Feb. 6, 2017
By Brad Muller | More Features
When it comes to putting together a lineup, baseball coaches love having some versatility. Freshman Carlos Cortes gives South Carolina baseball coach Chad Holbrook plenty to think about. No, it's not a typo in the "bats/throws" column on the Gamecocks' roster as Cortes is an ambidextrous thrower, who throws with his right hand when he plays infield and throws with his left hand when he plays in the outfield and pitches.
“I started when I was about nine years old,” Cortes said. “I started to learn to do it because I was short and wasn’t very fast. I was already a lefty, so I didn’t have a lot of positions to play. My dad (Juan) wanted me to learn some new positions, so I did it.”
Cortes noted that it wasn’t an overnight transformation, and it took a lot of work.
“It took me until I was about 14 to become very good at it,” Cortes said. “That’s when it became normal or second nature to me. The hardest part was that I always wanted to go back to being lefty. It didn’t make sense at all, and I would refuse to do it.
“I’ve taken balls to the face. It was very dysfunctional at first, but throwing was definitely harder than catching (with the other arm).”
Once he started seeing results, it all made sense.
“Being able to play third base, second base, and outfield, made me like it,” Cortes said. “It’s made me more versatile. I’m confident in my arm, both ways. Everything my dad has done for me, I haven’t regretted.”
I’m a gap to gap hitter. I try to hit for average and for power.
Cortes said he feels equally comfortable at third base and in the outfield, and he also knows that cracking the lineup won’t be easy as there are very good players returning at all of those positions as well.
“I’ll play wherever I fit,” Cortes said. “Wherever makes sense. Third base feels good, but left field would be perfectly fine in my opinion, too, as long as I can help the team win.”
Offensively, although he is ambidextrous in the field, Cortes still only hits from the left side, which he did very well by batting .395 as a senior at Lake Howell High School in Florida.
“I’m a gap to gap hitter,” Cortes said. “I try to hit for average and for power. In college everyone has a really good changeup. So that’s been an adjustment. It was strictly fastballs and curveballs in high school.”
While he hits from the left side, Cortes quipped that he can use both arms with equal dexterity for other purposes.
“I can eat both ways,” Cortes smiled. “I’ve done that since I was kid. Actually, I’m naturally left-handed, but I write right-handed. I guess it was destined to be.”
A native of Oviedo, Fla., Cortes was highly sought after coming out of high school where he was selected in the 20th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft by the New York Mets. With numerous accolades and projections, Cortes liked what he saw at South Carolina.
“I always wanted to come here,” Cortes said. “My dad encouraged me to come here, and my family wanted me to go to school. That made the decision a little bit easier. I think this will be the best experience for me, and I’ll be playing with a bunch of guys who are like a family for me. It’s been amazing so far. Everyone is very good.”
Cortes said his desire to play at South Carolina came from seeing the program achieve at the highest level.
“Ever since I saw (us) win the 2010 National Championship, I fell in love with (South Carolina),” Cortes said. “I came here and saw this amazing stadium and this amazing college town, and ever since then I just wanted to be a Gamecock.”
As a top rated recruit, Cortes said he doesn’t feel any pressure coming into his first season.
“None of that matters,” Cortes said. “I’m just coming out every day and working hard. I’m just trying to win. That’s all that matters.”
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