Draft : : State Preview
Monday, May 07, 2012

State Preview: South Carolina

Allan Simpson        

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 scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.

Contributing: Ben Collman/David Rawnsley

South Carolina State-by-State List
2011 South Carolina Overview

South Carolina Overview:
Two-Time National Champs Upstaged On Own Turf

From the team that won its second straight College World Series championship in 2011, the University of South Carolina welcomed back the unusually-high total of four players that were selected in last year’s draft and went unsigned.

None of those players, though, has performed any better this season than he did in 2011, and it’s possible that none will improve his draft standing, with the exception of returning ace lefthander Michael Roth, a marginal prospect by pro standards who was taken in the 31st
 round as a junior after going 14-3, 1.06 for the Gamecocks. By virtue of being a senior in a draft where college seniors may often be valued much higher than what their natural talent warrants because of their lack of bargaining leverage, Roth could jump up 15-20 rounds, even though he had won just four games in early May.

Those four Gamecocks players aside, no USC player is expected to make major inroads on this year’s draft, and it is entirely possible that the top 3-4 picks in the state will come from schools other than the reigning two-time national champions. It’s almost a lock that Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer will be the top pick, likely midway in the first round, and that Coastal Carolina righthander Josh Conway and College of Charleston righthander Christian Powell could also be snapped up before the first South Carolina player is called. Conway’s situation is very tenuous, though, as it was recently determined that he must undergo Tommy John surgery, seriously jeopardizing his impact in the early rounds.

As usual, most of the draftable talent in South Carolina is concentrated in the college crop and there is a distinct possibility that as many as 10 or 11 college players could be taken in the first 10 rounds. Led by Shaffer, Clemson is the one school that should dominate the early rounds, with as many as four selections.

There are fairly cleanly-defined talent pools in both the state’s junior-college and high-school crops, with three players in particular standing out at the top of the JC heap, all of whom fit in the 8th
-12th round range. A quartet of players have separated themselves in the prep ranks, as well, and are all candidates to go in the first 10 rounds, but with the restrictive new draft rules in place this year, it’s highly unlikely those players will be drafted in an order that is a reflection of their talent.

South Carolina in a nutshell:

Depth of college talent.
WEAKNESS: Signable high-school players.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4.

South Carolina.
BEST JUNIOR-COLLEGE TEAM: Florence-Darlington.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: EVAN MARZILLI, of, University of South Carolina.
USC’s Jackie Bradley was drafted in the first round last year, in large part because he was regarded as one of the top defensive center fielders in the country. The transition to Marzilli, his successor, has been seamless, and some scouts have said that Marzilli may be an even better defender than Bradley. Marzilli may not end up being drafted quite as high as Bradley, the 40th overall pick in 2011, but he is expected to be the first University of South Carolina player taken—something that seemed improbable at the start of the season.

WILD CARD: JOSH CONWAY, rhp, Coastal Carolina University.
Conway had essentially cemented his status as a second-round, at worst a third-round pick for this year’s draft when he experienced elbow discomfort in a starting assignment against Liberty on April 26, pulled himself from the game early in the contest and learned through the results of an MRI the following day that he would require Tommy John surgery. It’s anyone’s guess now what that may do to Conway’s draft prospects, but he is expected to be sidelined at least 11-12 months.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, South Carolina Connection:
Andrew Rash, of, Virginia Tech (Attended high school in Anderson).
Top 2013 Prospect: Nick Ciuffo, c, Wando HS, Mt. Pleasant.
Top 2014 Prospect: Daniel Gossett, rhp, Clemson University.


Draft History:
Kris Benson, rhp, Clemson University (1996, Pirates/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Tyler Colvin, of, Clemson University (Cubs/1st round, 13th pick).
2007 Draft: Daniel Moskos, lhp, Clemson University (Pirates/1st round, 4th pick).
2008 Draft: Justin Smoak, 1b, University of South Carolina (Rangers/1st round, 11th pick).
2009 Draft: Chris Owings, ss, Gilbert HS (Diamondbacks/1st round, 41st pick).
2010 Draft: Kyle Parker, 1b, Clemson University (Rockies/1st round, 26th pick).
2011 Draft: Taylor Guerreri, rhp, Spring Valley HS, North Augusta (Rays/1st round, 24th pick).


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 1/0.
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 13/6.


Best Athlete:
Adam Matthews, of, University of South Carolina.
Best Hitter: Richie Shaffer, 3b, Clemson University.
Best Power: Richie Shaffer, 3b, Clemson University.
Best Speed: Adam Matthews, of, University of South Carolina.
Best Defender: Evan Marzilli, of, University of South Carolina.
Best Velocity: Christian Powell, rhp, College of Charleston.
Best Breaking Stuff: Josh Conway, rhp, Coastal Carolina University.
Best Pitchability: Michael Roth, lhp, University of South Carolina.


(Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)

1. RICHIE SHAFFER, 3b, Clemson University (Jr.)
Shaffer topped Clemson in every key power category as a sophomore—homers (13), RBIs (55), total bases (128) and slugging (.577), while also hitting .315 and drawing a team-high 44 walks—but did so with plenty of support in the middle of the Tigers batting order. He also achieved that production while playing first base. Things would become much more challenging from the outset this season for Shaffer, though, as he had much less protection in the heart of the Tigers batting order with the departure of four of the team’s top hitters, and he would also be making a switch across the diamond to third base. With the pressure of the draft weighing on his every move at the plate and in the field, Shaffer has passed both tests with flying colors this spring, and even taken his all-around game to a higher level. Through 45 games, he led the Tigers with a .347 average and eight home runs, and his team-high 45 walks (one more than his total a year ago, and almost three times as many as anyone else in the Clemson lineup) are a graphic indicator that he has been pitched around extensively, and has done well fending for himself. Moreover, Shaffer has committed only eight errors this spring at third base, most of which came early in the season when he was adapting to the trickier hops and faster pace of the game at the hot corner. If nothing else was accomplished, Shaffer did an excellent job of learning to take what a pitcher gave him while also solidifying himself as a third baseman for the near future by displaying easy, fluid, balanced actions around the bag. The tool that continued to set Shaffer apart as an elite prospect is his bat—both his ability to hit, and hit with power—and Shaffer’s basic hitting tools are considered some of the most-polished and advanced in the college ranks.

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