In case you missed it, click here for an introduction post on our college baseball countdown series.
Today, we’re going to take a look at Georgia Tech, a program that, several years from now, might look back on the 2016 season as the campaign that put a real jolt back into the program.
It’s not that Georgia Tech has been bad of late, but this is a team that made a real habit of getting to super regionals and the College World Series under Danny Hall in the early-to-mid 2000s. Between 2000 and 2006, the Jackets made five trips to super regionals and twice advanced on to the CWS.
So when you make a comparison to that admittedly high standard, the last seven or eight years have been underwhelming, culminating in a 2015 season where GT missed the postseason altogether for only the third time in Hall’s tenure. In a Q&A earlier this offseason with Benjamin Tankersley of Georgia Tech blog From the Rumble Seat, he admitted that there is a certain subsection of fans that are getting restless with the results.
But even the most pessimistic fan would have to admit that there is a quite a bit of positive momentum surrounding the team as they head into 2016, thanks in large part due to a standout recruiting class.
Both D1Baseball.com and Baseball America ranked the incoming class as the fourth-best in the country. Additionally, GT boasts five players from that class who are ranked in the top 100 on Perfect Game’s list of the top 350 incoming freshmen.
In particular, they will welcome in an influx of top-flight pitchers. Tristin English, Jonathan Hughes (a second-round pick of the Orioles), Keyton Gibson, and Bobby Gauvreau provide Hall and staff with a quartet of power arms who could have an immediate impact. Each can run their fastball well into the 90s, with English and Hughes both capable of getting into the high-90s with regularity.
With the lower-seamed baseballs bringing some power back into the college game, being able to miss bats is more important than it ever has been since the introduction of the BBCOR bats, and with this young nucleus on the pitching staff, Georgia Tech will be well-equipped to do plenty of that.
It might be asking a little too much for any of these guys to be among the elite pitchers in the ACC as early as 2016, but don’t be shocked if that’s the case in 2017 and beyond and the 2016 season is looked upon as the start of a new golden era in Georgia Tech baseball.