This is the story of one who didn’t get away.
One of Cobb County’s best - Clate Schmidt, a righthanded pitcher from Alatoona High in Acworth, Ga. – was pointedly passed over on the second day of the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday.
The snub was no accident.
Schmidt, who signed with Clemson last November, has already made his college vs. pro baseball decision.
Schmidt told his hometown paper, the Marietta Daily Journal, that he made the decision to enroll at Clemson before the draft began.
“(My family and I) talked to some of the area scouts and teams before the draft and let them know ahead of time of my decision,” Schmidt told the Daily Journal. “We thought it was best for me to go to college and develop as a player and as a person.
“It really wasn’t a surprise that I wasn’t picked because teams knew where I was heading.”
The addition of Schmidt could be a game-changer for Clemson coach Jack Leggett and his staff.
Rated in the same pool of prospects as fellow Tiger signee Lucas Sims, who the Atlanta Braves picked in the first round with the No. 21 pick, Schmidt is an elite player with two-way college potential.
He was ranked among the nation’s top 22 pitching prospects, overall, by the website Tenth Inning Stretch, based on a fastball that tops out in the 96-97 MPH range, complemented by a range of secondary pitches that include a curveball, a cutter, a changeup and a knuckleball.
During his senior season at Alatoona, he had a 1.69 ERA and held opponents to a .222 batting average, while as a shortstop, he batted .406, with a .500 on-base percentage.
Earlier this spring in an interview with Rays Digest, Schmidt described himself as a “gritty” pitcher who never gives into an opponent.
“As a pitcher I just go after people, to the point of, it’s not if I’ll beat you…it’s a point of I will beat you,” Schmidt told Rays Digest. “I think you always have to go in there with that mindset.
“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been working hard to get my arm speed up. My velocity is like 96 and I break 97 every once in a while. Then I’ll come back with an off-speed. I’ve been very lucky to be able to do that. Then be able to be a good teammate as well as a leader on the field. Those are probably the biggest things for me being a player.
“In the field I love being able to move around. That’s like my thing. I love being out there on the field and being energetic and being a leader on the field.”
Schmidt said he chose Clemson because of the feeling that “I walked into a family.”
“When I walked onto another campus, it was OK,” Schmidt told Rays Digest. “But something wasn’t right. When I walked onto Clemson it was like I walked into a whole other family, just open arms and ‘hey nice to meet you’. It wasn’t about what sport I played, it was about, ‘do you want to be a Clemson Tiger?’ That was one of the things that I really, really loved and my family loves all the coaches there. It’s just a really good group of guys. That was what really helped me choose.”