The North Carolina A&T baseball team is a little more than five months away from the start of its 2020 season. However, the “ping” of the bat has returned to War Memorial Stadium as the Aggies open fall practice. The one good thing is that this is just practice and as expected, the first practice would be a little challenging.
A new season brings a Top 25 recruiting class to add to a squad looking to return to postseason play for the first time since 2018. Fall ball will get head coach Ben Hall’s squad the intensity to moving forward. NC A&T spent most the afternoon in an intersquad scrimmage with some situational play mixed in.
This is a regional-type of club. What they can do beyond this fall and into spring really depends on both the offense and both weekend and midweek starters. If they can get at least the top half of the pitching staff ready to roll in the spring, I think this team has a lot of upside and is capable of making an NCAA regional tournament appearance and continue its run of success.
The Aggies have announced the official roster for the 2020 season. One thing that really intrigues me about this team is the transfers pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Jamie Serber recruited into the program. It will be an excellent opportunity to see what impact they make in fall and what they can offer in the spring.
The NCA&T rundown for fall ball…
With the return of 1st-team All-MEAC selection, Ryne Stanley (catcher), the Aggies will Have a standout for the 2020 season. Stanley is an extremely talented defensive catcher and his bat is coming along this fall after a good experience during the summer playing for the Madison Mallards in the Northwood’s League.
Dustin Baber will return at shortstop for the Aggies after being a 3rd-team All-MEAC performer in 2019. Baber had a great summer in the Coastal Plains League and was named to the All-CPL team playing for the Asheboro Copperheads. He will be a huge piece for the Aggies defensively and offensively.
TRANSFERS AND FRESHMEN
Alex Bibb transferred from Walters State Junior College and played in the JUCO World Series. He will help out offensively and will play the outfield, first base and designated hitter.
Justin Rodriguez transfer from Daytona State where he hit .347 with 5 doubles and 5 HRs and will patrol corner outfield for the Aggies.
Alex Reyna is a very talented freshman mid-infielder and left handed pitcher. Plus arm, good defender, athletic. Will be a freshman to keep an eye on.
Michael Johnson, a 2018 1st-team All-MEAC pick, will pitch on the weekend with a wealth of experience already going into his senior year.
Ethan Chavis, a junior, had a very good sophomore campaign and will project to pitch on the weekends.
Evan Gates is a returning weekend starter who has very good stuff. May stay as weekend starter or move into a closer role.
Leon Davidson got snubbed on all-conference voting last year for some odd reason. He had a 0.67 earned run average in 40.1 innings with 5 wins and 4 saves. He also had a great summer in the Northwoods League with a 1.94 ERA in 41.2 innings, 4 wins and 3 saves.
Transfer Cole Parks is a key addition to the pitching staff. He broke the strikeout record at Winston-Salem State and went 12-2 on the year. He has one year of eligibility left.
Timothy Davila is junior college transfer from Catawba Valley Community College and will compete for several innings.
Gianni Smith was a freshman last year and is poised for a very good sophomore year. Smith has very good stuff with a fastball that has been consistently at 94 mph.
North Carolina A&T is coming off back-to-back Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Southern Division titles and Coach Hall enters his fifth season as the Aggies head coach.