Former USC Aiken baseball standouts Stephen Carmon and Billy Rice received their 2013 minor league assignments this week.
A member of the San Diego Padres organization, Carmon will begin his second professional campaign with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) TinCaps of the Class A Midwest League. Rice will commence his second year in the Chicago White Sox organization with the Class A Advanced Winston-Salem (N.C.) Dash of the Carolina League.
Carmon was picked in the 10th Round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He was the seventh pick of the 10th round and the 315th pick overall.
In his first professional season, Carmon spent time with the short-season Class-A Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League and the Class-A Advanced Lake Elsinore Storm of the California League.
Rice is in his fourth season of pro ball, after spending his first two seasons in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. In 2011, he split his time between the Gulf Coast League and the South Atlantic League. Rice hit .293 in 35 games played with the Lakewood Blue Claws of the South Atlantic League in 2011.
Rice had been playing with the Camden River Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League in 2012 before signing with the White Sox. Rice was hitting .300 with 11 runs scored in 17 games for the Riversharks in 2012. Rice spent time with the Single-A Kannapolis Intimidators and the Dash in 2012.
Carmon and Rice are part of a long line of former Pacers to go on to play professional baseball. USCA has had 21 different Major League Baseball organizations draft or sign a former Pacer.
Carmon and Rice aren’t the only former Pacers playing currently as Gary Lee is currently a member of the Washington (Pa.) Wild Things of the independent Frontier League. Lee was chosen to the Frontier League All-Star Team in the 2012 season.
The former Pacers aren’t the only players with connections to Aiken that are pursuing professional baseball careers. The Tampa Bay Rays have two players in their organization with ties to the area.
Both Marty Gantt and Taylor Guerrieri are on the roster for the Bowling Green Hot Rods – the Rays Class A affiliate. Both Gantt and Guerrieri played for North Augusta High School but took different routes to the pros. Gantt went to college – first at Spartanburg Methodist, then at College of Charleston before the Rays took the left fielder in the seventh round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Guerrieri, a right-handed pitcher, spent his senior year at Spring Valley High School and was selected by the Rays in the first round (24th overall) of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Guerrieri is rated as the Rays’ No. 2 overall prospect by MLB.com and didn’t walk a batter in the 2012 season.
Another North Augusta alum playing professionally is Jackson Whitley. A first baseman, Whitley was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels and spent last season with AZL Angels. Whitley was picked in the 13th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, when the Angels took him with the 405th overall selection.
In high school, Whitley faced former South Aiken southpaw Andrew Faulkner, who’s currently a part of the Texas Rangers organization. The left-handed pitcher was selected in the 14th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and spent last season playing in the South Atlantic League for the Hickory Crawdads.