Tech lost six position players who got drafted by MLB clubs in the offseason, and Tech responded by signing 11 freshmen that could all see at-bats this coming season. Tech does return three players who saw quality playing time last season, which means Hall needs to find six more players to fill his lineup card.
One returning player from last year’s squad is junior third baseman Matt Skole. Skole was second on the team in home runs last season with 20, so Skole will more than likely hit from the three or four position this season. Skole needs to improve upon his numbers across the board as he will be asked upon to be a major run producer.
Another familiar face is junior second baseman Jacob Esch. Esch was not a major contributor for last year’s star-studded team, but he only recorded 211 at bats. He hit .286 and played well defensively, too with only seven errors committed. Although he did not start last season, sophomore Brandon Thomas should be ensured a starting job in the outfield this year. Thomas should be the everyday right fielder for Hall after starting 23 games at the position last season.
Junior shortstop Connor Winn should see time at shortstop this season, but he is almost as unproven as the three shortstops Tech signed this offseason. Winn only has 46 at bats in his Tech career, but carried a .765 slugging percentage last year. Freshmen Paul Kronenfeld, Colby Wren and Daniel Palka will fight for the starting first base job. However, Palka should be the favorite as he was the No. 2 prospect from South Carolina out of high school and was drafted by the Phillies.
Either freshmen Zane Evans or Mitch Earnest will become the first freshman catcher to start for the Jackets since Jason Varitek. Evans looks to be the favorite as he set records last season in high school. True freshman DeAndre Smelter should find a home in left field for the Jackets after turning down the Minnesota Twins to sign with the Jackets. Freshman Kyle Wren, son of Braves General manager Frank Wren, will start at center field, as he is the only centerfielder listed on Tech’s roster.
While Tech’s starting outfield will feature a couple of starting freshmen, Hall does have veteran outfielders on the bench should one of the younger players struggle. Junior Evan Martin and fellow junior Jarrett Didrick both saw playing time last season and both should see solid playing time this season. Martin and Didrick only combined for 50 at bats last season, but their cumulative average is .260, so either could be a capable player if given an opportunity.