South Carolina Baseball: Coach Mark Kingston reveals his choices for breakout candidates this year

South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston revealed his choices for breakout candidates from the 2024 Gamecocks.

South Carolina baseball caoch Mark Kingston spoke to the media on Wednesday.
South Carolina baseball caoch Mark Kingston spoke to the media on Wednesday. / Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina baseball starts practice this weekend, and they will play three scrimmages that will be free and open to the public. If the weather is nice, the excitement around the program could draw a fair number of fans to Founders Park who are eager to take advantage of the first opportunity to watch the 2024 Gamecocks.

Because the start of the season is here, South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston spoke to the media on Wednesday about his team.

When asked about which player was his choice to be a breakout candidate this spring, Kingston didn't hesistate and answered quickly with a name most Gamecock fans wouldn't have expected.

Coach King brought up freshman catcher Ryan Bakes as a potential breakout candidate for the Gamecocks this year. Even though he had a very good fall, Bakes was an interesting answer for two primary reasons as he is a true freshman and he plays the same position as USC All-American Cole Messina.

With Jonathan French transferring and Zander Buchan no longer on the roster, the backup catcher spot behind Messina is open. Bakes and Presbyterian transfer Dalton Reeves are the top candidates to occupy that spot, but third baseman/second baseman Talmadge LeCroy played catcher two years ago and could be involved if needed.

For Bakes, specifically, there are several roads to playing time for the young backstop. He has experience playing in the outfield from his high school days, and there has been some rumblings around the program that Ethan Petry could be moving from right field back to his natural position of third base. Also, corner outfield/DH candidates Tyler Causey and Carson Hornung are left-handed, meaning Bakes' strong right-handed bat could be in play for a platoon situation.

No matter how it comes, based on the vote of confidence from his head coach, it seems like Ryan Bakes will see some playing time for the South Carolina baseball team this season.

Kingston also mentioned that former Notre Dame pitcher Roman Kimball (who missed 2023 with Tommy John surgery) could be a breakout candidate on the mound. The South Carolina baseball headman argued that the righty will be a "weekend starter" if he is healthy and back pitching like he was before his injury.

The Gamecocks' pitching staff is a bit of a question mark, but Kingston believes his team has six or seven guys who are capable of starting this year. Though it is unclear which six or seven players Coach Kingston was talking about, returning players like Kimball, Eli Jones, Matthew Becker, and Austin Williamson are joined by newcomers Ty Good, Garrett Gainey, Jevarra Martin, Drake Quinn, Joey Wittig, and Jake McCoy as guys fighting for starting opportunities. Eli Jerzembeck would have been in the conversation but is out for the season after Tommy John surgery last summer.

Next. South Carolina Baseball: Where the Gamecocks rank in a national preseason poll. South Carolina Baseball: Where the Gamecocks rank in a national preseason poll. dark