South Carolina colleges aggressive at recruiting
out-of-state talent, but they are equally protective in not letting
one of their own leave the state to play in college elsewhere. The
highest-ranked such player with South Carolina roots is University of
Kentucky shortstop Taylor Black, a former JC transfer from the state.
Black ranks no higher than a 12th-16th round selection.
Carolina in a Nutshell:
High-end college and high-school talent.
Top college prospects who have sustained serious injuries.
RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4.
COLLEGE TEAM: South Carolina.
JUNIOR COLLEGE TEAM: USC Sumter.
HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: St. James HS,
ON THE RISE: Brad
Miller, ss, Clemson. Miller has
always hit for a shortstop, and is pounding the ball at a resounding
.429-3-43 clip this season for the Tigers—even as he has a somewhat
unorthodox swing and stance that leads to an opposite-field approach,
and broke a finger early in the season and remained in the lineup as
a DH. Prior to his injury, scouts were leery of Miller’s range at
shortstop and ability to make the routine play consistently, but he
has made every play expected of a top-notch shortstop since his
ON THE DECLINE: Hunter
Cole, 3b-rhp, Dorman HS, Roebuck. Even
before his family reaffirmed with big-league clubs his firm
commitment to attend college at Georgia, Cole’s stock seemed to be
sliding more than any other of the state’s top half-dozen
high-school prospects. He has the frame and offensive upside to play
at the pro level now, but his lack of speed and defensive prowess at
third base this spring appears to make him a better fit as an
outfielder in college.
Lamb, of/lhp, Clemson. Pitcher or
outfielder? That is the debate that continues to rage with the
6-foot-5, 190-pound Lamb, who is gifted player in either role, but
may have slightly more upside on the mound with a fastball that
reaches 95 mph. The problem is, his 6.6 speed, superior arm strength
and improving offensive skills stand out in center field.
OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, South Carolina Connection:
Taylor Black, ss, University of Kentucky.
2012 PROSPECT: Richie Shaffer, 1b,
2013 PROSPECT: Tripp Rollings, rhp,
Andrew Jackson HS, Kershaw.
History: Kris Benson, rhp, Clemson
U. (1996, Pirates/1st round, 1st pick).
Draft: Tyler Colvin, of, Clemson U.
(Cubs/1st round, 13th pick).
Draft: Daniel Moskos, lhp, Clemson
U. (Pirates/1st round, 4th pick).
Draft: Justin Smoak, 1b, U. of South
Carolina (Rangers/1st round, 11th pick).
Draft: Chris Owings, ss, Gilbert HS
(Diamondbacks/1st round, 41st pick).
Draft: Kyle Parker, 1b, Clemson U.
(Rockies/1st round, 26th pick).
Hitter: Brad Miller, ss, Clemson.
Power: Jackie Bradley, of, South
Speed: Shon Carson, of, Lake City
Defender: Jackie Bradley, of, South
Velocity: Taylor Guerrieri, rhp,
Spring Valley HS, North Augusta.
Breaking Stuff: Taylor Guerrieri,
rhp, Spring Valley HS, North Augusta.
PROSPECTS, GROUPS ONE and TWO
ONE (Projected ELITE-Round Draft /
TAYLOR GUERRIERI, rhp, Spring Valley HS, North Augusta
jump up draft lists; loose, easy arm, FB at 93-97/T-98, ++ low 90s
SL, low-80s CU, No. 1 starter tools.
JACKIE BRADLEY, of, University of South Carolina (Jr.)
first-rounder before wrist injury/subpar 2011 season; superior
defender, can hit for average/power.
ANTHONY MEO, rhp, Coastal Carolina University (Jr.)
from 13 wins in 2010 to 7; FB still firm at 94-95, T-98, high-80s SL,
both lack + command, gets hit.
BRAD MILLER, ss, Clemson University (Jr.)
ability, arm, speed never been an issue; has satisfied questions
about true power potential, range at SS.
WILL LAMB, lhp/Clemson University (Jr.)
tools in athletic 6-5/190 frame; FB at 92-95, but more accomplished
as CF; long swing limits power.
MATT PRICE, rhp, University of South Carolina (So.)
2 big years as Gamecocks closer (combined 23 SV, 133 SO/83 IP);
dominates with 90-94 FB, + SL.
TANNER ENGLISH, of, St. James HS, Murrels Inlet
build, but ++ tools; 6.37 speed in 60, ++ defender/arm strength; +
hustle/instincts, .438-5-18, 23 SB.
TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft /
DANIEL GOSSETT, rhp, Byrnes HS, Lyman
6-1/165 athlete, ++ quick/loose arm, FB up to 90-94, sharp/deep CU,
polished approach/+ command.
9. KEVIN BRADY, rhp, Clemson University (So.)
was steady 92-94/T-96, 12-6 CU improving, before shut down with
forearm strain; draft status is unclear.
ADAM MATTHEWS, of, University of South Carolina (Jr.)
for season in April with hamstring injury; ++ tools (6.4 speed, arm),
shows + power in BP, not in games.
JOHN HINSON, 3b, Clemson (Jr.)
quiet year at plate (.338-6-31) after breakout SO year (.337-12-60);
has + speed, but error-prone at 3B.
TAYLOR MOTTER, ss, Coastal Carolina University (Jr.)
(.265-3-25), speed (12 of 14 SB) may be a step short, but considered
best defensive SS in state/region.
TRAVIS BURNSIDE, of, Spartanburg Methodist JC (So.)
best JC prospect is quality athlete with gap power, 6.57 speed in 60,
+ arm/defender in CF; signable.
SHON CARSON, ss/of, Lake City HS, Scranton
power/speed combo, 6.35 in 60, outstanding 2010 summer, just so-so
spring; FB ride to South Carolina.
GARRETT BOULWARE, c, T.L. Hanna HS, Anderson
athletic 6-2/220 frame; ++ juice with short/compact swing; + arm,
good receiver; Clemson recruit.
DAVID PETERSON, rhp, College of Charleston (Jr.)
success (5-5, 4.70), lacks desired arm action, but impresses scouts
with + frame, 88-94 FB, + cutter.
HUNTER COLE, 3b/rhp, Dorman HS, Roebuck
at 6-1/190, solid hitting approach/+ bat speed, but performance
lagged this spring; 7.0 runner, + arm.