Cougars going pro; Brown, Reeves face decisions

College of Charleston's Taylor Clarke was taken by Arizona with the first pick in the third round of the MLB draft Tuesday.

It took much longer than he hoped, and much longer than many predicted. But Wando High School's Kep Brown finally heard his name called Tuesday in the MLB draft.

Brown, a 6-5, 200-pound outfielder, was projected to go in the early rounds of the draft Monday before he tore his Achilles tendon during a Wando game in April. Instead, he waited until the 10th round Tuesday before the St. Louis Cardinals took him with the No. 311 overall pick.

Brown was one of four Lowcountry players chosen on the second day of the draft. College of Charleston players Taylor Clarke and Carl Wise went in the fourth round, to the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays, respectively. And Citadel pitcher James Reeves, a graduate of Ashley Ridge High School, was picked in the 10th round by the Yankees.

Clarke and Wise each have a year of eligibility left, but they will turn pro. Reeves could return to The Citadel, but Bulldogs coach Fred Jordan said Reeves “more than likely” will sign with the Yankees.

Wando's Brown also faces a decision — go pro and sign with the Cardinals (the slot value of his signing bonus is $149,700), or play in college at the University of Miami.

“It was a stressful, emotional couple of days,” Brown said of the draft. “It didn't go how we had planned, really, but to hear my name called did give me chills. It was awesome.”

The Cardinals could offer Brown something above slot value to lure him from college, but Brown sounds like he knows which path he wants to take.

“We've got a pretty good idea of what I'm going to do,” he said. “But I probably won't let that go public for a bit longer, just out of respect for the Cardinals.”

Reeves, a left-hander who went from walk-on to Southern Conference pitcher of the year, also is looking at a slot-value bonus of $149,700.

“We're not sure yet what he will do,” Jordan said. “The great thing about James is that he graduated in 3 1/2 years and is halfway through to his master's degree. More than likely he will sign, but he's not going to sign just to sign. Being a 10th-rounder, that's pretty special.”

Rounds 11 through 40 of the draft are set for Wednesday.

College of Charleston coach Monte Lee will lose two mainstays from his NCAA regional team, as pitcher Taylor Clarke (third round, Arizona) and third baseman Carl Wise (fourth round, Toronto) will turn pro.

Clarke, who went with the 76th pick to the Diamondbacks, is the Cougars' highest-drafted player ever, bettering New York Yankees star Brett Gardner, who was chosen with the 109th pick in 2005. Clarke's slot value bonus is $801,900.

“He's gone, and I would tell him he's crazy if he doesn't sign,” Lee said. “I'm just excited for the kid. He was not drafted out of high school or last year, when he also was draft-eligible. So for him to go from undrafted to being taken with the first pick in the third round, it's unbelievable how much he's developed and gotten better.”

Clarke, a 6-4, 190-pound right-hander who transferred to College of Charleston from Towson, won 23 games over two seasons with the Cougars, including a 13-1 record with a 1.73 earned-run average this season. He helped the Cougars to the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title and the NCAA regionals.

“I'm really excited to get the opportunity to go and play at the next level,” said Clarke. “It's something I've always dreamed about growing up playing baseball, and now I've taken the next big step. To be the College's highest pick is definitely an honor, especially given the caliber of guys who have played here.”

The Cougars' Wise, from Lexington, batted .313 with 12 homers and 70 RBIs for the Cougars this season. Slot value at pick No. 122 is a signing bonus of $461,200.

“I couldn't feel anything; my heart just pounded and I was shaking,” Wise said of the moment he was picked by the Blue Jays, who also took the Cougars' Gunnar Heidt last year. “I can't even describe the feeling. This is what I've worked for my entire life, and I'm honored and thankful to have the opportunity to continue playing this game.”

USC first baseman Kyle Martin, who returned to school after being drafted in the 20th round a year ago, saw his stock rise considerably after a senior campaign in which he led the Gamecocks in batting, homers, and runs batted in. Martin was selected by the Phillies in the fourth round with the 114th overall pick.

Martin was the 599th overall pick (by the Angels) a season ago, and signing bonuses for players taken beyond the 10th round are capped at $100,000. His fourth-round draft position Tuesday carries with it a signing bonus slot value of $498,200, although clubs can pool their slot money and offer much less, particularly to players who have used up their college eligibility.

Jack Wynkoop, a left-handed pitcher for USC, faces a similar decision after going to the Rockies in the sixth round, with the 167th overall selection. The signing bonus slot value for that draft position is $298,900, and Wynkoop as a junior has some leverage with a year of college eligibility still remaining. He was 8-4 with a 3.13 earned run average last season.

USC signee Nick Neidert, a right-handed pitcher out of Lawrenceville, Ga., was the 60th overall pick by Seattle in the second round Monday night, and is likely to sign.

“I'm still debating, but I think my clear choice is to play baseball for Seattle,” he told The Seattle Times.

Infielder L.T. Tolbert, a Gamecocks signee out of Wren High School projected by Baseball America as the No. 279 overall selection, announced Tuesday on Twitter that he would uphold his commitment to USC.

A disappointing season didn't tarnish the pro prospects of a quartet of Tigers. Clemson landed four MLB Draft selections Tuesday, all between the fourth and sixth rounds. That's a first for the program since 2007 — Clemson only had eight top 200 picks in the previous seven years, and no more than two in any season — and fifth-best in school history.

Surprisingly, the ACC pitcher of the year was the last of the four to get a phone call, despite Matthew Crownover being the expected top draftee out of this crop. He went in the sixth round to the Nationals.

Clemson's Saturday starter, Zack Erwin, went 112th overall (early fourth round) to the Chicago White Sox. Shortstop Tyler Krieger was taken 124th by the Indians. Two rounds later, outfielder Steven Duggar went No. 186 to the defending champion San Francisco Giants.

Erwin, Krieger Duggar and Crownover all have one season of eligibility remaining, should they choose to use it. With longtime head coach Jack Leggett being fired last Thursday, and all four players expressing their support for Leggett, it would not be a surprise for all four Tigers to go pro.

Clemson signee Cornelius Randolph, a shortstop, was the 10th pick overall in the first round; another Tiger commitment, shortstop Jalen Miller, went in the third round to San Francisco on Tuesday.

David Caraviello and Aaron Brenner contributed to this story.