2017 College Preseason Top 25 Capsules: No. 21 Georgia Tech

2017 College Preview

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21. Georgia Tech

2016 Record (Ranking): 38-25 (NR). RPI: 22.
Coach (Record at school): Danny Hall (1,169-594-1, 23 years).
Postseason History: 31 regionals (active streak: 1), 3 CWS trips (last in 2006), 0 national titles.

Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall jokes that there were two versions of the Yellow Jackets last year.

"When we pitched Brandon Gold and (Matthew) Gorst, we were a good team," Hall said, laughing. "When we didn't pitch those guys, we kind of had to scrap for everything."

Gold went 9-3, 2.48 in 105.1 innings last year, giving the Yellow Jackets a chance to win every Friday. Gorst, the team's closer, was even more impressive, posting a 0.55 ERA and tallying 12 saves in 49 innings. But remove those two arms, and the rest of the staff pitched to a 5.80 ERA.

This year, the Georgia Tech pitching staff should offer significantly more depth after dealing with an injury-ravaged 2016. Talented redshirt freshman Jonathan Hughes, drafted by the Orioles in the second round out of high school, only got through five starts before injury ended his season. But Hall said he's back throwing bullpens and has looked sharp. Hughes is projected to lead the rotation and has Friday-night stuff. Two-way player Tristin English and fifth-year senior Jonathan King—Georgia Tech's Friday starter in 2015—also didn't factor into last season on the mound, and both should provide an additional boost.

Add in freshman righthander Xzavion Curry, who Hall said has the best arm on the staff, and the Yellow Jackets should be more than just a two-man show on the mound.

If those pitchers can hold their own, they should receive plenty of support from an offense that scored 6.8 runs per game in 2016. Georgia Tech will miss three-hole hitter Matt Gonzalez, who hit a team-leading .378/.419/.577 with 11 home runs last year, and starting shortstop Connor Justus. But returners Kel Johnson, Trevor Craport and English should provide plenty of thump, and Hall expects offensive progress from catcher Joey Bart and especially outfielder Brandt Stallings, who has long flashed salivating tools.

"He's tooled out, as they say," Hall said. "He does have major tools. He has major power. And the thing he really improved on last year was playing in the outfield. He got much better there . . . He's a guy that maybe a lot of people don't know about, but he can kind of emerge and explode on the scene here."

Georgia Tech will have to settle on a shortstop to replace Justus, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Angels and won't be easy to replace. Carter Hall, Danny Hall's son, is the favorite for the role, but he's not a lock.

One of 10 regional teams out of the ACC last year, the Yellow Jackets seem poised to get there again—if not further—barring further injury trouble.

"I think a lot will depend on the health of our pitching staff as to how those guys stay together and progress as we get going here," Hall said. "I think position-player wise, even though we lost two really good players in Matt Gonzalez and Connor Justus, I think we have a lot of depth."

C Joey Bart, So. .299 .351 .382 1 31 1
1B Tristin English, So. .315 .351 .477 5 44 0
2B Wade Bailey, Jr, .310 .371 .408 4 25 8
3B Trevor Craport, Jr. .352 .414 .543 7 31 4
SS Carter Hall, So. .294 .400 .431 1 5 3
LF Keenan Innis, Sr. .200 .339 .220 0 2 2
CF Ryan Peurifoy, Sr. .237 .276 .333 3 24 2
RF Brandt Stallings, So. .299 .360 .535 7 33 4
DH Kel Johnson, Jr. .319 .367 .532 11 54 2
Pos. Name, Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Jonathan Hughes, R-Fr. 3 1 2.45 26 14 0
LHP Ben Parr, Sr. 7 1 4.18 60 46 0
RHP Xzavion Curry, Fr. HS—Atlanta
RP Zac Ryan, Sr. 3 4 7.29 42 24 1