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Baseball Recruiting Notebook 8-23

South Carolina has a recent run of commitments across all three recruiting classes. Outfielder Jamie Jarmon likely became the last bat in the 2012 class. The 2013 class added another catcher in Logan Koch, while the rising sophomore class added outfielder DJ Burt and infielder Seth Lancaster.

Catcher Logan Koch committed to the Gamecocks shortly after a visit to campus in August.

USC adds second catcher

The Gamecocks brought in just one catcher in 2011 and don’t have any plans to add a scholarship catcher in the 2012 class. Catcher was a position of need for the 2013 class, which was addressed early with the commitment of Nick Ciuffo, who will begin his sophomore year at Lexington High school after spending his first two years at Wando.

Every program needs two quality catchers though and recruiting coordinator Chad Holbrook recently picked up a commitment from the top backstop in North Carolina, rising junior Logan Koch.

Koch, who plays his travel ball with the Dirtbags, has ties to USC. His older sister was a cheerleader in 2008-09 and he’s been to campus quite a few times. Koch has also been to baseball camp at Sarge Frye Field.

“Being back-to-back champions is pretty hard to beat,” Koch said. “I really liked meeting with coach Holbrook. I got the vibe that he really wanted me so I went ahead and did it.”

Standing 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, Koch is currently known more for his defense than he is his offense. A switch hitter, he’s no slouch with the bat though hitting .425 with five home runs and 40 runs batted in as a sophomore and South Mecklenberg High School.

“I’m a catch-and-throw guy. I can hold my own at the plate but I’m not a big home run guy,” Koch said. “I’m always the dirtiest player. I’m a scrappy kid. I play bigger than I am. I try to work gap-to-gap as a switch hitter. I have more power from the right side and hit for a little better average from the left side.”

Koch is ranked the No. 1 player in the state of North Carolina by Perfect Game and the No. 105 player nationally. Ciuffo is the top-ranked player in South Carolina and the No. 53 player nationally.

Recruiting coordinator Chad Holbrook has added four commitments spanning three different classes this month.

Koch cited the weight room, facilities, and the playing field as “second to none,” which was a key part in his decision. But another major factor was the opportunity to contribute early in his career. When he enrolls, the only catchers guaranteed to be on campus besides him are Ciuffo and current freshman Grayson Greiner, who will then be a junior.

“There aren’t a lot of recruits at the catching position,” Koch said. “I see it as an opportunity to try out. I have the opportunity to come in and compete for the starting job at South Carolina. I just want to come in and help this program win.”

Koch learned his trade from his father, Donn, who caught at Florida Southern College and then for two years in the Chicago White Sox organization.

Koch becomes the fourth member of the 2013 class along with Ciuffo, outfielder Gene Cone, and shortstop Jordan Gore.

Lancaster becomes first in-state ‘14

The class of 2014 is off to a quick start picking up outfielder DJ Burt, a player many consider the best in the state of North Carolina for his class, and now adding infielder Seth Lancaster, one of the tops in the Palmetto State.

Diamond Prospects calls Lancaster “one of the top position players in the state” and he must be to pick up a scholarship offer from USC so early in the process. Lancaster, who picked the Gamecocks over College of Charleston, admitted he was “surprised” by the offer.

“I’ve been a big fan all my life,” Lancaster said. “Two national championships was a big part of it and the reputation of coach Tanner and coach Holbrook. The reputation of winning.”

Shortstop Jordan Gore is the only infielder in the 2013 class.

Lancaster, who hits left-handed, went on a tour and was given a committable offer by Holbrook after the Palmetto Games last weekend.

“It was always my number one. I went to the Palmetto Games, they offered me, and I committed,” Lancaster said. “I played hard. I really didn’t do anything special on offense. I made a few good plays on defense but I played the game hard and did what I was supposed to do.”

The Hanahan High School standout plays for the Diamond Devils travel program. His sophomore year in high school, he hit .304 with three home runs.

“(Holbrook) said I’m a very solid defender and saw I could swing the bat a little bit,” Lancaster said. “I usually hit for a good average. I don’t strike out a lot. I go to the gaps and hit doubles and triples.”

“Probably just staying on the ball and working the opposite field,” Lancaster said. “I need to be a little more aggressive early in the count. I’m better at shortstop. I have a little bit more range than the average person.”

Recapping the Palmetto Games

- RHP Tyler Jackson: 86mph – Jackson pitched in one game going three innings and allowing two runs on two hits and two strikeouts.

- RHP/3B Austin LaBounty: 89mph, 7.22 60-yard dash – In three games, LaBounty was 3-for-7 with a double, walk, and an RBI. He played primarily third base but the Gilbert High School standout can also play either corner outfield position. LaBounty, who had a very good summer on the mound with the Diamond Devils, wasn’t his sharpest allowing seven earned runs in 1.2 innings. He walked three and struck out four.

- OF Gene Cone: 6.99 60-yard dash (81mph on the mound) – In three games, Cone was 2-for-5 with a run scored and a walk. He played centerfield and right for his team defensively. Cone will be a position player only for the Gamecocks but he did pitch an inning allowing one run on one hit and a walk.

- IF Seth Lancaster: 7.26 60-yard dash – To start the weekend, Lancaster was a target but after the Palmetto Games, he committed. The Hanahan sophomore started all three games playing second and short for his team and had one hit in six at-bats.

- Util Weber Pike (did not run 60) – In three games, Pike was 1-for-6 with an RBI single. He played both corner infield positions and also caught on the weekend.

- RHP Brandon Hester: 86mph – The right-hander started one game on the mound and picked up the loss against the Northeast team. He pitched three innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits.

- SS Jordan Gore: 88mph (did not run 60) – Gore played in just two games on the weekend and was 1-for-4 with a single. He made all seven plays defensively from his shortstop position.

All stats courtesy of TheDiamondProspects.com

Video interview: Jordan Gore

Palmetto Games photos by Juan Blas

Quick hitters

- South Carolina recently picked up a 2012 walk-on commitment from outfielder Anthony Paulsen (Columbia/Spring Valley). He is the second outfielder in the class of 2012 joining Jarmon.

- Class of 2013 catcher Nick Ciuffo is currently in Mexico with the U16 Team USA Baseball squad in the Pan American Games. Through August 20, Ciuffo has played in all three games, starting one. He is 0-for-4 at the plate so far with a walk and a strikeout. The team is a perfect 3-0 so far.

- Class of 2013 outfielder Jae Roberts posted on his Twitter account that he visited Clemson over the weekend and said a decision between the Tigers and Gamecocks could come soon. Heading into the visit, he said he favored South Carolina. Roberts does not want to make public comment until he has made a decision.

- Class of 2013 right-handed pitcher Kevin Davis (Brewton, Ala./T.R. Miller) said he plans to visit South Carolina the first weekend in October for the Auburn football game. He does not have a timeframe for a decision but South Carolina is amongst his leaders, along with Auburn, Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss also in the mix.

Current commitments and signees

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