2021 NCAA Top 25 Preview: No. 22 Georgia Tech

Image credit: Luke Waddell (Courtesy of Georgia Tech)

Last season: 11-5
Final ranking: NR
Coach (record at school): Danny Hall (1,073-556-1, 27 years)

Top 200 draft prospects: LHP Brant Hurter (No. 93), SS Luke Waddell (No. 117), LHP Luke Bartnicki (No. 136)

The good news: There are much worse ways to begin building a lineup than starting with fourth-year junior shortstop Luke Waddell, a USA Baseball Collegiate National Team alumnus who provides a steady hand at the position and a solid bat in the order, and a pair of young power bats in second-year freshmen Drew Compton and Stephen Reid, who combined for eight home runs in the shortened 2020 season. Georgia Tech also brought in a talented recruiting class that looks ready to provide instant impact, led by catcher Kevin Parada, a top-50 prospect for the draft who ended up on campus rather than in pro baseball in part thanks to his strong commitment to the Yellow Jackets. Freshman right fielder Jake Deleo, a speedy, tooled-up outfielder, will also see the field early, and you may be able to say the same about freshman righthander Marquis Grissom, Jr., whose plus stuff includes a fastball up to 95 mph and an advanced changeup.

The bad news: The pitching staff is extremely talented, but doesn’t boast many pitchers with long track records of success at this level. Fourth-year junior lefthander Brant Hurter and fifth-year senior righthander Andy Archer have both battled injuries in recent years. Third-year sophomore righthander Cort Roedig and third-year sophomore lefthander Luke Bartnicki appeared to make strides in 2020, but they will next have to prove it over a full season. The same is true of second-year freshman righthander Zach Maxwell, who is moving from a starting role to closing games, where his high-90s fastball will play up. He threw well as a first-year pitcher, but will now be asked to do it all again in a different role and for an entire season. The ceiling is higher for the Georgia Tech pitching staff than it has been in a long while, but there are some relative unknowns as well. 

Player to know: Brant Hurter, LHP.

Hurter’s career at Georgia Tech has been something of a roller coaster. He struggled as a freshman to the tune of a 6.04 ERA before finding his stride in 2019 and sporting a 2.42 ERA in 48.1 innings, only to have his season ended prematurely when he needed Tommy John surgery. There was some hope that he might get back on the mound late in the 2020 season, but the pandemic made sure that couldn’t happen. Now, the Yellow Jackets are looking to Hurter to be the team’s Friday starter. His stuff is clearly good enough. His fastball was back in the low 90s this fall coming off of the surgery, and before he missed time, his slider was thought of as a plus pitch. If he proves to be a top-flight Friday starter in the ACC this season, he’ll perhaps cap a tumultuous college career with a deep postseason run and his selection as a high draft pick. 

Path to Omaha: Georgia Tech lost a couple of top hitters in outfielders Baron Radcliff and Michael Guldberg to the draft, but the addition of freshmen like Parada and DeLeo and the Yellow Jackets’ long history of hard-hitting lineups suggest that you can bet on that facet of the game being just fine. There’s a bit more boom or bust on the pitching staff. If it takes a while for things to come together on that unit, it could be an up-and-down season in a very deep ACC. But if things click in a big way for an extremely talented staff, Georgia Tech could be an ACC title contender and a threat to get back to Omaha for the first time since 2006.

2021 Lineup
C Kevin Parada, Fr. HS — Los Angeles
1B Drew Compton, R-Fr. .321 .420 .587 56 3 12
2B Austin Wilhite, R-Sr. .229 .325 .371 35 1 3
3B Justyn-Henry Malloy, R-So Transfer — Vanderbilt
SS Luke Waddell, R-Jr. .300 .419 .417 60 1 9
LF Tres Gonzalez, R-Fr. .368 .455 .474 19 0 3
CF Colin Hall, R-Jr. .228 .314 .404 57 1 10
RF Jake DeLeo, Fr. HS — Avon, Conn.
DH Stephen Reid, R-Fr. .273 .340 .636 44 5 10
LHP Brant Hurter, R-Jr. Did not play — Injured
RHP Cort Roedig, R-So. 1 2 4.34 19 23 0
LHP Luke Bartnicki, R-So. 0 0 1.76 15 17 0
RHP Andy Archer, R-Sr. 0 0 4.22 11 16 2
RP Chance Huff, R-So. Transfer — Vanderbilt
RP Zach Maxwell, R-Fr. 1 1 3.14 14 20 0

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