South Carolina has had one postseason appearance since winning the SEC East in 2016. Last year was going to be close to make it. Mark Kingston is hopeful that in his fourth year as head coach he can bring Carolina back to the type of success they enjoyed nearly a decade ago.
2019 Record: 28-28 (8-22)
2020 Record: 12-4
Perfect Game Recruiting Class: 4th
The 2020 season wasn’t off to the best start for the Gamecocks. Carolina was already losers of two weekend series in the young season. Northwestern took two extra inning games in Columbia to take the series. And in-state rivals Clemson won two out of three as well.
The expectations weren’t lofty for South Carolina last year. A postseason appearance is always welcome but it was going to be a tall task for one of the conference’s younger teams. The good news is most of that team is back with more experience and little production missing.
JUCO Thomas Farr is the favorite on the staff to be the Friday night ace. The JUCO won all three starts last year after working up to the Saturday spot by season’s end. He brings one of the better fastballs in the conference that’s upwards of 97mph and switches it up with a really good changeup.
Behind him is another JUCO talent Brannon Jordan. Like Farr, Jordan returns with quality starting experience as the Sunday guy from last year. He posted a 1.71 ERA in his four starts and struck out an absurd 32 batters. The one-two punch of Farr and Jordan lacks SEC experience but has plenty of talent to battle the league.
The final spot is a little up in the air. Third year Julian Bosnic is the favorite after pitching four bullpen outings a year ago. The lefty struggles with command and will need to get his walk count down. Two newcomers in a loaded recruiting class could battle with Bosnic. Southpaws Magdiel Cotto and Jackson Phipps are two freshman who’s future the Gamecocks are very excited about.
The hitting should really take off this year for the Gamecocks, who return most of the bats from last year’s lineup. The most notorious of those is Wes Clarke. The slugger was already at eight homeruns in 56 at bats last season to go along with a team leading 22 RBI’s.
Joining him with a power bat is Andrew Eyster. The senior had clubbed four homeruns last season and was on pace to best his 10 homerun total from 2019. Between the two of them, the Gamecocks could be looking at a pair of 15+ homerun bats in the heart of their lineup.
A pair of new faces are going to be bats to watch this year. Incoming freshman and top recruit from the class Brandon Fields should provide a boost right away. And though not a newcomer, Brennan Milone saw little time last year before injury. He was selected to the first-team Coastal Plain League this summer and will be a welcome addition to the lineup.
Another blue-chip freshman from a Palmetto State school, @GamecockBasebll infielder Brennan Milone, just cranked an opposite-field two-run homer to give @GoBlowfish an early lead. Really like his swing and approach, and there's room for projection in his frame. Gonna be a star. pic.twitter.com/iVPpuSZiIH
— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) July 10, 2020
South Carolina certainly has all the pieces to compete this year, and there’s a reason they’re starting out ranked No.18. The lineup should improve upon where they were last year and potentially receive a big boost from some new bats.
The bullpen, though not touched on, is one of the stronger pens in the conference. Add in a lot of experience in the starting rotation and it’s a recipe to challenge Vanderbilt and Florida in the East. If Farr and Jordan can translate their success into conference play with their first SEC starts, Carolina will be a well-balanced, lethal team.
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