Several South Carolina baseball players are leaving the program in search of more playing time, including a catcher who produced one of the greatest stretches in USC history.
John Jones is the most notable name of six players set to transfer to another program, The State learned Wednesday.
Jones received minimal playing time as a junior in 2017, hitting .093 with a double, a homer and three RBIs.
As a sophomore, Jones played in 60 games with 55 starts and batted .269 with 11 doubles, seven homers and 49 RBIs.
Jones was named the SEC Player of the Week twice during his sophomore season. The first time came after he reached base in all 14 plate appearances in a weekend series against Penn State, finishing 8-for-8 with two homers, 10 RBIs and six walks in three games.
He was also honored a couple of weeks later after hitting a pair of home runs, including a game-winner, in a three-game sweep of Arkansas.
But Jones struggled in the second half of the 2016 season and was never able to get on track in 2017.
In addition to Jones, senior pitcher Brandon Murray, redshirt freshman pitcher Jonathan Jahn and redshirt freshman first baseman Joey Polak are set to transfer after being on USC’s active roster in 2017.
Of those three only Murray appeared in a game in 2017, finishing the season 0-1 with a 16.20 ERA in five innings pitched.
Jahn, a lefty, was rated as the No. 342 best high school prospect in the country by Perfect Game, while Polak was rated as the No. 165 best high school prospect in the country by Perfect Game. Polak also made Baseball America’s list of top 500 prospects for the 2016 draft, coming in at No. 435.
Two players who sat out the 2017 season will also transfer: sophomore pitcher Kyle Anderson and redshirt freshman pitcher Josh Gregory are on the move.
Anderson missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery; Gregory also was banged up in 2017 and sat out the year.
USC baseball coach Mark Kingston met with The State on Wednesday and did not want to discuss what players would be transferring but did say some would be on the move.
“There will always be roster turnover. Every school in the country every summer has roster turnover. We’ll be no different,” Kingston said.
NCAA rules state that 35 players can appear on the roster for Opening Day with 27 of those eligible to be on scholarship. Of those 27 the minimum scholarship amount is 25 percent. USC will continue to work this summer and into the fall to make all of the numbers work out.
“The numbers are a very complicated puzzle that every college coach has to try to figure out and fit their team into and we are no different,” Kingston said.