Get On The Tide Baseball Bandwagon Early. Next Stop: Omaha
The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball train is full-speed ahead into 2021. With Brad Bohannon as the conductor, this season could be the best in a while for Tide baseball fans.
Before breaking down what (or who) will be the strengths this season. It is important to remember that each player was able to retain their 2020 season of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why you’ll see a few familiar faces from Alabama’s incredible past season still being listed as freshman throughout sports media and here as well.
Pitching. Batting. Defense. — Possibly the three simplest facets of the game will be broken down below by some of the guys to lookout for in each category.
(Each category includes players listed from “oldest to youngest” in NCAA years.)
Pitching: After the shortened 2020 baseball season, the Crimson Tide pitching staff was ranked third overall in the SEC by ESPN. Through all 17 games of the season, Alabama’s hurlers had still maintained a 2.24 ERA as a team. In my eyes, this season’s key to success on the mound will revolve around pitting up more strikeouts even if the defense is elite. But I’ll get to the defense later. — Here are some key throwers to keep an eye on in 2021.
- Brock Guffey - Senior - LHP
Guffey is a 6-foot-1, left-handed reliever out of Hoover High School in 2018. In the shortened season, he accumulated 13 strikeouts through his 29 at-bats in a total of 8.2 innings pitched. When Guffey was on the mound in 2020 hitters were held below a .140 batting average which was third best on the squad.
- Chase Lee - Sophomore - RHP
This McCalla, AL native was a force to be reckoned with in 2020. Chase Lee, through 11 innings pitched, struck out 19 of the 37 batters he saw. Lee allowed only two walks in the shortened campaign and allowed no homers on the season.
- Dylan Ray - Freshman - RHP/INF
Ray is a fresh face in the Alabama bullpen and a product of Bob Jones High School in Madison, AL. According to Perfect Game, the 6-foot-3 right-hander is listed as the No. 3 prospect in the state of Alabama and No. 2 at his position (RHP).
- Connor Prielipp - Freshman - LHP
The Collegiate Baseball News named the left-hander as the national freshman player of the year in 2020. Prielipp is the real deal and this may be the Tide’s last year to compromise on this pitcher’s talent. If Prielipp performs anywhere near the season he put up last year, he’ll likely be headed to the 2021 MLB draft. During his first and only campaign so far, the Wisconsin-native put up a 0.00 ERA through 21 innings pitched, leading the SEC. Prielipp also lead the Tide in strikeouts with 35 after facing only 65 batters. Bottom line: CP is absolutely electric.
Batting: The sluggers didn’t disappoint for the Tide in 2020. But, will the loss of Tyler Gentry and Brett Auerbach completely sink the offense? It’ll likely slow the offense, however, Alabama could still land in the top three in the SEC if Alabama keeps up the home run numbers and the slugging percentage. The Tide rolls on offense in 2020 because of the contributions from some returning hot bats.
- Sam Praytor - Redshirt Sophomore - Catcher
Tyler Gentry will certainly be missed around The Joe, but don’t worry Tide fans, Alabama didn’t lose any power here in Tuscaloosa with this Helena, AL-native. Sam Praytor led the squad in home runs during the 2020 season (6) and started all 16 games he appeared behind the plate in. Praytor stacked up 21 hits in only 60 at-bats during last season and as long as he can keep his strikeout number low, he could be Bama’s most productive bat.
- Will Patota - Sophomore - OF/INF
Patota is a Georgia product out of Pinecrest Academy in South Forsyth. Upon graduating in 2018, he committed to play at Southern Union State Community College in Wadley, Alabama. Patota’s batting contributions transferred to the next level as he put up a .407 average in only 44 games at SUSC. In his single season with the Bison, Patota led his entire team in both hits (57) and home runs (8) along with drawing 15 walks. If Will can manage to make yet another big leap in playing caliber, we could see some fireworks from the sophomore. Click here to check out a full article on the Alabama commit.
- Drew Williamson - Sophomore - INF
This 6-foot-4 Brewton, AL-native has drawn the most walks for Alabama in the last two seasons. Combined with a .340 batting average, there’s no wondering why Williamson has consistently boasted an extraordinary on-base percentage. The big man strikes out a little too much, however, if Drew can really nail down a strike zone this year, we could see his name popping up all the time.
- Owen Diodati - Freshman - OF
Remember the freshman who hit two homers on opening day in 2020? Yeah, this is the guy. “Dio” lead the Tide in RBIs and had one less home run than Sam Praytor (6), however, with five less opportunities at-bat (55 AB). Diodati will be a key feature in Alabama’s offense and have some big shoes to fill at the plate.
Defense: In 2020 Alabama only committed 10 fielding errors through 17 games, a mark that led the SEC. The Crimson Tide also boasted the best fielding percentage in the SEC (and ninth in the country) putting up a .985. Sam Praytor provides a veteran at the catcher spot with no errors or passed balls in 2020. As long as the defense can keep providing protection for the bullpen to work, Bama could hand out multiple shutouts in the 2021 season.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tide found their groove on the baseball diamond again this year. Given the assets returning and role players added Alabama can win 35-40 games this season and my exact prediction would be on the higher end of that spectrum.15 years is long enough without an SEC title and as a fan, I’m liking what Brad Bohannon is cooking up on Bryant Drive.
My prediction for the outcome of the Alabama Baseball season:
- 38 or more wins and a top 15 finish in country for rankings
- SEC Championship Runner-Up
- Birth in the 2021 College Word Series in Omaha, Nebraska
Hop-on now, Alabama fans, because this bandwagon isn’t stopping until getting to Omaha and the Tide's not picking up anyone who waits for the season.
For more content from J.R. and all the talented interns at Tide 100.9, make sure to tune-in for Tide Tonight - MWF 6:00-7:00pm. You can hear all of our radio content on the new Tide 100.9 app!