Last year’s national championship thrust South Carolina’s baseball program into the limelight, giving the Gamecocks unprecedented exposure throughout the nation.
That should allow Chad Holbrook and Co. to expand their recruiting reach nationally to areas that might have been prohibitive in the past. It appears that’s already the case.
In the Class of 2011, USC landed the No. 1 prospect in the state of Michigan (Joel Seddon) and No. 6 prospect in the state of Massachusetts (Robert DeCosmo). Nobody on the program’s current roster hails from either of those two states.
DeCosmo, rated the nation’s 188th-best overall prospect by PG Crosschecker, is an intriguing pitcher. The Cathedral (Mass.) right-handed starter committed to the Gamecocks over North Carolina last summer.
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USC can partially thank fellow signee T.J. Costen, an infielder from First Colonial (Va.), for helping pull DeCosmo toward Columbia. Costen and DeCosmo had developed a friendship as competitors over the years and ultimately decided they wanted to see what type of teammates they would make in college.
“They had a mutual appreciate for one another’s talents, and T.J. was one of the catalysts for Robert,” said Tom DeCosmo, Robert’s father.
DeCosmo has plenty of experience playing baseball in the South. He’s spent the last two offseasons playing on a travel team based outside of Atlanta, which is how he emerged on the recruiting radar of so many schools in the SEC and ACC.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has a fastball that usually clocks in around 91 miles per hour. He also throws a changeup, a curveball and a budding slider. He does most of his damage on the prep level with his fastball and changeup.
His skills have been developing for the better part of a decade. He started pitching when he was just 8 years old, so he’s become a grizzled veteran on the mound.
“He pretty much played every sport,” Tom DeCosmo said. “But once you throw a baseball in the 90s and you’re on the pitching staff, they tell you they don’t want you hitting anymore. That’s when he started calling himself a pitcher about two years ago.
“He’s a big, young boy who has always had a God-given talent to throw a baseball. He just loves the game of baseball.”
DeCosmo is still pretty fresh, too. He didn’t get many innings on the mound in Little League because he was too overwhelming, once striking out 141 of 144 batters with a fastball that reached 83 miles per hour.
It remains to be seen how DeCosmo’s talents will translate to the college game. The elder DeCosmo said USC’s coaches have said they will give his son the opportunity to earn innings as a freshman, some of them perhaps even as a starter.
“We’re very happy he chose South Carolina,” Tom DeCosmo said. “He really enjoyed his two visits there. We made an unofficial visit and then an official visit. He really liked coach Holbrook and coach [Jerry] Meyers. He’s really looking forward to coming down.”