Friday, May 8, 2015

Everett Golson is Not the Answer for Gamecocks

The latest reports have Everett Golson set to visit South Carolina and most likely Georgia next week as he decides where to transfer. It appears the majority of Gamecock Nation seems to think Golson is the answer at QB for the 2015 season. They would be wrong.

First off, I don't think he will choose South Carolina. He is said to be looking for a place where he can play right away. That would mean Spurrier would have to give him some kind of verbal guarantee that the job is his if he comes here. I just don't see Spurrier doing that. This is the same guy who would bench Danny Wuerffel during his Heisman season.

Secondly, SEC rules may not let Golson come to South Carolina. Golson had academic integrity issues at Notre Dame and under SEC rules a player transferring into the conference who has that on their record would need special permission from Mike Slive. Slive may allow it, but if he did, it would be the first time. That is far from a slam dunk.

If Golson did end up here it would hurt the Gamecocks more than it would help them. The argument for Golson coming is that he is a proven commodity and saves us from having to play Connor Mitch who has yet to see real significant action. That solution only puts us in the same position next year with Connor Mitch and that is if he stays.

Yeah, if he stays. If you are Connor Mitch would you be real happy that Spurrier just gave Golson the job over you seconds after he walks in off the street and into the program? I don't think so.

Golson was a good quarterback at Notre Dame but he did have his issues. He is not the most accurate quarterback and had turnover issues at times. This was all with an offense he knew and had been in for some time. Do you really think he could come to Carolina in August and know the offense well enough to be effective at all this season let alone a month later in Charlotte against the Tar Heels? I don't think so.

Jacob Coker transferred from Florida State to Alabama and wasn't good enough under a new offense to beat out a pretty average Blake Sims. Coker is ten times more talented than Golson and Bama's offense is ten times simpler than a Steve Spurrier offense.

Russell Wilson is the only quarterback recently who made the jump and was effective and successful right away. Of course, we have come to know Wilson as being very special and a mental freak. He is the exception that proves the rule.

I have no idea how good Connor Mitch is going to be and neither do you, don't lie. I do know Spurrier loved him coming out of high school. Give Mitch the job and see what he can do. It is the only way we are going to find out if he can play. Golson is not the answer. Trust me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Youth and Lack of Talent Plague Gamecock Baseball

Why have the Gamecocks struggled this year? The easy and unreasonable explanation is to blame it all on Chad Holbrook. The simple truth is that the Gamecocks are young and lack talent. This theory has some weight behind it as Keith Law just released his Top 100 MLB Draft prospects for this June. These are a collection of high school kids and college kids who have played at least three seasons. The Gamecocks don't have one player to make the Top 100. You can blame it on youth or lack of talent but those are the facts.

By contrast, Vanderbilt has two players in the top ten alone. The Gamecocks need more experience and more talent. They will get that next year thanks to some talented JUCO players along with some impact high school kids. The 2008 and 2009 seasons were similar to this one, no not quite as bad but similar issues. This was before the notion began that Ray Tanner could do no wrong.

Here is the complete list of prospects for the June draft with the write ups done by Keith Law

1. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary (Fla.) High School

If there's a consensus top player in this draft, Rodgers is it. He's a strong shortstop who has the hands and arm to stick at the position, a great feel for hitting, good performance against top competition last summer and the chance for above-average power in the future.

2. Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona

The best college hitter in the class, Newman can stay at shortstop, is a plus runner and has hit everywhere he has played by employing great hand-eye coordination and excellent bat speed. The lack of power might turn off some teams, but he's strong enough to drive the ball once he closes his stance.

3. Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt

A strong performer in the best conference, Swanson can stay at shortstop in pro ball despite having just an average arm, thanks to his great athleticism and instincts. He also has a good eye at the plate, with some propensity to swing and miss being the only concern.

4. Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara

The best pure college starter in the class, Tate will show 98 mph in most starts, albeit without great command. His best fastball is going to be more 92-95, with good location. His slider is his one swing-and-miss pitch right now, with the changeup being a work in progress.

5. Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente (Calif.) High School

Allard's year ended early due to a stress reaction in his lower back, but his long-term prognosis is fine, and he was the clear No. 1 prep arm last summer. He's a six-foot -- if that -- southpaw with a plus curveball, solid-average fastball (if not better) and ability to throw both for strikes without much effort.

6. Alex Bregman, SS, LSU

If Newman isn't the best college bat in the class, then Bregman, who strikes out about once per solar eclipse, probably is. He's deceptively strong for his 5-foot-8 or so frame, and while he'll probably move to second base by the time he reaches the majors, it won't be due to any lack of effort or instincts.

7. Ian Happ, OF, Cincinnati

Happ has played all year despite having surgery for a double hernia about a week before the Bearcats' first game. This makes his .369/.495/.682 line all the more impressive. Happ does strike out more than you'd like, and his ultimate position isn't clear since he hasn't been 100 percent all spring.

8. Garrett Whitley, CF, Niskayuna (N.Y.) High School

Whitley's spring season is very short, starting in early April and ending mid-May, but he has quickly emerged as the leading tools-position player in the class, with power, speed, arm and enough athleticism and feel to profile in center field.

9. Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt

Buehler shows three pitches, all above-average, with above-average command and a very aggressive approach. He might be the first college pitcher taken anyway, but if he had a bigger, stronger frame, he'd be a top-overall-pick candidate.

10. Kyle Tucker, OF, Plant High School (Tampa)

Tucker started slowly this spring but quickly established himself as one of the best pure hitters in the draft, with the chance for future plus hit and power tools, as well as the arm to profile in right field, if and when he moves out of center.

11. 11. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville

Big, strong and somewhat raw as a pitcher, Funkhouser has the size and durability that scouts want. He has a fastball in the 92-95 range that he maintains deep into games and improved control this year. He's keeping the ball down somewhat more effectively and has given up just 10 extra-base hits (no home runs) through 82 innings.

12. Mike Nikorak, RHP, Stroudsburg (Pa.) High School

Nikorak bulked up this offseason, so he looks more like a major league pitcher. But he has lost a little fluidity in his delivery, which is longer now and harder for him to repeat. When he's on, though, it's beautiful, as he'll work 92-97 and flash a plus curveball.

13. Daz Cameron, CF, Eagle's Landing Christian Academy (McDonough, Ga.)

Former major leaguer Mike Cameron's son has a lot of above-average tools but no standout grade-70 or -80 tool. He profiles as a center fielder who hits for average and some power, while adding some value on defense and on the bases.

14. Trenton Clark, OF, Richland High School (North Richland Hills, Texas)

Clark has had an abbreviated spring due to injury and miserable weather in north Texas, but he was one of the best hitters on the circuit all of last summer and still has the promise of a plus hit tool with at least average power.

15. Nick Plummer, OF, Brother Rice High School (Lathrup Village, Mich.)

Plummer raked at the Area Code Games last summer, then showed up to the Perfect Game showcase in Jupiter a little heavier, causing some concern about what his body might look like when mature. He's in better shape again this spring, but scouting him is difficult because his league starts all hitters with a 1-1 count, so scouts have to be confident in the future-plus hit tool he showed last August.

16. Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois

Jay's misuse at the hands of Illinois coach Dan Hartlieb has been a constant topic of conversation among scouts and executives this spring. No MLB team would ever put its best starter in the bullpen, but that's what the Illini have done. They took a three-pitch lefty with plus-plus control and the ability to hold his velocity, and turned him into an infrequently used reliever who is hard for teams to scout. He would have been a top-five pick had he been used as a starter all year and he continued to show the kind of stuff he has in his longest relief outings this spring.

17. Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain High School (Kennesaw, Ga.)

Stephenson has a classic right-handed power hitter's swing and a plus arm that's extremely accurate, although he's very big for a catcher. Teams have to buy that the bat will play even if he has to move to right field.

18. Donny Everett, RHP, Clarksville (Tenn.) High School

Everett is like the prep version of Funkhouser, with size and big velocity, control but not command, and a breaking ball that's still a work in progress. He has some effort in his delivery that will have to be smoothed out just so he can get to 45 command, but he has close to top-of-the-rotation upside if you really dream on it.

19. Mike Matuella, RHP, Duke

Matuella's spring was wiped out by Tommy John surgery, but his back issues never recurred and he should be in line for a first-round selection anyway, just as Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde were last spring (although both of those guys pitched quite a bit before their injuries).

20. Nate Kirby, LHP, Virginia

Kirby had been erratic this spring and was tumbling even before a latissimus dorsi strain ended his spring. This puts teams in the middle to back of the round in a good spot to grab a lefty who doesn't have a consistent second pitch between his changeup or slider – during one outing the change would be the better pitch, the next appearance he'd show a plus slider but not the changeup -- but was once considered a likely top-five selection.

21. Chris Betts, C, Wilson High School (Long Beach, Calif.)

There's not much at catcher in this draft, which makes Betts and the aforementioned Stephenson even more attractive. Betts has power and feel to hit, with teams thinking he could be a Brian McCann-style offensive catcher, given time.

22. Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State

Harris' season started a bit late due to an ankle injury, but he has rolled since, outside of one disastrous outing against powerhouse Tennessee-Martin* (* = not an actual powerhouse), showing above-average control of a promising fastball/slider combination.

23. Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Concordia Lutheran High School (Tomball, Texas)

The son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes, Ke'Bryan is one of the best defensive infielders in the class, high school or college, with outstanding hands at third base, along with very good reads and a plus arm. He hasn't hit many home runs in high school, but has good feel to hit and makes hard enough contact that he should develop average power as he gets older.

24. Drew Finley, RHP, Rancho Bernardo High School (San Diego)

In this draft, there are a lot of very good projectable high-school arms who bring some present skill to the table -- deception, command or, in Finley's case, a plus curveball -- which should entice teams that aren't just velocity-chasers. Finley, the son of Dodgers exec and former Red Sox/Marlins scout Dave Finley (who originally signed Adrian Gonzalez out of high school), has good control of an average fastball and recently set the state's single-game strikeout record with 20.

25. Scott Kingery, 2B, Arizona

Kingery came on fast this spring after a move from center field to second base in the offseason. He's only 5-foot-8, at most, but is a 70 runner with a great eye at the plate and plenty of hand strength to hit for doubles power. He's also leading all major-conference hitters in batting average at .416.

26. Brady Aiken, LHP, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)

27. James Kaprelian, RHP, UCLA

28. Juan Hillman, LHP, Olympia High School (Orlando, Fla.)

29. Justin Maese, RHP, Ysleta High School (El Paso, Texas)

30. Jacob Nix, RHP, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)

31. Ashe Russell, RHP, Cathedral High School (Indianapolis)

32. Kyler Murray, SS (and QB), Allen (Texas) High School

33. Kep Brown, 1B, Wando High School (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.)

34. Cody Ponce, RHP, Cal Poly-Pomona

35. Tristan Beck, RHP, Corona (Calif.) High School

36. Mitchell Hansen, OF, Plano (Texas) High School

37. Cornelius Randolph, IF, Griffin (Ga.) High School

38. Andrew Benintendi, CF, Arkansas

39. Phil Bickford, RHP, College of Southern Nevada

40. Jacob Woodford, RHP, Plant High School (Tampa)

41. 18. Dakota Chalmers, RHP, North Forsyth High School (Cumming, Ga.)

42. Alonzo Jones, 3B, Columbus (Ga.) High School

43. Joe McCarthy, OF, Virginia

44. Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt

45. Lucas Herbert, C, San Clemente (Calif.) High School

46. Triston McKenzie, RHP, Royal Palm Beach (Fla.) High School

47. Beau Burrows, RHP, Weatherford (Texas) High School

48. Nick Neidert, RHP, Peachtree Ridge High School (Suwanee, Ga.)

49. Chad Smith, CF, South Gwinnett High School (Snellville, Fla.)

50. Blake Trahan, SS, Louisiana-Lafayette

51. Jalen Miller, SS, Riverwood International Charter School (Atlanta)

52. Justin Hooper, LHP, De La Salle High School (Concord, Calif.)

53. Jahmai Jones, OF, Wesleyan School (Norcross, Ga.)

54. Jeff Degano, LHP, Indiana State

55. Gio Brusa, OF, Pacific

56. Michael Soroka, RHP, Bishop Carroll High School (Calgary, AB)

57. Jacob Taylor, RHP, Pearl River Community College (Poplarville, Miss.)

58. Chris Shaw, 1B, Boston College

59. Tanner Rainey, RHP, West Alabama

60. Mikey White, SS, Alabama

61. Christin Stewart, OF, Tennessee

62. Peter Lambert, RHP, San Dimas (Calif.) High School

63. Nolan Watson, RHP, Lawrence North High School (Indianapolis)

64. Luken Baker, RHP/1B, Oak Ridge High School (Conroe, Texas)

65. Austin Smith, RHP, Park Vista Community High School (Lake Worth, Fla.)

66. Tristin English, RHP, Pike County High School (Zebulon, Ga.)

67. Bryce Denton, OF, Ravenwood High School (Brentwood, Tenn.)

68. Cole Sands, RHP, North Florida Christian High School (Tallahassee, Fla.)

69. DJ Stewart, 1B, Florida State

70. Kevin Kramer, SS, UCLA

71. Desmond Lindsay, IF, The Out-of-Door Academy (Sarasota, Fla.)

72. Donnie Dewees, OF, North Florida

73. Blake Hickman, RHP, Iowa

74. Richie Martin, SS, Florida

75. Kyle Cody, RHP, Kentucky

76. Josh Staumont, RHP, Azusa Pacific

77. Eric Jenkins, OF, West Columbus High School (Cerro Gordo, NC)

78. Joe DeMers, RHP, College Park High School (Pleasant Hill, Calif.)

79. Riley Ferrell, RHP, Texas Christian

80. Nick Madrigal, SS, Elk Grove (Calif.) High School

81. Kyle Molnar, RHP, Aliso Niguel High School (Aliso Viejo, Calif.)

82. Casey Hughston, OF, Alabama

83. Josh Naylor, 1B, St. Joan of Arc High School (Vaughan, Ontario)

84. Chandler Day, RHP, Watkins High School (Pataskala, Ohio)

85. Nick Sprengel, LHP, El Dorado High School (Placerville, Calif.)

86. Antonio Santillan, RHP, Seguin (Texas) High School

87. Cole McKay, RHP, Smithson Valley High School (Spring Branch, Texas)

88. Ryan Burr, RHP, Arizona State

89. Jared Padgett, LHP, Graceville (Fla.) High School

90. Parker McFadden, RHP, Yelm (Wash.) High School

91. Garrett Davila, LHP, South Point High School (Belmont, NC)

92. Brandon Lowe, 2B, Maryland

93. Demi Orimoloye, OF, St. Matthew High School (Orleans, Ont.)

94. Colton Eastman, RHP, Central High School (Fresno, Calif.)

95. Mariano Rivera Jr., RHP, Iona

96. Kyle Holder, SS, San Diego

97. Austin Byler, 3B/1B, Nevada

98. Blake Perkins, OF, Verrado High School (Buckeye, Ariz.)

99. Mark Mathias, OF, Cal Poly SLO

100. Trey Cabbage, 3B, Grainger High School (Rutledge, Tenn.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Drafted Gamecocks Must Adjust to NFL Life

Four Gamecocks were drafted by NFL teams last week while several others signed free agent deals. Life is about to get much different for all of them. Bill Belichick in a rare candid interview with Adam Schefter explained in detail the challenges NFL rookies will face. Here is Belichick's statement in its entirety:

"The biggest challenge for all these players is to get on our program. For the last six months, they’ve been a man without a country. They have no team, they have their own individual, whatever it is, situation, and they’re trying to figure out, ‘How do I best get ready for the NFL?’ And that is all 32 teams or however many it is showing interest in them and trying to figure out, ‘How do I prepare for that?’ Each guy has been an independent contractor; they’ve been on their own whatever it is: their own trainer, their own training system, their agent, whatever they’ve been doing. And right now, that’s all changed and they can forget about all that and they need to become New England Patriots. That’s what we’re going to start getting to work on. They’ve got to get out of that mentality of ‘I’ll get up when I feel like it. I’ll go to work when I feel like it. I’ll eat where [I feel like it]. All that. I’ll train the way I want to train.’ They’re done with that. That will be a huge adjustment for them. I don’t care where they came from, I don’t care what position they play. None of that makes any difference. They haven’t been doing it and they’re going to start doing it and they’re going to start doing a lot of it. They’re going to be doing it for day after day after day for a long time going forward – if they can, if they’re successful. That will be a big adjustment for them. It will be a big adjustment for every rookie because none of them have been doing that. Welcome to the NFL. That will start Thursday. They’ll get a big dose of New England Patriots football over the next whatever we’ve got, six weeks – however long it is. We’ll give them everything we can in heavy doses, try to get them ready for training camp and they’ll get even more then. The strong will survive. The other ones will fall off. And we’ll keep going."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jackie Bradley's Comeback

Jackie Bradley had an awful season at the plate last year, so bad that despite being the best defensive outfielder in baseball, the Red Sox seemed to move on from him. The Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, free agent Hanley Ramirez and are all in on phenom Mookie Betts. JBJ is a man without a roster spot.

JBJ's demise has been greatly exaggerated. Jackie went back to work and shortened his swing and flattened it out. The results this spring have shown his progress as he is batting .345. At the end of last year there seemed to be a growing opinion that Bradley would never hit MLB pitching. There now seems to be a renewed faith among those in the game that maybe just maybe Bradley can be a big league hitter. The defense is unquestionable and if Jackie can hit he becomes a commodity. So what does his immediate future hold? Here is what Red Sox beat writer Alex Speier writes:

Bradley has changed the way he swings to a more level/downward plane from the uppercut swings he took a year ago.

“A work in progress,” said Bradley.

If he has to go back to Pawtucket, he has the right attitude, knowing last year was an offensive disaster. It may have been an aberration because Bradley has hit well at every level he’s been at.
Don’t think the scouts who watch Bradley on an everyday basis haven’t noticed. Now the guy who was just the great defender may be able to hit as well and suddenly there’s interest on the trade front. He’s become a chip again.

There is some feeling among scouts that he still has time to figure out an approach that works at the big league level. Meanwhile, his defense is obscenely good, to the point where it took a plummet below the Mendoza Line for him to play his way out of viability as an everyday center fielder.
There’s a decent chance that at some point, his value to another team will exceed his value to the Sox, making him a likely trade candidate. But that time hasn’t necessarily arrived.

The Sox believe they need at least three standout defenders who can hold their own offensively to cover center and right fields at Fenway. On paper, they have that with Betts, Shane Victorino, and Rusney Castillo, but Victorino represents an injury risk and he’ll be a free agent after this year. The Sox’ next two-way impact player is likelyManuel Margot, a 20-year-old who will open this year in High A Salem; Margot is unlikely to reach the big leagues before late-2016.

Bradley thus represents a critical depth option, for now, at least until Margot is ready. As such, at a time when he has two options remaining, there’s little reason for the Sox to be in a rush to move him.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Christian Walker Makes Top 50 Fantasy Prospect List

Christopher Crawford of ESPN released his Top 50 Fantasy Prospect list for the 2015 season. These are guys Crawford feels will have the most impact this season in the majors. Former Gamecock, Christian Walker made the list at #42. Ironically, Walker's best shot at playing time in the majors is if fellow Gamecock Steve Pearce struggles or gets hurt. Here is what Crawford of ESPN had to say about Walker:

42. Christian Walker,1B, Baltimore Orioles
On paper, it doesn't look like Walker will contribute to the Orioles this year, with Chris Davis locked in at first base and Steve Pearce locked in at DH. That being said, if Pearce regresses -- which I personally would bet on -- and Davis struggles with health, Walker is the next man up. With two potentially average offensive tools, Walker should hold his own, and would be a solid bench addition to a fantasy lineup.

Sports Contest

Friday, February 27, 2015

Defense and Bullpen Should Key Gamecock Success This Weekend

The Reedy River Rivalry renews itself starting tonight. The Gamecocks have won 23 out of their last 31 games against Clemson including a three game sweep last season. The three game sweep last year was a bit misleading. The Gamecocks did blow out the Tigers on Saturday but the Friday and Sunday games were far from a given as both saw big Gamecock comebacks. They did what they always do against Clemson, make the plays when they mattered most. Will that happen again? Maybe, but this Clemson team is much better than most think.

Let's start with the rotation, the Tiger rotation has been lights out so far this year. While the Gamecocks also have a strong rotation, the edge has to go to Clemson. The bullpen is another story. This is Clemson's weak spot and Carolina's strength. The Gamecocks have an abundance of arms and it should serve the Gamecocks well this weekend and this season. Teams with great bullpens not only keep leads but also enable their team to come from behind. This could point to more late inning comeback heroics this weekend for the Gamecocks.

Defense has also been an issue for the Tigers, especially in the games with the Gamecocks. Clemson's defense is supposed to be greatly improved from last season but so far that has not been the case. Clemson has already made 11 errors this season in seven games. The Gamecocks have made just 5 errors this year. The Gamecocks appear to have a superb infield defense. This was one of the trademarks of the teams that won it all in 2010 and 2011. While the Gamecocks had a few issues the last couple of years, it was the regression of the infield defense that was most glaring. Those issues appear to be fixed with this 2015 team.

Better bullpen and better defense have been the ingredients to dominating Clemson since 2010. It appears that the Gamecocks have those ingredients again this year which should make for a successful weekend. A word of caution though, Clemson is a very talented team. D1Baseball picked Clemson as their ACC Omaha sleeper. This is what they had to say about Clemson:

Clemson underachieved with a talented roster in 2014, sneaking into the NCAA tournament as one of the final teams in the field and going 0-2 in the Nashville Regional. The Tigers haven’t won a regional since their 2010 trip to Omaha, so this is an important season for coach Jack Leggett’s program. Clemson has the talent to make a deep postseason run if its sophomores and juniors progress as hoped. The Tigers should be outstanding defensively up the middle, with a premium defensive catcher (Chris Okey), an athletic playmaker at second base (Eli White), a rangy shortstop whose arm should benefit from offseason surgery (Tyler Krieger) and a speedy, instinctive, aggressive center fielder (Tyler Slaton). Sophomores Okey, White and 3B Weston Wilson all look poised to take major steps forward offensively after adding strength, and Wilson reminds the coaching staff of former Tiger and first-round pick Richie Shaffer. Clemson also expects key contributions from 1B Andrew Cox and smooth-swinging DH Reed Rohlman. The centerpiece of the lineup is RF Steven Duggar, who is growing into power and posted a strong summer in the Cape Cod League. LF Chase Pinder, the brother of former Virginia Tech star Chad Pinder, is a gamer with a knack for producing hard line drives to all fields, and he could hit the ground running. On the mound, Clemson should have a reliable pair of lefties atop the rotation in Matthew Crownover and Zack Erwin, who both feature advanced feel for three pitches. RHPs Jake Long and Clate Schmidt will battle for the No. 3 starter spot; both have plenty of arm strength and are working to improve their command and consistency. RHPs Drew Moyer, Clay Bates and Patrick Andrews (back from Tommy John surgery) give the Tigers a trio of power arms to anchor the bullpen.

Prediction: Carolina wins two of three including one dramatic late inning comeback.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tyler Webb Impressing the Yankees

Add Tyler Webb to the list of Gamecocks who could be in the majors at some point this year making an impact.