Georgia Tech Coach Danny Hall On Weathering The Draft And Program Momentum
Thanks to the coronavirus shutdown in college baseball, Georgia Tech never got to finish an encore performance to its breakthrough 2019 season, when it earned the No. 3 national seed.
Instead, it fought through four weeks’ worth of ups, such as an emphatic sweep of Ohio State at home, and downs, like getting swept by rival Georgia in the first time that series had been played on the weekend in 61 years.
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And because of a relatively high number of potential draftees both on the roster and in its recruiting class, there was no guarantee about what Georgia Tech would bring back to campus in 2021.
Now, just a few months later, coach Danny Hall and his staff have a much greater degree of clarity about what the roster will look like, and they have to like what they see.
Outfielders Michael Guldberg and Baron Radcliff were drafted, and righthander Jonathan Hughes signed as a free agent. The likes of shortstop Luke Waddell and lefthander Brant Hurter, who were both draft risks going into the draft, weren’t selected, however, and the Yellow Jackets’ entire highly-regarded recruiting class stayed intact.
“It was a win for us,” Hall said. “I don’t think there was any part of us that felt like we would get Luke Waddell back.
“We had some (recruits) that probably walked away from a chance to be drafted, and a chance to put some money in (their) pocket.”
That recruiting class includes three players in catcher Kevin Parada, righthander Marquis Grissom, Jr. and outfielder Jake Deleo who were all ranked 268 or better in the Baseball America 500 going into the draft.
While it remains to be seen what that trio and the rest of the recruiting class will do in Atlanta, they will arrive on the heels of the previous recruiting class, which included the likes of first baseman Drew Compton, DH Stephen Reid and righthander Zach Maxwell, who were all immediate contributors as freshmen in 2020.
Assistant coaches James Ramsey and Danny Borrell helped bring those recruiting classes home, and they will be charged with keeping that recruiting momentum going moving forward. Ramsey has proven to be a natural in his role recruiting for the Yellow Jackets.
“He’s an excellent recruiter,” Hall said. “He’s relentless in recruiting. He’s done a tremendous job in a short time of bringing in some really, really good players for us.”
Borrell has also had an early impact in this way.
“He’s made a big impact more than anything on recruiting,” Hall said. “We’re just able to get on phone calls, get in living rooms with pitchers that maybe we weren’t on their radar, so to speak, in years past. But Borrell has put us in a different window from a recruiting perspective just because of who is and how good he is and the reputation he has.”
It’s not just results on the field and in recruiting that should have the Georgia Tech faithful looking to the future.
There are also more improvements coming to Russ Chandler Stadium as part of a multi-phase project. Some of the improvements, like a new entrance plaza, are public-facing, but others are more specifically geared toward player development. For coaches like Ramsey and Borrell, who dive deep into the intersection of technology and player development, these types of improvements will give them more of the space they need to work.
“The good thing about (James) Ramsey and then having Danny Borell is that those guys are very tech-savvy,” Hall said. “They know what’s out there, they know how to use it, so I think from a player development model, these underneath cages and pitching lab are just going to really take our development of our players to a different level.”
Georgia Tech’s roster will boast impressive balance in 2021, both in terms of the breakdown of offense versus pitching and in terms of experience.
On the mound, Hurter, Maxwell, righthanders Cort Roedig and Andy Archer, and lefthander Dalton Smith will lead the way. Offensively, the Yellow Jackets will lean on Waddell, Compton, Reid, outfielder Colin Hall and infielder Austin Wilhite.
They’ll also get help from some transfers, including two from Vanderbilt in righthander Chance Huff and infielder Justyn-Henry Malloy. Malloy will be immediately eligible, while Huff will need a waiver fro the NCAA to be eligible next season. Georgia Tech also added righthander John Medich from Division III Rhodes (Tenn.) as a grad transfer.
He comes from a small school and a 4.28 career ERA in 75.2 innings at Rhodes doesn’t necessarily jump off the page, but his arm is good enough to play at this level.
“He was bumping some 95s (mph) to 97s at Rhodes this year and was just kind of starting to get to where his innings would get expanded,” Hall said.
Now, like all programs across the country, Georgia Tech is left playing the waiting game to find out how and when it will begin fall practice, but with the talent it has on the roster, it’s easy to understand why Hall and the Yellow Jackets are particularly eager.