Mount Pleasant native Nick Ciuffo is almost a lock for the first round of the Major League Baseball draft Thursday night. The Lexington High School senior is a refined catcher with a left-handed power swing.
But it’s an exceptionally down year for draft-eligible college players in South Carolina. Only two Palmetto State college players are on Baseball America’s updated top 500 draft prospects list, which gobbles up the first 15 rounds: Coastal Carolina outfielder Jacob May at No. 203 and Coker right-handed pitcher Zach Loraine at No. 476.
It won’t be that way in 2014, when right-handed pitcher Daniel Gossett of Clemson joins a group of South Carolina players including shortstop Joey Pankake, catcher Grayson Greiner and outfielder Tanner English in the draft pool.
And the 2013 drought probably is not as bad as advertised.
Five reasons why:
- Citadel coaches have told players not to expect Joe Jackson back for the 2014 season; look for the junior catcher in the first 10 rounds.
- Surely, one MLB team will wise up and snag South Carolina senior closer Tyler Webb within the first 15 rounds.
- Gamecocks senior first baseman/DH LB Dantzler is not Christian Walker but with power a precious commodity, Dantzler is worth a risk in the early part of the middle rounds.
- Clemson coaches will have to sweat out the draft process involving junior second baseman Steve Wilkerson, one of the few Tiger bright spots on offense in the Columbia Regional (two homers vs. St. Louis).
- Tigers senior right-hander Scott Firth can touch 93 mph and is projected as a mid-round pick.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.