By Jeff Owens/Photo by Allen Sharpe
After signing his first professional contract with the New York Yankees, former South Carolina star Clarke Schmidt took the time to thank Gamecock fans for their support during his time in Columbia.
Schmidt was drafted in the first round, 16th overall, by the Yankees after pitching for three seasons for South Carolina. He was an All-American in 2016 and on track for another All-American season in 2017 when he suffered a torn UCL ligament in his right elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.
Schmidt was drafted by the Yankees despite needing another year of rehab before he can resume pitching. He signed with the Yankees over the weekend and will continue his rehab with the Yankees staff in Tampa.
"Truly am blessed. Thank you @Gamecockbaseball for everything. Time to start the new journey," Schmidt tweeted over the weekend.
He also penned a special thank-you note that he posted with his tweet.
"Gamecock Nation, thank you. Thank you for three of the best years of my life," Schmidt wrote. "For the past three years you were more than a home for me, you were my life. I wouldn't change a thing about my college choice or my college experience. From the players, coaching staff, training staff, fans, and everyone else who made my experience amazing, thank you. Putting the Gamecock jersey on week in and week out was truly an honor. I will forever be a Gamecock.
"Now on to the next step in the process. Now I am officially a New York Yankee. Could not be more excited to start my new journey with the New York Yankees."
Schmidt is the fifth Gamecock to sign with the Yankees in recent years. Jordan Montgomery and Tyler Webb are pitching with the major league club in New York, while pitcher Taylor Widener is in Class-A Tampa and outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams is with short-season Stanton Island.
Schmidt, whose draft stock was expected to drop after his injury, was thrilled to be selected 16th overall by the Yankees.
"To be picked by the Yankees, such an amazing franchise and a first-class organization, is special," he said in an interview after the draft. "I am thankful I ended up with them."