Does anything else really need to be said? Joey Freaking Pankake, you guys. Don't worry, it's not pronounced "Paan-cock-ay." It's "pan-cake!" JOEY. FREAKING. PANKAKE.
It's as good a surname as has ever been displayed on the back of a garnet and black uniform. Even though it falls just short of conjuring images of early seventies Elton John, a name like Pankake nevertheless makes for a first ballot entrant into the All-Name Hall of Fame. I guess he's pretty good at playing shortstop, too. Joey was taken in the 42nd round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Texas Rangers (a late round stab in the dark for them, given the solidity of his commitment to South Carolina).
Pankake's biggest asset is his arm. In fact, with a fastball that has touched 95, some view him as a better pitching prospect than a shortstop. The only thing completely missing from his game right now is SEC experience. In the past, Coach Ray Tanner has been loath to start true freshmen at shortstop, so his vote of confidence in Pankake serves as a ringing endorsement for the youngster's upside. For now, Pankake's bat is still something of a work in progress, but he'll have a long leash toward the bottom of the Gamecocks' batting order.
The Easley, SC native will be backed by Connor Bright, who - as we've mentioned before - could end up playing something of a utility role in to 2012. But I wouldn't expect too much volatility here. As is the case with his homophonic breakfast dish, there's little downside with Pankake.