South Carolina Baseball: Gamecock commitment named Gatorade Player of the Year

South Carolina baseball commitment PJ Morlando was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state, but it seems unlikely he makes it to campus.
South Carolina baseball venue Founders Park
South Carolina baseball venue Founders Park / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

There has been a lot of news around the South Carolina baseball program over the last 24 hours.

The Gamecocks lost to James Madison in an elimination game in the Raleigh Regional, ending their NCAA Tournament and season. That result was the final nail in Mark Kingston's coaching coffin, and Carolina fired Kingston. Monte Lee was named the interim head coach, and the team landed their first transfer portal commitment of the summer in former Winthrop pitcher Caleb Jones.

Mixed in there with all the other news, a South Carolina baseball commitment received a major honor as class of 2024 pledge PJ Morlando was named the recipient of the Gatorade Player of the Year honor for the Palmetto State.

Morlando is a sweet-swinging lefty with huge power potential. Last year, he won a national high school home run derby, and his prodigious pop caused opposing teams to pitch around him this spring. As a senior for the Summerville High School Green Wave, Morlando had an on-base percentage over .600 this year, and if not for a pitch count violation forfeiture, he would have had a shot at a state title.

Morlando is an outfield/first base prospect who is one of the top offensive players in the entire class of 2024. Because of his standing in relation to his peers, Morlando is viewed as a likely 1st round pick in the 2024 MLB Draft, and if selected that high, the guaranteed money he would be offered would make it very unlikely that he would wind up on campus next year.

Morlando's high school teammate, right-handed pitcher Carson Messina, is in a similar boat. With a live fastball that has flirted with the upper 90s, his draft stock has pushed upward to a point that passing up professional money could be a difficult sell. Messina is the younger brother of Gamecock catcher Cole Messina, who also could be an early selection in the draft this summer.

The 2024 MLB Draft will take place from July 14th-16th.

Next. South Carolina Baseball: Why the Gamecocks fired Mark Kingston. South Carolina Baseball: Why the Gamecocks fired Mark Kingston. dark