#22 Alabama Baseball 2015 Preview

Alabama Crimson Tide

Overall Rank: #22
Conference Rank: #6 SEC
#22 Alabama Baseball 2015 Preview
Alabama Team Page


Alabama brought in one of the top recruiting classes in the country in 2013. Collegiate Baseball ranked that group as the 16th best class in the country, while Baseball America had it as the fourth best. Now juniors, that class will look to make their mark on the Crimson Tide program. Prior to the class stepping foot on campus in 2012, Alabama recorded it only losing season since 1994. Since then Alabama has won 72 games and appeared in two straight NCAA Regionals. Nine members of that class are on the 2015 roster and with some of those players projected to go high in next June’s draft, this could be the last chance for the class to live up to the high praise they had entering college.

2014: 37-24, 15-14
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mitch Gaspard

Field Players:
A core of juniors will be counted on heavily offensively this season. Alabama loses their top three hitters average and RBI wise from last year, but four talented regulars return for their junior year. Shortstop Mikey White leads the group. An All-Star in the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer, White hit .300 with seven home runs and 33 RBI’s in addition to his .399 on base percentage last season. Tabbed a Preseason Third Team All-American by Perfect Game, White looks poised for a big senior season. While White anchors the infield, Georgie Salem will anchor the outfield. Salem has started every game since he stepped foot on campus and will man center field again this year after hitting .282 with 11 doubles in 2014.

Two other juniors, Kyle Overstreet and Chance Vincent, will join White in the infield. Overstreet started 60 games last year at second base and hit .278 with four home runs and 30 RBI’s while Vincent hit .254 in 56 appearances, 53 of which were starts. The junior could have a potential fifth impact player in Daniel Cucjen. Although Cucjen hasn’t seen consistent playing time so far in his career, he could be key in replacing the production lost from last year’s team. The Louisiana native hit .283 in 32 appearances as a sophomore and could be in the mix for the third base job if Vincent moves across the diamond to first. Two sophomores will also have big roles in the lineup. Casey Hughston started 47 games in the outfield last season and hit a solid .270, while catcher Will Haynie started 32 games last season. A big time recruit prior to last season, Haynie is set to take over behind the plate and has the potential to be a difference maker in the Crimson Tide lineup.

The Crimson Tide lose their top two starters from last year in Spencer Turnbull and Justin Kamplain and now have a huge hole to fill in their weekend rotation. Both players started 15 games apiece last year and were the only two pitchers to start double-digit games, but the majority of the rest of the staff returns and there are plenty of options for Alabama. Seniors Jon Keller and Taylor Guilbeau, as well as sophomores Nick Eicholtz and Geoffrey Bramblett, could be in the mix for rotation spots. Keller has the most experience in the role, as he started eight of his 14 appearances a year ago and went 5-2 with a 2.97 ERA. Guilbeau started just one of his 17 appearances last year, but that one start was a complete game five hitter in the Tallahassee Regional against Super Regional participant Kennesaw State. Eicholtz and Bramblett both held hitters to sub .200 averages last season while starting nine and five games respectively and both could see increased workloads this season.

Sophomore Thomas Burrows should return to the closer role in his second season and join senior Jay Shaw in the bullpen. The duo were first and second in appearances for the Crimson Tide last season and should be counted on heavily again. Burrows had 11 saves and a 2.15 ERA in 24 appearances, while Shaw went 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 23 appearances. Alabama’s staff will also return junior Ray Castillo and redshirt sophomore Mike Oczypok. After earning Freshman All-American honors in 2013 after a 12 save performance, Castillo served as a middle reliever last year and went 1-0 with a 5.09 ERA. Oczypok was a walk-on in 2013 and earned a regular role, going 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 12 appearances, including five starts, but missed last year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in March. Both players are pitchers that could have key roles and both should be integral parts to Alabama’s success.

Who to Watch:
Mike Oczypok came to Alabama as a relatively unknown player, but really came into his own when given a spot on the roster in 2013. That season, Oczypok developed into one of Alabama’s top pitchers. The six-foot-four right-hander went 8.2 innings in a 3-2 loss to then second ranked LSU in the SEC Tournament and then led the Crimson Tide in innings pitched in the NCAA Tournament with 15.2. Tommy John surgery ended his season last year, but Oczypok should be back in 2015 in a key role. If Oczypok can rebound from the surgery, he could be in the mix for big time innings and possibly even a weekend rotation spot.

Final Projection:
The talent is there for Alabama, but whether that talent can step into the roles needed for the Crimson Tide will determine the success for this team. Replacing the top three hitters and top two starting pitchers is no easy task. Alabama has plenty of options offensively, especially with a guy like Haynie who has the power potential to drive in a significant amount of runs, but the pitching could be an issue. Not many guys on the team have extensive starting experience, so a couple of players will need to make big jumps in 2015. The schedule isn’t easy for Alabama, as they square off against Houston and Louisiana-Lafayette in back-to-back weeks to close out February and open SEC play with Mississippi State. Alabama will need the veterans to produce. If both the juniors in the lineup and the juniors and seniors on the pitching staff can put up solid numbers, this team has the ability to be very good in 2015.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Georgie Salem, OF, 259
Hits: Georgie Salem, OF, 73
Home Runs: Mikey White, IF, 7
RBIs: Mikey White, IF, 33
Runs: Mikey White, IF, 50
Stolen Bases: Georgie Salem, OF, 6

Wins: Jon Keller, P, 5; Geoffrey Bramblett, P, 5
Innings Pitched: Jon Keller, P, 66.2
Strikeouts: Geoffrey Bramblett, P, 49
Saves: Thomas Burrows, P, 11

Madness 2015 MLB Draft Rankings:
#57 Mikey White


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