Chad Holbrook held a post-fall practice wrapup press conference on Thursday. Here is a summary of what he said:
Fall practice was very productive. Chance to see some of the new guys play. Some guys played more than expected because of some injuries. Pitchers were impressive and stayed healthy.
Chris Cullen led the team in batting in the fall even with tender arm. Swung the bat at high level and led Gamecocks in extra base hits. He is more physical, strong and mature. Very confident. He has chance to be special.
Several injured players: SS Justin Row had knee cleaned out midway through fall. Working out now in individual sessions. Cullen and John Jones also had minor knee surgeries. Hunter Taylor pulled hamstring. Tyler Haswell separated shoulder in off-the-field incident. All should be 100 percent by start of preseason camp.
Schmidt, Crowe and Hill "in the conversation" for opening day starter. All 3 are candidates for weekend rotation. Schmidt & Crowe are probably definites. They will battle for Friday night starter role. Hill has improved greatly.
John Jones has worked hard in weight room. Worked hard n weght room. Much stronger. Swung bat well in the fall. K's were down, which was a concern last year. Hit over .300 in fall. Very good makeup. team guy. Dealt with back issue last season.
Tyler Johnson went slow this fall after pitching for Team USA in the summer. Most likely will be the closer.Will take it easy in NOvember + early December. Should be ready to go in January.
Josh Reagan and Reed Scott both pitched well. Back end of bullpen has lots of experience and maturity. They know what it's like to get the final out of a game.
McIlwain still committed to baseball. Excited to join the team. Needs to get over to ballpark in January after FB season ends. Has to catch-up first & then battle for playing time. He has the talent to play and be a contributor. Last year, he was outside looking in, so he rightfully focused on FB.
Crowe has had a long road with Tommy John surgery. Last pitched in April 2015. Got velocity back in summer. Struggled with control. But that is normal. Much better prepared for fall. Pitched very well in the fall.
Just wants team to play up to potential. They are motivated to take next step. They are ready to go. Belief is Gamecocks have the chance to have a good team. They have worked hard. Expectations are always high at USC.
Second and shortstop are question marks since Mooney & Arendas no longer here. Stokes and Tolbert could play there. Will be some new players on the field.
Best spots for Destino are OF & DH. He has best peace of minds at those spots, allowing him to hit.
Shaping up to be a very versatile team. Lots of guys can play multiple spots.