The ace of the Gamecocks pitching staff is senior Michael Roth. Recruited as a first basemen out of Greer, South Carolina, Roth was turned into a left handed reliever. His Sophmore year he pitched well out of the bullpen and got his first opportunity to start in the College World Series.
Ray Tanner expected him to go three to four innings at the most. Instead Roth pitched a one run, three hit, complete game against in-state rival Clemson. Since then he's been spectacular for the Gamecocks posting a 1.06 ERA last year in 145 innings and a 2.60 ERA this year in 86.2 innings.
Roth has a fastball that sits in the mid to high 80's, a changeup (best pitch), a curve and a slider, all with good movement. He's essentially Dallas Keuchel.
He has control, 2.69 BB/9 in college, but needs to work on his command. I've read scouting reports that say he has good command, but in the game I watched him pitch during the SEC tournament he appeared to struggle with hitting the catchers target. His delivery is deceptive, doing a good job of hiding the ball. Depending on the handiness of the hitter at the plate he'll change his arm slot: against lefties he uses the side arm slot and against righties he uses the three quarters arm slot.
Typically what happens with a successful pitcher that lacks high octane stuff is he gets praised for the intangibles he brings to the mound. Roth having pitched in the highest pressure situations of college baseball is no different. Not only is he lauded for his presence on the mound, but also for his character off the field. Do a Google images search and you'll be hard pressed to find an image of Roth not smiling.
Minor League reliever. Roth really needs to work on his command and developing his pitches further.
Major League reliever. Roth could have a similar climb through the system that Keuchel has had. There's the possibility that he defies all scouting logic and starts, but even if he does he'll be a back end of the rotation starter and the more likely scenario is that of a reliever.
Projected Draft Round
I think he could go in the late first 10 rounds of the draft like Keuchel did, but it's more likely he falls some where well after the 10 rounds. Last year the Cleveland Indians selected him in the 31st round as a Junior. Unless Roth does something amazing in the College World Series I don't think he's really improved his stock all that much. One thing that will be working in his favor is the new CBA which gives teams only a $100k signing bonus to work with after the 10th round. Meaning teams may shy away from drafting high school players with college commitments in the later rounds. If a team is looking for a sure sign Roth is it.
Will he sign?
Senior, yes, see above.
Bibliography, gifs and video after the jump
Michael Roth perfectly fits the mold of crafty lefty. He has built on his performance at the 2010 CWS and is putting together a stellar campaign as South Carolina’s ace. Roth changes speeds well and shows good command.
Roth throws his fastball in the high 80′s. His best secondary pitch is his changeup, which is particularly effective against righthanded hitters. He also uses a curve against righties and a slider against lefties. Roth’s arm slot drops from high 3/4 against righties to low 3/4, almost sidearm, against lefthanded hitters.
Roth was used primarily as a situational reliever until the 2010 CWS and that role may be his best chance to make it to the Majors.
Roth is not a power pitcher (his fastball generally clocks in the mid- to upper eighties), but he's a smart guy who makes his living outwitting batters. He's your classic crafty lefty: He gets right-handed batters to chase after curves and bite on change-ups, and he likes to use a slider against left-handed batters. He also throws side-arm against lefties. There are many pro pitchers who are able to make a living off this kind of strategy, and Roth has certainly proven--the numbers speak for themselves--that he's capable of thriving off being a multiple-pitch guy.
"A lot of lefties have some good ones, but his has maybe a little deeper action than some, the late sink on it, plus it has the change of speed. Even with close to a traditional changeup grip, he just gets a little more action on it. He has a lot of conviction with it, and he knows it's going to be a pretty good pitch for him. Even when he doesn't have his best one, he knows he can change slots, throw some cutters in on righties' hands, and do some things with his fastball that maybe some other guys who don't locate as well can't do."