Coastal Carolina baseball coach Gary Gilmore had said a couple weeks ago that if the Chanticleers avoided significant losses to either their current roster or their incoming recruiting class in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft then the 2016 team might just end up being one of the most talented the program has ever had.
Well, MLB’s First-Year Player Draft drew to a close Wednesday with no more current Chants being selected and with incoming recruit Jason Bilous going in the 29th round to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A day earlier, junior catcher Casey Schroeder was taken in the eighth round by the Chicago White Sox and said he’ll sign with the club this week while prized pitching recruit Dylan Thompson, out of Socastee High School, went in the fourth round to the Seattle Mariners and did not announce an official decision.
So Wednesday evening after all 40 rounds had come and gone, answering most questions along the way, Gilmore offered his instant analysis.
“Knock on wood that we can hold on to Jason and we can get [Alex] Cunningham and [Zach] Remillard completely healthy and that we start out with a healthy roster and get stronger and better, heck, you will have lost basically of the guys that really truly helped [us], you’ll have lost Schroeder and [senior pitcher Austin] Kerr,” Gilmore said. “To have all the rest of the group of guys back and we get completely healthy, we’ve got a chance to be OK.”
To put it modestly.
The Chants are coming off a 39-21 finish this season while returning to the NCAA Regionals after a one-year absence.
Gilmore had said Tuesday that he expects Thompson to sign with the Mariners and bypass college, but after seeing how the final day of the draft unfolded, he is hopeful that the Chants’ other touted pitching prospect will indeed make it to Conway.
Bilous, a 6-foot-2 right-hander from Delaware, did not pitch last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November, but he had already generated a good deal of hype in draft circles before the injury.
As a junior, he went 11-1 with 84 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings pitched and batted .483, according to MaxPreps, which selected him as the top high school player in Delaware entering 2015.
“He’s got a chance to be a two-way guy, very good runner, tall, that’s got a chance with [increased] strength to be a next-level hitter. And he jumps on the pitcher’s mound,” Gilmore said. “When he’s healthy it’s pretty special. He was throwing 91-94 [miles per hour] pretty consistently as a junior, was touching 96 when he got hurt last fall.
“If everything would have worked out and he had been totally healthy, he would have been one of those guys that would have gone in the first 25 picks if he was 100-percent healthy and continued to develop the way he was doing.”
Gilmore said he saw Bilous on Sunday and has a good feel for what the prospect’s mindset is as he enters talks with the deep-pocketed Dodgers and makes a decision on his immediate baseball future.
“I know where everything stands,” Gilmore said. “Provided he holds his ground, which he has the whole entire time, they’re going to have to basically break every record that’s been set [for that round slot] to get him. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, so we’ll be sweating bullets the whole time.”
As for the draft-eligible Chants who did not get selected this week, Gilmore figures health issues were the primary cause.
Cunningham, who went 6-0 with a 2.56 ERA in 59 2/3 innings, was sidelined for most of the final month and a half of the season with tendinitis in his upper forearm.
Remillard’s throwing elbow, which he had surgery on after the 2014 season, caused him trouble late this spring and often forced Gilmore to move him off third base to limit the amount of throws he’d have to make. The junior hit .272 with six homers and 42 RBIs.
Kerr, meanwhile, said he planned to undergo Tommy John surgery after the season following a senior campaign in which he went 8-1 with a 3.36 ERA.
“I know two or three of our guys weren’t really sure what [to expect this week],” Gilmore said. “With Alex with his arm, his health I’m sure was the paramount reason he didn’t get taken. It’s not because of ability. Remillard too, with his arm the way it was the last third of the year. I’m sure that really threw everyone for a loop.
“I do think the guys in our program that it didn’t work out for this time, barring massive health issues, there’s no doubt in my mind that Cunningham, Remillard, [Connor] Owings will be given a legitimate [opportunity] next year.”
In the meanwhile, especially if they manage to get Bilous to campus, it looks like the Chants are loaded for next season with all but Schroeder and his team-leading 13 home runs expected to return to the lineup and a more experienced and likely deeper pitching staff ready to take a step forward on the mound.
Along with Remillard, Owings was solid again in the middle of the lineup while batting .270 with nine homers and 48 RBIs, as was junior Tyler Chadwick (.303-5-35). Meanwhile, junior Anthony Marks (team-high .343 average), sophomores Michael Paez (.326-8-42) and G.K. Young (.301-9-49) and freshman pitcher Bobby Holmes (4-1, 2.90 ERA) all had breakout seasons. And the Chants will also add Dalton Ewing into the mix after the promising outfielder missed almost all of his freshman season due to injury.
That would give Coastal Carolina a much better headstart than it had this past spring, and the 2015 season turned out pretty good regardless.
As Gilmore put it Wednesday, “It could be a whole lot worse.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318 or on Twitter @RyanYoungTSN.
Former St. James standout Kines drafted by Marlins
Gunnar Kines, who helped lead St. James High School to the 2011 state championship, was drafted in the 36th round of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft by the Miami Marlins on Wednesday.
Kines was the 1,076th pick in the draft after going 9-2 with a 3.26 earned-run average and a 121-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 96 2/3 innings for Division II Mount Olive College in North Carolina.
During that 2011 state title run with St. James, Kines picked up 11 wins and three saves in 14 appearances while posting a 1.56 earned-run average, striking out 85 batters and walking only 24. He was The Sun News’ Toast of the Coast Player of the Year that season.
Kines is the fourth St. James baseball player to be selected in the draft all-time, following Todd McCraw (2006), Tanner English (2011, 2014) and Gunnar Heidt (2014).
| Ryan Young and Ian Guerin, firstname.lastname@example.org,