COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Ever since Clarke Schmidt's childhood days, it's been his dream to make it to the big leagues.
While the journey has had a speed bump here and there for the former Gamecocks pitcher to deal with, it hasn't tarnished the dream of hearing his name called in the MLB Draft.
Schmidt didn't have to wait long as the hurler from Acworth, Ga., was taken 16th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees.
"We had little talks before the draft," Schmidt said. "That was kind of a rumor that they were probably going to take a shot on me. We didn't know for sure. We had to see how the first 15 picks played out and, luckily, everything played in my favor. Thank God! It's just such a blessing to be able to be taken by such a great organization."
For Schmidt, the moment he was picked is one he'll never forget. It's something he's been working toward since he was introduced to the game.
"Ever since I first picked up a baseball when I was extremely young whenever I first began dreaming of playing baseball, I think this is the first step in that process," Schmidt said.
The Gamecocks right-hander finished the year with a 1.34 earned run average before being sidelined with a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the injury ended what was a stellar junior campaign, his motivation to return better than before remains constant.
"It's obviously tough," Schmidt said. "I try not to think about that too much. It was definitely the most successful year of my career and I was in the midst of a wonderful season and it kind of took a step back a little bit. But you can't really think about it too much. You've still got to be focused on the future. I can't go back and change what happened. So, I've got to focus on what's going to happen and try to keep my mind at ease."
Schmidt finished the year with a 4-2 record, 70 strikeouts, 18 walks, nine earned runs surrendered while holding batters to a .194 batting average. The numbers speak for themselves this season, but Schmidt knows his new team want to see if he can maintain that level of play.
"I don't necessarily have to stress it because that's one of their main questions," Schmidt said. "With the way surgery is nowadays, it's pretty much how you treat your rehab and how you handle it mentally. You've got to let them know that you're at ease and everything's going to be alright. I guess I do kind of stress it a little bit, but it's kind of the way I've always been raised, to always remain even-keeled and, regardless of the cards you've been dealt, you've got to deal with it and attack each day the same."