The Major League Baseball Draft has concluded, but a summer of anxiety is just beginning for South Carolina’s coaching staff.
Ten players who have either signed with or committed to the Gamecocks were taken in the three-day draft, leaving USC coach Ray Tanner with some uncertainty as he attempts to rebuild his roster for 2012.
Unless some of those draftees enroll in summer school, he won’t have full assurances of who will and will not attend school until mid-August. MLB teams have until midnight on Aug. 15 to sign their draftees.
The Gamecocks’ most-touted prospects, Spring Valley pitcher Taylor Guerrieri and Miami-Dade Junior College outfielder Brian Goodwin, are the ones least likely to ever end up playing in Columbia. Guerrieri has signed with USC, and Goodwin committed to the Gamecocks last month.
However, they both were taken before the second round began: Guerrieri went 24th overall to Tampa Bay and Goodwin was taken 34th overall (supplemental first round) by Washington. History shows that if they turn professional now, they could become instant millionaires.
The 24th pick in the 2010 draft, Giants outfielder Gary Brown, received $1.45 million to sign. As a big, projectable prep power pitcher, Guerrieri could be in line to receive an even bigger bonus, though Tampa Bay won’t likely break the bank considered the team’s small-market status.
Goodwin could be in line to earn $900,000 or more from the Nationals. Toronto gave pitcher Aaron Sanchez, the 34th pick, $775,000 last year, though the slot money from that pick was projected to be higher.
Guerrieri and Goodwin both have tons of leverage to use in contract negotiations.
Though he wouldn’t be draft eligible for another three years, Guerrieri has the option of playing with many of his friends in Columbia and improving his stock for the 2014 draft.
Goodwin wouldn’t have to be that patient, however. He could choose to attend USC, have a monster campaign in 2012 and re-enter the draft next summer, potentially coming off the board in the first round.
Taking into account that only three first or supplemental first round picks went unsigned last year – two of them were for medical reasons – it seems highly unlikely that USC fans will ever get to see their two blue chippers in Columbia. However, stranger things have happened.
Here is a look at the other eight USC signees taken in the draft, broken down by those most likely to sign a professional deal, those who could sign a deal and those who are most likely headed to Columbia:
Most likely to turn professional: Pitcher Evan Beal (Kansas City Royals, eighth round)
Beal, a projectable, 6-foot-4 righty, told the Washington Post that he made it clear before the draft what he was looking for in a signing bonus. Without naming his price, he said that if the Royals meet that number, he’ll likely sign.
“It’s certainly a tough decision, but if they give me what I want, I’m not going to back out on what I told them I’d take,” Beal told the newspaper. “It’s a great farm system and it’s a good opportunity, but so is South Carolina. But if the factors are right, I’ll probably end up playing pro ball.”
This is nothing new to the Beal family. His older brother Jesse was a prep standout and was taken 416th overall in the 2008 draft. He chose to bypass a scholarship offer to Maryland and sign with the Baltimore Orioles.
Could turn professional: Outfielder Tanner English (Tampa Bay Rays, 13th round), Pitcher Andrew Faulkner (Texas Rangers, 14th round), Pitcher Joel Seddon (Toronto Blue Jays, 20th round), Shortstop T.J. Costen (Texas Rangers, 22nd round)
As a pitcher, Faulkner is the most likely of the trio to sign, telling the Aiken Standard that he had been asking for eighth-round slot money all along. He’s a tall power pitcher with loads of potential, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Rangers throw out a nice offer.
English and Costen could end up turning pro, but it really depends on how much money they are seeking and how much their draft teams are willing to shell out. Slot money for 14th- and 22nd-round picks is not life changing, but all it would take is for the Rays or Rangers to make an attractive for them to jump.
Seddon is a wild card. At 6-foot-2, 155 pounds, he’s hardly the size of the thoroughbreds that typically earn a large enough signing bonuses. However, he throws in the low to mid-90s, and it might not take much for him to reconsider his future.
Likely not turning professional: Infielder Joey Pankake (Easley, 42nd round), Outfielder/infielder Shon Carson (Cincinnati Reds, 44th round), Outfielder/infielder Ahmad Christian (Milwaukee Brewers, 46th round)
Unless a player just doesn’t want to attend college, you almost never see high school prospects drafted after the 30th round choose to turn pro. Pankake, Carson and Christian would stand to earn signing bonuses that wouldn’t likely exceed the one-year value of their scholarships to USC. That’s why they will ultimately end up in Columbia.