Propst gaining experience in summer league
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Hollywood makes movies out of stories like Jordan Propst. An average guy goes from a face in the crowd to a pitcher contending for time in a championship atmosphere. But for the South Carolina junior, his hope is the movie script-like story is just beginning.
After brief appearances for the Gamecocks during the regular season, Propst was selected to play for the Thomasville Hi-Toms of the Coastal Plain League. It's a whirlwind experience that he has enjoyed soaking in.
"It's everything and more. I didn't have quite the year I wanted to have, kind of struggled a little bit. But I got my feet wet," Propst said. "I feel like it was a productive year. I had some good experience and I'll be ready to go next year."
At Gaffney High School, the right hander accumulated a 7-2 record and a sub-3.00 ERA during his senior year. He was a two-time SC All-Academic team selection. But when the choice between baseball and academics came up, Propst chose USC's pharmacy school and put the game on the back burner.
But after sitting in the stands for a few seasons, he decided to try out for Ray Tanner's squad as a walk-on. And the rest, as they say, is history. The junior made the team and appeared in five games with 6 2/3 innings worth of work. He struck out eight batters but did allow six earned runs, resulting in an ERA just above 10.
Despite not putting up the numbers he wanted, Propst believes that layoff from action might have actually helped him rather than hurt.
"I think if anything it kind of gave my arm a break. It might have helped my arm strength out a little bit," Propst said.
Though the team made a run to the Regionals, the Gamecocks had a weakness in the relief pitching. Propst, who was expected to make an impact out of the bullpen this season, was one of the players left off the team's travel roster. That prompted the Carolina coaching staff to try and get the pitcher some more work before next season as they hoped he could be a factor out of the bullpen.
The result – an unexpected trip to mid-North Carolina.
"I didn't have a clue I was coming up here. I knew that they had told me I might have a chance, but they were in East Carolina and I got a call that said I had to be up there (the next) morning. So I packed my stuff and left as soon as I could," Propst said.
Though the season is just getting underway, Propst has already made his presence known on the pitching staff. His nine innings of work are second on the Thomasville roster, and he has made four appearances with one start. Those numbers include two innings of relief against the Columbia Blowfish, where he struck out three with his family in attendance.
While the work on the mound has been a welcome addition to the team, Hi-Toms' coach Ray Greene is impressed with what he brings to both the mound and locker room.
"He's brought a lot of enthusiasm, and he's been a healthy arm for us in the beginning here. He's done a great job for us," Greene said.
Propst will be working very quickly for the Hi-Toms this summer as his stint with the team will only last a little over a month. The pharmacy student is scheduled to take part in an internship at a Walgreen's in Columbia starting on July 6, though he said he could be back on the team if the Hi-Toms make the Pettit Cup Playoffs at the end of the season. Thomasville has won the league title for three straight seasons.
While he won't get to spend the entire season on the team, Propst is hoping to use his time in North Carolina as an experience building exercise that will get him ready for next season.
"I've had three relief appearances and a start so far. I threw the ball well. I think one bad inning kind of got to me, but other than that I've thrown the ball really well," Propst said. "Playing for a program like (USC), I've got great coaches working for me, trying to help me out. I'm playing for a great program now (at Thomasville). Trying to get some innings, trying to work out all the kinks, and I should be ready to go next year."
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