As USC baseball coach Ray Tanner looks ahead to the 2010 season, he is sure of one thing.
He does not expect recruits Chris Owings, Will Myers or Brooks Hall, all of whom went in the first four rounds of this week’s Major League Baseball draft, to suit up as Gamecocks. He believes the signing bonuses being requested by all three will be met.
“I expect these guys to sign. I know what their numbers were and what clubs picked them, and I think these guys are going to be satisfied,” Tanner said. “Normally clubs don’t want to waste a pick in the first seven-eight rounds.”
Owings, the Gilbert High shortstop, went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the supplemental first round. Myers, a High Point, N.C., catcher, went to the Kansas City Royals in the third round. And Hall, a right-handed pitcher from T.L. Hanna High, went to the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth.
Yet even if that happens, and USC also loses junior catcher Justin Dalles (Orioles, sixth round) and left-fielder DeAngelo Mack (Yankees, 13th round), which he expects as well, Tanner remains optimistic about the group coming back.
Six current players were drafted, as were six signees. At this point, Tanner is crossing his fingers on keeping pitcher Sam Dyson (A’s, 10th round), whose asking price caused him to drop precipitously in the draft, first baseman Nick Ebert (Yankees, 32nd round), and pitcher/DH Parker Bangs (Pirates, 46th round).
“It’s part of the process we go through,” Tanner said. “You hope for the best. You never go through it unscathed.”
Dyson is the wild card. If Oakland does not make a serious run at him, and he returns as the ace in order to prove he is a true first-rounder, USC’s pitching staff sets up much better. Combine that with Bangs moving to the closer’s role in the bullpen, along with Ebert bringing his 23 homers and 72 RBIs back to the middle of the lineup, and the Gamecocks will look far stronger on paper heading into next season.
Three other recruits were drafted — junior college second baseman Adrian Morales (Astros, 45th), right-handed pitcher Colby Holmes (Braves, 47th), and third baseman Christian Walker (Dodgers, 49th) — but Tanner expects to see all three in the fall.
The Gamecocks will lose reliever Alex Farotto (White Sox, 34th) to the draft since his eligibility is up. The other 11 draftees will have until Aug. 17 to make a decision. Tanner hopes the choices are made long before that so he can begin piecing together the roster of 27 scholarship players and eight walk-ons.
“It’s tough to juggle those spots,” he said.