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USC's "Stock" is Rising

There is a great article in today's Daily News about freshman Robert Stock. Stock gave up his senior year in high school to attend USC early and play baseball at a higher competitive level.

Robert Stock isn't sure where he'll be next Saturday, but he's certain it'll be someplace he wouldn't want to miss. He might be playing in the college baseball playoffs, or he could be attending a high school prom.

The first year of the experiment in which Stock bypassed his senior year at Agoura High to play baseball at USC is nearing an end. To all those naysayers who thought he was crazy when his decision was announced last August, Stock is pleased to say he just might have found the best of both worlds.

USC provided the higher level of baseball experience he sought while remaining close enough to home to keep in touch with his high school friends - most notably the longtime girlfriend whom he is hoping to accompany to next weekend's prom, making him feel as if he hasn't really missed out on senior experiences.

"It's been exactly what I was looking for," Stock said. "Our season has more losses than we'd hoped and I didn't play as well as I'd have liked to, but it's been what I wanted in that it's been a constant challenge. That's what makes you better, striving to reach that challenge.

"In high school, I'd already done it. There wasn't really anything left for me there and I don't think it would have helped me as a player.

That is a big jump and I give the kid credit for taking a shot at it. Had he stayed in HS and not attended SC he would have likely been a top pick in June's MLB draft possibly making him millions and this kid is still only 17 years old as he didn't turn 17 until the end of the first semester. He has some great options in the off-season. He had been invited to be a member of the US National Team but instead chose to go to the Cape Cod league instead because he would have more playing time. Talk about gifted.

From Coach Kreuter

"We would have liked for his average to be a little higher. But really, he's done extremely well, especially considering his age," Kreuter said. "He's had some clutch home runs for us and he's done well behind the plate. ...

"He's physically very capable out there. But his inexperience has come into play because he doesn't have the game experience. ... He had a little tougher time being the guy in charge. That's one thing I've stressed, that he needs to take charge, grab the reigns and make this his team. That's not easy when you're 17 playing with guys who are 20, 21 years old.

"He won over his teammates by playing well. What he needs to do now is tell them he can be their leader."

This must have been a great experience for him. I know we will see a lot more from him in the seasons to come.

Update [2007-5-27 8:48:40 by Paragon SC]: here is the L.A.Times take on Stock.

From the Article.

Stock, who bats left-handed, is hitting .252 with four home runs and 23 runs batted in after the Trojans (27-28 overall, 8-15 in Pacific 10 Conference play) lost the first two games of a three-game series against Stanford. With a fastball that has been clocked in the mid-90s, Stock's record fell to 2-2 as he took the loss Friday, pitching 5 1/3 innings of relief.

Stock's statistics are respectable if not awe-inspiring. Former Trojans catcher Jeff Clement, for example, slugged 21 home runs as a freshman in 2003. And current Trojans shortstop Grant Green and UCLA freshman outfielder Gabe Cohen were selected by Pac-10 coaches as co-newcomers of the year.

But Stock said he had no regrets about leaving high school behind and jumping into one of the nation's best baseball conferences a year ahead of schedule.

"I've had to struggle and make adjustments in my game so I haven't performed up to my expectations, but that's all right because if it was too easy, what was the point of coming?" said Stock, who turned 17 in November and is thought to be the youngest Division I player in the nation.