Coastal Carolina catcher Casey Schroeder had been through the process twice before in recent years, but that didn’t make monitoring Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft any easier on Tuesday.
The difference this time, though, is that the end result now makes his subsequent decision quick and simple.
Schroeder, a switch-hitter who belted a team-high 13 home runs as a junior this spring for the Chanticleers, was drafted in the eighth round by the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday with the 232nd overall pick and said by phone later in the evening that he will indeed sign with the club and begin his professional career.
“I’ve chosen to go so I’m now [with the] White Sox, but I’ll forever be a Chanticleer,” he said.
Schroeder was initially drafted in the 22nd round out of high school by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 and then was selected in the 14th round by the Oakland A’s last year after his sophomore season at Polk State College in Florida before declining to sign each time and following through on his commitment to join the Chants this season.
As a junior newcomer, Schroeder started 53 games and quickly assumed a leadership role on the team. Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said last month that the catcher carried a quiet yet influential John Wayne-like presence in the clubhouse, and he became a key cog in getting the program back on track with a 39-21 finish and a return to the NCAA Regionals this year.
And it paid off for Schroeder as well as he moved up six rounds in the draft.
“I’m really excited. It hasn’t really even hit me in the face. I haven’t really digested it yet,” he said. “But it’s a dream come true. I know I’ve got other goals I want to attain, obviously I want to get to the big leagues, but this is going to be a day I never forget.”
Although he had been through the draft process before, that didn’t make the waiting any easier – for him or his family – as the second day of the draft began with rounds 3-10 Tuesday.
“My dad and I went out and played golf today,” he said, speaking from back home in Ohio. “His nerves were pretty high today. We went out and I tried to keep him occupied. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be today or tomorrow. I got a call from the White Sox about a half hour before I ended up [getting selected] and they told me they were going to take me, so we were just holding our breath until it came. My dad was right there with me and he was pretty excited and so was I.”
Gilmore surely doesn’t like losing a productive player from his lineup, but he too talked of his happiness for Schroeder.
“It’s just awesome for him,” Gilmore said. “He came here to school, a lot of people around him were very skeptical of his decision to come to school versus signing last summer and he and I had a great relationship. He had a goal of coming here and improving his draft status, definitely wanted to go in the top 10 rounds, and his other goal was to play in a [NCAA] Regional, play on a national contending team.”
Unfortunately for Schroeder and the Chants, he sustained a significant back injury in the Big South semifinals and was unable to play in the conference championship game or in the NCAA Regionals.
He finished with a .230 batting average, those team-leading 13 homers, eight doubles, 31 RBIs, a .500 slugging percentage and a .370 on-base percentage.
“It’s a shame he wasn’t able to play in one of the things he so much wanted by coming to college. He got right to walking in the door of being able to and got injured and couldn’t. But we wouldn’t have been where we were without him,” Gilmore said. “I couldn’t thank him enough and am very appreciative of what he did for us.”
Schroeder said the back injury has healed up and he’s resumed swinging a bat.
“It’s doing well. I was upset that I couldn’t play in the regional. It happened too close [to be able to recover in time], but I’ve been resting,” he said. “I started taking a few swings for the first time a couple days ago and it’s feeling good.”
He expects to officially sign with the White Sox on Thursday or Friday at the team’s spring training complex in Arizona.
Looking back, meanwhile, he says he appreciates his short time in Conway.
“I enjoyed every bit of this year,” he said. “I loved the guys on the team, loved the coaches. .... We had a lot of success and we did a lot of good things. I’m really glad I made the decision to come to Coastal and I enjoyed every bit of it.”
This marks the eighth year in a row the Chants have produced a draft pick in the top 10 rounds.
Coastal Carolina also had one of its incoming recruits selected Tuesday as Socastee High School pitcher Dylan Thompson was taken in the fourth round (125th overall) by the Seattle Mariners.
The draft concludes Wednesday with rounds 11 through 40.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318 or on Twitter @RyanYoungTSN.