The South Carolina baseball program didn’t win another national championship Monday night, but it did take a small step back toward Omaha.
The biggest news out of the MLB draft signing deadline came in the decision of pitcher Matt Price, a sixth-round pick who turned down an offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks in order to play his redshirt junior season with the Gamecocks next spring.
As USC’s closer the past two seasons, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound right-hander finished up on the mound in the College World Series, winning the first national championship game and saving the second. In his illustrious career, he has compiled a 13-5 record with a 2.34 ERA and 30 saves, which tied a career school record.
USC coach Ray Tanner has said that Price, who has an extra year of draft leverage next summer due to his redshirt season, would get a shot at moving into the starting rotation if he came back.
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Three of the highest picks with ties to USC, however, will not make their way into Gamecock uniforms next season.
Center fielder Jackie Bradley, the 40th overall pick of the Boston Red Sox, signed at the deadline as expected. But it came down to the wire, as Baseball America reported that Bradley agreed to a $1.1 million deal.
Two top USC signees also made deals. Miami Dade JC outfielder Brian Goodwin, a supplemental first-round choice of the Washington Nationals, signed for $3 million, according to Sports Illustrated. Taylor Guerrieri, the Spring Valley High right-hander who was taken in the first round by Tampa Bay, agreed to terms for $1.6 million, according to Baseball America.
But there remained plenty of good news at the deadline.
Left-hander Michael Roth, who went 14-3 with a 1.06 ERA in an All-American season as the staff ace, decided to return for his senior season. Drafted in the 31st round by the Cleveland Indians, Roth, who won the national title game over Florida, had stated all along his intentions to come back for his senior season.
Outfielder Adam Matthews, who suffered through an injury-plagued season, also decided to return for his senior year after being selected in the 23rd round by the Baltimore Orioles. Left-hander Tyler Webb, who was chosen in the 48th round by the Cincinnati Reds, will return to school for his junior season.
And a host of highly touted incoming players also chose to head to Columbia instead of signing with the MLB teams that drafted them:
-- Right-hander Evan Beal of South County (Va.) High (8th round, Royals),
-- outfielder Tanner English of St. James High (13th round, Rays),
-- right-hander Joel Seddon of St. Clair (Mich.) High (20th round, Blue Jays),
-- shortstop T.J. Costen of First Colonial (Va.) High (22nd round, Rangers),
-- third baseman Joey Pankake of Easley High (42nd round, Rangers),
-- utilityman Shon Carson, former of Lake City High and now a USC running back as well (44th round, Reds).
-- and infielder/outfielder Ahmad Christian, a cornerback for the football team (46th round, Brewers),
Those first five names all could have an immediate impact on the program, especially English, who could replace Bradley in center.
Bradley ends his USC career as one of the best players in school history, even though he hit just .247 in a season shortened to 42 games due to damaged tendons in his left wrist trying to make a diving catch against Mississippi State in April. He made it back in time for the College World Series, where he won the Most Outstanding Player in 2010, and a second national championship.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound native of Prince George, Va., finished his storied career as one of college baseball’s premier defenders while also batting .331 with 30 homers and 133 RBIs in 172 games. Bradley, who was advised by Scott Boras, the high-profile agent known for his tough negotiating stances, signed just before the midnight deadline.