Cortes inks a professional contract with Mets

Cortes inks a professional contract with Mets

COLUMBIA, SC ( -- While it shouldn't come as a surprise, former South Carolina outfielder Carlos Cortes has signed a professional contract and will forego his final two years of eligibility with the program. The left-handed hitter agreed to a contract, according to MLB Pipeline writer Jim Callis, for well over slot money.

Cortes was drafted with the No. 83 pick overall in the 2018 MLB Draft by the New York Mets, which were the same team to select him out of high school in the 20th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Cortes, according to Callis, will receive $1,038,000 in signing bonus money for inking with the club. The slot value, as determined by Major League Baseball and set months prior to the draft, was $705,300.

As a freshman at South Carolina in 2017, Cortes played in 50 games with 43 starts and hit .286 (48-for-168). The Oviedo, Fla. native finished that year with 27 runs scored, nine doubles, a triple, a team-high 12 homers and 41 RBIs.

As a sophomore, those numbers increased in some ways but also dropped in other places. He hit .265 in his second year with the program with nine doubles and 15 home runs. He had 44 RBIs and led the team with 43 walks against 32 strikeouts.

A Cape Cod League All-Star the summer before his sophomore year, Cortes entered the season as the No. 14 prospect in the 2018 MLB Draft by both D1Baseball and Perfect Game.

With his signature, Cortes is the fourth South Carolina player with eligibility remaining to sign a professional contract. Pitcher Adam Hill (N.Y. Mets, 3rd round), pitcher Cody Morris (Cleveland Indians, 7th round) and pitcher Eddy Demurias (Cincinnati Reds, 27th round) have all signed contracts.

The only player with eligibility remaining who has not yet officially signed a contract is infielder LT Tolbert, who was taken in the 13th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Relief pitchers Ridge Chapman and Graham Lawson, who were both drafted by the Washington Nationals, will not sign a professional deal with the club that drafted them. They will return for their senior year.

With Cortes' signature, there is a hole in the middle of the lineup and a vacant starting spot in left field. The Gamecocks will have to replace their middle of the order punch with Cortes gone, and here is a look at who head coach Mark Kingston, who is entering his second year in the program, may turn to in order to fill those big shoes.

South Carolina will have at least nine players on the roster for the 2019 season who could spend some of their time in the outfield. A few of them may be infielders, but Kingston will have some options after Cortes joined the million dollar club by signing for more than $250,000 over slot money.

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