Countless amateur baseball players around the country wait anxiously to hear their name come across the broadcast of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft each year. For College of Charleston junior Griffin McLarty, that dream became a reality last week when the Baltimore Orioles selected him with the first pick of the eighth round.
“I’ve had a great experience at CofC playing with friends and teammates that will last a lifetime,” said McLarty. “I owe a lot of my success to my family, peers, Coach Holbrook and Coach Dorton. I am very grateful for this opportunity and excited to represent CofC at the next level.”
McLarty is the first Cougar off the board in this year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft after being selected by the Orioles in the eighth round with the 228th overall pick last Tuesday. He is the first Cougar to be drafted in the opening 10 rounds since the Blue Jays selected Carl Wise in the fourth round of the 2015 draft.
“Griffin is a great kid,” said head coach Chad Holbrook. “He is truly a high character individual and his work ethic is unmatched. He’s a winner and also a great competitor. The Baltimore Orioles are getting a gem. He is the total package.”
McLarty delivered a superb junior season as the Cougars’ Friday night starter compiling an 8-4 record with a 1.87 earned run average to earn All-CAA First Team honors. He struck out 116 batters in 101 innings pitched to lead the CAA and rank among the top 20 in the nation. The three-time CAA Pitcher of the Week tossed a pair of complete games this season and allowed more than two earned runs on only four occasions.
A native of Buckner, Ky. McLarty ranks fifth in NCAA Division I this season in WHIP (0.84), 11th in ERA (1.87), 17th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.80), 18th in hits allowed per nine innings (5.79) and 19th in strikeouts (116). He ranks second on the program’s single-season list in strikeouts (116), third in WHIP (0.85) and sixth in ERA (1.87).
McLarty owns a lifetime record of 15-9 with a career ERA of 3.03 in 207.2 innings over 48 appearances. He is fourth all-time in strikeouts per nine innings (10.14), fifth in strikeouts (234), eighth in WHIP (1.13) and ninth in ERA (3.03). In his final appearance for The College, McLarty scattered five hits and struck out eight in eight and one-third shutout innings against William & Mary in the CAA Championship.
Two more College of Charleston Cougars received the phone call of a lifetime a day later as seniors Dupree Hart and Nathan Ocker were selected on the third day of the Major League Baseball Draft.
“I’m so happy for Nathan and Dupree,” said Holbrook. “Not only are they terrific players, but they are great kids. They have worked so hard in all aspects of their lives and they will always be awesome representatives of The College and our baseball program.”
Hart was the second Cougar off the board after being selected by the Washington Nationals in the 26th round with the 783rd overall pick. Ocker quickly followed suit when the Cleveland Indians snagged the Cougar closer with the 880th overall selection in the 29th round. The duo joins junior right-hander Griffin McLarty, who was selected by the Baltimore Orioles with the first pick of the eighth round yesterday. The Cougars’ three total draft picks this season are the program’s most since 2015.
Hart will go down as one of the best players to ever put on a College of Charleston uniform. The Rock Hill, S.C. native finished his career as the all-time leader in walks and ranked fourth in stolen bases, sixth in hits, eighth in sacrifices and 10th in runs scored. He was named the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and posted a career fielding percentage of .975 in more than 1,000 chances at second and center field.
The three-time All-CAA selection batted .305 with nine doubles, two home runs and a career-high 44 RBI’s as a senior while swiping a CAA-best 40 bags in the regular season. His 40 stolen bases this year rank eighth in the nation and place him second on the program’s single-season list. Hart owns a .292 lifetime batting average and is a former Freshman All-American in 2016.
“First I would like to thank God because I know without him, none of this is possible,” said Hart. “I would also like to thank my family, friends and all of Cougar Nation for their support. Last but not least I want to give a huge thank you to the coaching staff at the College of Charleston for all they have done for me and my teammates. Go Cougs.”
Ocker will forever be remembered as one of the most prolific relievers in program history after concluding his career ranked second all-time in saves (26), WHIP (0.97) and appearances (92). The Middletown, Pa. native also ranks third all-time in strikeouts per nine innings (10.24), sixth in strikeouts (215) and seventh in earned run average (3.00), and is second in CAA history in saves. He carries a 15-10 career record and has held opposing batters to a paltry .213 batting average in 189 innings pitched as a Cougar.
The 2019 All-CAA Second Team selection delivered a sensational senior season for the Cougars, collecting 12 saves to go along with a 2.45 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. Ocker ranks 22nd in the nation in saves this season and his 30 appearances are good for sixth on the program’s single-season list. He accumulated 10 saves in 2018 and set a single-season record with an other-worldly WHIP of 0.72.