CLEMSON – Sports are pretty cool sometimes. They teach, they thrill, they reward and they redeem.
Clemson junior right-handed pitcher Clate Schmidt, on the day he began chemotherapy with the intent of striking out cancer, was drafted Wednesday by the Boston Red Sox in the 32nd round of the 2015 MLB First-Year Draft.
Schmidt was diagnosed a week ago with nodular sclerosis, a treatable form of Hodkin’s lymphoma. The disease is highly curable, commonly found in 20-year-olds, and not expected to interfere with Schmidt’s baseball career.
“The past couple of weeks, my thought process was get back as healthy as I can to come back to Clemson for my senior year and help our guys get to Omaha,” Schmidt told The Post and Courier Wednesday evening. “We’ll see what happens the next couple of days and figure it out from there.”
Clate and his brother Clarke, a South Carolina freshman reliever, are planning to work out on their own this summer in preparation for next season.
Clarke tweeted a photo of the brothers Wednesday morning preparing for Schmidt’s first day of chemotherapy. Schmidt’s father, Dwight, said in a text message to The Post and Courier the day went well.
In a fitting spot of inspiration, Clate Schmidt has long admired Jon Lester, who famously beat cancer last decade. Now he’s a draftee of the team with whom Lester, now a Chicago Cub, played nine years and won a pair of World Series championships.
“Honestly, it didn’t hit me until (just now), because I’m still in shock that they drafted me,” Schmidt said. “I’m taken aback by it. I haven’t even let it soak in, but it is really cool they drafted me when I’m going through the same situation he went through.”
It’s not known whether Schmidt will take a pass on the pros to return for his senior year – though if he did want to make good on Boston’s draft pick, he feasibly could begin his minor league career with the Class A Greenville Drive, a short drive both from Clemson and from his hometown in Acworth, Ga.
Schmidt was 2-3 with a 4.67 ERA in 2015, thriving more in a midweek starting role than out of the bullpen.
Earlier Wednesday, Clemson starting pitcher Brody Koerner was selected by the New York Yankees (whose own Class A affiliate plays in Charleston) in Round 17. Koerner zapped the rival Gamecocks with a complete-game shutout in early March, but struggled the rest of the year to a 4-5 record and 7.55 ERA.
Shortstop Eli White was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 37th round.
Left-handed pitchers Zack Erwin and Matthew Crownover, shortstop Tyler Krieger and outfielder Steven Duggar were drafted Tuesday.