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Cisco signs on in Philly

It was already apparent that South Carolina would have a revamped batting lineup in 2009. Now it appears the starting pitching staff will look a lot different too.

Three of the five pitchers who comprised USC’s staff this season are headed to the pros. Junior Mike Cisco signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, while junior Will Atwood will probably join the Washington Nationals. Senior Nick Godwin is due to graduate.

Cisco was picked in the 36th round of last week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Attempts to reach the right-hander for comment were unsuccessful, but the Phillies’ minor league office confirmed Monday that Cisco had signed.

Cisco’s grandfather, Galen, served as the Phillies’ pitching coach from 1997-2000.

Meanwhile, Atwood told USC recruiting coordinator Monte Lee over the weekend that he planned to sign with the Nationals, who picked the left-hander in the 12th round.

“He indicated that he was looking for a little bit more money, but that he would sign,” Lee said.

For most of this season, Cisco and Atwood were USC’s top two starters. Cisco started every Friday and Atwood followed until the second-to-last weekend of the regular season, when coach Ray Tanner decided to move Godwin into the weekend rotation. That bumped Cisco into the bullpen and Atwood into the ace role.

The pair came out of the bullpen in the postseason, other than Atwood starting the third game of the SEC tournament.

Cisco finished the season 6-3 with a 4.82 ERA, while Atwood was 5-4 with a 5.25.

The Gamecocks’ two returning starting pitchers will be Sam Dyson (8-0, 4.09), who will be a redshirt sophomore, and Blake Cooper (5-6, 3.94), who will be a junior.

South Carolina is also set to lose its top four hitters. Senior Phil Disher signed with Houston, which selected the designated hitter in the 15th round. First-rounders Justin Smoak (Texas) and Reese Havens (New York Mets) and second-rounder James Darnell (San Diego) all said they hope to sign.

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.

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