Clemson right-hander Daniel Gossett will likely start the opener against William & Mary on Feb. 15, but he isn’t taking anything for granted.
“You have to (work) every single day, trying to get better,” Gossett said. “If one day I slack off, there’s another guy behind me fighting for my job.
The Byrnes High product aims to build on a strong freshman campaign, leading the Tigers in strikeouts (87) and opposing batting average (.221) last season.
“He was our No. 1 guy at the end of the year,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. “We have a lot of confidence in Daniel and we look for him to have a major role for us. And if we started today, he’d be our Friday night guy.”
Providing that competition for his job (but more likely someone else’s) are 10 new additions to the rotation, made up of nine true freshmen and a junior college signee (right-handed submariner Kyle Schnell).
Gossett, among others at Monday’s baseball media day, said lefties Zack Erwin (Duluth, Ga., 6-4 180) and Matthew Crownover (Ringgold, Ga., 5-11 195) have especially turned heads.
“Crownover’s work ethic, coming back from Tommy John (surgery), is amazing to see what he does every day to get back to where he needs to be,” said Gossett. “He’s throwing great.
“And Zack Erwin is the goofiest kid I’ve ever seen come in there – and then all of a sudden he’s got mound presence and he’s dealing and it’s great to see from the young guys.”
Leggett said Crownover is about 10 months removed from the surgery on his elbow, but progressing like he’s never seen before, keying the impressive preseason.
“I think he’s getting back to where he needs to be,” Leggett said. “He was slowing starting off (because of surgery), but he’s way ahead of (where) any normal human being would be. He works extremely hard.”
Gossett sees something in Crownover and Erwin that he didn’t have himself last season.
“Looking back at (last year), I feel like I wasn’t like that at all to be honest,” he said. “I had no mound presence. I was a little scared freshman. It’s something I like to see because they won’t have to go through the learning curve I had to.”
But the sophomore has taken the initiative with the younger players to take in those lessons early.
“Knowing what they’ve been through, I can talk to them,” Gossett said. “I’m trying to eliminate the awkward questions and just go after them. Attack them and say this is what’s going to happen…you’re going to need to have mound presence and you’re going to need to locate a fastball down.
“Just trying to hit them with what they need before they find out the hard way.”