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Who are the Breakout Players of Fall Ball for South Carolina?

By Sinderella

Every year in the fall ball season, there are players that people either hope will elevate their game or are not on the radar of being a big contributor for the upcoming baseball season. And every year, some of those players come out and have a breakout fall ball performance. For the South Carolina Gamecocks, those players are a mix of true freshman, returning players, and a transfer. So, let us go ahead and start this breakdown of what makes these five players the breakout fall ball players for South Carolina.

Will Tippett is a returning player from last year’s Super Regional team. He was forced into action as a true freshman due to injuries that spread throughout the team. He played multiple positions through the season that included shortstop, second base, and center field. Defensively, he was very good, as that is his calling card, but offensively, he struggled. He ended the season with a .182 batting average, but you could see the potential. You could tell that he had a good eye for the ball, took long at-bats, and hit the ball well. Unfortunately, he was extremely unlucky, as it seemed like every ball he hit went straight to an opposing defender.

Tippett has put in the work over the summer and fall to get stronger and improve his game. The outcome of that work was on display during fall ball, as he was one of two guys (we will talk about the other guy next) that, if there was an MVP or “breakout player” award, they would be the front-runners for the award. Tippett settled in at shortstop and was excellent both defensively and offensively. He is still, technically, in a battle for the shortstop position with true freshman Lee Ellis, but I believe he will ultimately win the starting role for this upcoming season.

Blake Jackson is a transfer from Charlotte, where his freshman campaign in 2022 was derailed by injury. In 2023, Jackson took a while to get into a groove, but over his last 29 games, he hit .337 atop the 49ers lineup, while scoring 30 runs and hitting 5 bombs, including one against South Carolina. Jackson brought his hard-nosed style of play to Columbia and had a great fall. He grinds at-bats and provides surprising pop from the left side. He has speed and a plus-glove, and he is absolutely a contender for the center field position due to his experience and advanced approach at the plate. If Jackson plays in 2024 like he finished in 2023, he will be a dynamic table-setter for what should be an explosive offense.

Jevarra Martin comes to South Carolina with a lot of potential (#279 player) that most people thought needed a year or two to be developed. Well, the 6’7 220 pound left handed pitcher had other plans. Martin was a rockstar from beginning to end during the fall ball season. He pumped his low-mid 90’s fastball all season long, and it ended up in a lot of soft contact that led to easy outs. In the Black vs Garnet World Series, he was the game two starter for Team Garnet, as they ended up sweeping Team Black. He proceeded to throw three scoreless innings with no hits and two strikeouts, an incredible performance versus a Team Black team stacked with most of the best hitters on the team. His consistency throughout the fall certainly opened a lot of eyes. Expect to hear Martin’s name quite a bit coming out of the bullpen or as a weekday starter throughout the season.

Tyler Pitzer is another true freshman with a lot of hype (#294 in the country) that has been impressive as a 6’2" 185 pound right handed pitcher. Pitzer pumps a low-mid 90’s fastball, along with a devastating slider that won pitch of the day three times during the fall ball season, the most on the team. Pitzer, like Martin, opened eyes with his high-level play at such a young age. Informed sources around the program have opined that if the starting rotation was not almost set in stone, Pitzer would be in contention for a weekend starting role. The last time a true freshman pitcher won a weekend starting role for opening weekend, it was Wil Crowe back in 2014, and we saw how well that played out. So, for Pitzer to be contending for a weekend role on a potential Top 15 team in the SEC at a storied program like South Carolina, that speaks volumes of how talented he is. Like Martin, watch for Pitzer to also have a lot of innings this season out of the bullpen and as a midweek starter.

Dylan Eskew looks to breakout after transferring from Miami to Chipola College to South Carolina and redshirting this past year. Eskew’s performance in the fall ball season has caught the attention of the staff, as he is looking like the pitcher the staff thought he could be when they brought him in. Eskew has upped his velocity and now sits in the mid 90s with his fastball. What looks to be his strikeout pitch, though, is his low 90s sinker that has ridiculous movement at the end of the drop. Eskew is another player like Pitzer who is in the weekend starting rotation competition, and he is going to eat a lot of innings this spring.

These five guys dominated fall ball and looked to be playing a lot of innings this spring. We already know the stars on this team, and if these five guys can continue their current level of play it would be a huge boost to an already stacked roster. This 2024 South Carolina team is looking to be a very fun team to follow, and that is what we will do right here at College Baseball Central, so be on the lookout for more content on the 2024 South Carolina Gamecocks as we inch closer to spring ball!

All pictures courtesy of University of South Carolina Athletics


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