Coach Brad Bohannon is entering his third season at the helm of the Alabama baseball team, and they began spring practice today. Opening day for the 2020 season is February 14th when Northeastern comes to town. Bohannon took over after the one disastrous year under Greg Goff (2017, a 19-34-1 record.) The Tide has been 27-29 and 30-26 in his first two seasons.
Bohannon has been known for his recruiting, bringing in highly regarded classes in his 12 years at Kentucky, and his two years at Auburn. The Tide class of 2019 is rated the number seven class in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball News. Five of the fifteen players in the class were drafted in the 2019 MLB draft, but elected to come to school. Those five include five freshman, LHP Conner Prielipp, LHP Antoine Jean, INF Myles Austin, INF-OF Owen Diodati, and one JUCO player, CF Jackson Tate. The 2018 Tide class was ranked 10th by CBN.
Bama returns the two leading home run hitters from last year, Tyler Gentry and T.J. Reeves, who hit 13 and nine bombs, respectively. As a team the Tide hit 47 long balls, and Bohannon is on record stating that this years team has the potential to hit up to 70 home runs. The offense should also improve on their team batting average of .263, and should steal more than the 60 bases that last years team swiped. The 448 strikeouts agains 285 walks should show an improvement as well.
On the mound the team has a staff with plenty of depth, but lacking in experience. The 18 pitchers on the team have combined for exactly two SEC wins among them all, both by redshirt senior Kyle Cameron. Prielipp wowed the staff and fans during fall practice, and will be in the mix to be a weekend starter, very possibly as the Friday night guy. Other candidates for starting slots include junior Garret Rukes, and sophomores Tyler Ras, Conner Shamblin, and Dylan Smith.
Todays practiced featured a six inning scrimmage with Prielipp, Ras, Landon Green, Casey Cobb, Chase Lee, and Ryan O’Connell, all throwing two innings apiece. Sam Praytor and Kolby Robinson collected two singles each, and Brett Auerbach had the only RBI of the game with a ringing double in the right center gap. The Tide will scrimmage again Saturday and Sunday of this week, and will have three to four scrimmages a week leading up to opening day.
The team should take a big step forward this year as Bohannon continues to dig out of the hole he was buried in upon arrival. Expect exciting baseball and a return to post season play in 2020, and a bigger step in 2021.
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