Luke Berryhill’s time at South Carolina is over.
Berryhill, a 13th round draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds, announced Friday that he has signed a pro contract. Jim Callis of MLB.com reported that Berryhill will receive a signing bonus of $149,500.
As a redshirt sophomore catcher, Berryhill had leverage with two years of eligibility to potentially return to school for at least one more season, and the Reds reportedly went over their draft bonus pool, meaning the most they could offer Berryhill for a signing bonus was $125,000 or face a penalty. Friday was the last day for draftees to sign pro deals.
For the Gamecocks, Berryhill emerged as one of the team’s steadiest offensive threats this past season, leading USC with 49 RBIs and finishing second with 12 home runs and 33 walks. He hit .271 with a .538 slugging percentage and .382 on-base percentage, while also catching nearly every game for Carolina.
As a catcher, Berryhill also displayed impressive speed, stealing eight bases on 11 attempts, tied for second most on the team. On defense, he threw out 13 of 52 would-be base-stealers. Throughout the fall of 2018, the JUCO transfer flashed elite tools and improvement that allowed him to crack the lineup. He also got fans’ attention with his singing ability at a men’s basketball game.
Initial reports indicated that coach Mark Kingston and his staff were confident Berryhill would return to school, but since the draft, the Gamecocks did add a pair of graduate transfers in Dallas Beaver and Bryant Bowen who have Division I experience behind the plate. Kingston will also have options with incoming freshman Jax Cash, a top-200 recruit according to Perfect Game, and rising sophomore Wes Clarke, who finished this past season strong at designated hitter.
Earlier this summer, JUCO catcher signee Luis Aviles flipped his commitment to Tulane after reportedly being kicked off his summer league team.
South Carolina baseball finished 2018 with a 28-28 record, setting the program record for losses in a season. The Gamecocks had 14 current players or signees taken in the draft — eight elected to sign, four with the Reds.
- Tyler Callihan, Cincinnati Reds
- Ivan Johnson, Cincinnati Reds
- TJ Hopkins, Cincinnati Reds
- Luke Berryhill, Cincinnati Reds
- Reid Morgan, Seattle Mariners
- Jacob Olson, Chicago Cubs
- Ridge Chapman, Los Angeles Angels
- James Nix, Houston Astros