USC Gamecocks Baseball

Holbrook expects 3 drafted signees to join MLB ranks

Lexington catcher Nick Ciuffo
Lexington catcher Nick Ciuffo

With the one-day delay to the start of the NCAA Super Regional, the South Carolina and North Carolina teams found the time to watch something even more intently than the rain.

That was Major League Baseball’s annual summer draft.

As the Gamecocks took an indoor batting practice at Boshamer Stadium, a couple of computers were nearby showing the MLB draft tracker. Thursday night began the string of players with ties to the USC and UNC programs being selected.

In the first round, the Gamecocks saw signees Nick Ciuffo, the Lexington High catcher, and Travis Demeritte, a third baseman from Winder, Ga., picked. Ciuffo was the 21st overall choice by Tampa Bay, and Demeritte was the 30th overall selection by Texas.

“We expect both of those guys to sign a professional contract,” USC coach coach Chad Holbrook said. “They were great players long before we came into their lives. We were happy to provide them an opportunity to come to college if the professional draft didn’t work out. It looks like it’s going to work out, and we couldn’t be more happy for them.”

UNC third baseman Colin Moran, the team’s top hitter, was taken with the sixth overall pick in the first round by Miami.

Players continued to be picked Friday in rounds three through 10, including another USC signee in Mauldin High shortstop Cory Thompson, who was taken by Cincinnati in the 5th round. Holbrook also expects Thompson to sign with the Reds and not make it to Columbia.

USC senior left-hander Tyler Webb was chosen by the New York Yankees in the 10th round. He has put together a remarkable season with a 3-2 record, 1.36 ERA, 17 saves and 60 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. In a school-record 108 career appearances for the Gamecocks, Webb has gone 15-6 with a 2.33 ERA and 20 saves.

North Carolina pitcher Kent Emanuel, who will start Saturday’s game, was chosen in the third round by the Houston Astros. UNC first baseman Cody Stubbs was taken in the eighth round by Kansas City, and catcher Brian Holberton was tabbed by Houston in the ninth round.

USC senior first baseman LB Dantzler is expected to be chosen Saturday, when rounds 11-40 will complete the draft.

USC signees like pitchers Will Crowe (Pigeon Forge, Tenn.), Canaan Cropper (Salisbury, Md.), Taylor Widener (South Aiken), and Matt Vogel (Medford, N.Y.) also might hear their names called on the final day.

“We might have to hold our breath with a few of them, but we’re sitting in pretty good shape right now in regards to the draft. It’s a crapshoot every year,” Holbrook said. “We’ve rolled the dice, and we’ve dodged a few bullets to this point. But there’s a long way to go.”

Other players with statewide connections picked in the last two days were:

-- West Florence High pitcher Akeem Bostick (2nd round, Texas),

-- Georgia Tech and Greer High first baseman Daniel Palka (3rd round, Arizona),

-- Coastal Carolina outfielder Jacob May (3rd round, Chicago White Sox),

-- Fort Mill High outfielder K.J. Woods (4th round, Miami),

-- The Citadel and Mauldin High catcher Joe Jackson (5th round, Texas),

-- Furman left-hander Nate Smith (8th round, Los Angeles Angels),

-- College of Charleston and Spring Valley High left-hander Jake Zokan (9th round, Seattle),

-- Tennessee and Bamberg-Ehrhardt High right-hander Zach Godley (10th round, Chicago Cubs),

-- USC Aiken right-hander Taylor Grover (10th round, Boston),

-- Belmont Abbey and J.L. Mann right-hander Emilio Pagan (10th round, Seattle).

Holbrook on rainout

Friday practice sights, sounds