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Yanks select college righty in first round

South Carolina's Schmidt had May Tommy John surgery
MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- After some of Jordan Montgomery's best starts for the Yankees this season, the hurler has fielded text messages from Clarke Schmidt, a fellow University of South Carolina alum who was introduced to the lefty during their offseason workouts on campus.

That script was flipped on Monday evening when the Yankees selected Schmidt with the 16th overall pick in the MLB Draft. From the visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium, Montgomery reached out to congratulate the 21-year-old right-hander, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and has likely made his final collegiate appearance.

NEW YORK -- After some of Jordan Montgomery's best starts for the Yankees this season, the hurler has fielded text messages from Clarke Schmidt, a fellow University of South Carolina alum who was introduced to the lefty during their offseason workouts on campus.

That script was flipped on Monday evening when the Yankees selected Schmidt with the 16th overall pick in the MLB Draft. From the visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium, Montgomery reached out to congratulate the 21-year-old right-hander, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and has likely made his final collegiate appearance.

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"He sent me a text tonight, just saying, 'Congrats, can't wait to see you up here,'" Schmidt said by phone. "We talk every week and now I'm sure we'll be talking a good bit. To be able to see what he's done and the numbers he's put up so quickly, it's just amazing. He's a special talent. It's going to be fun to be in the same organization as him."

Schmidt was 4-2 with a 1.34 ERA in 60 1/3 innings for the Gamecocks this year, striking out 70 against 18 walks while holding opponents to a .194 batting average. His junior season ended when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament on April 20 at Florida; the procedure was performed on May 3.

"Yeah, I texted him just to congratulate him," Montgomery said. "I texted him also when he had the TJ surgery. I just told him to keep battling. I knew before that he was going to be a first-rounder. I didn't know now he would still be a first-rounder. I knew he felt a little let down. I just wanted to reach out to him. Help him out."

Said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' vice president of domestic amateur scouting: "We really like his delivery. He's got a chance to be a top end of the rotation type of guy who combines pitchability with power stuff. And you always like it when they're the Friday night guy, pitching and having success in that conference."

Schmidt's arm brace was removed 1 1/2 weeks ago and Schmidt said that he has been told he can resume throwing in three months, with his goal to be back on a mound next summer.

Regarding Schmidt's surgery, Oppenheimer added, "The results were positive and we feel really good about the rehab. He should be back pitching at full strength in approximately 12 months."

Video: Draft 2017: Mayo discusses Schmidt's injury history

Prior to his elbow reconstruction, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Acworth, Ga., featured a fastball that sat between 92-94 mph and could reach 96 mph. His slider and curveball were plus pitches at times, but some scouts said they lacked consistency. Schmidt also mixes in a decent changeup.

"Everyone always likes to give me the comp to Zack Greinke," Schmidt said. "He's a strike-thrower, he's a competitive guy. That's something I pride myself on, competitiveness. I like to pitch with a chip on my shoulder."

Schmidt's older brother, Clate, is also a right-hander who was a 20th-round selection of the Tigers out of Clemson in 2015 and made his professional debut last season. Scouts rave about the Schmidts' makeup; their father, Dwight, is a colonel in the United States Marine Corps.

"To be given this opportunity, it's kind of hard to pass up," Schmidt said. "We'll see what happens and just take it from here. Right now I'm just going to enjoy the moment and take it in as much as I can for a night or two."

The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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