The Gamecocks’ senior first baseman flourished at the plate and Tuesday was taken in the 10th round of the Major League Draft by the Colorado Rockies.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to continue my baseball career,” Waldrip said in a statement released by the school Tuesday. “Coors Field is a great hitter’s park … and I’m looking forward to my future with the Rockies.”
Messages left for 6-foot-6, 245-pound left-handed slugger by the Star seeking comment were not returned by press time Tuesday night.
His selection — No. 318 overall — is at least 30 rounds higher than either of his previous two draft selections. Waldrip was taken in the 40th round by Kansas City in 2011 and the 42nd round by Atlanta in 2010. There was some talk he might sign with the Royals during his strong play in the Cape Cod Summer League, but there was no deal.
“One of my goals is to play professional baseball and not just play, but make it to the major leagues … (but) we could never come to a set agreement,” Waldrip told The Star earlier this season. “A lot of the reason, too, I wanted to come back was all the guys we have returning was something pretty exciting.”
Waldrip missed the first five games of the season for an undisclosed violation of team policy, butupon his return batted .330 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs. His 18 homers and 0.34 per game average ranked fourth nationally. He was a first-team All-OVC pick for the second year in a row.
He was the middle threat in the Gamecocks’ 3-4-5 gauntlet with fellow seniors Sam Eberle and Kyle Bluestein, both of whom are waiting for a draft call today. They all batted over .330 and combined for 219 hits, 44 doubles, 36 homers and 135 RBIs.
“That’s one of the huge reasons I came back,” Waldrip said before the OVC Tournament. “Last year (teams) could pitch around a couple guys in the lineup, but this year not only are we beating them with other guys, Eberle, me and Bluestein are gonna get pitches to hit.”
Waldrip is the 12th JSU player to be drafted in the top 10 rounds and 23rd to go in the top 15 rounds.
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.