USC Gamecocks Baseball

TJ Hopkins, Gamecock signees hear their names called on Day 2 of MLB Draft

World Series success becomes part of Gamecocks’ recruiting pitch

South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston explains how major league success of alumni impacts the program, especially the World Series win for Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce.
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South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston explains how major league success of alumni impacts the program, especially the World Series win for Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce.

A 500-mile pipeline opened up from Columbia to Cincinnati on the second day of the MLB draft Tuesday — two South Carolina baseball signees and one graduating senior were selected on the day, which encompassed rounds 3-10, all by the Cincinnati Reds.

Recruits Tyler Callihan and Ivan Johnson were chosen in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, and four-year veteran TJ Hopkins went in the ninth round.

Callihan has long been considered a top pro prospect and was included in virtually every mock draft of the first two rounds heading into Monday. Baseball America pegged him as the 37th-best prospect in the draft, and he was projected as high as a top-20 pick by some analysts.

However, he went unselected through the first 78 picks of the draft Monday night, leading to some speculation before he was picked that he might wind up coming to Carolina if his signing bonus is not as high as expected. The slot value for his pick is $710,700, and the deadline for him to sign is July 15.

Callihan was a member of USA Baseball’s 18U national team that competed in the 2018 COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships, earning All-Tournament honors at first base. He was also a 2018 Under Armour All-American and one of eight players selected to compete in the High School Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star Game. As a senior, Callihan hit .447 with 12 home runs, 36 RBIs and 20 walks, as well as just 10 strikeouts in 119 plate appearances.

Johnson, a junior college transfer from Chipola College, was projected as a Day 2 pick before the draft after hitting .381 with 49 RBIs and a .491 on-base percentage in 57 games this past season. The speedy shortstop also stole 14 bases on the year. The slot value for his pick is $507,400.

Hopkins, who battled injuries for the majority of his time with the Gamecocks, hit .295 on his career with 190 hits, 19 home runs, 119 RBIs and 47 stolen bases. As a senior, he hit .285 and set personal bests with 11 homers, 42 runs driven in, 27 walks, 61 hits and 49 runs.

The slot value of Hopkins’ pick, the 264th overall, is $156,100. As a senior, however, he has little leverage and could very likely sign for far less.

GAMECOCKS IN THE MLB DRAFT

Third round

Tyler Callihan, Cincinnati Reds, No. 85 overall

Fourth round

Ivan Johnson, Cincinnati Reds, No. 114 overall

Ninth round

TJ Hopkins, Cincinnati Reds, No. 264 overall

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.

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