#36 Georgia Tech Baseball Preview

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Overall Rank: #36
Conference Rank: #7 ACC
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The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had a bit of a roller coaster ride last season.  They peaked with a fantastic run at the 2012 ACC Baseball Conference Tournament in Greensboro and slugged their way through to the tournament championship. With the automatic bid, the team battled hard in the Gainesville Regional but fell short to Florida in the Regional Championship game 15-3. With veteran head coach Danny Hall at the controls, the Yellow Jackets are always going to be a tough out and 2013 should be no different with 23 letter winners returning.

2012: 38-26, 12-18 ACC
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Danny Hall

Field Players:
Senior outfielder Brandon Thomas leads the way with what should be another balanced explosive Yellow Jacket offense in 2013. Thomas led the team in batting average in 2012 as he hit .360.  He has a good mix of ability to hit for power when needed and can cause havoc on the bases as he stole 12 bases in 2012. Sam Dove is another senior that can play both infield and outfield and was consistent in 2012 with a .340 batting average.  And if he can cut down on the 18 errors from last season, it will help take the pressure off the offense by not needing to score as many runs in 2013. The power will be supplied primarily from Daniel Palka who hit 12 homeruns and drove in 47. He is a dual-threat as he is also a pitcher as well.  

New pitching coach, Jason Howell, has a task ahead of him developing more pitching depth to put the Yellow Jackets in position to succeed in the postseason. Buck Farmer is the anchor of the staff but he is going to need help in 2013 if Georgia Tech is to truly maximize its potential and make a run to the College World Series. Farmer was 8-4 in 16 starts and struck out 115 in 106 innings, while walking only 37. Sophomore Cole Pitts was the other workhorse in 2012.  In his freshman season, he went 6-4, but his big issue was giving up way too many hits to innings pitched as he gave up 98 in 78 innings pitched. That has to level out in 2013, especially in ACC weekend series where teams offensively are very difficult to deal with. The closer role is secure as Zane Evans returns in 2013, coming off a season with seven saves. Evans has excellent control and can be dominant at times.  He had 34 strikeouts in 36.2 innings and he held opponents to a .226 batting average.

Who to Watch:
The key to this incoming freshman class in regard to immediate impact will start on the mound with Sam Clay. Clay is a big 6-3 left hander, who will be counted on to get into the mix of either the weekend rotation or one of the midweek starting roles. Also, Hayden Barnett is a big right-hander who could help start or shore up the bullpen. In the field, look for Grant Wruble, Dylan Dore, and Matt Gonzalez to compete and be in the mix for extended playing time as well in 2013.

Final Projection:
The Yellow Jackets will be tested early as they take on St. John’s at Russ Chandler Stadium, along with battles with Coastal Carolina and in-state rival Georgia to go along with an always fierce ACC Conference slate. Key home series include visits from North Carolina, NC State, and Virginia along with hostile road trips to Florida State and Clemson. If Georgia Tech can find a way to take just a little bit of pressure off the offense by developing more pitching depth behind Buck Farmer, then the Yellow Jackets should be able to find their way back into the NCAA Tournament.   They should also be in a better position in the Regional round to survive an early loss instead of running out pitching like they did in the Gainesville Regional last June. This squad will always score runs consistently under Danny Hall and 2013 should be no exception with the leadership of Brandon Thomas. Look for Georgia Tech to be around the 40 win mark and safely in the NCAA Tournament once again.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Kyle Wren, OF, 258
Hits: Sam Dove, IF/OF, 86
Home Runs: Daniel Palka, IF/OF/P, 12
RBIs: Zane Evans, C, 51
Runs: Brandon Thomas, OF, 56
Stolen Bases:  Kyle Wren, Of, 16

Wins: Buck Farmer, P, 8
Innings Pitched: Buck Farmer, P, 106.0
Strikeouts: Buck Farmer, P, 115
Saves: Zane Evans, P, 7

Madness 2013 MLB Draft Rankings:
#79 Daniel Palka


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