ACC Preview. Lots of Tech on the Top Prospects Lists for 23 and 24 and impact freshman!
Wake Forest is the clear-cut team to beat in the ACC this year, but UNC, Virginia Tech, Louisville and UVa lead a large group of dangerous contenders.
36-24 (15-15 in ACC)
Georgia Tech always rakes — this offense is one of the most bankable commodities in college baseball year-in and year-out. The Jackets will hit again in 2023, even after losing stars Kevin Parada, Andrew Jenkins, Chandler Simpson and Tres Gonzalez. Without that group, this offense won’t be quite as fearsome, but it still has plenty of firepower and veteran presence thanks to the returns of Drew Compton, Stephen Reid and Jake DeLeo, plus the addition of Mercer transfer Angelo DiSpigna. There’s also plenty of talent and upside on the mound.
But Georgia Tech is light on proven workhorses on the mound, and it’s unclear how the roles will shake out. The Jackets are counting on huge steps forward from very talented sophomores Jackson Finley (a redshirt sophomore coming off Tommy John surgery), Logan McGuire and Cam Hill, and they need a strong collection of pitching newcomers to hit the ground running. The pieces are there for this to be a better staff than it was a year ago, but the Division I track record here is short, so there’s a lot to prove. The Jackets are also mostly new up the middle, and defense is another question mark for this club, though this roster has the athleticism to be capable on defense.
Compton and Reid are proven sluggers who combined for 30 home runs last year and 22 homers in 2021. They give Georgia Tech valuable stability in the heart of the order, taking pressure off emerging talents like Finley (a two-way player with huge righthanded raw juice) and John Giesler, who don’t have to worry about being the focal points of the offense. But Finley has perhaps the biggest star potential on this team if it all comes together, with light-tower power at the plate along with an explosive fastball that bumped 98 this fall along with two distinct breaking balls that are developing quickly and a functional changeup. He could blossom into a superstar in his third year on campus, but he has very little experience.
Jack Rubenstein backed up Parada behind the plate last year after transferring in from Division III Emory. Now he has a chance to be the everyday catcher, with solid catch-and-throw skills, a valuable veteran presence, and some pull-side pop. Jadyn Jackson really solidified the defense after stepping into the everyday shortstop role midway through last season, and he remains the infield glue heading into his junior campaign. Jackson is a steady defender with smooth actions, and he took a step forward at the plate this fall.
Picks to Click:
There are many candidates to choose from in this category. Coach Danny Hall identified redshirt freshman Kristian Campbell as the team’s top breakout position player after his dynamite fall, during which he showed off a huge leap in maturity, along with an exciting power/speed tool set and dramatically improved plate discipline. On the mound, McGuire and Hill both have high upside and should take big steps forward as sophomores, now that they’ll be unleashed as key arms on this staff. McGuire showed 92-95 mph while flashing a plus changeup and a solid mid-70s curve in our fall look, while the 6-foot-6 Hill was up to 92 from the left side with a tight slider and a developing changeup. That duo should join Finley in occupying key roles this spring, whether in the rotation or at the back end.
Righthander Terry Busse should be one of the most impactful juco transfers in D-I baseball this spring, with a chance to settle into the weekend rotation or the back of the bullpen — but the smart money right now is on a rotation spot. He attacked at 93-94 with explosive life and deception this fall, mixing in a solid slider and useful curveball — but his calling card is the fastball, which really plays. High-profile freshmen Noah Samol (a 6-foot-8 lefty who can reach the mid-90s with a knockout 12-6 curve) and Luke Schmolke (a compact righty who can also bump 95 with a true hammer) are also destined for prominent roles on this staff right out of the chute, and could blossom into bona fide weekend rotation studs sooner rather than later.
Even if Georgia Tech’s offense takes the expected step back from last year’s powerhouse unit, these Jackets will remain formidable offensively, and the coaches believes the pitching staff has a real chance to be better than it was the last two years. A bunch of unknowns will have to prove themselves in order for that to happen, but if it all comes together then this team definitely has the potential to win its first regional since 2006.