In a way, Georgia baseball is becoming the mirror image of Georgia football: uber talented, picked near the top of every preseason poll but for whatever reason can’t quite get over the hump.
Bulldog baseball has been on an upward trajectory the past few seasons. Georgia is one of only two schools to be a Top-Eight seed for the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons. But neither of those instances led to Georgia getting to Omaha, and the Dawgs have gone 11 years without a College World Series berth. Will 2020 be different? That’s what Anthony Dasher of Rivals and I discuss.
1. Georgia is a top-10 team according to basically all significant college baseball polls. But so too are Vanderbilt and Florida. Only one of these teams can win the East, make the case for Georgia.
With Georgia it starts with the pitching. Junior Emerson Hancock is projected to be a top-10 pick. Some believe he may even be the top pick in the entire MLB Draft. A four-pitch performer who tops out at 98, assuming he stays healthy, Hancock will be tough for any team to deal with.
But he’s not the only one.
Georgia also has 6-5, 232-pound righty Cole Wilcox who some have compered to Gerrit Cole at this same stage.
Like Hancock, Wilcox has a four-pitch arsenal and last year reached 100 mph.
Junior lefty CJ Smith will be the Sunday starter for Georgia, which also returns key mound performers in Ryan Webb and Justin Glover.
2. Georgia hasn’t been to Omaha in 11 years. Is this the team that can finally bring the Dawgs back?
It all depends on the bats.
If Georgia can hit enough, then the pitching arms could well be enough to put the Bulldogs back on the big stage.
3. How good of a starting duo does Georgia have in Emerson Hancock and Cole Wilcox?
Potentially, it could be one of the best 1-2 punches in the entire country.
But what makes each so good is they’re not one-trick pony’s both pitchers combine a hard slider, curve and changeup along with a fastball better than many you’ll already see in the big leagues.
4. Georgia has the unenviable task of having to go to Florida, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and Arkansas this year. How well do the Bulldogs handle that stretch?
That’s as tough of a series of road trips as you’re going to find. While Georgia will obviously be looking to win them all, and how well Hancock, Wilcox and Smith perform will ultimately determine those outcomes.
The Bulldogs also have some tough home series, but there’s no doubt finishing at least .500 will go along way to where Georgia is ultimately seeded when it comes time for postseason play.
5. Who’s the one guy in the Georgia batting lineup that pitchers will want to avoid at all costs?
That’s still got a wait and see situation.
The Bulldogs lost their top hitter in third baseman Aaron Schunk, and although there are some capable replacements, head coach Scott Stricklin will still be looking for someone to step up.
For the purpose of your question, however, I’ll go with outfielder Tucker Bradley who is a career .300 hitter but missed all but the first three games last year due to a shoulder injury.
Bradley is back healthy and will hit at or near the top of the lineup. He’ll be counted on to be that sparkplug, so opposing teams will likely look to keep him off base as much as possible.