The 2017 season, on some level, must have been an exercise in patience and humility for South Carolina’s Carlos Cortes, as freshman seasons probably often are for talented individuals all over the country.
After coming to Columbia with much fanfare as perhaps the best freshman to make it to a college campus prior to the 2017 season, Cortes’s career got off to a sputtering start. He wasn’t playing right away, and when he was, things just weren’t clicking for him at the plate.
But as the season wore on, he got more comfortable and not only showed why he was such a heralded high school prospect, but also carried the Gamecocks’ offense from time to time. When it was all said and done, he had hit .286/.368/.565 with 12 home runs, good for the team lead, and 41 RBI, which placed him second on the squad. For an illustration of how strong he came on late in the season, look no further than his numbers in SEC play, theoretically the games in which it’s most difficult for a hitter to have success.
In those contests, he led the team with a .327 batting average, to go along with seven homers and 23 RBI. Arguably, his best work came during the SEC Tournament in Hoover, when the Gamecocks nearly did enough to gain a postseason berth that looked like a pipe dream prior to the event. Cortes blasted three homers during the week, good enough to earn him a spot on the SEC All-Tournament Team.
Now, Cortes is going to be a key piece for Mark Kingston, as the new head coach works to get the Gamecocks back into the postseason in 2018. They’ll need a number of players to step up and some new faces to emerge for the program to reach its goals, but Cortes is one heck of a foundational piece around whom to build.