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SPORTS LIBRARY, South Carolina, USC, baseball

Andy Peters always thought in the back of his head he’d get drafted this year, but maybe didn’t expect to go when he did.

But right in the middle of day three, the pitcher in the thick of Tommy John rehab heard his name in the 21st round by the Rays and, after a few days of thinking it over, decided to stick with his predraft plan and come to South Carolina.

“Obviously I did get drafted,” he told GamecockCentral, “and obviously there was a part of me that wanted to hold out and see if I could get the number I asked for but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I wasn’t going to get what I was looking for and I’d be going to South Carolina.”

Now, he’s due on campus sometime this week to move in and begin rehab with the Gamecock training staff.

Right now he’s going to rehab a few days a week and do cardio but hasn’t been able to do a lot of weight training or arm conditioning coming off surgery in February.

But when he gets to Columbia, things will start to progress slowly but surely.

He’ll begin light tossing at the end of the month and continue from there with the hope of being full tilt and ready to pitch by mid to late February around the start of the season.

“Once I get to campus, I get to start throwing again, so that’s probably the biggest thing,” Peters said. “Being able to finally get back into a weightlifting thing, it just means it’s back to normal everyday activities that I haven’t done the past three and a half or four months.”

Peters was a highly rated junior college prospect coming out of John A. Logan with his fastball in the mid-90s before injury and was catching the eyes of a lot of major league scouts.

Now that he’ll come to school, he knows his role, at least right as he’s coming back from injury, will likely be out of the bullpen. But he hopes to work himself into the starter conversation by the end of the year.

“I have a feeling I’m going to end up as a reliever at the beginning just to build my stamina,” Peters said. “Obviously I’d like to be a starter, that’s the goal anyone would want. I’m happy with whatever role they put me in, but I do hope to compete for a starting spot by the end of the year. I hope I can show what I have and can help the team in that role.”

Peters is one of nine Gamecock signees to get drafted this year — most in the country — and the majority should be making it to campus sometime before school starts in August. Tyler Callihan and Ivan Johnson have already signed with the Cincinnati Reds.

The Gamecocks have what head coach Mark Kingston called the best class of junior college talent in the country, which is something that excites Peters entering this 2020 season.

“I’ve been talking to a few of the guys that I’m going to be rooming with. It’s definitely a good group of guys. Seeing some of the accolades the other group of guys has is pretty awesome. I’m excited for what’s to come,” Peters said. “I saw a tweet where South Carolina had the most drafted signees and I’m pretty sure most everyone is going to end up on campus except for maybe one or two of us. I’m ready to get after it and compete for an SEC title and everything that comes with it.”

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Collyn Taylor reports for www.gamecockcentral.com, the www.rivals.com affiliate devoted to USC athletics.

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