Angels, Orioles, Mariners feature Gamecocks on 2013 rosters
With two national championships in the past four seasons, Gamecock baseball has attracted attention of USC students, alumni, baseball fans, and most importantly for the players, Major League Baseball scouts. Even before the titles, South Carolina was well represented in the MLB; 42 Gamecocks have seen time in major leagues, and USC, along with having 22 former players in the minor leagues, currently boasts four alumni in the major leagues.
The Los Angeles Angels have had two Gamecocks on their roster this year, in pitchers Michael Roth and Billy Buckner. Buckner, a right-handed pitcher, was drafted in the second round of the 2004 draft by the Kansas City Royals. After playing in the majors for the Royals and the Diamondbacks, he started his career with the Angels this year and is sporting a 1-0 with 16.2 innings pitched so far. His ERA is 3.78, which is slightly below the league average.
Roth, the left-handed pitcher who has the reputation for teasing hitters with his changeup and strike zone manipulation, was demoted to Double-A ball on Tuesday. After being drafted in the ninth round of the 2012 draft, Roth was called up on June 27, 2013 as a relief pitcher. Roth’s major league record is 1-1 with an ERA of 7.2, most recently tossing one inning against the Seattle Mariners on July 12. He has room to grow into the Major Leagues and use his non-traditional pitching to the advantage of the Angels.
Two more former USC players are with the Baltimore Orioles this year. Steve Pearce, a first basemen and left fielder, has three home runs with a batting average of .235, but he is currently on the 15-day disabled list for tendinitis in his left wrist.
Brian Roberts, a second baseman, was drafted by the Orioles in 1999 in a supplemental round. Roberts is the oldest Gamecock still playing in the MLB. Roberts is a little behind the league batting average with .250 and two homers for the season. Along with spending a large portion of his career with the Orioles, Roberts and his wife are very involved in the Baltimore community and have partnered with the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital to start the One for All Fund to financially support the hospital.
Justin Smoak, a first baseman for the Seattle Mariners, was the eleventh pick in the 2008 draft and was the highest picked former USC player currently playing in the major leagues. He has nine home runs for the season with 23 RBIs and a batting average of .266. Since coming off the disabled list in mid-June, his average is .333 and he is considered one of the Mariners’ most productive hitters.