Spencer Strider went into the final day of the 2020 Major League Draft feeling pretty good about his chances of being selected in one of the final four rounds.
But as the night went along, a lot of things started changing and it did not look like it was going to happen for the Clemson pitcher. And then, around the 116th pick in the fourth round, the Atlanta Braves called and said they were interested in taking Strider with the 126th selection in the draft.
“It was exciting. I wasn’t really sure I would hear my name even after they called me,” Strider said Friday. “So, I was watching, and it was surprise. So, it was very cool.”
It was cool for the Clemson righty, who this time last year was still recovering for Tommy John Surgery after he suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason of the 2019 campaign. Strider made a full recovery and was off to a pretty good start to the 2020 season when the COVID-19 pandemic ended the year.
The redshirt sophomore had a 4.50 ERA in four starts and no decisions this past year. In his 12 innings of work, Strider allowed 13 hits (.271 opponents’ batting average) and three walks with 19 strikeouts.
“He came back this year and showed his velocity was back. He was up to 95,” MLB Network’s Jim Callis said. “He showed his arm speed was back. He showed his curveball and changeup was a little bit better than it had been his freshman year. Obviously, that is not a huge sample size there and he threw more strikes than he did as a freshman.”
Clemson had a 4-0 record in Strider’s four starts. The righty pitched three innings in a starting role, allowing no hits and no runs with four strikeouts against Liberty on Feb. 16, and pitched 2.2 innings in a starting role, allowing no runs and no walks with five strikeouts against Stony Brook on Feb. 23.
“I was fortunate enough to comeback as quick as I did,” Strider said. “Even though I feel healthy and there are no concerns, there is still a question on whether or not I should have thrown as much as I did. It is just a risky thing.
“I think if I had to sacrifice playing more at Clemson, I don’t think it is a bad thing necessarily that my arm is rested now, and I am where I am. But of course, I would love to go back and re-write the playing time and the fact that we did not end up where we wanted to this year, and nobody did. Had I not played in a single game, I still would have enjoyed it and been grateful for my time at Clemson, if it has come to an end, as much as I have.”
Strider admitted his career is likely over at Clemson. He indicated he is leaning towards signing with the Braves, saying he would not have put Clemson in this kind of situation if he was not going to sign.
“The playing in the games was not the best part for me, it was the relationships and the experiences,” he said. “That is where I learned the most and that is where I enjoyed my time the most.”
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