#24 Georgia Tech Baseball 2016 Preview

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Overall Rank: #24
Conference Rank: #7 ACC
Georgia Tech Logo 
Georgia Tech’s 2015 season ended on a sour note. In their last five games, they were outscored 59-5. Three of those games were at Miami and the last was against Virginia in the ACC tournament, but the Yellow Jackets proved that they were not a team that was ready to seriously compete in the ACC or make a case for an NCAA Tournament berth.
2015: 32-23, 13-17
2015 Postseason: None
Coach: Danny Hall
Field Players:
Georgia Tech’s offense needs to step up and that could be tough to do without A.J. Murray. Murray led the team with 15 homeruns, 16 doubles and 51 RBIs. He was the slugger that could be counted on to drive in runs. However, there is power returning. Most notable is sophomore Kel Johnson. As a freshman he batted .298 with 10 homers and 34 RBI. Matt Gonzalez is an experienced senior with some pop in his bat too. He was second on the team with 42 RBIs and was the only other player besides Murray and Johnson to go yard more than twice during the 2015 campaign. Wade Bailey, Connor Justus and Arden Pabst will not hit for average, but all three are capable of driving in runs.
This is where Georgia Tech won games last year and this is why they are a team that can do some serious damage in the ACC and the NCAA Tournament. Zac Ryan is one of the best closers in the game. Last season he made a team high 28 appearances and tallied a 9-1 record with seven saves. But the rest of the regulars are back too. Brandon Gold was the most effective starter last season, tallying a 7-3 record with a 3.26 ERA. Jonathan King started a team high 15 games. He is not a strikeout pitcher, but has great control and keeps the ball down. Ben Parr, with nine starts, and Cole Pitts, with 11 starts, also return. Pitts is a big 6-5 righty, but he allowed nine homeruns in just 45.2 innings. Matthew Gorst proved to be an effective reliever last season and Coach Danny Hall has brought in a solid recruiting class that will look to make an impact, especially on the mound.
Who to Watch:
The offense simply needs players to get on base. Johnson and Gonzalez are good enough power hitters to replace Murray and then some, but they need to get to the plate with runners in scoring position. Keenan Innis and Ryan Peurifoy may be the two players who find themselves on base the most. Innis started 39 games last season and batted .310. Peurifoy only had 102 at-bats, but he was effective during those opportunities, leading the team with a .324 batting average and .386 on-base percentage.
Final Projection:
This will be an interesting season for Georgia Tech. The way last season ended will linger for a while, but this group has talent. Louisville is not on the schedule, but the Yellow Jackets begin ACC play with a trip to Florida State. That could quickly put Georgia Tech at the bottom of the pack in the ACC standings. From there they should be able to crawl their way back up until May when they host Miami and head to Virginia for what could be two key series that decide Georgia Tech’s NCAA Tournament fate.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Matt Gonzalez, IF/OF, 221
Hits: Matt Gonzalez, IF/OF, 63
Home Runs: Kel Johnson, OF, 10
RBIs: Matt Gonzalez, IF/OF, 42
Runs: Wade Bailey, IF, 32; Connor Justus, IF, 32
Stolen Bases: Matt Gonzalez, IF/OF, 10
Wins: Zac Ryan, P, 9
Innings Pitched: Jonathan King, P, 92.0
Strikeouts: Brandon Gold, P, 71
Saves: Zac Ryan, P, 7

Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#10 Tristin English