2019 Preseason Top 25 Preview: No. 15 Georgia
Last Year: 39-21 (18-12 SEC); reached regional final.
Final Ranking: No. 21.
Head Coach (record at school): Scott Stricklin (143-140-1, five years).
Top 100 Draft Prospects: SS Cam Shepherd (No. 99).
The Good News: Georgia last year broke out and hosted a regional in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011. The young Bulldogs bring back many players from that team, including righthander Emerson Hancock and closer/third baseman Aaron Schunk to anchor the pitching staff. Georgia will again be strong defensively, with catcher Mason Meadows, shortstop Cam Shepherd and Schunk all returning. Despite losing Chase Adkins and Kevin Smith, who last season combined for 145 innings, Georgia should be deeper on the mound. Their recruiting class was headlined by righthander Cole Wilcox, who ranked No. 37 on the BA 500 and figures to step right into the rotation. Between Hancock, Wilcox, righthander Tony Locey and lefthander Ryan Webb, Georgia should have a formidable rotation and a deep bullpen.
The Bad News: While Georgia brings back a lot, it does have to replace its three leading hitters from last year’s team. All-American outfielder Keegan McGovern and DH Michael Curry moved on to pro ball, and first baseman Adam Sasser was dismissed from the team after he was investigated for directing racial slurs at then-Georgia quarterback Justin Fields during a football game. The trio combined last season to hit .320 with 42 home runs, leaving a hole in the heart of Georgia’s lineup. The Bulldogs won’t be able to replace that production one-for-one, but will look for Meadows, Shepherd, Schunk and second baseman L.J. Talley to take a step forward. John Cable, who joins as a grad transfer from New Orleans, and Riley King, who had just six at-bats last season, are coming off solid falls and can add power to the lineup.
Player To Know: Emerson Hancock, RHP.
Hancock’s freshman numbers aren’t eye-popping— he went 6-4, 5.10 with 75 strikeouts in 77.2 innings. But he may have the most potential of anyone at Georgia, and he is ready to take a step forward as a sophomore and will lead the rotation. Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Hancock throws his fastball in the mid-90s and has the demeanor to succeed as a Friday starter. Georgia will need him to lead its pitching staff this spring.
Path To Omaha: Georgia’s strengths this year are pitching and defense. The Bulldogs last season ranked ninth in the nation in fielding percentage (.979) and will again be strong defensively. Its pitching staff has more depth and power than it did a year ago, and runs could be hard to come by against the Bulldogs. That takes some of the pressure off Georgia’s offense, but it still needs to find a way to make up for the sluggers that it lost. The Bulldogs won’t catch anyone off guard this spring, but they’re ready for the prime time and have the potential for a longer postseason stay in 2019.
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|DH||John Cable||R-Sr. (Transfer -- New Orleans)|
|RHP||Cole Wilcox||Fr. (HS -- Conyers, Ga.)|