ACWORTH, Ga. - Wednesday was a big day for Clarke Schmidt (Acworth, Ga./Allatoona), who celebrated his 17th birthday, which carries only the new found freedom of being able to see a Rated R movie without a parent or guardian. Schmidt, a right-handed pitcher, decided to add a little excitement to his birthday by committing to South Carolina.
A 2014 prospect, Schmidt called recruiting coordinator Sammy Esposito on Wednesday night and committed becoming the sixth high school pitcher in the Gamecocks’ class.
“Once I went there, that was when I knew it was the best fit for me,” Schmidt said on Thursday after practice. “The minute I left, I knew that’s where my future was. The Horseshoe was the main thing that stood out. I loved all the facilities and loved all the coaches. The main thing was just the family feel when I got there. I just felt at home when I was there.”
Schmidt picked South Carolina over offers or heavy interest from Georgia, Ole Miss, Clemson, and Auburn. He visited Columbia on February 10 and quickly fell in love with the program. The Gamecocks vaulted to the top of his list but he decided to take some time before making his decision official.
While on the visit to Columbia, Schmidt spent a great deal of time with the entire coaching staff. He took a tour of campus, got his first up-close look at Carolina Stadium, watched a scrimmage and even spent some time in downtown Columbia with his family before making the trek back home.
The way the coaches went about teaching and managing the players during the scrimmage was something that caught Schmidt’s eye.
“We didn’t get to stay that long for the scrimmage but the time that I was there, watching them interact with the players was cool to see,” Schmidt said. “That’s how I want to be coached. They get to the point and get the job done.”
At this point, Schmidt’s biggest upside is on the mound. He has four pitches - fastball, curve ball, changeup, and cutter - in his arsenal and sits in the upper 80s right now with his fastball bumping 90 mph on the radar gun. While his velocity has made a considerable jump over the last year, Schmidt does a good job of pitching to contact.
“I’m not an overpowering arm,” Schmidt said. “My best pitch is probably my fastball. My cutter, I’ve been working on that recently and that’s probably my third best pitch now. I am an aggressive pitcher. I throw strikes. I get the strikeouts here and there, but I get a lot of ground outs and quick innings.”
Class of 2014 RHP/MIF Clarke Schmidt
Schmidt also plays in the middle infield for his high school team and for Team Elite, his summer showcase program. The 6-foot-1, 165 pounder will get a chance on the infield for the Gamecocks when he arrives to campus in the Fall of 2014.
“They want to give me a chance for a dual role because you get more for your money,” Schmidt said. “I see myself more as a shortstop because I have a strong arm and pretty good depth and range. Hitting wise, I’m a contact hitter. One of the main things I want to work on is power. I’m a very aggressive hitter.”
Over the course of the next 18 months before he arrives to campus, Schmidt said he wants to work on adding more velocity to his fastball and he also wants to add weight and strength.
Clarke Schmidt’s older brother, Clate, is a freshman pitcher at Clemson. The brothers are close and discussed the decision on multiple occasions before the commitment.
“Congrats to my bro for his commitment,” Clate Schmidt posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday night. “I love you so much dude. I might not like the color you wear or the jersey you put on but it’s just a sport and you are well deserving of this. I’m so happy and proud of you my bro. Love you man and congrats!”
Clarke Schmidt is the sixth high school pitcher to commit to South Carolina in the 2014 class and the fifth right-hander. He is the first player in the class from the Peach State.
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