2010 GEORGIA BULLDOGS BASEBALL
The Georgia Bulldogs, possibly more than any other team in the Southeastern Conference, are a tough nut to figure out when it comes to what to expect from the team in 2010. The team returns a lot of talent, but loses arguably the best player in the conference from its roster last season. The ability of this team to compensate for that loss, and quickly, could speak volumes as to its project long term accomplishments.
In 2009, the team had a solid season. It was a season which featured a number of high points as well as a few low ones, but generally speaking, it was a good year to build on. The team finished the season with an overall record of 38-24. In the difficult Southeastern Conference, the team held an even keel overall, finishing with a record of 15-15. And the team managed to finish the season ranked in the top 25 nationally, finishing ranked #24 in the final ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
Key Departing Players:
While the Bulldogs are not losing a tremendously sizable number of players, the team is losing a superstar in the name of first baseman and slugger Rich Poythress. Poythress was a monster at the plate in 2009. He batted .376 overall, while pounding 25 home runs and driving in 86 runs. He will be a challenge to replace, at least initially, in the Bulldogs lineup. In addition to the immensely talented Poythress, the loss of catcher Bryce Massanari is going to be a tough one to manage. In addition to being someone the staff generally felt good about throwing to, Massanari was an offensive weapon, hitting .305 with 19 home runs and 57 runs batted in.
From the mound, the Bulldogs lost three key hurlers to the MLB Entry Draft from the 2009 team. All will be difficult to replace, but the most difficult will likely be righthander Dean Weaver, who went 4-2 with a 3.60 ERA last season (to go along with his 10 saves), and who was picked in the 7th round by the Nationals. Fellow RHP Trevor Holder is also going to be a challenge to replace (he went in round 3 to the Nationals) as well as Will Harvill, who went in the 32nd round to the Diamondbacks.
Key Returning Players:
Georgia returns a good amount of talented players from its 2009 squad, and the continued development of some of these talented players is essential to the team's ability to compensate for the losses of the likes of Poythress and Massanari. While third baseman Colby May, who batted .339 with 11 home runs and 42 runs batted in, is going to be expected to shoulder much of the additional offensive burden, one of the team's keys to the season could very well be outfielder Zach Cone. Cone batted .323 last season and hit 4 home runs along with 18 runs batted in. Outfielder Johnathan Taylor (.309 batting average, 10 runs batted in, 23 steals) should also provide an additional element of offense.
Georgia returns a fairly heavy slate of pitchers into the 2010 season. However,it will remain to be seen who can step up to establish himself as the staff ace for the coming season. There certainly is no shortage of candidates. Righthanders Justin Grimm (4-4, 4.15 ERA)and Jeff Walters (2-0, 4.64 ERA) along with lefthander Chase Hawkins (3-2, 4.76 ERA) will likely be key contributors over the course of the coming season.
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