The 2020 Alabama baseball team was poised for a breakout season under third year coach Brad Bohannon before the novel COVID19 virus came along and blindsided it. The Tide had a 16-1 record and was two days from starting SEC play when the season put on hold, before eventually being canceled all together. The winning percentage is the best in school history.
After weeks of brainstorming, the NCAA decided to give every player this year of eligibility back. So seniors remained seniors, juniors are still juniors, and so on. The 2021 season will have two freshman classes, and the schools were given a waiver to allow for expanded rosters based on any seniors that decided to return, and the incoming signing classes. Theoretically a school could have upwards of 45 players instead of the normal 35, and 37 or thereabouts on scholarship, instead of the normal 27. The 11.7 scholarship limit was also relaxed for 2021. Any of the seniors that choose to come back can not be given more money than they had in 2020, but could have less.
Bama wasn't hurt significantly in the June 11th draft. The five round draft (instead of the normal 40 round marathon) only cost the Tide junior outfielder Tyler Gentry. Gentry was a third round pick by the Kansas City Royals, and his slot value is $818,000. In addition to shortening the draft considerably MLB capped the teams at no more than $20,000 per un-drafted free agent players, making it more enticing for non drafted players to return to school. Alabama made it up until today with no one else signing, but have learned now they will be losing Brett Auerbach to the San Francisco Giants and Casey Cobb to the Boston Red Sox. Auerbach is a do everything utility guy that started at four positions for the Tide, catcher, third base, center field, and second base, and also played in left field. Cobb is a relief pitcher, and was a valuable arm for the team. Both young men had graduated from the University and faced a couple of deterrents to coming back. Number one is their age. If they returned they would have been fifth year seniors and 23 years old. Number two is the cost (both are out of state) of returning to school for another year. With just a portion of a scholarship that would be no small amount for the families to bear the burden of.
There has been a lot of other movement up and down the roster. Seniors Kolby Robinson, Walker McCleney, and Dylan Oliver all have degrees in hand and decided to move on to the rest of their lives. Kyle Cameron will be involved with the team as a student graduate assistant coach as he pursues his Masters Degree.
Senior Justin King, redshirt junior Garret Rukes, junior Ryan O’Connell, and freshmen Blake Bennett, Dowd Ritter, and Logan Keller all entered the transfer portal. King will play at Louisiana Monroe, Rukes at Florida International, Bennett at Pensacola State, and Keller at the Naval Academy. Ritter and O’Connell have not announced their destinations at this point. There is speculation that there may be others that could enter the portal as well.
Where does the leave the roster? At this point there are still two seniors that can come back in catcher Johnny Hawk and right handed pitcher William Freeman.
The junior class has two members in left handed pitcher Brock Guffey and outfielder Jackson Tate. There are eight sophomores: catcher Sam Praytor, first baseman Drew Williamson, outfielder T.J. Reeves, RHP-INF Tyler Ras, RHP Connor Shamblin, RHP Dylan Smith, RHP Chase Lee, and RHP Jacob McNairy.
The freshman class will have 11 repeat players from 2020, and 10 new guys for 2021.
The 2020 repeat freshmen will be:
- INF/OF Myles Austin
- LHP Conner Prielipp
- LHP Antoine Jean
- INF Jim Jarvis
- INF William Hamiter
- C/INF/OF Peyton Wilson
- OF/DH Owen Diodati
- INF Zane Denton
- RHP Landon Green
- OF Andrew Pinckney
- LHP Garrett Hester
They will joined as freshmen by 10 new faces.
- INF Bryce Eblin
- RHP Jake Eddington
- RHP Eli Giles
- LHP Grayson Hitt
- C Grant Knipp
- RHP Logan Morris
- INF Will Portera
- RHP/INF Dylan Ray
- INF Caden Rose
- RHP Brayden Rowe
If all of these players do return the total is 33, so Bohannon has room to take two players as transfers, or some diamond in the rough that has not signed yet. The team will be young on paper, but will have a good amount of experience mixed in. For example Praytor will be listed as a sophomore, but next season will be his fourth in Tuscaloosa. Green will be a third year redshirt freshman next year, Guffey will be in his fourth year, and Tate had two years of playing junior college before joining the Tide last year. The 2020 freshman had a whole summer and fall of practice, as well as the 17 games the team played.
Like all sports, Alabama baseball is in a holding pattern right now, with the players not allowed to come to the team facilities. Most of the summer leagues they were set to play in were cancelled. Just recently a wood bat league, Honor The Game League, started in Meridian, MS. Bama has 16 guys playing in the four team league. Jarvis is playing in a league back in his home town of San Diego. The players have been diligent in working out on their own with whatever equipment and facilities that they have access to.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it