2022 College Top 25 Preview: No. 14 Georgia
Last season: 31-25 (13-17 in SEC); missed NCAA Tournament
Final ranking: NR
Coach (record at school): Scott Stricklin (234-186-1, eight years)
The good news: Georgia just missed the 2021 NCAA Tournament, making for a disappointing Selection Monday. The Bulldogs had much better luck a month later in the draft when righthander Jonathan Cannon opted for a third year in Athens over starting his professional career and no players from the Bulldogs’ recruiting class were selected. Even after losing lefthanders Ben Harris and Ryan Webb, Georgia has compiled a deep, experienced roster that is ready to take a big step forward. Two-thirds of Georgia’s regular lineup this spring figures to be in their fourth or fifth season of college baseball, including Cole and Connor Tate, the team’s two leading hitters in 2021. While the lineup is deep and experienced, the Bulldogs really stand out on the mound. Cannon is back to lead the rotation with sophomore lefthander Liam Sullivan set to follow him after last season impressing down the stretch. Georgia has plenty of depth to pick from for other key roles on staff including righthander Dylan Ross, the top junior college transfer in the 2021 class, sophomore lefthander Jaden Woods and righthander Dylan Rokose, a transfer from Mississippi State. No matter how Georgia lines up its pitching, runs figure to be hard to come by against it in 2022.
The bad news: Georgia has few holes to fill from last year’s roster, especially in the lineup where every regular but infielder Riley King returns. The Bulldogs have a good option to take King’s spot in the lineup, as second baseman Cory Acton joins the program as a transfer after starting for three seasons at Florida. His arrival also will allow fifth-year infielder Joshua McAllister to move to third base—a move that will serve to strengthen the infield defense. While the lineup is largely intact, the Bulldogs will need the group to improve after last season averaging 5.4 runs per game (13th in the SEC). Sophomore Parks Harber and freshman Cole Wagner will factor into the lineup in some role and will add power.
Player to know: Jonathan Cannon, RHP
Cannon was slowed at the start of last season due to a bout with mononucleosis but quickly got back on track and went 4-2, 3.98 in 63.1 innings. He was seen as a potential top-100 draft pick last July but opted to return for a third season with the Bulldogs and after a more normal offseason will be ready to lead the rotation. He has a big arm with a fastball that gets into the mid 90s to go with a solid changeup and slider.
Path to Omaha: Pitching and defense has been the hallmark of Georgia’s teams under Stricklin, and this year is no different. With so much talent at the top of the pitching staff, the Bulldogs will be a strong postseason team. But to win a regional for the first time since 2008 (also its last trip to the College World Series), Georgia will need more consistency from its offense. Making the most of such an experienced roster will be critical.
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Transfer—Northwest Florida State JC