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September 17, 2013
Without a doubt, the resumes are impressive.
South Carolina's fall baseball roster features 11 true freshman hurlers and some are expected to fill vital roles next spring when the 2014 season gets underway.
Will Crowe, a 6-foot-1, 230 pound righthander, was the 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Tennessee, compiling a 15-1 record and 0.46 ERA in 91 innings with an astounding 172 strikeouts.
John Parke, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound southpaw from Greenville, was rated the No. 6 overall prospect in South Carolina for the 2013 MLB Draft by Baseball America, and the No. 1 lefthanded pitcher.
Josh Reagan, a lefthander from Lexington High School, spun a three-hitter in the state championship game, helping the Wildcats capture the Class AAAA championship. As a senior, he was 11-0 with a 1.13 ERA and six complete games with 75 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched.
And on and on.
Simply, this could be the most talented incoming class of young pitchers the Gamecocks have possessed in a long time, and possibly one of the most important in terms of innings.
"We have a lot of young pitchers that are going to have to take on some pretty prominent roles this year," Holbrook said. "That's always a concern when you're going to have some freshmen in prominent roles. I'm anxious to see those guys compete against older guys, college hitters."
Demonstrating the aptitude to get hitters out in the fall is essential for the young pitchers because USC lost 55 percent of its innings pitched from a year ago with the departures of seniors Nolan Belcher (117.0 IP), Adam Westmoreland (66.0), Colby Holmes (55.0), Tyler Webb (43.0 + 17 saves) and Patrick Sullivan (25.1).
Holbrook is optimistic the freshmen will be capable of filling the void in spite of the their inexperience of pitching in a pressure-packed regular season environment with 8,000 onlookers at Carolina Stadium.
"We have a number of new guys that are very talented, but they haven' thrown to a college hitter yet," Holbrook said. "It goes on and on. We have some talented guys. It will be fun watching those guys compete against each other and see what we have from a pitching staff standpoint because we lost some innings.
"We lost a lot of innings from Tyler Webb and Adam Westmoreland and Nolan Belcher. We have some holes to fill on the mound. Those young guys are chomping at the bit to show us what they can do and our coaches are anxious to watch them."
In addition to the aforementioned trio, other freshman pitchers eyeing significant roles in 2014 include Canaan Cropper (No. 2 best high school prospect in Maryland), Tyler Haswell (No. 26-best high prospect in Georgia), Reed Scott (10-1 with 1.92 ERA as a junior in 2012) and Matthew Vogel (No. 3 best high school prospect in state of New York).
They share one common trait - all are right-handed pitchers, a major deficiency for the Gamecocks last season.
"There's definitely some uncertainty in terms of what we've got," USC pitching coach Jerry Meyers said. "We have a lot of candidates coming in, but we've lost about 50 percent of our innings and they were impact innings. You're taking about a setup man (Westmoreland), a closer (Webb) and some guys that anchored our rotation (Belcher, Holmes).
"Having (Jordan) Montgomery back helps and staying healthy is key, but the new guys contributing right away is what we're looking for. Hopefully, we'll answer some of those questions this fall."
Beyond Montgomery and sophomore Jack Wynkoop (7-3, 3.09 ERA in 64 IP), the weekend rotation is missing one piece. Could one of the freshmen fill that critically important role?
"There is a list of guys and the fall is going to be a big determining factor for a lot of guys," Meyers said. "We're perhaps going to be a little more open-minded than we have been in the past. Very rarely do you have a guy come in that has just been a reliever in high school. We want to take a look and put them in some different spots and see.
"We have some freshmen that have started in high school and done very well. We have to take a look and see if they can rise to the occasion."
Crowe, who was drafted in the 31st round by the Cleveland Indians in June, was rated as highly as the No. 36-best prospect for the 2013 MLB Draft. He certainly possesses the credentials to become a weekend starter from Day 1.
"Will Crowe is one of those that as a freshman, you think he is a future starter down the road," Meyers said. "Whether that means he is going to start right off the bat or he's a guy that comes out of the bullpen. However, we need to use him based on the complexion of the rest of the staff is going to be the key."
FALL PITCHING ROSTER:
Evan Beal, RHP (Jr.)
Curt Britt, RHP (So.)
Canaan Cropper, RHP (Fr.)
Will Crowe, RHP (Fr.)
Vince Fiori, LHP (So.)
Jordan Gore, RHP (Fr.)(Also listed at shortstop)
Tyler Haswell, RHP (Fr.)
Austin Hill, RHP (Fr.)
Preston Johnson, RHP Jr.)
Josh Knab, RHP (Sr.)
Forrest Koumas, RHP (Sr.)
Robert Lawhon, RHP (Jr.)
Trey McNickle, RHP (Jr.)
Cody Mincey, RHP (Jr.)
Jordan Montgomery, LHP (Jr.)
Kris Nelson, RHP (Jr.)
John Parke, LHP (Fr.)
Hunter Privette, RHP (Sr.)
Josh Reagan, LHP (Fr.)
Alex Satterfield, RHP (So.)
Joel Seddon, RHP (Jr.)
Reed Scott, RHP (Fr.)
Jackson Smith, RHP (Fr.)
Matthew Vogel, RHP (Fr.)
Taylor Widener, RHP (Fr.)(Also listed at 1B)
NOTE: Final Roster will be released before Opening Day in February
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