If you thought there were question marks surrounding the infield starters, let me transport you to the magical land of infinitely more question marks: the 2018 Georgia Tech outfield! Gone are Coleman Poje (who started 41 games in right field) and longtime starter Ryan Peurifoy (who started 50 games in center), leaving only left fielder Chase Murray (44 starts) to provide the veteran presence for the outfield. Let’s break it down by position.
As I mentioned above, this positions figures to be locked down by incumbent starter Chase Murray. A true freshman in 2017, Murray slashed .267/.364/.292 in what was an all-around strong season for any first-year ACC player. He also boasted one of the better strikeout rates on the team, whiffing just 38 times in 165 at bats while collecting 44 hits on the year. Unfortunately, Murray’s strong strikeout numbers didn’t translate to more walks -- his final OBP of .292 is rather anemic and ranks second-to-last among Tech’s usual starting nine from a season ago. The job is his for now, but don’t be surprised if someone else ends up making a play for a few at bats in left.
One such candidate is rising freshman outfielder Baron Radcliff, a top-15 player in the state from the previous recruiting cycle who passed up a 40th round selection from the Atlanta Braves to enroll at Tech. Though he was primarily a right fielder in high school, his arm strength will likely restrict him to left field or first base for the time being at the college level. From his Perfect Game profile:
Hell, I’m sold.
The right field job is up for grabs and there are very few established options ready to step in and take it. Perhaps one of Carter Hall and Nick Wilhite, a pair of center field options who we’ll get to later, can slide over to help, but I’m thinking we’ll see a completely fresh face getting much of the playing time here.
Newer contenders include freshmen Will Shirah and Colin Hall. It’s hard to say whether either of them will play this year, but I bet we’ll see Hall at some point at the very least. By the way, Perfect Game said the following about Shirah:
Watch your back, Baron Radcliff. We’ve got an outstanding student in town.
There are plenty of options here, but Carter Hall should be the runaway favorite to win the job provided that he’s healthy. Now a second-time sophomore after receiving a medical redshirt last year, Hall hit .294 over 21 games as a freshman and .308 over 8 games last season.
The next most-likely option on the roster is Nick Wilhite, who struggled dramatically at the plate (hitting just .128 after receiving 39 at bats) but still made 4 starts in center during his freshman campaign. I expect him to continue with a backup role, potentially as a left-handed complement to the right-handed hitting Carter Hall.