It seems the Cincinnati Reds are out to gut the South Carolina baseball roster. The NL Central club on Tuesday and Wednesday took four players with Gamecock ties in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft.
On Tuesday, Cincinnati selected South Carolina outfielder TJ Hopkins in the ninth round (No. 264 overall) as well as commitments Tyler Callihan (3rd round, No. 85 overall) and Ivan Johnson (4th round, No. 114 overall). On Wednesday, the Reds chose SC catcher Luke Berryhill in the 13th round (No. 384 overall).
MLB.com projects the signing bonus for Callihan’s slot to be $710.7K and Johnson’s to be $507.4K. Slot money for Hopkins’ pick is listed at $156,000.
Twelve picks after Berryhill was taken, the Seattle Mariners chose South Carolina pitcher Reid Morgan (No. 396 overall).
Infielder/outfielder Jacob Olson was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 26th round (No. 792 overall), while pitcher Ridge Chapman was picked by the Los Angeles Angels in the 34th round (No. 1021 overall).
Six signees also were picked on day three of the draft as Andrew Peters (21st round) went to Tampa Bay, Brennan Milone (28th round) was picked by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Noah Myers (30th round) was selected by Toronto, Brannon Jordan (31st round) went to Tampa Bay, Thomas Farr (37th round) was picked by Texas and Jeff Heinrich (40th round) went to San Francisco.
After hitting .345 during his injury-riddled junior season, the right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing Hopkins hit .285 with a career-high 11 home runs and 42 RBI as a senior. He led the Gamecocks in hits (61), runs (49) and stolen bases (18).
“TJ Hopkins will go down as one of the better players who has played here, especially in the last 10 years,” Gamecock head coach Mark Kingston said. “A five-tool guy, double-digit home runs, I think this has been his best season overall. He’s done the work to stay healthy and will be remembered here as a very proud Gamecock and a very talented player. I think he will move on to professional baseball and do well.”
The redshirt-sophomore catcher Berryhill hit .271 with 12 home runs, 15 doubles and 49 RBI in his first year with the Gamecocks this past season.
The 6-1, 227-pounder hit two home runs, had three hits and drove in five in the 14-3 win over Clemson on March 3 and had four RBI in the win over The Citadel on March 12. He also hit the game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth in South Carolina’s 3-2 win over Valparaiso on March 9 and drove in three runs in the win over Winthrop on Feb. 19.
Morgan, the right-handed pitcher, went 4-6 this past season, his first with the Gamecocks after transferring from San Jacinto College. The Texas native had a 3.80 ERA in 87.2 innings. He had 70 strikeouts and just 17 walks.
In a win over Clemson on March 3, the 6-foot, 187-pound junior struck out five and allowed two earned runs in 6.2 innings. He struck out 10 in 8.2 innings against Valparaiso on March 10. On February 24 he went eight innings and allowed five hits and an earned run with nine strikeouts in a win over Utah Valley.
Olson led the Gamecocks in hitting as a sophomore with a .294 average before slipping to .234 and going undrafted as a junior. He hit 12 home runs with 20 doubles, however, and those power numbers continued this season. He finished the season hitting .254 but led the Gamecocks with 13 home runs with 37 RBI, the third-highest total on the team.
South Carolina head coach Mark Kingston calls Olson “a true grinder.”
“Three years in the program and he has played extremely hard every single day,” the coach said. “Has hit for a lot of power for us, made the adjustment to third base for us this year from being a right fielder most of his career and has held his own over there and did a nice job.”
“I just go out there and give it everything I’ve got every time and everything else will take care of itself,” Olson said before the draft. “This year for me was just getting back to what I do and I feel like I have done that. I have had a little bit of a slump here and there and a little bit of bad luck but I feel good about what I have been able to come back and do.”
Olson’s biggest asset may be his versatility. He played in the infield in high school and junior college and arrived at South Carolina as a utility player. He started in right field as a sophomore and junior and was one of the best defensive outfielders in the SEC. As a senior, he moved to third base and held his own.
“I think I could project as an infielder but I could also project as an outfielder or as a guy they could move anywhere,” he said. “I think they could project me anywhere on the field.”
Hometown: Neptune Beach, Fla.
School: Providence HS
PefectGame scouting report from 2018: “Big and strong athletic build, pretty mature physically. Left handed hitter, hits from a wide base, lots of bat speed with quick hands and the ability to whip the barrel, very adaptable swing, will stay inside frequently and line the ball around the middle of the field but has the ability to turn and lift when he recognizes his pitch, has always hit high level pitching and is one of the most experienced hitters in the class, highest level performance record. 7.08 runner, is light and quick on his feet for his size, has sure quick hands at the ball and good arm strength, solid at second base now but has the tools for third as well. Very good student, verbal commitment to South Carolina. Selected to play in the 2018 Perfect Game All-American Classic.”
School: Chipola College
Position: 2B, INF
Hometown: Woodstock, Ga.
School: Woodstock HS
PerfectGame scouting report from 2018: “Brennan Milone is a 2019 SS/2B/3B with a 6-1 180 lb. frame from Woodstock, GA who attends Woodstock HS. Medium athletic build with some present strength and plenty of room for more. Right handed hitter, big hand hitch load with a hanging leg lift load, gets on time well with a fluid swing, has good bat speed with some natural lift in his swing, will pull off the ball at times but generally uses and torques his lower half well, has the hitting tools to continue to improve as he gets stronger. A 6.81 runner, he has good lateral quickness and range to both sides, hands are quick and clean at the ball, second base arm strength and actions for the next level. Good student, verbal commitment to South Carolina.”
Hometown: Ontario, Canada.
School: Wabash Valley CC (Illinois)
Hometown: Collinsville, OK.
School: Cowley County CC (Kansas)
Hometown: Tyrone, Ga.
School: Northwest Florida State College
Hometown: Huntley, Ill.
School: McHenry West HS