Few players measure up to class of 2012 pitcher Jack Wynkoop’s size and presence on the mound. Even fewer than that can match his results. A prized left-hander, who committed to South Carolina last August over North Carolina and Clemson, Wynkoop has mowed through his high school competition this season.
Class of 2012 southpaw Jack Wynkoop has added a few miles per hour to his fastball this high school season.
Wynkoop has grown a bit since committing to the Gamecocks and now stands 6-foot-6 and 192 pounds. As intimidating a figure as he is on the mound just by the eye, the numbers he’s put up are just as much of a reason for hitters to cower.
In seven starts this season, Wynkoop has posted a 6-0 record. In his most recent outing, he threw a complete game allowing one earned run on four hits and a walk. He struck out 10 hitters while bumping the 90 mph mark on the radar gun.
“Everything feels really good right now,” Wynkoop said. “I’ve been locating really well and have added velocity on my fastball. I’ve thrown a lot of complete games and kept my pitch count low. The most important thing for me is just going out there and throwing strikes. That’s what I’ve been able to do and it’s been a good year so far.”
The end of last fall, Wynkoop was mid-80s pretty consistently on the gun. Now he’s added a couple miles per hour to his fastball and is hitting 86 to 87 throughout his outings.
“One of my main goals was to get my velocity up,” Wynkoop said. “I was touching 90 a couple weeks ago, which is a good thing to me. I think that means I’m starting to develop and get a little stronger. I just want to keep developing over this year and next year before I get down to South Carolina.”
His best outing of the season was a couple weeks ago against Kecoughtan High School, home of LSU signee and early-round draft pick Jake Cave. In a battle of the southpaws, Wynkoop came out on top. Cave is a two-way player that hits low-to-mid 90s on the radar gun and also has a middle-of-the-order bat.
That wasn’t anything that Wynkoop was too worried about. He met the challenge, struck out Cave a pair of times, and his team came away with a victory.
“I definitely think it was a challenge. He’s a great pitcher and a great hitter,” Wynkoop said. “That kind of stuff crosses your mind before every game. I really just tried to make it though that I put the team in position to win. I knew if I could make pitches, we would have a chance. I made some good pitches, struck him out a couple times, and just knew that if I put all my pitches in the right spot, we’d end up with a victory. That’s what ended up happening.”
Class of outfielder target Gene Cone is one of the players USC has set its sights on in the 2013 class.
Wynkoop hasn’t been able to attend a game yet this season but has made sure to catch most of the television games. He sat glued to the television set for Sunday’s barnburner with Vanderbilt that was televised on ESPN2, a game that South Carolina won 5-3 to clinch the series.
“My favorite part of watching the game is how much life they have on the field,” Wynkoop said. “You get a sense that they’re excited, ready to play, and giving everything they have to win the game. It’s a great atmosphere and it’s just cool watching them. I can’t wait to get down there.”
Cone one to watch
One of the top players in his class in the state is located just down the road from the USC campus. Spring Valley High School product Gene Cone, an outfielder, is starting to receive some heavy interest from the Gamecocks.
A left-hander, Cone said he wants to stay in state somewhere and has already had conversations with the Gamecocks and College of Charleston. The Citadel and Clemson would also be schools that could play a factor early in the race for a commitment.
Cone, who stands 5-foot-11, 155 as a high school sophomore, will play for the Diamond Devils 17U team this summer.
“I always play the game hard and have a good attitude,” Cone said. “Coaches tell me I’m a good athlete. My whole life, I’ve pretty much hit one-hole, so I see a lot of pitches. I go up there and can take a fastball, hit off-speed pitches, and be fine with that. I can be a gap-to-gap guy and I like to work backside as much as possible.”
He plays in centerfield and hits leadoff for the Vikings this season. Spring Valley will host Laurens tonight at 7 p.m. in an elimination game in the playoffs. Entering the playoffs, Cone was hitting .436 this season with a .518 on-base percentage. He has 21 RBIs, and is 5-for-5 in stolen base opportunities.
Pitcher and third baseman Austin LaBounty said he wants to show he is a quality infielder this summer.
“In the outfield, I just try to get the best read that I can,” Cone said. “I’m not incredibly fast but I just make up for it getting reads off the bat. I get to that spot in a hurry.”
The Gamecocks first took notice of Cone during the Forest Acres Classic in early April. Since then, he’s really caught fire. One of his personal season highlights was a mammoth home run over the road that runs behind right field at Lugoff-Elgin.
“I squared that ball up and hit it as far as I could. Best ball I’ve hit in a while,” Cone said. “It was probably the farthest ball I’ve ever hit. I got a hold of that one pretty hard.”
LaBounty working back from injury
For just over a month, class of 2012 commitment Austin LaBounty had to sit in the dugout and watch his teammates. “You look down and just see a little thumb there,” he said. “And I would just think, ‘I can’t wait for this to get better.’ It’s hard.”
In an early-season game, LaBounty was trying to beat out an infield single. He admitted to having a mental hiccup and tried to slide head first into the first base bag to beat the throw. In doing so, he jammed his left thumb fracturing it. He had some minor surgery to have a pin put in place, which shelved him for the better part of a month.
He returned the order a few weeks ago and is nearing 100 percent.
“I had to work on keeping my top hand strong and looking middle away,” LaBounty said. “I was never really focused on the inside pitch. I’ve been doing top-hand drills and staying middle away. I haven’t really felt any pain during impact or anything at the plate.”
Class of 2011 outfielder Reid Moman and his J.L. Mann team will play host to T.L. Hanna tonight.
While it may not seem like it should, the injury has also slowed LaBounty’s progress as a pitcher. After his velocity was down a bit over previous appearances, the right-hander had it back up to 87 mph from the stretch in an appearance on Saturday.
“I feel pretty good right now,” LaBounty said. “The arm feels great right now. I’m starting to find my changeup again, locate my slider here and there, but the forkball is my outpitch right now. Other than the velo right now, I feel pretty good.”
LaBounty will start on the mound tonight for Gilbert, which plays host to Pendleton tonight at 6 p.m. LaBounty is scheduled to start for his team on the mound.
“I’m very pleased with how I’ve been swinging it lately,” LaBounty said. “I feel solid and comfortable at the plate. I’m right there in the game and feel comfortable back that the plate. It’s all about pitch selection right now. I’m seeing a lot of off-speed.”
After missing so much time this high school season, this summer will be very important for LaBounty’s continued development. He will play on the Diamond Devils team this summer but is likely to bounce back and forth between the U17 and U18 teams. One thing he said he really wants to improve upon this summer is his defensive abilities at third base.
“I really want to show that third base can be an established position for me,” LaBounty said. “I want to be known as having a glove and be able to make some plays over there.”
Class of 2012 utility player Weber Pike visited on Friday night. The Gamecocks hosted 2011 outfielder Reid Moman and 2012 infielder DC Arendas on Saturday. For Sunday’s game, 2011’s catcher Grayson Greiner, outfielder Tanner English, RHP Taylor Guerrieri and RHP Alex Satterfield were there. Class of 2012 RHP/3B Austin LaBounty and Arendas were also there as well as 2013 catcher Nick Ciuffo and middle infield target Thomas Bessinger.
Monday playoff schedule
Taylor Guerrieri (Spring Valley) hosts Laurens at 7 p.m.
Tanner English (St. James) travels to Myrtle Beach 7 p.m.
Shon Carson (Lake City) hosts Wade Hampton (H) at 5:30 p.m.
Reid Moman (J.L. Mann) hosts T.L. Hanna time TBD
Andrew Faulkner (South Aiken) travels to Richland Northeast time TBD
Kyle Martin (Wade Hampton) travels to Fort Mill time TBD
**Austin LaBounty (Gilbert) hosts Pendleton at 6 p.m.
Hamilton Heatly (Spartanburg) hosts Dorman at 7 p.m.
Jamie Callahan (Dillon) travels to Manning at 7:30 p.m.
** Indicates starting pitcher
- Outfielder Tanner English was 2-for-4 with a double and bunt single in their playoff win on Saturday. If they win tonight against Myrtle Beach, St. James will travel to Brookland-Cayce for at least one game on Wednesday night.
- In his two playoff games thus far, outfielder Reid Moman is 2-for-5 with three walks. J.L. Mann lost on Saturday to Blythewood and will host T.L. Hanna tonight with the winner traveling to take on Grayson Greiner’s team Wednesday night.
- Infielder and right-handed pitcher Joey Pankake was 1-for-2 with a pair of intentional walks on Saturday. However, he started on the mound and also pitched his team to victory to stay undefeated in district play. He hit a career-best 95 mph on the radar gun. He is definitely a viable option on the mound for USC, likely in a relief role.
- Entering his start on Saturday, right-handed pitcher Jamie Callahan had a 2.75 earned run average striking out 73 and walking 20 over 40.1 innings on the mound. At the plate, he was hitting .458 with seven doubles, six home runs, 22 RBIs, and 20 runs scored. Picking up a victory in his first playoff game, Callahan pitched five and one-third innings and struck out 10.
- Middle infielder Max Schrock was 4-for-5 with two doubles and a home run in a win on Friday for Cardinal Gibbons.