#38 Alabama Baseball 2014 Preview

Alabama Crimson Tide

Overall Rank: #38
Conference Rank: #9 SEC
#38 Alabama Baseball 2014 Preview
Alabama Team Page


The Alabama Crimson Tide will look to improve on a successful season where they finished 35-28 and made an NCAA Regional.  Alabama was the 2nd seed in the Tallahassee Regional, but were upset by Troy, falling to the Trojans twice.  The Crimson Tide brought in one of the top recruiting classes in the entire country last year and many of those freshmen played important roles.  Those players will be back this season, as will a number of other returning upperclassmen, and will try to lead Alabama back to the NCAA Tournament.  

2013: 35-28, 14-15
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mitch Gaspard

Field Players:
Alabama returns five of their top six hitters from last season.  Freshman All-American shortstop Mikey White leads the returnees after hitting .287 last year.  White added three home runs and 30 RBI’s in his first year on campus.  Junior Ben Moore is also back after an impressive season.  Moore hit .280 with four home runs and a team-high 41 RBI’s.  He also led the team with 16 stolen bases.  First baseman Austen Smith and second baseman Kyle Overstreet will be back to complete the right side of the infield.  Smith hit .279 with 40 RBI’s and a team leading seven home runs, while Overstreet hit .270 and added 37 RBI’s.  Sophomore Georgie Salem will be back in the outfield for his second season.  Salem hit .269 and drew 27 walks, which ranked second on the team.  Chase Vincent and Ryan Blanchard also return after seeing quality playing time last year.  Both played in over 30 games and will be counted on to replace departed players.  A trio of other players, senior Steven Cole, junior Cary Baxter, and sophomore Daniel Cucjen return after seeing limited time last year.  They will compete for the vacant playing time.

Junior Spencer Turnbull will be the ace of the starting rotation.  Turnbull started 15 games last year and was 4-3 with a 3.70 ERA.  Nobody else returning started more than ten games last season, but there are a handful of candidates to join Turnball in the starting rotation.  Tucker Hawley looks to be the best of the bunch.  He appeared in 20 games last year, starting five of them, going 5-2 with a 2.93 ERA.  Taylor Guilbeau also had a good year, going 4-2 with a 3.14 ERA while starting seven games.  Jon Keller and Justin Kamplain are also back after starting nine and six games, respectively, but they have the two highest returning ERA’s.  Mike Oczypok started five games as a freshman and went 5-2 record with a solid 3.02 era.  In the bullpen, Ray Castillo is back after a dominant freshman season.  Castillo was the closer and picked up 12 saves, making the Freshman All-American team.  Jay Shaw and Mitch Greer will provide bullpen depth.  Shaw posted a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings in 2013.  Freshman Nick Eicholtz could see some time on the mound this season.  Eicholtz was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2013 MLB Draft, but opted for the college route.

Who to Watch:
Spencer Turnbull will be key to Alabama’s success this season.  He is the only player that returns from last year’s starting rotation.  Turnbull was recently included on Baseball America’s Top 100 Draft Eligible player list at number 55.  He has the talent to be a dominant starter and will be counted on to improve on his 4-3 record for Alabama to have another successful season.

Final Projection:
Alabama was a very young team last season, and with a season under their belts, those young players are poised to have a big season.  Those players showed their talent last year by making the tournament in a very tough SEC.  The Crimson Tide will be tested early as two of their first three series are against teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year.  If Alabama can figure out their pitching staff, expect this team to be back in the NCAA tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Georgie Salem, OF, 264
Hits: Georgie Salem, OF, 71
Home Runs: Austen Smith, 1B, 7
RBIs: Ben Moore, OF/C, 41
Runs: Ben Moore, OF/C, 40
Stolen Bases: Ben Moore, OF/C, 16

Wins: Tucker Hawley, P, 5; Mike Oczypok, P, 5
Innings Pitched: Spencer Turnbull, P, 90.0
Strikeouts: Jon Keller, P, 56
Saves: Ray Castillo, P, 12

Madness 2014 MLB Draft Rankings:
#102 Spencer Turnbull


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