Conway pitcher Holmes makes local history as MLB first-round draft pick

After crafting a national profile with his miniscule earned-run average and utterly dominant strikeout statistics as a star pitcher at Conway High School, Grant Holmes will now be identified by a even more impressive number.

Holmes, a 6-foot-2 hard-throwing right-hander, was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 22nd overall pick in the first round of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft on Thursday, making history for prep prospects in this area.

It’s the earliest a player from Horry County has ever been drafted straight out of high school, going all the way back to the start of the First-Year Player Draft in 1965. The previous best was Loris outfielder Jimmy Hickman, who went in the ninth round, 206th overall in the 1975 draft.

As for South Carolina high school prospects in general, Lexington High School’s Nick Ciuffo went 21st overall last year to the Tampa Bay Rays. He and Holmes are the earliest high school picks from South Carolina since Newberry High School’s Reggie Taylor was taken with the 14th overall draft pick in 1995 by the Philadelphia Phillies.

“It’s a true blessing,” Holmes said in a live interview on MLB Network. “I’m very honored to be a Dodger, and I’m ready to pitch.”

Holmes, who had committed to Florida pending his draft selection, went 4-1 with a 0.35 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched this season. He allowed only 17 hits and 16 walks in a special season for Conway.

He’s only grown more and more impressive since debuting with the Tigers, seeing his ERA drop from 2.28 as a freshman to 1.16 his sophomore season and 0.40 as a junior before somehow finding a way to top even that stunning figure.

Holmes was in New York for the draft and could not be reached by phone Thursday night, but a couple dozen supporters organized by Conway baseball coach Anthony Carroll joined for a watch party inside Buffalo Wild Wings in Carolina Forest and shared their own excitement for the moment.

“It’s a proud night for Grant Holmes and all of us in Conway,” Carroll said. “It’s been a blessing to have him, and we just can’t wait to see what he does in the future.”

Unfortunately for the group, the storms in the area knocked out the restaurant’s satellite TV feed a few picks before Holmes was selected.

The crowd was temporarily huddled around a laptop to watch online before the television feed returned just in time for the announcement – and a big round of applause.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Carroll said. “There’s no way to describe it. [I just] reflect on all of his time with us. I couldn’t think of a better kid, and I couldn’t be more happy for anybody.”

Holmes was expected to fly back to Myrtle Beach on Friday morning so he could attend his high school graduation in the evening.

“It’s a really big week,” Carroll said. “I’m proud that it’s over for him and now he can get ready to go take this shot with the Dodgers and see where it lands.”