Coach Brad Bohannon and his staff welcomed 22 new players to campus this fall along with 27 hold overs from last season’s team. The Tide held fall practice from September 23rd until November 4th and played exhibition games with Mississippi State at home and with Auburn on the road. The team is on winter break now and will start back up again in January. The full schedule has not been released yet, but the SEC slate has.
Bama returns eight starters plus their whole weekend rotation from last year. However with the influx of several transfers and a highly rated recruiting class, there will be battle for jobs in the spring. The Tide returns their seven leading hitters by average, including four that hit over .300 in 2022. Caden Rose led the team with a .326 average and a .435 on base percentage. Andrew Pinckney, who many thought might go in the draft, also returns with all five of his tools. He hit .303 with 32 RBI and played a Gold Glove worthy right field. Tommy Seidl returns for his 6th season, four at Harvard and two at Alabama, and was just behind Pinckney at .302. Seidl also led the team with 12 stolen bases in 13 attempts. First baseman Drew Williamson returns as a super senior, taking advantage of his Covid year, after hitting .301 with nine home runs and 47 RBI as well as having a slick glove. Catcher Dominic Tamez was a .289 hitter and shortstop Jim Jarvis hit .267. Outfielder/DH William Hamiter rounds out the top seven with an average of .266.
Garrett McMillian was the Friday night starter last season, followed by Jacob McNairy on Saturday, and Grayson Hitt on Sunday. McMillan and McNairy were both drafted but decided to return to school. McNairy joins Williamson as a 5th year super senior. Closer Dylan Ray was drafted in the 4th round by Arizona Diamondbacks and signed as a redshirt freshman. Hitt has exploded as a prospect after a huge summer season and his fall performance. Many now consider him a first round prospect in July’s MLB Draft. Ben Hess was the main midweek starter and returns for his sophomore season as does Luke Holman. Hess and Holman were the jewels of the 2022 signing class.
The newcomers are a mixture of transfers and highly regarded freshmen. Infielder Ed Johnson and outfielder Ryan Guardino brought gaudy statistics with them from Tennessee Tech. Johnson hit .367 with 14 home runs and 55 RBI for the Golden Eagles while Guardino hit .339 with 14 long balls and drove in 45 runs. Catcher Mac Guscette came aboard after starting the second half of the season for Florida last year. Other transfers include right handed pitcher Zane Propst from Seton Hall, and a pair of right handers from UAB, Jackson Reynolds and Aidan Moza. Tuscaloosa native Walt Bailey transferred from Shelton State but missed the whole fall while recovering from knee surgery.
The freshman class is highlighted by big right handed pitcher Riley Quick and a pair of infielders in Colby Shelton and Mason Swinney. Outfielder Max Williams, RHP’s Brock Blatter, Gavin Jones, and left hander Alton Jones II all showed flashes of their potential during fall practice. Luke Williams, a freshman from Hillcrest High in Tuscaloosa, played all three positions in the outfield this fall. A pair of freshmen catchers in Jaxon West and Sammy Leis showed a lot of potential, but will likely be behind Tamez and Guscette this coming season.
In the fall scrimmages and exhibition games Jarvis led the team with a .444 batting average and a .542 on base percentage. Pinckney showed that he is a legitimate star in and hit .429 with three home runs- while missing several scrimmages for class- and Seidl hit a hard .407 despite missing time with a wrist injury and for class. Returning starting second baseman Bryce Eblin checked in at .390 while playing third base, shortstop, and second base during the fall. Guardino slugged seven home runs and drove in 17 to lead the team in both categories. These are not official statistics and they are correct to the best of my ability.
Third baseman Zane Denton departed for Tennessee and outfielder/DH Owen Diodati transferred to Oregon. All other main position players are back. Williamson will start his fifth year as starting first baseman, and will be backed up by Will Hodo. Eblin was the everyday second baseman last year but mostly worked at third base this fall. Jarvis should start at shortstop after holding down the spot for the last two years - after starting at second base as a freshman. Johnson played more second base than third in the fall and is fighting for a starting spot with Shelton and Swinney.
Seidl was the left fielder more often than not last year and should fight Guardino, Camden Hayslip, Hamiter, and Max Williams, for playing time there. Rose is the every day center fielder, but can also play second base. He is a dynamic fielder in the outfield and likely will stay there. Pinckney will be in right field, unless he has to move to center if Rose plays elsewhere.
Tamez caught virtually every inning last season and he and Guscette will likely split some time this coming year. Tamez could see some at bats and designated hitter. Shelton, Guardino, Hodo, and Hamiter are also DH candidates.
Hitt, Quick, Hess, and Holman shined on the mound during the workouts. Quick is a 6’6” 255 pound hard throwing right hander that should have a big role in the spring, either as a starter or possibly as a closer. Hess and Holman will be a big part of the Tide staff. McMillian, McNairy, left handed reliever Jake Leger, left handed hard thrower Hunter Furtado are all returners that will pitch a lot of innings in the spring.
Right hander Braylon Myers took one of the biggest steps in the fall and will definitely be in the mix for a high leverage position on the staff. Kade Woods is back after Tommy John surgery and is a hard thrower that will be counted on. Brayden Gainey returns for his senior year and will battle for innings. Reynolds and Moza will also be in the mix. Any number of the freshmen will look to enter the rotation. Connor Ball and Hagan Banks are back for their sophomore year. Antoine Jean and Hunter Hoopes both returned but are out with injury. Jean had Tommy John this summer and will likely miss the whole year. Hoopes has a chance to work his way back at some point.
Overall the team had a great fall, splitting two seven inning games with Mississippi State while falling in one 12 inning game at Auburn. The Tide led at the six inning break, but Auburn chose to make it one game, and the home team ended up winning. In the fall World Series the Crimson Team swept the White Team 12-0 and 8-1 with Game 3 not necessary.
The Tide should be an exciting team this spring with their mix of older and younger players. The team’s depth should be a strong suit. The season isn't far away so: Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It!