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Baseball Fall Practice Wrap-Up: Chad Holbrook Press Conference

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Black wins Garnet & Black World Series, Coach Holbrook talks about where the team stands at the close of fall practice

Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

The baseball team played the Garnet and Black World Series over the weekend. Here are links to the recaps of the Friday victory by Black, the Sunday tie, and the Monday victory by Black, all from GamecocksOnline.

Below are quotes from Coach Holbrook's Tuesday press conference, in which he discussed the different position battles, some of the individual performances by players, and his overall feelings about the team. The press conference can be watched in its entirety here.

On the infield:

There's a lot of things I was impressed with this fall from our team. I think the thing that kinda stood out to me was our infield defense. We're deep in the infield and I think they all are very, very gifted defensively. I think they all bring different strengths and weaknesses from an offensive standpoint, but I have a good group of infielders and that's gonna bode well for our pitching staff.

On the outfield:

We're still trying to figure some things out in the outfield. I love the way that Gene Cone played [in center field]. He looks like he's got a strong hold on that position as we go into the winter months. But again, it's gonna be an open competition there, as it will be in some other spots until opening day.

On the catcher:

Catcher is still a work in progress. One weekend we'd take a couple of steps forward and then we'd take a step back.  Logan [Koch] has been around here more than the other guys, so he's a little bit ahead maybe in some areas, but that doesn't mean he's starting opening day. That's still an ongoing competition. I think Hunter Taylor's got a bright future here. He's improved the most behind home plate from opening fall practice to today...I think his offensive potential might be a little bit greater than some of those other guys. Thatcher Coleman...played his rear end off. He hustled, he competed, he hit a home run and a double. So that's gonna be one of those situations where I think behind home plate is gonna be solid for us but I don't think it's gonna be one guy...Right now we're comfortable with a number of guys.

On the offense:

I'm not ready to sit here and say we're gonna be an offensive juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think that we can put some tough outs in the lineup and I also think that one of our strengths might be the middle of our lineup. We can put some big strong guys in there that can hit it out of the park. I like what I see in batting practice...We might now be extremely fast, but we do have some athletes out there that can run the bases...I like the way our team is shaping up offensively.

On the pitching:

Our pitchers grew a lot as the fall progressed. It was a little bit rough for a lot for those guys early in the fall, especially the young guys. But they got their feet wet so to speak, and really, really improved as the fall progressed...The first weekend or two there was an adjustment for our pitchers throwing that ball from a command standpoint. We walked a little bit more than we normally walk around here and I really think it was a little bit of them getting comfortable with the new baseball.

We're not ready as we're sitting her in November to determine who our closer is gonna be or who our third starter is gonna be or that sort of thing. But I think we are closer, certainly, than when we started the fall.

On individual players:

[Elliot] Caldwell had a really productive fall I thought. He really took a step forward...He's strong, he's physical. He swung the bat very well. We had 9 guys hit over .300 this fall and he was one of those. And he hit for some power and some extra base hits and he played some decent outfield for the most part.

If we played tomorrow DC [Arendas] would start at third. He had a great fall. The kid hit .391, almost hit .400, led our team in hitting this fall. And we know how gifted he is defensively...I'm comfortable putting him at all three infield positions.

I know what we have in Jack Wynkoop, I think he's much improved. His breaking ball is better, he's stronger, his velocity is up. He wants to and is determined to have a big year. He might be our most polished guy.

Clarke Schmidt was very impressive to me. Brandon Murray improved as the fall went on, as did Tyler Johnson. Those guys...they're gonna pitch for us some this spring, there's no doubt about that

Alex Destino was one of the bigger surprises of the fall. He's more advanced than I thought coming in. If we played tomorrow Alex is hitting fourth or fifth in our lineup.

On whether Kyle Martin will pitch:

He will be a viable option in the fall to pitch. I would think that we're gonna use Kyle from time to time. Probably in a situational role to get left-handed hitters out. Because he's so very, very good for us defensively at first base, we don't want to take him off first base too much. I'd put him up against anybody from a defensive standpoint at first.

On leadership:

With [Harrington, Martin, Schrock and Bright] I think we have some good leaders. They've kept their nose clean, they do well in the classroom, know what's expected of them both on and off the field. I feel good about that.

On recruiting players from South Carolina:

If you're not recruiting the kids from your own state then that's a problem. To have the pride that you want to have in a program, in the University of South Carolina, the state school, it should be represented by a majority of instate guys. Kids from South Carolina have been great for us.

On where the team stands at the end of fall practice:

I think it was a productive fall, we did find out a little bit about our team. The players, through their play, have taught us some things that we need to know to make some very, very difficult decisions as we go forward...We stayed healthy for the most part. So I was pleased with the fall, but we also have a lot of work to do before we get where we want to go come February.