CLEMSON — Four players integral to the Clemson’s 2012 season were selected on Wednesday as the Tigers produced the most in-state draft selections on the third and final day of the Major League Baseball draft.
Clemson starter pitcher Dominic Leone (16th round, Seattle Mariners), starting shortstop Jason Stolz (17th round, Colorado Rockies), designated hitter Phil Pohl (28th round, Oakland Athletics) and relief ace Scott Firth (32nd round, Philadelphia Phillies) were all selected Wednesday. Clemson finished the draft with seven players drafted — five underclassmen — and four recruits selected.
The only current USC player drafted Wednesday was right fielder Adam Matthews in the 29th round by Cincinnati. He was picked in the 23rd round last year by Baltimore. He decided to return for his senior year, but struggled and saw his stock fall.
South Carolina finished the draft with 13 selections: three juniors, two seniors, seven recruits and one football recruit. All three juniors — Matt Price, Christian Walker and Evan Marzilli — are expected to turn pro, as are four of the recruits, all of whom were drafted on Monday or Tuesday.
For Clemson, Leone and Firth are underclassmen, and Major League Baseball’s new spending limits increase the likelihood each returns to campus. The budgeted bonus payment for each of their draft slots is below $100,000.
Leone and Firth join Kevin Brady (10th round, Phillies), Spencer Kieboom (fifth round, Washington Nationals) and Richie Shaffer (1st round, Tampa Bay Rays) as the five Clemson underclassmen drafted.
Shaffer is expected to turn professional with an expected signing bonus ranging near $2 million, while Kieboom’s draft position calls for $233,000, making him a candidate to forego his senior year.
While Clemson will have to wait to see how many underclassmen return, the program’s second-rated signee, Clate Schmidt (Acworth, Ga.), was not drafted until the 1,114th overall pick and has already announced his intention of playing college baseball.
Schmidt’s fastball can touch 96 mph, and he could team with freshman Daniel Gossett and Brady, Leone and Firth to give Clemson a deep and talented pitching staff in 2013.
Two other Clemson signees drafted Wednesday, shortstop Kevin Bradley, 36th round by Colorado, and outfielder Tyler Krieger (1,061st overall, Mariners) are expected to play at Clemson.
USC had three recruits drafted Wednesday: first baseman Ryan Ripken in the 20th round by Baltimore, right-handed junior college pitcher Dixon Llorens in the 25th round by St. Louis and shortstop Max Schrock in the 28th round by Arizona. Ripken is the son of Baltimore legend and Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. All three are expected to enroll.
The most important news for USC on Wednesday involved three juniors who weren’t drafted: right-handed starting pitcher Colby Holmes, left-handed reliever Tyler Webb and third baseman LB Dantzler.
All three will return for their senior years. Holmes will be USC’s best returning pitcher, Dantzler its best returning power hitter. They are currently third and second in those categories on this team.
MLB moved up the signing deadline for drafted players from Aug. 15 to July 13 this year to give college coaches more time to plan their rosters for next season.
Staff writer Darryl Slater contributed to this report.