Fall Baseball Preview

Monday marked the opening of fall baseball practice for the Jackets. We talked with Coach Danny Hall about his projections for each position as they begin preparing for the 2012 season.

Following the 2011 season most of the Georgia Tech players spent their summer playing in the various summer leagues. "They all had good summers but the biggest thing is they got to play quite a bit," said Hall.

In addition to playing in the summer, the players have also been taking part in individual workouts under the supervision of the coaching staff. "We'll be able to tell a lot more after this week how much they've improved and how the summer has benefited them."

Going into the fall practices the infield positions will be ones that the the staff will be watching closely. The Jackets lost shortstop Jacob Esch and third baseman Matt Skole so those will be two positions of interest. "We have some great candidates."

The Jackets started the 2011 season with Mott Hyde at short and he'll be one of the two players competeing for the starting job. Connor Winn will also have a shot at the starting job.

"At third you have two sophomores sitting over there in (Alex) Cruz and (Chase) Butler." Both players saw limited action last season. They'll have have big shoes to fill in trying to replace Matt Skole.

The second base job will also be open with Hyde moving to short. "We're going to bring Sam Dove back to the infield and play him a lot at second and a little at short." Coach Hall is looking for two of the three to lock down the middle infield positions.

The Jackets return veteran Jake Davies and sophomore Daniel Palka at first base. Those two will allow Coach Hall to have various options in the outfield. "They will dictate what I do in the outfield."

The outfield returns all three starters but one position will be up for grabs with last year's starting leftfielder Sam Dove moving to the infield. "It's pretty much a lock that Brandon Thomas and Kyle Wren are going to play out there."

Coach Hall has some good options for the remaining outfield job. Returning senior Evan Martin had a great summer and he could take over the left field job. "Depending what I do at first base, you could see a guy like Daniel Palka go out there." Paul Kronenfeld will be another candidate along with incoming freshmen Cameron Gibson, Michael Hodorowski, and Charles Sheffield.

The Jackets were fortunate to make it through the 2011 season without any serious injuries to the lone scholarship catcher in Zane Evans. This season Coach Hall will have depth at that position that he didn't have the past two seasons. "Zane Evans was a warrior for us last year."

The Jackets return Mitch Earnest the backup catcher from last season along with incoming freshman A.J. Murray and Connor Lynch. "The good thing is that we have depth but when I recruited Zane I felt he could help us on the mound." The depth will allow Hall to pitch Evans out of the bullpen.

The Jackets starting rotation lost two of the top starters in the ACC in Jed Bradley and Mark Pope. Returning are weekend starter Buck Farmer and midweek starter Matthew Grimes. Three returning pitchers will be in contention for the third weekend starting position.

Luke Bard, DeAndre Smelter, and Dusty Isaacs will all be given a shot at the starting job. "A lot will depend on what I do with Luke." Hall likes Bard at the end of games but Luke would like a shot at the starting job. "If we feel we have someone else that can be a viable closer in the games then I have no problem starting him." Bard is considered to have one of the best arms on the team as well as the ACC.

Hall feels he has three great candidates for the weekend starting job. All three will have important roles on the pitching staff. The coaching staff also hopes that some of the incoming freshmen can step up and take some good innings as the midweek starters.

The fall aways seems to produce some surprises as players show improvement from their summer play. This fall should be no different as the Jacket players compete for starting jobs on the 2012 roster.

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