CLEMSON — While Clemson fell short of reaching the College World Series, coach Jack Leggett may get a consolation prize.
Only one player with Clemson ties was chosen in the first three rounds of the draft Tuesday, increasing the odds the Tigers could retain three of their four top prospects.
Junior first baseman Ben Paulsen was the lone selection, going to the Colorado Rockies in the third round at No. 90 overall.
Few college juniors taken in the top 10 rounds usually return.
So it comes as no surprise that Paulsen, son of assistant coach Tom Riginos, said he likely will sign with the Rockies, who were aware of his signing demands.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Paulsen said.
Three players with eligibility remaining were considered possibilities to go in the opening three rounds, which would have all but ensured their departure.
But freshman left-hander Chris Dwyer and a pair of signees — righty Madison Younginer of Mauldin, and third baseman/pitcher Richie Shaffer of Charlotte — were not chosen on Day 1.
Any of those players could be taken today during rounds four-30, but barring a huge signing bonus, all three are good bets to be on campus next season.
In the cases of Dwyer and Younginer, both are believed to have stuck to their signing bonus price tags, which have so far discouraged teams from selecting them.
A year ago, Dwyer spurned overtures in the fifth round, seeking second-round money (estimated at $550,000 or more). And draft analysts predicted Dwyer — with leverage to return to school for his sophomore and junior seasons — would bump up his price tag for this draft.
Younginer told teams it would take a $1 million bonus for him to bypass college, and his dad, John, said he turned down offers of $850,000 as draft day progressed.
Shaffer, regarded as one of the premier bats in high school, suffered a broken left hand and had surgery in April.
Clemson, though, need look no further than last year’s draft as a cautionary tale.
Pitcher D.J. Mitchell wanted second-round money and slid all the way to the 10th round. But he has chosen by the New York Yankees, who paid him $400,000 — roughly quadruple what is slotted for 10th-rounders.
Other Clemson players who could be selected today include redshirt sophomore pitcher Graham Stoneburner, junior second baseman Mike Freeman and two signees — right-handers Dominic Leone of Norwich, Conn., and Scott Firth of Buffalo Grove, Ill.