June 7, 2014

Four Gamecocks selected Saturday in MLB draft

The final day of the MLB draft started quickly for South Carolina players who were on the board after the 10 rounds of the first two days.

The final day of the MLB draft started quickly for South Carolina players who were on the board after the 10 rounds of the first two days.

Center fielder Tanner English and right-hander Joel Seddon both were selected Saturday in the 11th round. English went to the Minnesota Twins as the No. 320 overall pick and the fifth one on the day; while Seddon was chosen by the Oakland A’s with the No. 342 overall pick.

Seddon, a Michigan native, was relieved to not to have to wait very long.

“I was just glad that I was able to do it with my family in the room. It was a great feeling to see my name pop up there,” he said. “Anything could have happened yesterday. It’s kind of a waiting game for some guys, and my name just didn’t happen to get up there (Friday). I was excited the A’s selected me today, and I’m going to go out there and give it my best and move up as fast as I can.”

English knew the Twins were interested in him from recent discussions because they wanted to add outfielders.

“I guess I was on the top of their board today, and they grabbed me,” he said.

Two other Gamecocks were chosen Saturday: as well -- first baseman Kyle Martin in the 20th round by the Los Angeles Angels, and right-hander Evan Beal by the Kansas City Royals in the 21st round.

Seddon, who was a 20th round pick out of high school, pitched sparingly in his first two seasons as a midweek starter, but he put together a breakout season when he was moved into the closer’s role this season by going 3-2 with a 1.66 ERA and 14 saves.

He’s uncertain what role the A’s have in mind for him.

“I’m not really positive. I’ve always seen myself as a starter, but people have different opinions,” Seddon said. “I’ve been hearing a little bit of both, so I’m just going to try to show them what I’ve got. I’ll let them decide.”

English, one of the nation’s speediest players and a strong defender with a good arm, was chosen in the 13th round out of high school by Tampa Bay, but he came to USC, where the Murrells Inlet native batted .289 with 42 stolen bases in his career.

He was especially thrilled that all three of his USC roommates were drafted – Seddon and Grayson Greiner and Joey Pankake, who were picked by the Detroit Tigers on Friday in the third and seventh rounds, respectively.

“You come to play at one of the best college baseball programs in the nation so you can get an opportunity to do this and extend your baseball career and call it your job,” English said. “It was cool to experience it with all those other guys, because you have a support system that other people just can’t understand. We’ve been through so much together that it’s great to share it with them.”

Martin, a standout defender who batted a team-high .336 with five homers and 38 RBIs this year, appreciated that his first full season as a starter led to him getting picked.

“I’m very happy and very proud. It’s just an exciting moment,” Martin said. “It was a little nerve-wracking, but once everything worked itself out, it was great.”

His fellow juniors all are ready to sign, but Martin, who hails from Greenville, wasn’t quite ready to say that. He wants to hear the Angels’ offer. Players who return for their senior seasons lose leverage in negotiating a signing bonus in the subsequent draft.

“I’m not sure. We’ll just have to let it play out and see what happens,” Martin said.

Beal, who was picked in the eighth round by the Royals out of his Virginia high school, never fulfilled his promise. He pitched just 132/3 inning this season and didn’t make USC’s postseason roster. He will not return to the program.

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