High school or college?
That will be one of the questions facing Major League Baseball’s clubs next week (June 4-6) when they make their selections in the annual draft – a highly-anticipated three days for fans of the pro game, and an anxious time for college coaches.
As usual, Clemson coach Jack Leggett and his staff will be closely watching both ends of the draft – both for likely junior draftees, and for drafted players from the Tigers’ 2012 recruiting class, who signed last November and are scheduled to enroll for the fall.
Various mock drafts project an unusually large number of college juniors figuring into the first-round draft plans of MLB teams.
Prominent among them is Clemson infielder Richie Shaffer, who is considered to be among a handful of potentially elite power hitters available this year.
MLB.com is projecting Shaffer as the first-round pick, and No. 20 overall, by the San Francisco Giants, while www.MinorLeagueBall.com has Shaffer going with the No. 9 overall pick to the Florida Marlins.
However the specifics pan out, Shaffer will almost certainly conclude his Clemson career during the upcoming NCAA tournament.
MLB.com has 11 college juniors projected among the first 20 picks, including Stanford pitcher Mark Appel at No. 1, Florida catcher Mike Zunio at No. 3, LSU pitcher Kevin Gausman at No. 4, and San Francisco pitcher Kyle Zimmer at No. 5.
Shaffer is being projected as one of the top two players selected from the ACC, along with Duke righthander Marcus Stroman.
MinorLeagueBall.com projects Clemson junior righthander Kevin Brady as a second round pick, junior righthander Dominic Leone as a fourth-round selection, and righthander Scott Firth as a ninth-round pick.
BleacherReport ranks Shaffer as the No. 4 available power hitter behind Florida’s Zunio and high schoolers Carlos Correa of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Courtney Hawkins of Carroll, Texas.
Other ACC players being mentioned as possible first-rounders include Florida State outfielder James Ramsey, Miami catcher Peter O’Brien, Virginia pitcher Branden Kline, and Georgia Tech outfielder Brandon Thomas.
Other ACC juniors likely to be drafted in the first 10 rounds include Georgia Tech pitchers Luke Bard and Buck Farmer and outfielder Kyle Wren, Wake Forest outfielder Mac Williamson and pitcher Tim Cooney, FSU infielders Justin Gonzales and Jayce Boyd, Miami pitcher E.J. Encinosa and infielder Stephen Perez, Virginia infielders Chris Taylor and Stephen Bruno, Virginia Tech outfielder Andrew Rash and pitcher Joe Mantiply, and North Carolina pitcher Michael Morin.
MinorLeagueBall.com’s 10-round projection includes three Clemson high school signees, including a pair of righthanded pitchers from the Atlanta area tabbed as possible second-rounders – Clate Schmidt of Allatoona High in Acworth, Ga., and Lucas Sims of Brookwood High in Lawrenceville, Ga.
Projected as a possible sixth-round selection is lefthanded pitcher Matthew Crownover, who underwent ‘Tommy John Surgery’ on his elbow earlier this spring. Crownover has been committed to the Tigers since before his sophomore season in high school.