Clemson quarterback signees Bubba Chandler and Will Taylor haven’t dropped any hints about whether they will indeed play college football or go professional in baseball.
But there will be an indication Sunday when the MLB draft begins with the first round (7 p.m., ESPN, MLB Network). If Chandler and Taylor are picked there as most have expected, it would seem to point strongly toward the diamond. Teams don’t normally invest first-round picks on players who are still trying to decide if they would sign.
Chandler and Taylor are back-to-back in rankings. Baseball America has Chandler at No. 20 and Taylor at No. 21, while MLB.com has the opposite. The New York Yankees own the No. 20 pick, followed by the Chicago Cubs. Signing bonus slots in that range are more than $3 million. The Atlanta Braves have the No. 24 pick. CBS predicted Chandler going No. 18 (slot value $3.48 million) to the St. Louis Cardinals and also stated he could actually be a top-10 pick, which would be worth about $5 million.
In an interesting twist Friday, however, Baseball America came out with its latest mock draft and moved Taylor way up to No. 9, taken by the Los Angeles Angels, while Chandler dropped out of the first round. Perhaps that means there is an increasing belief that Chandler is leaning toward Clemson and Taylor would then turn pro, especially for that size of a signing bonus.
Rounds 2-10 of the draft will start at 1 p.m. Monday with 11-20 noon Tuesday on the MLB Network.
Chandler, from North Oconee High School in Bogart, Georgia, and Taylor, from Dutch Fork High School in Lexington, South Carolina, have both signed letters of intent to play football and baseball at Clemson. Both are also pitchers and shortstops. Football practices begin later this month and they would have until Aug. 15 to sign baseball contracts instead.
Just looking for the best opportunity and fit for me, Chandler said Thursday on the MLB Network while wearing a Tigers shirt. Where I’m at now, in Clemson, is the greatest school in the country and I love every bit of it. But I do have a tough decision coming up.
Obviously, we see our names together on a lot of stuff, said Taylor, who was named South Carolina baseball player of the year. But we’re not letting our heads get too big. We’ve been talking to each other a lot through this process and we’re having fun. … It’s a big decision, but I don’t think there is a wrong choice.
There have been first-round MLB draft picks who turned down the money to play college football. Kyler Murray was the No. 8 overall choice by the Oakland Athletics in 2018 and went to play quarterback at Oklahoma before going to the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. But most experts believe the long-term futures for Chandler and Taylor are in baseball. They are both considered to be three-star quarterbacks in a five-star system. Clemson starting quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, by comparison, is a five-star.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has said he sees Taylor more as a wide receiver down the road, something that could also be a factor in his decision. But the Tigers are already thin at quarterback. Uiagalelei, a sophomore, is one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Backup Taisun Phommachanch is expected to miss the season because of an Achilles tendon injury suffered in the spring game.
The only other quarterbacks are both walk-ons, Hunter Helms and incoming freshman Billy Wiles.