What Mark Kingston learned from, thinks about South Carolina’s difficult year
The MLB draft starts Monday at 7 p.m., extending for 40 rounds through Wednesday. The first two rounds Monday night will be televised on the MLB Network, with the rest livestreamed on MLB.com.
For South Carolina baseball fans, there are more than a dozen players connected to the program, either as signees, JUCO transfers, current players or graduating seniors, that could hear their names called over those three days.
Here’s a list of those names, along with a breakdown of their draft stock and the likelihood of them signing pro contracts.
HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS
Tyler Callihan (third baseman) — Callihan is, barring some massive unexpected turn of events, not coming to South Carolina. He’s widely pegged to go somewhere in the top 45 picks or so, putting him in line for a million-dollar signing bonus.
Brett Thomas (pitcher) — Thomas has seen his stock rise throughout his senior season and was recently ranked as a top-100 prospect by Baseball America. He’s not a surefire bet to go pro right away, though — reports have suggested there’s a decent chance he’ll come to South Carolina.
Brennan Milone (infielder) — Milone, pegged by Baseball America as a top-150 prospect, is a borderline pick to make it campus. A hitter with a lot of pop, he could either go toward the end of Day 2 or the start of Day 3, and that might be the difference in his decision to sign.
Jax Cash (catcher) — Ranked as the nation’s No. 482 prospect by Baseball America, Cash might get picked in the final few rounds as a gesture from some franchise, but there’s no indication he’ll wind up signing.
Others: Signees Brodie Blanton, RJ Dantin, Jonathan Machamer, Will McGregor, Trey Tujetsch and Braylen Wimmer are all expected to go undrafted and should be on campus in the fall.
Ivan Johnson (infielder) — A top-100 recruit out of high school, Johnson spent a year at Georgia before going the JUCO route. Now he’s one of the highest-rated junior college prospects in the country and a top-125 overall recruit according to Baseball America. It seems likely he’ll sign a pro contract with a solid signing bonus.
Thomas Farr (pitcher) — Another top-ranked JUCO prospect, Farr has generated some draft discussion with impressive velocity and decent offspeed stuff, and Baseball America ranks him as its No. 210 prospect. He’s another borderline player — all it takes is one team to really like and draft him highly, but it’s far from certain that he’s gone.
Brannon Jordan (pitcher) — A top-500 prospect according to both Baseball America and Perfect Game, Jordan might be drafted late, but it seems likely he’ll wind up coming to South Carolina.
Andrew Peters (pitcher) — One of the top junior college pitching prospects in the country, Peters underwent Tommy John surgery in March, according to reports, making it more likely he’ll spend a year at South Carolina..
Luke Little (pitcher) — He might be drafted, but the buzz around the San Jacinto product is that he won’t come to USC in 2020 either way.
James Nix (outfielder) — South Carolina’s newest signee spent a year tearing up the junior college ranks and is a top-15 JUCO prospect. He’s another toss-up to make it to campus, but he has said it would take a very strong offer to get him to sign.
Other: Luis Aviles, Noah Myers, Jeff Heinrich and Shane Shifflett are unranked as prospects and unlikely to be drafted.
DRAFT-ELIGIBLE JUNIORS AND SOPHOMORES
Luke Berryhill (catcher) — The redshirt sophomore catcher put in a workhorse year for the Gamecocks behind the plate and boasted a solid bat to boot. He has all the tools and raw talent to be an MLB prospect, he just might need another season in the college ranks for polish. He could get drafted off potential alone, however.
George Callil (infielder) — A defensive wizard at shortstop, Callil actually swung a better bat than expected this past season for USC. Whether that’s enough to get him drafted with a high enough slot to sign a pro deal is unclear.
Reid Morgan (pitcher) — Morgan’s draft stock probably couldn’t be much higher than it is now, after an impressive junior year in which he emerged as South Carolina’s unlikely ace. What role he would play next year is uncertain, so depending on where he’s drafted, he could very likely make the jump.
Ian Jenkins (outfielder) — Jenkins has dealt with a number of freak injuries over his two years at South Carolina, but the draft-eligible redshirt freshman has all the tools and raw potential to convince a team to take him on upside alone.
Other: Ridge Chapman, Gage Hinson, Graham Lawson, Cole Ganopulos and Hayden Lehman are unlikely to be drafted.
TJ Hopkins (outfielder) — Hopkins has always had the talent, he just needed to prove he could stay healthy, and he did that with a very solid senior campaign that will likely earn him a draft slot.
Jacob Olson (infielder/outfielder) — Olson has power and defensive versatility, and he’ll likely get a chance somewhere, either as a later draft pick or a free agent.
Chris Cullen (catcher/infielder) — Injuries have kept Cullen from ever reaching his full potential, and while he gutted through his senior season with a bad back, it seems his chances of getting drafted are very low.