Georgia Tech baseball has first fall exhibition Saturday

Georgia Tech first baseman John Giesler, here at bat against Georgia March 4, 2022 at Russ Chandler Stadium, is a candidate to start for the Yellow Jackets in 2023. (Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

Credit: Danny Karnik

Credit: Danny Karnik

Georgia Tech first baseman John Giesler, here at bat against Georgia March 4, 2022 at Russ Chandler Stadium, is a candidate to start for the Yellow Jackets in 2023. (Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

On Tuesday, Georgia Tech senior John Giesler came up with a plan: the old guys versus the new guys.

Giesler, one of the co-captains of this year’s Tech baseball team, finds himself a minority on a new-look Yellow Jackets team that has a roster built around freshman and transfers.

“It’s been different, the first couple weeks getting everyone to adjust to how we do things and everybody meeting everyone,” Giesler said. “But I like everyone we have on this team, and it seems that we’ve come a long way from the two months that we’ve been here. We still got a long way to go, but it’s going to be exciting to see what all these new guys can do.”

Tech began its fall practice Sept. 28 and will train on the diamond for about a month before an exhibition against Alabama-Birmingham on Oct. 27. That matchup is the second of two fall exhibitions for the Jackets, the first of which is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday with Kennesaw State.

Open to the public with free admission, Saturday’s event will allow fans of the program a first look at coach Danny Hall’s newest roster.

“It’s been a good blend and a good mix of older guys with younger guys,” Haill said. “We started (fall practice) a little later, just our team portion of it, just for us to get to understand who these guys are, them to get to understand us and kind of what we’re looking for. It’s been very good so far.”

Hall, in his 36th season as Tech’s skipper, brought in 26 newcomers to the program this offseason. It was an unprecedented move for the veteran coach, but one made just as much out of necessity to fill roster holes as it was a desire to return to a championship level of baseball.

Twelve of the 26 new faces are transfers, highlighted by former Georgia State pitchers Cam Jones and Mason Patel, former Maryland outfielder Bobby Zmarlak, former Indiana catcher Matthew Ellis and former Wofford utility man Trey Yunger. Hall said because the program lost so many position players, both former players and incoming freshman, because of graduation and the MLB draft, taking advantage of the NCAA’s transfer portal was vital to putting together a competitive roster.

“You always want to try to get the best player, but a lot of it is fits, personality,” Hall said. “And it needs to be someone we can get into school. That’s a big piece of Georgia Tech, is can they fit into the school part of it. We’ve had a lot of luck with grad transfers, and we had some luck this summer with that again.”

Tech’s freshmen class brings some impressive pedigree to the program as well. The 14-player group is ranked the fifth best nationally by both Perfect Game and Baseball America.

Hall said he has been impressed with what he has seen so far from pitchers Jackson Sobel (Charleston, S.C.) and Tate McKee (Mount Paran Christian). Outfielder Drew Burress (Houston County), a top-20 national prospect, has been as advertised.

“He’s kind of, in my opinion, a game-changing player,” Hall said. “Just a really, really good baseball player.”

The Jackets also have been getting to know new pitching coach Matt Taylor. A Columbus native hired in June, Taylor has been implementing his pitching program and philosophies and that transition has been smooth to this point, said Hall.

Tech is coming off a disappointing 30-27 season in which it went 12-18 in ACC play and failed to reach an NCAA Regional. Becoming a better squad than that, in some respects, starts this month.

“We’re definitely hoping to have a couple good showings in these scrimmages,” Giesler said. “Excited for November and December so we can all get some work in together and really get our heads banging together really good and fired-up for the season.

“I think it’ll take some time come February, but I’d really like to see this team firing on all cylinders come March, April, when it really matters. I think that’s what we’re in position to do.”

Tech adds pair to coaching staff, makes Pinkham assistant coach

Tech announced Wednesday the addition of Deck McGuire and Jason Richman to its coaching staff ahead of the 2024 season. Tech also announced the elevation of Zeke Pinkham to assistant coach.

McGuire joins the Jackets as an undergraduate assistant coach as he returns to Tech to complete his undergraduate degree, while Richman joins as director of pitching, overseeing analytics and sports science.

Pinkham has served as Tech’s volunteer assistant coach since 2020, working primarily with catchers, as well as helping coach offense and base running.

One of the top pitchers in the ACC in the late 2000s, McGuire was named the conference’s top pitcher in 2009 while at Tech, becoming a first-team all-American. A two-time first-team all-ACC selection, he also earned third-team honors in 2010.

A Richmond, Virginia, native, Pinkham was named the ACC pitcher of the year in 2009. The 2009 Golden Spikes Award semifinalist and national pitcher of the Year finalist was selected 11th overall in the 2010 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Richman joins the Yellow Jackets after a three-year stint as the pitching coach at South Carolina-Aiken. Before USC-Aiken, Richman was the player development coach at his alma mater, Georgia Southern for three seasons.

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