South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston touched on a number of topics after the Gamecocks held Scout Day on Thursday at Founders Park.
With a handful of draft-eligible juniors, including TJ Hopkins, LT Tolbert, Adam Hill, Jacob Olson and Chris Cullen – plus seniors Madison Stokes, Jonah Bride and Hunter Taylor, Kingston came away impressed with the team’s efforts for the scouts on hand.
“I thought a lot guys did some things to get scouts’ attention,” the Gamecocks first-year coach said. “Overall, the approach of the team was good. Saw pitchers that threw some pretty good velocity out there. We had some really good 60 times. Our batting practice today was pretty impressive in terms of power. I thought you saw a lot of good things out of our guys today.”
As fall practice gets into full swing, Taylor has been a player that is becoming more impressive to Kingston. The senior catcher from Onley, Virginia, played in 37 games last season and hit only .212 but has taken a leadership role.
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“Hunter Taylor is providing the most energy and leadership, I think,” Kingston said. “He has pro-level talent. What I want to do is just make sure he’s a confident kid. He works extremely hard, brings great energy to the game for us. I just want to make sure he understands that we think he’s a good player.”
Cullen was the starter last season until suffering a knee injury. He is still not back to 100 percent but is out battling every day. Kingston understands that at least two catchers will play, he’s just not sure how the innings will be dispersed yet. He does want to see improvement though.
“They’ve been solid, but we need to be better behind the plate,” Kingston said. “Chris Cullen is very talented as well. They’re all holding their ground, but they all need to be better.”
Sophomore pitcher Cody Morris also has impressed this fall. His fastball is reaching the 95-97 range after being in the low 90s last season, in which he went 3-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 10 starts.
“It’s just a matter now if he’s harnessing that,” Kingston said. “It’s one thing to throw hard; it’s another thing to make sure you’re a polished pitcher. He’s moving in that direction. He’s one of the guys under consideration to be a weekend guy.”
The Gamecocks scrimmaged after performing drills for the scouts, and freshman pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski had another solid outing.
“I thought Mlodzinski was really, really good today. Good fastball, good breaking ball, good poise,” Kingston said. “I thought he stood out among the young guys that pitched today. I thought he looked like he could really help us.”
Kingston also mentioned several freshmen have shown flashes at the plate. Kyle Jacobson, Noah Campbell, Ian Jenkins and Jordan Holladay all have to find places in the field but have shown they have the ability to perform at the plate.