Sometimes certain prospects just jump off the page to all who are watching. Even though he’s only a rising sophomore at Wren High School, class of 2015 shortstop LT Tolbert (Piedmont/Wren) has caught the collective eye of college coaches since first setting foot on a high school field.
Tolbert, who was the starting shortstop and leadoff hitter for Mauldin High School last season, was being recruited by Florida, Clemson, and Central Florida before deciding to join the South Carolina program earlier this month.
The Gamecocks and head coach Chad Holbrook had their eye on Tolbert since last high school season. Coaches were looking at prized right-handed arm Cory Thompson, a 2013 right-handed pitcher committed to South Carolina, but Tolbert caught their attention as well.
“(Coaches) always say they like my size, which is the number one thing,” Tolbert said. “They like the way I hold myself up and say I am at a more mature level than the kids in my grade. They say I have a good sense for baseball already.”
Tolbert’s maturity on the field is one thing that pulled in the Gamecocks. The South Carolina coaches scouted the left-handed hitter quite a few occasions before electing to hand out a committable scholarship offer.
When the Gamecocks pulled the trigger, it was an easy decision for the upstate native.
“I knew I wanted to come to South Carolina,” Tolbert said. “They gave me a good enough deal and you can’t get any better than this, so it was a pretty easy choice, really.”
Tolbert visited South Carolina unofficially for the first time last fall when he came down for an intrasquad scrimmage. He took a tour of the stadium and met with the coaching staff. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder called Carolina Stadium, which played a major part in his decision, a “crazy” facility.
Over the summer, Tolbert played travel baseball with West End Academy out of Greenville. One of the areas he said he improved a tremendous amount was defensively. Tolbert played shortstop a lot this summer after playing predominately second base in high school. When Thompson would toe the rubber during the high school season, Tolbert would shift over to shortstop.
“I feel like I’m good at short,” Tolbert said. “I’ve been cutting down my errors a lot lately. I think I made only one this summer. I’ve always had a strong arm over there, so it’s worked.”
Tolbert has one of the smooth swings left-handers are known for at the plate. He hit around .325 this summer with West End but had a banner weekend playing at East Carolina hitting .625.
“At the plate, it’s always come naturally, really,” Tolbert said. “I’ve always been a gap-to-gap hitter; not really too much power. I’ve always hit around .350.”
While he still has three years to develop at the high school level, Tolbert said he needs to work on his consistency at the plate as well as handling outside pitches.
He has plenty of time to get ready for college baseball, but he caught the eyes of college coaches at an early age.
Want to learn more about Tolbert and his commitment to the Gamecocks? Check out TheBigSpur.com’s Insider Notes taking a behind the scenes look at his commitment and get a detailed scouting report.
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