The Alabama Crimson Tide are entering the 2020 season hoping to build upon their improvements from 2019. The Tide are predicted to finish seventh in a powerful SEC West. Third year coach Brad Bohannon has put together the pieces to potentially make a push to contend in the nation’s toughest division.
2019 Record: 30-26 (7-23)
2020 Record: 16-1
Perfect Game Recruiting Class: 45th
Alabama was off to one of their hottest starts in program history. They started the season 14-0 before a 3-2 setback against Lipscomb in game two of a three game series. Their 16-1 finish before the season ended put them at No.3 in the RPI.
It was a mix of good pitching and a strong offense that led the way. Alabama hit double digits in runs in nine times in the young season. They allowed three runs or less in 12 games. The competition was weak overall but the Crimson Tide were on the right track in 2020.
Connor Prielipp lived up to the hype last year coming in as the highest ranked recruit in the Alabama class and immediately performing as the Friday night ace. The lefty didn’t allow an earned run a year ago with five hits and 35 strike outs in four starts. The coaches want to see him work deeper into games this year; only two starts lasted six innings in 2020.
From there the rotation drops off a bit but head coach Brad Bohanon believes junior Tyler Ras can make a jump this year. Ras started 12 games his freshman year with a respectable 4.14 ERA but was relegated mostly to bullpen innings last spring. His velocity is up this year and should be ready to pitch on Saturdays.
Righty Connor Shamblin and lefty Antoine Jean return with the most starting experience from 2020 with four starts each. The pair was effective last year in the non conference with Shamblin posting a 4.15 ERA and Jean a 3.18.
Chase Lee will once again be the closer out of the bullpen. The junior had two earned runs in five appearances in the short season last year. His 19 strike outs to just two walks was a massive improvement to his freshman year numbers of 24-5.
The Crimson Tide will be missing last year’s two top hitters in Tyler Gentry and Brett Auerbach. The pair combined for seven homeruns, 14 doubles and 35 RBI’s over 17 games. They also led the team in batting average.
Veteran Sam Praytor will help replace some of that production. The ball flew off the catcher’s bat last year as he led the team with six homeruns. After ending 2019 just two weeks in with an arm injury, it was a good sign to see Praytor bounce back.
Newcomer Owen Diodati is another name that exploded last year. Diodati was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball after posting .309/.431/.673 last year. He was second on the team in homeruns with five and led all SEC freshman in slugging percentage.
Other names that should be contributors are first baseman Drew Williamson and outfielder T.J. Reeves. Williamson was batting .340 when the season was cut short along with a .521 on-base percentage. Reeves was off to a slow start last season but has the potential to break out this year.
The initial outlook is a little concerning. Alabama lists just 34 players on the active roster which means it’s one of the more limited rosters in the SEC. They have just four upperclassmen, two juniors and two seniors. This means very little SEC experience is on the team.
Regardless, it’s going to be another mountain to climb in the SEC West for Alabama to overcome finishing last place again. The rotation has a solid front end and the lineup has several weapons across the middle. The lack of depth means the team needs to stay healthy and avoid any COVID issues to have a successful 2021.
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