Another Winthrop baseball player has decided to leave school.
Pitcher Alex Wilson, a first-team All-Big South Conference selection in each of his two years as an Eagle, will transfer at the end of the semester. Wilson is still enrolled at Winthrop and has not picked a destination, but visited Miami last week and is set to visit Texas A&M this weekend.
"It's hard for me to really put it into words; lots of little personal reasons," Wilson said, describing his reason for leaving. "The fit was not exactly what I was looking for."
Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery over the summer, injuring his elbow while pitching in the Cape Cod summer league. Although his rehabilitation is progressing nicely, Wilson won't play in 2008, wherever he winds up.
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He will have two years of eligibility remaining but could decide to forfeit them. That decision will come after the Major League Baseball Draft, which could have teams still interested in him despite the surgery.
"I've thought about it, but now that I've had the surgery, it's kind of set me back," Wilson said. "If I get lucky enough to have a good offer, I'll decide then."
The Big South Freshman of the Year in 2006, Wilson was 13-3 with a 3.78 ERA, striking out 143. Last year wasn't as good in the win-loss colum (5-4), but he still led the league with a .206 opponents' batting average and struck out 91.
Following the defection of fellow pitcher Jason Franzblau (Arizona State), the Eagles are without their top two weekend starters. Coach Joe Hudak, who began fall practice Tuesday, said he and the Eagles weren't concerned.
"All of us think, with him and (Phil Carey, who transferred to Texas A&M) and Franzblau, that's ancient history for us," Hudak said. "It has nothing to do with our club.
"We're very excited about the club that we have. The team chemistry has been exceptional this year so far. I expect it to continue."
Since Wilson wasn't going to pitch this year anyway, Hudak had advance notice on planning his rotation. Entering the fall session, Hudak was impressed with the pitchers of his 11-man signing class.
Junior college transfer Dave Carbonell, freshman Robert Lake and freshman Hamilton Bennett, a Fort Mill native, were mentioned as having shots of making the weekend rotation. Rock Hill native Cam Walters and returnees Josh McDonald and Ryan Schwartz could also stick.
There's also the possibility of more pitchers or players coming to Winthrop. This is the last year of the NCAA's rule for baseball transfers (after January, transfers will have to sit out a year whereas before, they could play right away), which played a large part in some of Winthrop's other players deciding to leave.
It could end up benefiting the Eagles by landing hurlers from other schools.
"That remains to be seen," Hudak said. "We'll kind of try to see how things go here in the fall, but if we get to the point where we're very satisfied with who we have, we may not bring somebody in.
"But I think right now, we're looking at probably trying to find one or two pitchers."