Matt Connolly

Holbrook believes 2017 recruiting class can get USC back on track

After South Carolina missed the NCAA tournament in 2015, a top-10 recruiting class helped the Gamecocks reach a Super Regional the following year.

With USC missing out on the postseason again in 2017, Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said another group of talented newcomers can help the Gamecocks have another quick turnaround and reach the postseason and the College World Series next season.

South Carolina’s class is ranked No. 10 by Perfect Game and will be viewed as a success, as long as the Gamecocks don’t lose too many players to the MLB draft later this month.

“We’ve got an incredible recruiting class coming in next year,” Holbrook said. “Some of the recruits we have coming in are top 100 kids in the country and are champing at the bit to get in the mix and help the Gamecocks get back in the top 10 and have an opportunity to go to the College World Series.”

One of the headliners of the class is outfielder Kyle Jacobsen.

The Georgia native is considered to be one of the top 100 high school prospects in the country, and will have to choose between USC or beginning his professional baseball career immediately.

Catcher Luis Campusano, of Georgia, is also a highly rated prospect who could be drafted high enough to skip college, as could pitchers Logan Chapman of Easley, Ridge Chapman of Spartanburg Methodist College, Corey Stone of Mid-Carolina and Carmen Mlodzinski of Hilton Head. Logan Chapman said his plan is to enroll at USC.

“Some of those guys are going to have an opportunity to play pro baseball and we’re doing our part right now to make sure they know and realize how special their experience will be here so that we’ll be able to put one of the best teams in college baseball on the field next year,” Holbrook said.

The Gamecocks should return the majority of their starting nine for 2018, but finding the pitching depth to replace two weekend starters and the top four bullpen arms will be tough.

Logan Chapman, Ridge Chapman and Stone could compete for a weekend starter or midweek starter role, while Mlodzinski, Shane Roberts, and Jack Stamler should, at a minimum, provide bullpen depth.

“We’re totally excited about the pitchers we have returning and the pitchers we have coming in. We have Gatorade Players of the Year coming in. We have some Junior College All-American types coming in. We have a number of arms coming in,” Holbrook said. “I think I got that same question in 2015 after we lost some guys and people didn’t know who Clarke Schmidt was and who Braden Webb was and who Adam Hill was. We’ve got some of those guys waiting in the wings to show up here and show that they are pretty darn good. To be honest with you, I’m extremely excited about our pitching staff next year, even though we lost a number of them.”

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