It would have been tough for the first calendar year of the Mark Kingston era at South Florida to have gone any better. We’ve discussed it a little bit in the past, but all of it bears repeating.
First, he and his coaching staff hit the ground running in 2015 and got the team into a regional for the first time in more than a decade. He had a veteran team with some key pieces in place, to be sure, but few seemed ready to predict that the Bulls were going to end up in the postseason in year one under the new staff.
Once the season was over, the good times kept rolling, as the staff successfully reeled in a potentially game-changing recruiting class.
The class is a consensus top-ten class. Baseball America has the class ranked eighth in the nation, while D1Baseball.com has them slotted seventh. The individual pieces within the class are as impressive as the whole.
Nine incoming freshmen from this recruiting class are a part of Perfect Game’s list of top 350 incoming freshmen. Further, five members of this class, Garrett Zech, Joe Genord, Robert Montes, Chris Chatfield, and Shane McClanahan, were drafted in the most recent MLB Draft, and all of them elected to come to USF rather than begin their careers in pro baseball.
For a team that hasn’t had a ton of success of late, that’s a great haul, indicative of how skilled Kingston and staff are at selling their vision for the program, even with just a year’s worth of track record at USF to use as proof.
With this type of talent coming to Tampa, you can expect some of these kids to get on the field right away and make a difference, and that means a couple of things.
For one, they’re going to be a lot of fun to watch, not only because of the raw talent on display, but also because we’ll get a glimpse of what the future will hold for USF.
As far as results go, it could be a bit of a roller coaster. Thanks to youthful exuberance and naïveté, they’ll probably win some games that you wouldn’t expect them to win. At the same time, though, going from high school baseball to big-time Division I baseball is a big leap, and that adjustment will probably cause them to lose some games that you expected them to win.
No matter how things shake out, with the presence of a super-talented group of freshmen on the field, the 2016 USF Bulls season is not going to be something to miss.