Carmen Mlodzinski had a tough decision to make.
The Hilton Head Island High School star was projected to be picked in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft sometime Tuesday – somewhere between the third and 10th rounds – but the question was whether he would sign or maintain his commitment to the University of South Carolina and become a Gamecock.
Mlodzinski didn’t wait until draft day to make that call. The star right-handed pitcher informed pro scouts and South Carolina officials last weekend that he will not sign if drafted, instead opting for the opportunity to be a Gamecock.
“Carmen has decided to go to college,” his mother, Holly, said in a text message. “He’s excited to have the college experience.”
Mlodzinski said the thought of passing up a potential six-figure signing bonus really didn’t play a role in his decision – he couldn’t put a price tag on a traditional college experience at this time in his life.
“I just felt more comfortable with college at this point,” Mlodzinski said. “I didn’t think I was fully ready to be a professional.”
That’s due in part to the fact that Mlodzinski is only in the beginning stages of his development as a pitcher. He said he threw only about 20 innings as a junior and about 50 while earning Class 4-A Player of the Year honors as a senior, and he has always maintained a strict pitch count and only started throwing breaking balls in the past 18 months to two years.
Even though the Gamecocks are currently without a head coach, Mlodzinski never wavered in his decision because of his relationship with pitching coach Jerry Meyers, who has a stellar record developing pitchers for the next level.
“It really comes down to me trusting him,” Mlodzinski said. “I’ve heard from everyone I’ve talked to that he’s the best you’re going to get.”
Mlodzinski might be drafted in the late rounds as a courtesy, but teams usually aren’t keen on wasting a pick on players they know they can’t sign. Once he enrolls at South Carolina, Mlodzinski would not be eligible for the draft again until after his junior year.
If picked, Mlodzinski would be the first Beaufort County player drafted out of high school since Hilton Head High’s Brian Harrison went to the Pirates in the 29th round in 2007. Harrison did not sign, instead choosing to play at Furman. The last local pitcher to be drafted was Hilton Head High’s Ryan Kelly, who went to the Pirates in the 26th round in 2006 and signed with the team after one season at Walters State (Tenn.) Community College.
Mlodzinski has two plus pitches – his fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 95, and he throws a curveball that falls off the table at 78-82 mph, according to his scouting report on MLB.com.
BEAUFORT COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL DRAFT PICKS ALL-TIME
|2007||Brian Harrison||Hilton Head Island HS||Pirates||29||878|
|2006||Ryan Kelly||Hilton Head Island HS||Pirates||26||770|
|1994||Adam Mullen||Beaufort HS||Braves||30||846|
|1993||Scott Mullen||Beaufort HS||Braves||49||1362|
|1992||Jason Frazier||Hilton Head Island HS||Marlins||38||1076|
|1991||Lamann Washington||Beaufort HS||Orioles||15||394|
|1978||Gerald Perry||McCracken HS||Braves||11||261|
|1975||Henry Greene||McCracken HS||Royals||15||345|
Photo credit: Mike Ritterbeck/HHI Sport Shots