Alabama baseball’s youth movement is underway as early as the fall.
In UA’s lone fall exhibition against a true opponent, underclassmen were on full display as Alabama split two seven-inning sets with Southern Miss, winning the first one 10-1 and losing the second one 5-4.
That was most true on the mound and in the infield, where UA is replacing a good chunk of personnel.
Two left-handed freshman pitchers, Connor Prielipp and Antoine Jean, started the two seven-inning stints. Neither gave up runs; Prielipp retired the last seven batters he faced and Jean retired six of the seven batters he faced.
“I don’t think you can leave the ball park and not be excited about Connor Prielipp and Antoine Jean,” UA coach Brad Bohannon said.
Redshirt freshman Landon Green also had a productive outing, ending the first game, and Dylan Smith bridged 2 2/3 middle innings in the second game.
UA also had a freshman at the top of the lineup: Jim Jarvis. Jarvis had a home run and a single in the first game, then reached base in his first two plate appearances in the second game.
“You tell the kids all the time, ‘Hey, make me play you,’” Bohannon said. “Jim, to this point, has done a really good job of making me play him. To this point he’s helped us win in so many ways: he’s defended at a high level, he’s an instinctive base runner and consistently has really good at-bats.”
Jarvis played shortstop and second base Sunday, and was not alone in switching positions from the first to second set of seven innings. Myles Austin played second base and center field, Owen Diodati was a left fielder and designated hitter and Zane Denton played both first and third base.
The returning corner outfielders of T.J. Reeves in left and Tyler Gentry in right limits the options for playing time in the outfield, but so many promising young players with positional versatility will make for intriguing position battles in the spring.
“It would be really hard for me to make a starting lineup right now,” Bohannon said. “We have 12 or 13 guys right now that I would feel really comfortable playing against a really good team with them in the lineup. That’s a good problem to have. There may be a time in the spring where I only have five or six, but right now, if we played tomorrow, there’d be 12 or 13 guys I’d feel really comfortable writing their name in the lineup.”
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson