#8 South Carolina Baseball 2015 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks

Overall Rank: #8
Conference Rank: #4 SEC
#8 South Carolina Baseball 2015 Preview
South Carolina Team Page


South Carolina couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2014 campaign. The Gamecocks won their first 16 games and were 26-3 on the first weekend of April. Highlighting that run was a 48-inning streak where Gamecock pitchers didn’t allow a run. South Carolina went just 18-15 the rest of the year though as injuries mounted. To cap off the season, South Carolina was beaten by Maryland in a regional the Gamecocks hosted. That’s going to leave a bad taste in this team’s mouth and you can expect them to rebound in 2015.

2014: 44-18, 18-12
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Chad Holbrook

Field Players:
The Gamecocks lose the core of last year’s lineup in Grayson Greiner, Joey Pankake and Tanner English. Starters since they were freshmen, the trio combined for 121 runs, 14 home runs and 106 RBI’s last season. Greiner and Pankake were regulars in the middle of the order, while English served as the nine-hole hitter and stole 21 of the teams 47 bases. Those are three huge losses, but the rest of the lineup returns intact. Kyle Martin will return to the cleanup spot where he hit a team high .336 last year. Martin was also second on the team with 38 RBI’s and tied for second in home runs, five. Building around Martin will be three players who saw their seasons cut short due to injuries. Senior outfielder Connor Bright was having a solid junior season, hitting .311 with 24 RBI’s, but an elbow injury ended his year in late April. Junior infielder Max Schrock put together a nice season statistically, hitting .299 with five home runs, 20 RBI’s and a .472 slugging percentage, but he was limited to just 35 games as he suffered from an illness and back problems. Senior outfielder Elliott Caldwell was a highly touted junior college transfer last season, but his season was cut short by six weeks due to a back injury. All three figure to maintain everyday roles this season and should play big roles in replacing the lost production.

Junior shortstop Marcus Mooney will be back in his leadoff spot again this year after posting a .380 on base percentage last year. Mooney was one of three regulars, joining third baseman DC Ardenas and outfielder Geon Cone, that hit less that .275 but posted on base percentages over .370. Cone will have an expanded role this season as he is tasked with replacing English in center field. Replacing Greiner behind the plate will be the toughest task. South Carolina has three catchers on the roster, but just one, Logan Koch, has seen playing time. A former highly touted prospect, Koch is the lone returning catcher, and given his familiarity with the pitching staff, the sophomore is the front-runner for the starting job.

It’s not uncommon for teams to lose a key piece of their weekend rotation and their closer as South Carolina does. The Gamecocks lost their Friday night starter in Jordan Montgomery and 14 save closer Joel Seddon. What South Carolina has to replace them with could be considered and embarrassment of riches. The Gamecocks have two weekend starters in Will Crowe, 8-3 with a 2.75 ERA, and Jack Wynkoop, 7-6 with a 2.86 ERA, back along with five relievers who finished last season with sub 2.00 ERA’s. Senior Cody Mincey led the team in appearances with 29 and went 5-0 with a 1.04 ERA, while junior Vince Fiori finished with a 1.37 ERA in 19.2 innings of work. Three sophomores joined the veterans in the category. Taylor Widener and Reed Scott each topped 40 innings of work and classmate Josh Reagan allowed just one earned run in 25.1 innings of work, sporting a 0.36 ERA. Together, the five players went 14-0 record wise. That’s impressive, but it isn’t the extent of the arms that South Carolina has to choose from. Redshirt freshman Canaan Cropper is back after Tommy John surgery a year ago and he could have a big role in the bullpen. Freshman Clarke Schmidt could be in the mix for the Sunday spot along with Widener, and a pair of other freshmen, Brandon Murray and Alex Destino will push for work on the mound. This staff has the chance to be one of the more impressive collections of talent in the entire country.

Who to Watch:
South Carolina’s player to watch is freshman Alex Destino. A two-way player, Destino figures to hit in the middle of the order as the DH and could feature in a prominent role on the mound. The six-foot-two lefthander was rated the 53rd best high school prospect by Perfect Game and the 68th best by Baseball America. Destino’s abilities were on display for the 18U USA National team in 2013 when he hit over .400 and added a victory on the mound over Japan in pool play. Destino also hit 15 home runs as a high school senior last season and struck out 116 batters in just 73.1 innings. This is a player with big time potential and he could be key in taking South Carolina to the next level.

Final Projection:
South Carolina has been one of the dominant programs in recent years. Since appearing in three College World Series finals from 2010-2012, two of which were national championship wins, the Gamecocks have failed to return to Omaha. It will be tough to deny this program a third straight year. Kicking off the season with the College of Charleston is a tough test. Their rivalry with Clemson is also a big early season series. Both of those series are very winnable for the Gamecocks though. So is the rest of the nonconference schedule. South Carolina also gets Vanderbilt and LSU at home in SEC play. That’s huge. With all the pieces back, this is a College World Series team with the ability to make a serious run at a title.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Kyle Martin, 1B, 244
Hits: Kyle Martin, 1B, 82
Home Runs: Kyle Martin 1B, 5; Max Schrock, IF, 5
RBIs: Kyle Martin, 1B, 38
Runs: Kyle Martin, 1B, 35
Stolen Bases: Connor Bright, OF, 4; Max Schrock, IF, 4; Elliott Caldwell, OF, 4; Geno Cone, OF, 4

Wins: Will Crowe, P, 8
Innings Pitched: Will Crowe, P, 91.2
Strikeouts: Will Crowe, P, 59
Saves: Cody Mincey, P, 1

Madness 2015 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#3 Alex Destino
#29 Brandon Murray


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