Last week, two Trojans were selected in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft. The Boston Red Sox picked redshirt junior Frankie Rios in the 17th round, and Washington Nationals took junior Adalberto Carrillo in the 33rd round. Though the duo retain the option to return to USC for their senior seasons, their selections brought the Trojans’ all-time draft tally to 330 players since the event’s inception in 1965.
Rios was taken with the 521st overall pick after earning All-Pac-12 honors in 2017. The shortstop led the team with 73 hits and a .354 batting average this season, and his 13 doubles were second-most on the Trojans.
Rios also earned an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention last year, manning second base in his first campaign as a regular starter. He redshirted in 2015 with knee tendonitis, but in his three seasons at USC, Rios has compiled a .310 career average across 123 starts with 50 RBI and 28 extra-base hits. If he chooses to return for his final year of eligibility, Rios will come to campus as an alumnus after graduating in May with a sociology degree.
Carrillo, a 2017 all-conference honorable mention, was selected No. 1,003 overall. The junior has been a mainstay at third base for the past two years, memorably hitting his first collegiate home run against No. 1 Vanderbilt in 2014: a walk-off shot to down the Commodores in the bottom of the ninth inning. Interestingly, Washington drafted Carrillo as a catcher, despite him having never played the position as a Trojan.
The Nationals may be looking to utilize Carrillo’s versatile offensive tools at a traditionally light-hitting position. Carrillo led USC in stolen bases (9) and RBI (36) this season, and he was tied for the lead in home runs (7). If he chooses to sign with Washington, he will depart USC with 15 homers and 16 steals to go with 105 career hits.
Senior outfielder Corey Dempster went undrafted last week after opting to return to USC as a 37th-round pick last year — the only Trojan to do so in his draft class. Carrillo and Rios were the only two Trojans selected, compared to the record 12 players taken in 2016. Unlike last season’s veteran roster, however, only 13 members of this year’s squad were draft-eligible.
Head coach Dan Hubbs may have also taken a hit on the recruiting end during the draft. Two top prospects in USC’s incoming freshman class, first baseman Nick Pratto and pitcher Hans Crouse, were selected in the first two rounds, meaning they must pass up lucrative professional offers to don cardinal and gold next spring. The Kansas City Royals selected Pratto No. 14 overall, while the Texas Rangers picked Crouse 66th overall (Crouse’s older brother, Marrick, has pitched at USC for two seasons).
Highly touted shortstop recruit Nick Allen then went to the Oakland Athletics in the third round. The Milwaukee Brewers took outfielder Je’von Carrier-Ward in the 12th round; pitcher Kyle Hurt and third baseman Ben Ramirez went to the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs, respectively, in the late rounds.
Though very unlikely, USC now stands to lose six of its 15 incoming recruits. A disappointing 2017 season could lead to more high school commits trying their hand at professional baseball. The Trojans finished last in the Pac-12 this spring with a 21-34 overall record.