#26 Georgia Tech Baseball 2014 Preview

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Overall Rank: #26
Conference Rank: #7 ACC
#26 Georgia Tech Baseball 2014 Preview
Georgia Tech Team Page


Georgia Tech had a great start to last season, going 18-3 in the first 21 games, and rode that success to a berth in the NCAA Tournament.  The Yellow Jackets were the 2nd seed in Vanderbilt’s regional and made it to the regional final before losing to the hosts.  A lot of players depart, including five players who were top 300 picks in the 2013 MLB Draft, but a talented freshmen class enters and they will look to keep Georgia Tech’s success going.

2013: 37-27, 15-15
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Danny Hall

Field Players:
The field players will be led by the freshmen recruiting class. Seven field players enter this season and many of them will see early playing time.  Four of the freshman hit over .300 in the Yellow Jacket’s fall series, led by Keegan Innis.  The outfielder hit .385 with seven runs scored and five stolen bases.  Outfielder Ryan Peurifoy hit .370 and infielders Connor Justus and Elliot Barzilli hit .364 and .333, respectively. Barzilli added a home run and four RBI’s.  Highly rated catching prospect Arden Pabst and third baseman/pitcher Brandon Gold should also see time.  They will join a solid group of returning players.  Sophomore infielder Michael Gonzalez leads the returnees after hitting .291 with three home runs and 37 RBI’s.  He followed up his freshman season by finishing second in the College Home Run Derby.  Senior middle infielder Mott Hyde also is back after hitting .260 with six home runs and 32 RBI’s.  A.J. Murray will be back at first base after hitting .271 with five home runs and 35 RBI’s as a sophomore.  He also drew 30 walks and had a .371 on base percentage.  Thomas Smith could also see time in the infield after starting 30 games and hitting .286 with three home runs last year.  Mitch Earnest should see time at catcher after hitting .302 with three home runs in 62 at bats, while Daniel Spignola will return to the outfield after hitting .256.

The Yellow Jackets return a lot of experience from last year’s pitching staff.  Three pitchers who had at least ten starts return.  Dusty Isaacs went 4-8 with a 4.91 ERA in 16 starts, while Cole Pitts started 13 games and went 5-3 with a 4.71 ERA.  Jonathon King appeared in 24 games with ten starts and went 6-5 with a 4.04 ERA.  A pair of other players could start.  Matthew Graves missed last season with an injury after starting before the injury and Josh Heddinger had a solid year last season.  He started six games and went 3-0 with a 4.60 ERA.  A lot of production returns in the bullpen.  Jonathon Roberts went 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA in 21 appearances, while Joe Wiseman had a 2.93 ERA in 16 appearances.  Alex Cruz and Sam Clay both pitched in over 20 games and both won a pair.  Freshmen pitchers Zac Ryan and Matt Phillips also could see time on the mound.

Who to Watch:
Matthew Grimes should be a key piece of the pitching rotation this season.  He missed last season due to an arm injury, but pitched well while he was healthy at Georgia Tech.  He was 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 2012 and went 7-4 with a 4.15 ERA as a freshman in 2011.  He was a fourth round draft pick out of high school in 2010 and was a 31st round pick last June.  He should be a key piece of the weekend rotation.

Final Projection:
Georgia Tech will need the freshmen to produce early to have success.  The schedule early is relatively weak, which should help the freshmen get used to the college game and pick up some early wins.  The ACC will be a tough conference this season, so wins will be at a premium.  The Yellow Jackets do have 35 home games this year, including series with Miami and Florida State.  If the freshmen and returnees can mesh together, expect the Yellow Jackets to have another successful season.   

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: A.J. Murray, IF, 236
Hits:  Matt Gonzalez, IF, 66
Home Runs: Mott Hyde, IF, 6
RBIs: Matt Gonzalez, IF, 37
Runs: A.J. Murray, IF, 41
Stolen Bases: Matt Gonzalez, IF, 10

Wins: Jonathon King, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Dusty Isaacs, P, 82.2
Strikeouts: Dusty Isaacs, P, 67
Saves: Jonathon Roberts, P, 2; Jonathon King, P, 2


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