Considering the number of talented shortstops set to enroll at South Carolina over the next few seasons, versatility may play a crucial role in playing time.
Junior college signee Tanner Lovick, Mallard Creek (N.C.) signee Mikal Hill and junior commitment Corey Seager are all standout shortstops with MLB Draft potential this summer or next. And don’t forget about Wando senior signee Connor Bright, another talented shortstop set to join the fray next season.
It’s possible that all or none of them will ever suit up for the Gamecocks, but it’s fairly certain that they all won’t play shortstop if they end up in Columbia. Wando coach Banks Faulkner is already projecting that Bright could give himself a chance to earn early playing time with a position change.
“He’s really versatile,” Faulkner said. “He plays shortstop for us, but at Carolina I think he’ll probably move to second base or move to the outfield. We’ve put him in the outfield at the end of a few scrimmages and he’s done really well. That might be his home.
“I think he’s probably a guy they will move around a lot. I think that’s one thing they liked about him. He can play a lot of positions. With the new bat rules in college, they like guys that can run and do a lot of things. That’s probably what’s going to help him get some early playing time.”
Faulkner, a scout with the Chicago White Sox, believes that Bright would likely start an outfield career in either right or left but says he has the athleticism to play center field. Bright runs the 60-yard dash in about 6.5 seconds, speed that he utilizes both on the base paths and to track down infield grounders.
The 6-foot, 165-pounder hasn’t fully grown into his frame, Faulkner said. Once his metabolism slows down, Bright could add 15 to 20 pounds of muscle.
Wando uses him as a chaos-causing leadoff hitter, though Faulkner has considered putting him in the No. 3 hole. Once Bright is able to reach first, it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll successfully steal second, creating opportunities for the hitters behind him in the lineup.
Bright does have some power at the high school level, but he’s mostly thrived as a line-drive hitter at Wando. Faulkner said he’s on when he’s driving the ball to the opposite field in right center.
Bright hit .495 with 31 RBIs, eight doubles and four home runs in 2010. He slugged .753 for the season.
“He’ll run into a few balls, but he’s a line-drive type of hitter,” Faulkner said. “ What were really trying to do with him is just tell him, ‘If you hit the ball on the ground, we’ve got a shot,’ because he runs really well.”