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1st-rounder moving past surgery, thrilled to sign

Right-hander Schmidt: 'Progressions have come quickly' in rehab from Tommy John
MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Yankees top Draft choice Clarke Schmidt wasn't too concerned with how getting Tommy John surgery would affect his stock in the 2017 MLB Draft.

The most devastating part of the season-ending injury, for him, was that it would take him a year before he was ready to get back on the mound during a game.

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NEW YORK -- Yankees top Draft choice Clarke Schmidt wasn't too concerned with how getting Tommy John surgery would affect his stock in the 2017 MLB Draft.

The most devastating part of the season-ending injury, for him, was that it would take him a year before he was ready to get back on the mound during a game.

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"Initially, you don't really know what to expect," said Schmidt, 21, Tuesday afternoon via a conference call. "A lot of thoughts run through your head. They said it shouldn't affect me too much. It's really just how everything plays out. For me, it was just taking it day by day and seeing what was going to happen. I knew it was going to affect [the Draft stock] a little bit, but I didn't know the final outcome."

The Yankees snagged Schmidt with the No. 16 overall pick, despite the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow that cut short his junior season at the University of South Carolina. He earned a $2.184 million bonus when he signed with New York on Saturday.

Yankees' 2017 Draft picks | Signing and Bonus Tracker

Video: Draft 2017: Yankees draft RHP Clarke Schmidt No. 16

Now, Schmidt's focus is about getting back on the field, though he isn't expected to pitch in a game for a while, given that his surgery was on May 3.

"They said the timeframe should be about September for me to start throwing again," Schmidt said. "Right now, it's just slight mobility work and easing back into it. The progressions have come quickly, so I can tell everything's going well so far."

When Schmidt does get back on the field, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound right-hander will look to build upon the success he had before his injury. In his junior season with the Gamecocks, Schmidt was 4-2 with a 1.34 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings.

Schmidt said his biggest strength is commanding the strike zone, which he does with a sinking fastball before using a biting slider to get opposing hitters to chase.

"I've always prided myself on command and controlling the zone," Schmidt said. "I like to be able to pitch on both sides of the plate with my fastball and also my offspeed. I like to be able to move it in and out and be able to move planes a little bit."

He added: "That's always been my go-to, just not walking a lot of guys or giving up a lot of free passes. I want to work ahead of hitters and save my pitch count and save the bullpen by going deep in the game."

Schmidt said he's still working on his changeup, which was starting to come along earlier this year after he changed his grip. That will be a focus, he said, after he's cleared to start throwing again.

Schmidt has a lot to show for his first-round selection, and even with the injury, he said he wasn't surprised that he went so early. Instead, he looks at being taken 16th overall as a "blessing," especially because of the team that drafted him.

"I think any kid, when you're growing up, you have dreams of playing Major League Baseball," Schmidt said, "and for that to be with the New York Yankees, that's pretty special."

Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees