For their second of two picks out of South Carolina to conclude day two of the 2021 MLB Draft, the Milwaukee Brewers selected catcher Wes Clarke. The junior backstop had actually been chosen by the Brewers once before, back in Round 40 of the 2018 MLB Draft out of high school. He obviously elected not to sign in order to attend South Carolina, but the Brewers apparently kept tabs on him and felt good enough to make a much more significant commitment to him three years later.
Clarke, who turns 22 in October, put up some prodigious power numbers during his three seasons for the Gamecocks, along with some significant swing-and-miss. He finished his career with a .269/.410/.635 slash line and 32 home runs in 378 plate appearances, including a .271/.428/.663 with 23 home runs in 257 plate appearances during the 2021 season. He also whiffed at a 28% clip. He split time relatively evenly between catcher and first base in college but it appears he’ll start his professional career with a focus on sticking behind the plate.
Clarke was ranked as the #247 prospect entering the draft:
(247) C/1B Wes Clarke
No hitter in college baseball was off to a better start this spring than Clarke, who homered eight times in his first six games of the season and finished the year tied for first in the nation with 23 home runs...Clarke has plenty of strength in his 6-foot-2, 235-pound frame and a track record of hitting for power at South Carolina and in summer collegiate leagues. Clarke has the natural strength and hand power to hit balls out of the park from pole to pole and will occasionally mis-hit balls or just get under pitches that he’s still able to drive over the fence. Power is clearly Clarke’s calling card, but it did come with a 28% strikeout rate this spring. That’s notable, but probably not a deal-breaker because Clarke is more than capable of drawing a walk and his 19.5% walk rate was among the best of all SEC hitters. Clarke was a much better hitter against fastballs this spring than breaking or offspeed offerings, and because of that some scouts wonder what sort of hitter he’ll be at the next level when pitchers can more consistently throw those pitches for strikes. He hammered fastballs and had no problem with 93-plus mph velocity, but there are scouts who think he has below-average bat speed, and his numbers steadily declined throughout SEC play—with 15 of his 23 homers coming against non-SEC teams. Clarke has a limited defensive profile and will probably be suited for just first base in pro ball. He’s caught infrequently at South Carolina, but the industry doesn’t seem to view him as a candidate to play there in pro ball.
The slot value for pick #297 is $145,500.