As baseball season fast approaches for the Red Raiders, it’s time to look at what fans can expect from this team in the 2023 season
This season is arguably the truest rebuild team that Tech has seen since the early days of Josh Jung with only 7 batters and 13 returning pitchers in the bullpen. To state the obvious, there will likely be bumps in the road, hopefully leading to a trip to Omaha, as this team will have much to learn when it comes to playing together. Tech is looking at a whole new infield this season, even some of the returners have been trying their hand at different positions, Hudson White getting time at third rather than first base as we were used to seeing him on Saturdays last season. While this is essentially a whole new team for Tech, it is incredibly deep, with Tim Tadlock having tried multiple, completely different lineups in the offseason. One position in particular that shows this team’s depth is at catcher. Compared to last season where we primarily saw a trade-off between Hudson White and Cole Stilwell, going into the 2023 season, the Red Raiders have a powerful trio of catchers we can expect to see decent playing time in White, Kevin Bazzell, and Dylan Maxcey.
Breakout year predictions
This team is topped to the brim with talent, many of which will likely go on to have incredible seasons, for now, I will stick with one returning player, in particular. I predict we will see a breakout season for Covid junior Dillon Carter. Coming in as a freshman Carter was a promising athlete, coming out of high school a 4-year letter winner, starting in 16 of the 19 games in his shortened first season. After a spoiled freshman season in 2020, Carter has spent his last 2 seasons at Tech battling injuries that have taken him out of play for multiple weeks in each of the two seasons and if he can stay healthy I could very easily see us finally getting to see Carter have his breakout year that it appeared he was on track to have before the cancellation of the 2020 season
This season’s team is full of new faces for Red Raider fans to get acquainted with. One new face that has made quite the stir not only in the Tech baseball scene but also in the Tech football scene is Will Burns who is looking to secure a spot at shortstop for the Red Raiders as well as a spot at quarterback for the football team in their next season. Burns is said to have a highly impressive arm, his main competition for the shortstop spot seems to be true freshman Tracer Lopez, another new face for the Red Raiders. Another newcomer to watch is Texas transfer Gavin Kash who is likely to see play time at first base and has been great defensively in the preseason. The second base slot seems to also be up in the air for Tech, Austin Green, Tracer Lopez, Cade McGarrh, and Travis Sanders all having seen time at the position in the preseason. Green coming in as a junior JUCO transfer, and Sanders, Lopez, and McGarrh are all coming in as true freshmen for the Red Raiders. There are new faces in the outfield, though only really in the left field. Nolan Hester a senior transfer from Wofford seems to be the favorite in the spot but true freshmen Gage Harrelson and Jeric Curtis continue to battle for playing time, we will likely see all three try their hands before conference play kicks off.
Back and Better than ever
After spending most of the season out on injury Brendan Girton is back and ready to take the bump for the Red Raiders. Girton was able to get some solid innings in during fall ball games and scrimmages pre-season so fans can look forward to seeing him get substantial innings. Another player that is geared up to go for the Red Raiders is Kevin Bazzell. Bazzell transferred from DBU last offseason and thus had to redshirt in his first year with the Red Raiders, a highly rated recruit at the catcher position and a solid hitter at the plate. Bazzell being eligible on both the defensive and offensive front is an incredible asset. Also back from injury is Trendan Parish, even after suffering a season-ending injury in his first year Parish had the second-most appearances at 20 for the team in 2022 and recorded the most saves at 6.
On the Bump
While there is no question that Tech has ample power and talent coming in on the offensive end there has also been significant progress in the depth of the bullpen. Of the players Tech has to return, the majority are pitchers, but that didn’t stop Tech from adding significant arm strength in the offseason. Brendan Girton and Mason Molina will likely be front runners for the weekend starting positions while the Sunday spot will be a battle between some of the newer arms in the bullpen. Sadly RHP Jack Washburn who transferred from Ole Miss and was set to potentially be a weekend starter for the Red Raiders will miss the season after suffering a shoulder injury in the offseason, as reported by Kendall Rogers of D1 Baseball.
Returning Impact players
After a stellar opening season ending in being awarded Big 12 Freshman of the Year and a spot on the USA baseball team postseason, Hudson White shows great promise of making just as big if not a bigger impact on the 2023 season. White was one of only two freshmen in Tech’s regular lineup last season. White proved to have an incredible eye both at and behind the plate starting in 58 games and playing in 59 of the 61 total games last season. White enters the season with All-Big 12 team honors. Another returning player to watch is Ty Coleman, who in his first year as a Red Raider recorded over 70 hits on the season with the longest hitting streak with one or more hits in 13 straight games from Feb. to March. Coleman also enters the 2023 season having received multiple preseason Honors including All-Big 12 and first-team All-American honors. Last but certainly not least is pitcher Mason Molina, who along with Coleman and White enters the season with All-Big 12 honors. Molina is a projected weekend starter for the Red Raiders coming off his freshman season where he made 20 appearances and 9 starts, his most notable start coming in the Big 12 tournament against K-State where he struck out 10 batters in 6.2 innings.
Tech enters the season with a young team, but for the first time since 2017, not a Jung team, but that is far from something to lose hope over. If there is one word to describe the 2023 season for Tech baseball it is potential. This team is packed with it in every area of play. Things are set up for the Red Raiders to play a season unlike we have seen in many years.