South Carolina’s recruiting class took an expected hit during the primary night of the main League Baseball Draft. Cooper Kinney, a Gamecock signee from Chattanooga, Tenn., was selected with the 34th overall pick by Tampa Bay. With a slot signing bonus value of $2.148 million, Kinney was projected to bypass college and start his professional career. Rays beat writer Marc Topkin said soon after the pick that Kinney was able to sign his contract. Clemson also had a recruit taken, when catcher Joe Mack (Williamsville, N.Y.) was selected with the primary pick of the compensatory round, the No. 31 overall picks. He was drafted by Miami.
The signing bonus slotted for that pick is $2.312 million. All draftees have until Aug. 1 to simply accept their draft spots or play college ball. The Tigers received excellent news with two other commitments. the probabilities for Clemson quarterback/pitcher recruits Will Taylor and Bubba Chandler to play in college have increased. Each prospect, considered potential first-round talents within the draft, wasn’t picked on July 11. While picks on the July 12 second day of the draft can still finish up to an almost $2 million signing bonus (and can go higher, counting on knowledgeable team’s bonus pool), there’s also the knowledge that teams only use first-round picks on players they know will sign.
Taylor and Chandler could have set higher bonus requests than teams were willing to pay, partially because they actually need to play for Clemson, which could have caused teams to maneuver on to other prospects. If their names still are uncalled during the first rounds of July 12, it seems nearly assured that they’re going to be at Clemson within the fall. It would be a boon for the Tigers’ football and baseball teams if each enrolls. Each could immediately strengthen coach Monte Lee’s pitching staff during a make-or-break year for his future after Clemson posted its worst season in 64 years in 2021.
But coach Dabo Swinney could also use one or each of the kids. His quarterback room took a significant hit in spring when backup Taisun Phommachanh tore his Achilles. That left starter D.J. Uigalelei because the only scholarship quarterback on the team for the 2021 season. Chandler or Taylor could really help prop up a weak part, although it’s going to only be for a year until Clemson signs another scholarship quarterback. Each would be in class for a minimum of three years before they might get drafted in baseball again. Day 2 of the draft commences at 1 p.m. on July 12. Live coverage is going to be carried by MLB Network.