Neff to sign with Giants

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Former LHS, Post 31 star in Arizona to complete deal

By Robert Howey



University of South Carolina junior pitcher Steven Neff will bypass his remaining eligibility with the Gamecocks to sign a contract with the San Francisco Giants.

Earlier this week, Neff flew to Scottsdale, Ariz., to compete some paperwork and undergo a physical. Neff, a former Lancaster High School and Lancaster Post 31 standout, was scheduled to sign with the Giants Thursday, or today.

He is expected to play with the Giants’ rookie league team, the Arizona League Giants.

“I’m just ready to get this paperwork done and begin playing baseball,” Neff said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

A southpaw, Neff was a 41st-round selection of the defending World Series champions in Major League Baseball’s First Year Player Draft last month. He went 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 12 appearances for the two-time defending College World Series champion Gamecocks this past season. His career mark with USC was 5-2.

The Lancaster Dixie Baseball product made his most notable contribution to the Gamecocks’ team this spring as a position player.

When the injury bug took a hard bite on the Gamecocks’ lineup, the versatile Neff was asked to contribute as an outfielder and designated hitter.

“I’ve always been a hitter,” said Neff, the 2007 S.C. Gatorade Player of the Year in his final season of high school baseball with the LHS Bruins under former coach Steve Williams. “I consider myself a hitter.”

Neff contributed at the plate for USC, drilling 12 extra-base hits, including five home runs. In 71 trips to the plate, Neff posted a .563 slugging percentage, including his five homers, third highest on the squad.

Neff did not make an appearance in the 2011 College World Series after working a third of an inning in a 4-3 loss to Oklahoma during the 2010 CWS when the Gamecocks won their first national title in baseball.

He is one of only a handful of Gamecocks’ players who will depart USC with two national championship rings.

Neff is the second USC underclassmen to depart the Gamecocks after starting shortstop Peter Mooney recently signed with the Toronto Blue Jays after being taken in the 21st round last month.

This season marks the third time in Neff’s baseball career he was selected in the annual MLB June draft.

He was taken in the 26th  round by the Pittsburgh Pirates following his senior campaign with Lancaster High School. Neff was selected in the 23rd round by the Kansas City Royals last season.

In 2010, Neff finished the season with a 4.21 earned run average and a 2-1 mark.

In 15.1 innings as a reliever out of the USC bullpen, Neff registered 16 strikeouts in 58 total at bats.

 He allowed seven earned runs and a home run on the season.

In 2009, Neff compiled five innings on the mound, yielding no runs and had four strikeouts.

Neff, in facing 17 batters, displayed promise, surrendering just three hits and three walks for the Gamecocks.

He had a medical-redshirt in 2008 after missing the entire season due to Tommy John surgery.

Neff is the son of Stan and Debbie Neff of Lancaster.

“We’re happy for Steven,” Stan Neff said. “The best part of it is that the two of the Giants’ minor league affiliates are on the East coast in Augusta and Richmond, which will give us a chance to see him play in the future.”