2023 Albany State Baseball season preview

Courtesy of Albany State Atheltics

Albany State University is coming off a 32-16 record last year under head coach Scot Hemmings. The Albany State Golden Rams ended their season playing in the SIAC championship game, losing to Spring Hill College 8-7. The Albany State Golden Rams also participated in the Black College World Series in Montgomery, AL. The Rams are looking forward to the 2023 baseball season with a shot at winning the SIAC conference championship and returning to the NCAA regionals. The last time ASU Baseball played in the regionals was in 2018 in Lakeland, FL. The Rams will open up on Feb 8th at Columbus State University.

The Rams are returning most of the hitters from a team that ranked 6th in the country in batting average last season and 2nd in the country in runs per game (10.7). The Rams expect this year’s team to compete for the conference championship. Some key returners for the 2023 season include:  OF Jaelyn Brooks, OF Lavoisier Fisher, OF Zane Ross, INF Hill Corley, 1B Tucker Jordan, C Pierce Thomas, OF Quintard Wright, UTL Bradley Smith and INF Nathan Lloyd. Ross, Corley, and Lloyd were a big reason for the 32 wins, and Senior OF Fisher was ranked 3rd in NCAA DII for OPS with runners in scoring position, hitting .384 with 11 HR and 56 RBI. Jaelyn Brooks has become the player Coach Hemmings thought he could become, as he had one of the best fall seasons of anyone on the roster. Senior Pierce Thomas will be back behind the plate and share the duty with Dominic RutiglianoTucker Jordan will be a huge left-handed bat for the rams once again in 2023. Bradley Smith will be asked to play several positions as he had an unbelievable fall, and Coach Hemmings will want his power and ultra-competitive spirit in the line-up. The coaching staff is excited to see Quintard Wright in action, as he has worked very hard to develop into a fine baseball player. Coach Hemmings had several positive things to say about the Rams’ offense, “We are extremely excited about this year’s offense. We had an unbelievable year in 2022, and Lachlan Ross, Nick Hernandez, Malik Bell, and TJ Thomas will be tough to replace, but we do feel like we have a lot of balance this year with a good combination of power, speed, and a wide variety of ways that we can score. I would like us to improve on our situational hitting from last year and take more of a team-first approach, especially in crucial situations.  This team could have a special year if we can be more concerned about wins than personal achievements.”

On the mound, the Albany State Baseball program is returning seven arms from last’s year staff. Leading the Rams on the mound this year is Sophomore RHP Jeremiah Reddellwith 87.2 innings, 71 strikeouts, and a 4.52 era. Reddell is a workhorse for the Rams and will be expected to be a leader both on and off the field. Other key returners on the mound for the Rams are Tyler BullockElijah DennisJohn LuegeringBrady Davis, William Beasley and two-way player Chase Karn. Karn, Bullock, Dennis, and Luegering carried a heavy load last season and will be heavily relied on this year. Bullock had some big starts for the Rams last season, and Dennis and Luegering can pitch back-to-back days and have rubber arms due to their tireless work ethic. Karn will also see a lot of time in right field, where he had a great year both as an outfielder and as the Rams’ closer last season. Davis recovered nicely from Tommy John and had a fantastic season for the Rams down the stretch, as he inserted himself into the starting rotation late into the season and had seven wins. William Beasley is ready to become a big part of the staff as he has worked hard to develop all three pitches and increase his velocity. Coach Reynolds believes that this year’s staff has a lot of potential. “Last year, with a very young staff, we won 32 games with some help from our offense. These young men will grow from last year’s experiences, and this staff will be much more competitive this season. We can come at teams with various looks, and the ability to match up with other teams’ offenses is there. The key for this year’s staff will be limiting the free passes and challenging on the mound. In Jeremiah, we return a starter who had a great year as a freshman and will look to build on that. Brady bounced back from TJ surgery and was able to build up his pitch count and move into a starting role by the season’s end. With Landon, we have another big arm that can come in and replace the tremendous senior season Jon Henry had. Returning Karn, Luegering, Dennis, and Bullock, who had significant appearances and innings out of the bullpen, will be a massive bonus to the pitching staff. Beasley has taken big strides this fall, and with the additions of Addison, Baker, Taylor, and Walker, this year’s team has more depth than any staff we have had in my previous four years”.

Adding to a big group of returners, ASU Baseball was able to land a few transfer athletes together with a strong 2022 high school recruiting class. University of West Georgia transfer 2B Jonathan Logsdon will be an impact player on this year’s team. Logsdon started all 44 games at second base and finished the year hitting .298 with 13 2B and 2HR. Jonathan will be asked to hit lead-off, so Fisher can move to the 3-hole as well as be a strong and vocal leader and assist in the development of the up-and-coming Rams. RHP/SS Landon Kiefer, a two-way player coming from Missouri University of Science and Technology, will be helping the Rams in multiple ways, as he has great stuff on the mound and is an outstanding infielder with excellent knowledge of the game. Sophomore Junior College transfers Keith Taylor and Austin Roberts are coming in with experience and are ready to contribute to the team’s goals this year. Taylor has a big arm with a huge upside and 3B Roberts had a great season at Wallace State Community College, hitting .333 with only 13 strikeouts in 44 games. Roberts will be expected to be an RBI machine in the middle of the order for the Rams.
Coach Hemmings had this to say about their transfer class, “We had an outstanding recruiting class last season and added some much-needed experience to our line-up and pitching staff. We are extremely excited about Logsdon and Roberts in our line-up along with Kiefer’s great stuff on the mound, and we hope Taylor can be consistent with his control to go along with his low 90’s arm.”   

The Albany State Rams had one of their largest high school recruiting classes this fall. With ten freshmen coming in this year, The Rams have their sights on developing talent for the future. This recruiting class brings depth to the program and a different look. This group is led by OF/RHP Luke Addison, RHP Chandler Walker, and OF Andrew Leonard. Coach Hemmings can see Addison, Walker, and Leonard earning a lot of time as freshman and hopes Walker will continue to progress as a front-line reliever. Addison will see some time in the outfield as he has tremendous tools and potential and on the mound as well.  Leonard was the biggest surprise of the fall this year and Walker kept getting better each outing! Catchers Sean Russell and Xander Little will be tasked with catching early on as freshman and speedsters Cameron Paul and Wade Rodeffer will bring a lot to the Ram’s offense and defense as their speed can change a game quickly. The Rams will need Emory Stephens and Cameron Paul to develop quickly this season in the infield to help replace seniors next season and will heavily rely on LHP Calvin Baker for some mid-week starts this season. Coach Martinez is excited about his young infielders, and Coach Hemmings loves the speed his young outfielders bring to the table. Blakely Estes will add some much-needed depth with his bat, as he has worked really hard to completely change his swing. Coach Hemmings said this about the Freshman class, “This is a very talented group of young guys, but we need them to work extremely hard and they cannot delay their development. They will have enormous shoes to fill when we lose Fisher, Brooks, Lloyd, Luegering, Jordan, and Thomas next season. We saw some good signs this fall, but they will need to kick their development into overdrive and get several at-bats and innings this summer.  I really want them to understand how fast D2 baseball is and how strong you have to be to play it. If you have a flaw, then other teams will expose it quickly. They have some great seniors to learn from, and I hope they make the most of this season as they watch and learn from a talented group of upperclassmen”.

Coach Hemmings had this to say about the 2023 season, “I am very excited about the 2023 season. We had a great fall and had a good group that really worked hard.  We also renovated most of the ballpark and added some nice touches with new netting, a new warning track, updates to the press box and concession stand and will have 300 new chairback seats installed before opening day. It was not only a good fall on the field, but the Rams carried a 3.33 team GPA in the classroom this year. Coach Reynolds did an amazing job with this recruiting class. His tireless work has paid off, and we cannot wait to see them in action in a few weeks. Coach Reynolds has a great eye for talent and really connects with the recruits. I am also excited about the addition of Coach Luis Martinez. He was a huge help with his knowledge on the infield and brings an infectious personality that the guys love playing for. I hope we can return to winning a SIAC championship and competing in a National Regional.” 

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