This post continues our series on Gamecocks in the MLB Draft. This time, we're talking about Michael Roth. Needless to say, Roth is one of the most popular players on the Gamecocks' roster. After coming out of nowhere to shut down Clemson in the 2010 CWS (I've heard Tigers fans refer to Roth as Clemson kryptonite, which likely explains Roth's popularity among Carolina fans), Roth became our Friday starter in 2011 and had an All-American season, even being recognized as Player of the Year by some publications. He returned for his senior season, and while he's not been quite as dominant as he was in 2011, he's still been very good. What can you say? The guy has had a charmed career. Let's see if he can continue it at the next level.
Roth was selected last year in the 31st round by the Cleveland Indians.
Roth is not a power pitcher (his fastball generally clocks in the mid- to upper eighties), but he's a smart guy who makes his living outwitting batters. He's your classic crafty lefty: He gets right-handed batters to chase after curves and bite on change-ups, and he likes to use a slider against left-handed batters. He also throws side-arm against lefties. There are many pro pitchers who are able to make a living off this kind of strategy, and Roth has certainly proven--the numbers speak for themselves--that he's capable of thriving off being a multiple-pitch guy.
As said, Roth isn't a power pitcher. His velocity has increased since he arrived at USC; he started in the low eighties, and he's now regularly getting into the high eighties. That's respectable. However, it won't consistently get it done for a MLB fastball, and he may find that without a really great fastball, he won't be able to outsmart more talented batters quite as often as he has in college.
Based on his lack of a strong fastball, there are question marks about whether Roth can be a stellar starter in the pros. However, his ability to deal effectively with various types of batters, particularly right-handers, may make him a valuable situational reliever. That might be his best bet for making it in MLB.