The Gamecocks lose quite a bit of production from last season. The team is projected to be strong because of its pitching staff, which is full of aces. There may be reason to be optimistic about the offense as well.
I posted last week about the exciting new leadoff man Danny Blair. There is no guarantee Blair wins the competition for one of the two open outfield spots. He has some competition from guys like @TJ_Hopkins, Brandon @Mc11wain, and freshman Carlos @losCortes_14.
Here’s my guess at what looks to be a first weekend starting lineup. The statistics are from the 2016 season. Quite a few of the players projected here have limited experience.
I’m guessing Cortes gets the start at second base. But he could get in the lineup at DH, 3B, or as an outfielder. Cortes is an intriguing prospect who is ambidextrous throwing. He throws left handed when playing the outfield but throws right-handed when playing the infield. Left handed throwing infielders face significant disadvantages from a defensive standpoint.
The defense is a question mark. The Gamecocks replace shortstop Marcus Mooney and centerfielder Gene Cone. There is an old baseball adage that great teams are strong up the middle.
The bench is limited by a scarcity of left handed power. Excluding pitchers, there is only one lefty pinch hitter available–Riley Hogan a freshmen switch hitter. That means if @cholbrook2 uses the lineup I projected, opposing coaches can put the Gamecocks at a disadvantage selectively using right handed relief pitchers.
Nevertheless, Chad Holbrook has a lot of flexibility. It will be interesting to watch him manage this toolbox.