2023 Baseball

The 2023 baseball season unofficially started today with the beginning of practice.

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It’s a complete coincidence but I posted my first in a series introducing the 12 recruits and 8 transfer additions to the roster.

I’ll be going alphabetically by first name and alternating between recruits and transfers. To that end, Aidan Teel gets to go first.

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The fall baseball exhibition schedule was released yesterday. Odds are very good you’ll have to attend in person to watch and outside coverage will likely be sparse.

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And the Orange & Blue World Series intrasquad schedule…

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Baseball also added a new commit today but I haven’t figured out who yet.

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2026 middle infielder from Ohio.

There was another baseball commit over the weekend but they haven’t revealed themselves yet.

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Baseball pulled a fast one and played game one of the Orange & Blue World Series last night. They gave a three hour warning on their secondary Twitter account @virginiarecruit. That account has a few PBP details.

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A little opening of practice content.

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Cool moment in AAA last night.

Pavin Smith was activated from the injury list and hit a home run for the Reno Aces in his first at bat back.

In the same game for the Las Vegas Aviators, Zack Gelof also homered in his first game at the AAA level this season.

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Why do baseball kids commit so early to colleges?

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Get that part over with early and then work hard on never having to step foot on a college campus.

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That’s definitely part of it.

I have to think the entire baseball recruiting ecosystem as it exists now puts some pressure on kids to commit early too.

And let’s be honest, there’s got to be a cool factor to rolling into class early in the 9th grade saying [insert power baseball program] offered me / wants me bad but I picked this other one that wanted me more / has better gear / whatever.

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Also how do guys like @KarlHess and @virginiagameday keep track of all the baseball names? And years out too like 2025s and 2026s? Do baseball players peak early and therefore if a kid is balling out as a HS freshmen that means they are going to be good in a few years? In basketball you see kids drop all the time. Justin Anderson and Jabri Abdur Rahim were both at one point the #1 recruit in their class I believe or close to it according to a ranking here or there.

One of my buddies is like me but in terms of Minor League baseball and triple A: he has so many baseball prospects he follows that he can just recall off the top of his head. It seems overwhelming.

I only keep track of kids that commit to UVA or if there’s a special case like friend’s kid that’s a recruit (there’s a 23 and a 26 recruit under the friend category I keep up with).

I have a very rough idea of a few players who the coaches might be scouting but I pay it very little attention until a commit happens. And baseball recruiting is still very opaque when compared to hoops or football. What I’m aware of pre commitment wouldn’t even begin to be described as a needle in a haystack. At least with UVA, I don’t know how anyone would unless they were literally inside the program in some fashion.

You get the same thing in baseball as in hoops. We have a 2024 commit that was top five in his class when he committed a couple years ago. He was a grown man already at that point and was physically dominant over his peers. As they’ve matured and developed skills his ranking had dropped a lot (he’s still a top 75 recruit so it’s not like he’s in free fall though).

The trick for coaches is having the ability to see a kid that young and project where they’re going to be four to six years down the road. It’s obviously not an exact science. The UVA staff happens to be very good at it, sometimes too good when you lose players to the pros as high round draft picks. But even then you don’t hit all the time, see the dip for a few seasons post national title where they had winning teams but couldn’t reach postseason.

Even the scouting services who see the players a ton in the showcase events they put on and in the travel circuit miss a lot in their rankings and evaluations. Zack Gelof is a great example of that. He received the default lowest ranking of 500th in the 2018 class by Perfect Game (they have a bunch of 500th ranked players as that’s their bottom ranking of players they “rank”) and he was a star from his very first game at UVA.

Baseball programs can be pretty aggressive about dropping commits late in the game. We aren’t too bad about that but we dropped a couple 2023 commits over the summer whether it was a numbers game or they didn’t develop as required.

We’ve had a few players get contingent offers where they have to make the team in the fall or they had prior offers pulled but were given the opportunity to try out in the fall. The lack of full scholarships in baseball really makes a player that’s borderline commit to the school itself too because they’re on the hook for paying their way, or a substantial part of it, for the right to play baseball. The two players I know about in this paragraph didn’t ultimately make the team but are still UVA students. They knew the deal upfront and elected to come under those stipulations because of the appeal of the school too.

Not all programs are as upfront or above board with the numbers they bring in each fall or with how they go about cutting players. There was a blip of controversy in August about Texas Tech bringing in a ton of freshman they didn’t actually have room for and turning away kids as they arrived at school to move in. But even with us I view the first season as an extended tryout because it seems if a player is going to transfer it’s most likely to happen at the end of their first year.

And even known vets aren’t immune to being moved on. We’ve had some well known players not asked back at the end of their careers when the pros weren’t an option either because roster spots and/or scholarship money was needed for incoming players (kind of like not asking back a 5th year in football). Baseball players except for rare cases are usually on their own three year plans anyway.

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Hoos 15th in D1 Baseball’s Top 100 programs.

UNC one spot ahead of us is difficult to buy.

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