JEFFERSON, Ga. — A large crowd was on hand at the Jefferson Baseball Complex Monday night to watch Bubba Chandler and North Oconee High face Jefferson High.
The stands were not only packed with fans but also MLB scouts who were there for one reason — to see Chandler pitch.
The MLB draft is about three months away, and the star high school pitcher/Clemson quarterback signee has been rising up MLB draft boards after adding velocity to his pitches this offseason. There were 30-40 scouts on hand for Chandler’s outing Monday, just as there are every time he takes the mound.
Chandler’s fastball is sitting in the mid 90s, while touching 97-98 at times. And there’s a chance he could hear his name called in the first round come July.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Chandler told ClemsonSports.com Monday night. “So I’m trying to have fun with it every day. It’s not really pressure, it’s more of a blessing.”
Chandler knows that he will have a tough decision to make this summer, and it’s one he is already wrestling with: Should he begin his pro baseball career, or should he attend Clemson and play both sports?
“One day I know what I wanna do, the next day I don’t,” he said. “I’ve flipped my mind a lot, but I feel like when the day comes I’m going to know exactly what I want.”
So what will factor into Chandler’s decision?
“There’s a lot of stuff that plays into it,” he said. “I guess money. I don’t play the game for money, but it always helps, of course. Really the right situation, the right place, the right money, I guess. If I feel right about it. I’m not going to look back if I do end up going to play baseball. That’s something I do with my life is I don’t regret anything. So if it’s the right situation, the right everything, then I’ll consider it.”
If Chandler does end up turning pro, it would be a blow to Clemson’s QB room.
Chandler was in the stands for the spring game and knows there isn’t a lot of depth at quarterback right now. He could earn Clemson’s backup QB job this fall as he will be battling with walk-on Hunter Helms and fellow freshman Will Taylor if he chooses football.
“I realize that we’re super thin at quarterback, and if I do decide to go I feel like I’ll help out the quarterback room a bunch. If I get to Clemson then I’m going to do everything I can to help contribute,” he said. “All the coaches say when I get there I better be ready, because you never know what’s going to happen. I’ve just gotta be ready when I step foot on campus.”
Chandler will already be on campus when the MLB draft takes place.
He is set to enroll at school June 24, while the draft is scheduled for July 11. It remains to be seen if his time at Clemson will last weeks or years.
“It’s going to be super weird. Even if I don’t take the draft I feel like coach [Dabo] Swinney will be grateful enough to let me go back home and have a little party for the draft. But I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” Chandler said. “I don’t really stress about that stuff. I’m just going to let the pieces fall in place.”