COLUMBIA — A few weeks ago, it seemed like Max Schrock was a lock to return to South Carolina for his senior season. Thursday, the Gamecocks’ second baseman signed with the Washington Nationals, who selected him in the 13th round of the Major League draft.
“Could not be more excited to start my career with the Washington Nationals!” Schrock wrote in a post on the social media network Twitter, accompanied by a photo of him signing his contract. MLB.com’s Jim Callis reported Schrock signed for a bonus of $500,000, the highest by a player taken after the 10th round so far this year.
Schrock finished his junior season at USC with a .328 average, tied for second-best on the team. One of just three Gamecocks to hit better than .300 last season, the lefthander from Chapel Hill, N.C., also struck for six homers, 11 doubles and 34 runs batted in.
Schrock battled through injures for the final two months of last season, which ended with USC missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999. He suffered first from a strained Achilles’ tendon, and then a sprained wrist which hampered his ability to swing the bat and forced him to miss USC’s final game.
Those injuries initially had Schrock leaning toward returning for his senior year, Gamecocks head coach Chad Holbrook said after the season ended. But after Schrock was drafted, it became evident that the Nationals were willing to sweeten the deal with a signing bonus much more lucrative than the infielder’s 13th-round status might indicate.
Schrock became the second USC junior to sign with a professional team. Left-handed pitcher Jack Wynkoop, who was drafted in the sixth round by Colorado, signed last week with the Rockies and has been assigned to the team’s Class A short season affiliate in Boise, Idaho.
Holbrook tweeted his congratulations to both players. “We will miss them,” he wrote, “but so happy they chose the Garnet and Black!”