Age: 21, February 20, 1996
New York Yankees Vice President of Domestic Amateur Scouting, Damon Oppenheimer, selected Clarke Schmidt with the 16th overall selection in the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Schmidt, a junior out of the University of South Carolina, went 4-2 with an ERA of 1.34 in 2017. He started nine games for the Gamecocks and tossed 60.1 innings. The Acworth, Georgia native struck out 70, walked 18, and held opposing hitters to a .194 batting average.
In his career at USC, Clarke went 15-9 with a 3.21 ERA. He struck out 254 hitters while walking 65, and held opponents to a .249 batting average.
On April 20, 2017, Schmidt left a Thursday night start against the University of Florida with arm soreness. The soreness turned out to be a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. He underwent Tommy John surgery and was out for the remainder of the season.
In an interview with The State, Clarke said “I’m a 21-year-old kid so, obviously, I freaked out at first. It’s my junior year, and I was in the midst of probably the best year of my career. It’s tough to take that news on…All those thoughts creep in about not being able to play baseball the rest of the year and the draft. It’s a good thing I have a good support staff and family to keep those thoughts out.”
He joins Washington Nationals farmhand Erick Fedde, ex-Vanderbilt pitcher Walker Buehler, and ex-East Carolina Pirate Jeff Hoffman as notable college starters who underwent Tommy John surgery and still were selected in the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Schmidt received several accolades throughout this season including being named to USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List, 2017 Preseason All-America 1st Team (NCBWA) and the number eight overall best prospect in the SEC for the 2017 MLB Draft by Baseball America.
He has the upside of a number two or three starter on a championship caliber club. His fastball sits 92-94 miles per hour and can reach up to 96. Due to the amount of sink on the pitch it can be graded as plus to plus-plus. His slider and curveball are both graded as above-major league average offerings according to MLB.com. His change up is the worst pitch in his arsenal, and grades as a 50.