Big leagues call, but USC players keep focus

Four Gamecocks chosen on second day of MLB draft

nwhite@thestate.comJune 5, 2012 

University of South Carolina baseball players picked on the second day of the Major League Baseball draft got a glimpse of their futures Tuesday, but they are keeping their eyes squarely on the postseason ball.

Junior first baseman Christian Walker summed up his feelings simply after being taken by the Baltimore Orioles early in the fourth round by tweeting the following: “A huge thank you for all of the congrats. I’m extremely excited to be an Oriole. But first some business to take care of in Columbia.”

The Gamecocks (43-17) remain in hot pursuit of a third consecutive national championship when they play host to Oklahoma (42-23) in the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional that begins Saturday night at Carolina Stadium. The winner advances to the College World Series.

Closer Matt Price was the second USC player chosen on the day when the Orioles selected the redshirt junior early in the seventh round. Price was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks last summer in the sixth round, but he turned down their bonus offer to return to school.

Price continued the keep-winning theme on his Twitter account: “Thank you everybody for the congrats. But still got unfinished business with this season.”

Junior center fielder Evan Marzilli and senior left-hander Michael Roth joined their teammates as draftees not long after that when Marzilli was selected by the Diamondbacks in the eighth round and Roth was taken by the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth round.

The four players have served as integral parts of the teams that have won a record-setting 19 consecutive games in NCAA tournament play from 2010-12, including a three-game sweep through the Columbia regional last weekend.

Walker, who earned first-team All-SEC honors this year, has 238 career hits, just shy of the school’s all-time top 10. He has hit .337 over three seasons with 30 homers, 44 doubles and 166 RBIs while being named to the 2010 and 2011 College World Series all-tournament teams as the Gamecocks won consecutive national championships.

Price, who holds USC career records with 97 appearances and 40 saves, earned a win and a save in the two national championship games. Marzilli, who earned All-SEC defensive honors, is hitting .288 with 12 doubles, three triples, two homers, 30 RBIs and 50 runs scored this season.

Roth, who started both the national championship-clinching games in Omaha and earned consensus All-America honors in 2011, has a career record of 23-6 with a 1.94 ERA. The international business graduate turned down an offer from Cleveland as a 31st round choice last summer.

Three USC signees out of the current recruiting class also were chosen. Outfielder Jamie Jarmon of Dagsboro, Del., was picked by the Texas Rangers in the second round, while right-handed pitcher Jamie Callahan of Dillon was taken by the Boston Red Sox four picks later in the same round. Left-handed pitcher Zak Wasilewski of Tazewell, Va., was selected in the 14th round by the Toronto Blue Jays.

They followed fellow signee Corey Seager, a shortstop from Concord, N.C., whose name was called Monday night by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round with the 18th overall selection. High school players picked in the first few rounds of the draft seldom make it to a college campus.

And in an interesting twist, football signee Kwinton Smith, a wide receiver and outfielder from Dillon High, was picked in the 14th round by the Texas Rangers. Rounds 16 through 40 will be conducted on the draft’s final day beginning at noon Wednesday.

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