The state of Georgia continues to produce talent on the diamond. Ironically, the latest iteration of that trend spent the last three seasons residing on a mound in Columbia, South Carolina. Clarke Schmidt is a junior right-handed pitcher at the University of South Carolina and projects as one of the top arms in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft – which is pretty amazing, all things considering.
Clarke Schmidt 2017 MLB Draft Profile
Schmidt is from Acworth, Georgia and attended Altoona High School. During his senior year, he was the Region 5-AAAAA pitcher of the year. He continued that success in Columbia. In 2016, he was named Second Team All-SEC. As a junior, he was named a 2017 preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, along with being a top-10 SEC prospect by Baseball America and Perfect Game.
Schmidt posted nine solid starts before tearing his UCL in April, derailing his junior season. He underwent Tommy John surgery during the first week of May. With Tommy John being more of a formality in today’s game – for better or worse – scouts will have to look at the small sample size of what he did this season, surrounded by the context of past performance and what the future could hold. He did manage to rack up some gaudy numbers in the talent-heavy Southeastern Conference before the injury. An ERA of 1.64 (No. 1 in SEC) and opposing batting average of .194 (No. 3 in SEC) would be stellar in any league.
The 6’1, 205-pound righty comes equipped with a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a solid arsenal of breaking pitches. He has a relatively small frame. Intangibles are almost a four-letter word in today’s analytically-driven game of baseball, but Schmidt’s best asset may be his experience pitching in big situations for one of the top programs in the SEC.
Schmidt has only thrown over 100 innings once in his life, which was during his sophomore season at South Carolina. Durability may be a concern looking forward, but if he bounces back like his teammate Wil Crowe, he should have no problem projecting as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
An interesting comparison for Schmidt would be Julio Teheran in Atlanta. The two have similar body types and both sport plus sliders. It may be a bit of a ceiling to compare Schmidt to Teheran now, but don’t be surprised if it pans out that way in the future.