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Baseball Recruiting Notebook 8-10

The wait is finally over for Ethan Carter. Whether Matt Price signs or not, the former USC reliever will be back with the Gamecocks in 2012.

Infielder George Iskenderian was commitment No. 12 for South Carolina in the 2012 class.

It looks like the numbers will work out in some manner for Carter, who enrolled at South Carolina in 2010 and made 24 relief appearances as a freshman for the Gamecocks. Carter was dismissed for a violation of team rules prior to the start of the 2011 season and pitched for Louisburg JC.

Carter stated all along that he wanted to come back and pitch for the Gamecocks again and now, it looks like it will be a reality.

“I’m as excited as can be,” Carter said on Wednesday night. “I called coach Holbrook and we talked a little bit. I talked to my parents and just felt like this was the right time and USC was the right place. I was ecstatic and he was excited. It’s just great to have an opportunity to be back.”

It was pretty much a no-brainer for Carter to come back to South Carolina when the door was left open. Head coach Ray Tanner and associate head coach Chad Holbrook both told Carter when he departed that there was a chance he could come back if he did what he was supposed to do both on and off the field.

About eight months after leaving USC, Carter will move back to Columbia this weekend.

“Other than when Major League teams were talking to me before the draft, there was never any other option that I really wanted to pursue other than being back on campus at USC,” Carter said. “I fell in love with it my sophomore year in high school. I want to put all my focus and power towards this coming year.”

When Carter and Holbrook talked on Wednesday, the duo didn’t discuss exactly what kind of role that the rising junior will have this season. He’ll come in and they’ll find some innings.

“We just talked about me coming in and performing in the fall and getting in the best shape physically and mentally as possible,” Carter said. “We just talked about the opportunity to be back. I know that I’ll help the team anyway possible. I’d love to be one of those guys we throw out on the mound every weekend. I have some experience out of the bullpen. Being out of the bullpen wouldn’t be a bad.”

The right-hander was named Region X Pitcher of the Year posting a 9-3 record. He tossed 77 innings as a starter with a 1.75 earned run average. He walked just nine and struck out 78 hitters during his one-year stint at the North Carolina school.

Carter is one of five right-handed pitchers that will enroll this fall to pitch for the Gamecocks.

Gamecocks land big-time infielder

As the 2012 recruiting cycle was nearing its close, South Carolina went on the hunt for a couple of big-time bats and an elite arm or two. So far, one of the four players has committed. Infielder George Iskenderian made his verbal pledge to the Gamecocks a couple weeks ago after a standout summer for the South Florida Bandits.

The recruiting process was an interesting one for the Don Bosco Prep star, who committed to Maryland early on but later opened it back up. The two-time defending national champions were one of the first teams Iskenderian wanted to check out and not long after his first visit to Columbia, he committed.

“I rushed, I think,” Iskenderian said of his commitment to Maryland. “I didn’t want to look back and think that I rushed the process. I wanted to play in a warmer climate and you can’t beat the SEC. It was good to get an opportunity at South Carolina.”

Following his week at the U17 World Wood Bat Tournament in Marietta, Ga., Iskenderian made the short drive down I-20 to check out Carolina Stadium and meet with the USC coaches. He weighed his options, which also included Oklahoma, Tulane, Ole Miss, and North Carolina, but it didn’t take long for him to pledge to the Gamecocks.

The right-handed hitter cited South Carolina’s 8,200-seat, $40-million dollar stadium, the weather, and academics as three of the main factors is choosing South Carolina over his other four finalists.

“I bonded with coach Holbrook right away,” Iskenderian said. “He took me around campus and it was just perfect. It clicked. I got butterflies just walking around. I could see myself walking through the campus and playing on the field at Carolina Stadium.”

Iskenderian is the second-ranked player in the state of New Jersey and No. 208 nationally by Perfect Game. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder prides himself on his defense at short. He is also a candidate to play third base as well at the collegiate level.

“I go to the opposite field a lot,” Iskenderian said. “My power is actually to right centerfield. You can’t forget how to pull, so you have to learn to take balls the other way. That’s my strength.”

Despite living hundreds of miles from any other current commitment, Iskenderian has gotten to know Zak Wasilewski, Curt Britt, and Jamie Callahan. The 2012 class’s most recent commit played with Wasilewski in a tournament with the Canes last year.

He played with Britt and Callahan at separate Perfect Game events. Iskenderian noted that shortly after his commitment to the Gamecocks, he heard from Britt to congratulate him.
The Englewood Cliffs, NJ native had just one final thought for South Carolina fans.

“We gotta get back to Omaha.”

South Carolina currently has 12 members in the class of 2012. The Gamecocks are looking for one more hitter, which could be outfielder Jamie Jarmon, and one to two more pitchers.

Video interview

Martin stars in BLWS

There were two future Gamecocks battling for a spot in the Big League World Series final. Class of 2011 LHP/1B Kyle Martin and infielder Joey Pankake went head-to-head in the USA finals last Monday to face the International representative in the BLWS championship game.

Martin’s team won and on the Big League World Series’ biggest stage, the championship game televised on ESPN2, Martin was a star. Recruited predominantly as a hitter, the southpaw took the mound and proceeded to throw six innings allowing three runs, only two of which were earned, while striking out five. Martin hit his spots with his mid-80s fastball and also threw his curve ball and changeup for strikes.

Dominating on the mound isn’t where it ended though. Martin was also 3-for-4 on the day with a single, double, and two-run home run. He tallied four of the RBIs in his team’s BLWS championship win and will have a ring of his own when he moves into the dorms at South Carolina later this week.

USC keeping an eye on Trader

One of South Carolina’s top targets in the 2013 class on the mound is right-hander Kevin Trader (Keisha, Del./Delmar), the top player in Delaware. The Canes Showcase standout played in Columbia over the weekend and made a pair of appearances topping out at 91 mph on the gun in his first outing.

The Gamecocks aren’t the only school looking to bring Trader south. Clemson, North Carolina, and East Carolina are three other schools showing heavy interest in the nation’s No. 103 player. Trader said that the two schools he’s highest on right now are the Gamecocks and Tigers with the two schools from North Carolina a little bit further down on his list.

Trader is also a standout infielder and quarterback for his high school team but he knows his future is on the bump.

“I definitely see myself as a pitcher at the college level,” Trader said. “I like going at them with the outside fastball. I like to challenge them to hit it and see if they can catch up to it.”

Trader is consistently 88-89 on the radar gun but has topped out in the low 90s at times this summer. He’s a typical three-pitch mix guy adding in a changeup and curve ball.

“I wanted to work my velocity and my accuracy this summer,” Trader said. “I think I did really well. I think I matured a lot and listened and worked at it with my pitching coach. Being with the Canes benefitted me a lot this summer.”

Trader doesn’t have a firm timetable for making a decision but would like to delay it until some point next summer.

Names to watch

- One pitcher to watch in the class of 2012 is RHP Carson Fulmer of Lakeland, Fla. The right-hander is ranked No. 48 nationally by Perfect Game and is taking his time in the recruiting process. He does not want to go on record and publicly list schools but he did say he was down to four and all of his finalists know who they are and all have official visits set up. Fulmer said that he will have one official visit before the USA Trials in Cary, N.C. in mid-September. His final visit will be the weekend of October 21. The Gamecocks are one of the four finalists and are expected to receive an official visit sometime in October.

- Another pitcher to watch in the 2013 class is Corey Ivey of Winder Barrow High School in Winder, Ga. A 6-foot-3, 200-pounder, the right-hander already has the build of a college player and is one of the top high school arms in his class. PerfectGame has him ranked as the No. 48 RHP in the country and No. 144 regardless of position. Ivey visited South Carolina over the weekend.

- South Carolina has their eye on class of 2013 middle infielder Kirk Morgan of the South Charlotte Panthers. The Gamecocks are showing early interest in the left-handed hitter as is Clemson, East Carolina, and North Carolina. Morgan is one of the top players in the Tar Heel State and is sure to rack up some big time offers. He is a player with a lot of energy but also a plus glove. He handles the bat well with gap power and the ability to go the opposite way along with his plus glove.

- Another 2013 infielder to watch is Bradley Jones of Travelers Rest High School. While he plays shortstop for his high school and West End Baseball, he projects as a third baseman at the major collegiate level. Jones has a lot of power in his bat and showed it by winning the home run derby at the Shockwave Tournament in Columbia two weekends ago.

Quick hitters

- Class of 2012 infielder Corey Seager was named one of the Top 25 Hitters at East Coast Pro for his efforts last week at the showcase. The website touted not only his bat but his “Gold Glove defensive tools” as a third baseman. Seager, who stands 6-foot-4, has been promised a shot to play shortstop at South Carolina but he is definitely a candidate to be a third baseman. Target and likely USC commit outfielder Jamie Jarmon was also listed as one of the Top 25 Hitters. Second baseman Max Schrock was listed as a notable.

- Class of 2012 commitment Zak Wasilewski is still ahead of schedule in his recovery from Tommy John and ACL surgery. He is scheduled to be cleared to both throw and jog in early September.

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