Monday, June 11, 2007

Daily Gamecock Article

"Don't dream it's over."

Hey guys, apparently this is post #99 of this whole extravaganza, so we'll be hitting the century mark pretty soon. I won't be doing anything special, and I don't think I get anything for making it this far, so there's really no reason to delve into numbers. Just know that I appreciate everyone who has been there from the beginning and those who have come along for the ride. It's been real, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. With that being said, I just submitted an article to "The Daily Gamecock," and I figured I would put it up for your viewing pleasure. Sure, it will take some of the spontaneity out of it, but I'm pretty sure a whole bunch of you will not have access to the paper, so why not keep you apprised of my local writing right? Anyway, this article is about two of the top prospects on the USC baseball team, who lost to UNC yesterday in the Super Regionals. It was a season that includes the Cocks leading the nation in homers, and marred in constant pitching woes, which were on display in the Tar Heel series. So, the bullpen pretty much blew it for us, but hey, I mean, we got there didn't we? Sure, we were #1 in the country at one point, but look at a team like Vanderbilt, who were the #1 ranked team going into regionals, and then got bounced at home before even reaching the Supers, so it could have been a lot worse than the way things turned out. Anyway, hope you enjoy, and if you are in Columbia, pick up a copy on campus. It's not going to be as thick as the papers that come out during the regular school year, but the writing is still there, and I'm pretty sure they still print sudokus, so definitely check it out.

Despite Series Loss, Two Gamecocks Have Bright Futures Ahead

After a heartbreaking series up in Chapel Hill, Gamecock fans have been searching for something positive to take out of the series. Well, ESPN’s Keith Law may be able to help you out. The accredited Law, who is also the senior baseball analyst with Scouts Inc., has recently put out his list of the Top 20 prospects who will be eligible for next year’s First-Year Player Draft, and two USC players have made the list. First baseman Justin Smoak is ranked third, and overall, is the highest ranked collegiate player on the list, and third baseman James Darnell listed as the #15 prospect. Both are going to be juniors next year, so their signability and desire to turn pro will determine if they will leave school early for a shot at the Major Leagues

Smoak was one of the best hitters in the nation this season, and this should be of little surprise to not only those in the Midlands, but also, around the country, as Smoak was named MVP of the Cape Cod League this past summer. On the year, Smoak batted .315 with 22 home runs and 72 RBIs, both team highs. The 22 homers have him tied for the conference lead, and place him in a tie for sixth in the nation. In addition to his bat, Smoak is also regarded as being one of the best defensive prospects who are eligible to be drafted next year. The 6’4, 210 pound sophomore has the frame that pro scouts drool over, and is extremely athletic, giving him the ability to make the tough plays at first. The Goose Creek native was originally drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 16th round of the 2005 Draft, but, thankfully, he passed up that opportunity, and wound up a Gamecock. There is a chance that Smoak could go #1 overall in next year’s Draft, but it will be determined on two things: How well Smoak plays next year, and how well he ultimately stacks up against the two Californian outfielders, Isaac Galloway and Aaron Hicks, who are currently ranked ahead of him. If Smoak can repeat his performance from this season, the decision will be very tough for the team picking first next year.

Darnell received national exposure in the UNC series, when he belted a two-run homer in Game 1 of the best-of-three series off of Tar Heel ace Robert Woodard. With his name now out there, and having displayed his abilities in the postseason, Darnell’s name is already on the rise. Darnell, who comes to the Gamecocks from Danville, CA, led the team in batting with a .331 average. In addition to that, he showed a good amount of power, contributing 19 homers and 63 RBIs, which is a plus if you’re looking to play a corner position in the bigs. Darnell showed that he could hit a pitch from just about anywhere on, or around, the plate, and along with his high average, showed a tremendous amount of discipline throughout the year, walking 51 times, fourth best in the conference. Something else Darnell has going for him that will up his stock further is that he has the ability to step right in and make an impact, as seen in his first start last year against Elon, where he went 2-5 with a homer and 3 RBIs.

While both are likely to leave after next year, Smoak and Darnell seemed poised to be one of the most dynamic duos in the country, and with a lot of familiar faces coming back next year, this tandem, the team, and USC fans will have a lot to look forward to for the 2008 season.

Thanks guys. Peace.


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