2020 NCAA Top 25 Preview: No. 21 Georgia Tech

Image credit: Luke Waddell (Courtesy of Georgia Tech)

Last season: 43-19 (19-11 in ACC); reached regional final
Final ranking: No. 17
Coach (record at school): Danny Hall (1,062-551-1, 26 seasons)

Top 100 draft prospects: None

The good news: The Yellow Jackets return a couple of marquee players from a team that was the No. 3 national seed last season in shortstop Luke Waddell, who had a standout summer with Team USA, and outfielder Baron Radcliff, a freak athlete who has the most raw power and the fastest sprint speed of anyone on the team. Recruiting coordinator James Ramsey helped bring in a Top 25 recruiting class, highlighted by righthander Zach Maxwell, a Top 150 draft prospect who is tentatively slated to join the rotation right away. The hiring of new pitching coach Danny Borrell, formerly the co-minor league pitching coordinator for the Yankees, already paid dividends in the fall and promises to continue to do so as he works with the Georgia Tech staff. 

The bad news: The departures in the rotation are significant, what with Xzavion Curry and Connor Thomas now in pro baseball and Brant Hurter out for most of the 2020 season after Tommy John surgery. Veteran Jonathan Hughes, a pitcher who has seen early results from working with Borrell and a former blue-chip recruit, will step in to lead the rotation. Hughes living up to his promise as a redshirt senior after a career filled with injuries and setbacks would go a long way toward steadying the rebuilt rotation. The offensive production of first baseman Tristin English and catcher Kyle McCann will be tough to replace as well. The continued development of veteran bats like Waddell, Radcliff and center fielder Michael Guldberg, and the initial impact of freshmen such as Jake Holland and Drew Compton, who are penciled in at catcher and first base, respectively, will be key in the attempt to fill those voids. 

Player to know: Luke Waddell, SS.

Waddell’s offense took a jump from his freshman season to his sophomore campaign, going from .283/.348/.392 to .322/.436/.416, serving as a catalyst for Georgia Tech’s massive improvement in 2019. But he really made a name for himself with his performance for Team USA over the summer, hitting .320/.404/.380 while playing standout defense at third base. He’s not the flashiest shortstop with the glove, but his footwork is solid and he has an accurate arm. He’ll be a leader on the field and a table setter at the top of the order for the Yellow Jackets. 

Path to Omaha: Georgia Tech always finds a way to put together a quality offense, so even with the losses of English and McCann, there is confidence that the team will get that part of the game sorted out. If Hughes becomes the standout he was predicted to be when he arrived on campus and a couple of returning pitchers step up to support him, or freshmen like Maxwell are ready right away, the Yellow Jackets have the talent to make their first trip to Omaha since 2006.

C Jake Holland, Fr. HS — Clermont, FL.
1B Drew Compton, Fr. HS — Berkeley Heights, NJ
2B Austin Wilhite, Sr. .266 .369 .349 1 32 218
3B Jackson Webb, R-SR. .312 .437 .408 1 19 125
SS Luke Waddell, Jr. .322 .436 .416 2 34 233
LF Colin Hall, Jr. .307 .363 .432 4 41 241
CF Michael Guldberg, Jr. .355 .441 .418 1 32 220
RF Baron Radcliff, Jr. .257 .403 .503 12 44 183
DH Andrew Jenkins, Fr. HS — Atlanta
RHP Jonathan Hughes, R-SR. 9 2 5.09 53 48 0
RHP Cort Roedig, So. 2 2 4.88 48 47 0
RHP Zach Maxwell, Fr. HS — Dallas, Ga.
RP Jackson Finley, Fr. HS — Richmond Hill, GA.
RP Hugh Chapman, Jr. 2 0 4.15 13 10 0

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