With their first pick in the 2017 amateur draft, the Yankees have selected right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt from the University of South Carolina with the 16th overall pick. Schmidt was the second straight college pitcher off the board after the Astros took J.B. Bukauskas from UNC with the 15th pick.
After going undrafted out of high school, Schmidt enrolled at South Carolina as a reliever and midweek starter. Things improved for him in his sophomore year when he became the Gamecocks’ Friday night starter. Schmidt’s fastball increased from the uppers 80s as a freshman to 95-96 mph as he developed as a pitcher.
Schmidt generally sits in the low 90s with his fastball, and has a strong two-seam fastball to act as a compliment. His slider is one of the best breaking pitches among college pitchers, but he does have an above-average changeup as well.
Unfortunately, Schmidt is currently out of commission after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April. Baseball America notes that his stock was rising before the UCL tear, so the Yankees are clearly banking on him being able to make it back to 100%.
He pitched just nine games for South Carolina this season with good results. He had a 1.34 ERA in 60.1 innings with a 10.44 K/9. Those numbers obviously tell you what kind of player Schmidt is capable of being when he’s healthy. It would be easier to feel better about it if that was currently the case, though. Clarke is the 16th rated right-hander by Baseball America, and the pick has a slot value of $3,458,600.
It’s a bit bizarre that the Yankees would take such a big risk with such a high draft pick for a guy who entered the draft rated in the low 40s. There’s obviously something they like there that made them feel comfortable rolling the dice. Hopefully that pays off.