The Tide baseball team that already had a roster with 21 new faces since last season, added a 22nd new player on Friday. Bama wide receiver Tyrell Shavers joined the team for their first official practice before the 2019 season. NCAA baseball teams are allowed 35 men on the roster, with 27 having scholarship help, if you call dividing 11.7 scholarships “help”. If Shavers officially joins the team the Tide will sit at 36 players. Freshman pitcher Landon Green had arm surgery in the fall and is expected to miss the season. Bama will look to improve on last seasons 27-29 record, including 8-22 in the SEC.
Shavers was a highly touted football and baseball player out of Lewisville, Texas, and stands 6’6” and weighs in at 216 pounds. In his R-Freshman season this year, the wide receiver played in all 15 games, but did not catch any passes. Shavers pitched and played outfield in high school, and uses his big body and powerful left arm to pitch in the low 90’s range off the mound.
At Friday’s practice coach Brad Bohannon had Shavers working in the outfield and taking batting practice prior to the teams first scrimmage. Shavers did not participate in the scrimmage. Bohannon is going to take things slow and easy with Shavers and see if there is a place where he may help the team. It is extremely hard to be a successful baseball player when you have to do it part time. Much like Keith Holcombe did when he first came over from football, Shavers will have to split his time between football workouts and baseball practice. Throw in school work and it is an extremely hard work load, and then there is the three weeks of spring football practice to navigate.
Bohannon’s second team has been hard at work since August with workouts, fall practice, Christmas break, then spring workouts and now the beginning of practice. With all the new faces, the coaching staff has worked hard to build chemistry and figure out the best spots for several players. Only three position players that played regularly are back this season, catcher Sam Praytor, along with outfielders Jeaux Breaux and Keith Holcombe. John Trousdale, Walker McClenney, Connor Stutts, and Gene Wood are other hold over position guys. The pitching staff returns seven guys that saw action last season, Sam Finnerty, Deacon Medders, Davis Vainer, Brock Love, Kyle Cameron, Garrett Rukes, and Brock Guffey. Finnerty was the Friday night starter and Rukes was the main Sunday starter in 2018.
Newcomers expected to be prominently used are INF-C Brett Auerbach, INF Kolby Robinson, INF Morgan McCullough, INF-OF Drew Williamson, INF-OF Justin King ,and OF Tyler Gentry. Others looking to break into the lineup include C Johnny Hawk, INF Kyle Morris, OF T.J. Reeves and INF Daniel Carinci.
The pitching staff had a big infusion of talented arms join the team, led by juniors Wil Freeman, Casey Cobb, and Dylan Oliver who all joined the team from the junior college ranks. Bohannon is extremely high on four freshman right handed pitchers, Tyler Ras (who doubles as an OF-DH), Dylan Smith, Jacob McNair, and Connor Shamblin. Grad transfer Jeremy Randolph also is in the mix after coming down from Wright State University.
As practice goes forward I will periodically bring updates to how things are progressing and how a possible opening day lineup would look. I have some ideas based on fall ball, but things are down to the nitty gritty now, and could change. Bohannon and his staff are working hard both on the field and on the recruiting trail, as they battle to bring the Tide back to SEC and National prominence. It will be a tall order as eight of the ten SEC foes for the Tide are ranked in the preseason top 25.
Stay tuned for weekly reports as the season grows closer. Opening day is three weeks from today, on February 15th, when the Tide hosts Presbyterian for a three game series. Friday’s first game will be at 3 p.m.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it