Things didn't work out the way we hoped this year for the USC Gamecocks baseball team. Most national observers pegged them as a Top 10 team and some had them Top 5 in pre-season polls. As the season spooled out it was clear they had a great defense-- one that would be ranked 3rd in the nation. The hitting was good with plenty of power. But pitching was just too inconsistent to win the SEC title and it also held the Gamecocks back in the NCAA regionals where they lost to NC State. Final record, 40-23. That's baseball.
One part of the season that didn't disappoint however was the play of Junior first baseman Justin Smoak. The 6'4", 215 lb switch-hitter played excellent defense, hit for average, and showed power from both sides of the plate. Smoak home runs are never wall-scrapers. This kid booms the ball out of the yard. Justin made first team All American this year. Baseball America has ranked him as the #3 college prospect. The major league team draft boards have Justin as a Top 10 prospect when all the high schoolers are thrown in with the college boys. I think he could slip a bit because of his position, but he'll still go pretty high. So, it was no surprise when ESPN invited him to be in attendance in Orlando for their draft day coverage. He would get lots of TV time and attention as the camera watches him agonize over the picks. Will he be selected in the top 5? In the Top 10? Peter Gammons, what do you think?
Justin's response to the invitation from The Worldwide Leader In Hype? "No thank you."
Said Justin Smoak, “I’m hanging out in Goose Creek. I’ve been through the draft process before, and I just wanted to spend it with my family.”
Bless him. May he have great success in professional baseball and bring honor to his family and the fine people of Goose Creek, South Carolina. Go 'cocks!
UPDATE: Justin Smoak was pick #11. Drafted by the Texas Rangers he was the 8th college player selected.