Georgia Head Coach Scott Stricklin watches from the dugout. The Georgia Bulldogs defeat the Mercer Bears 13-3 in the first round of the NCAA regional playoffs on May 31, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Daniela Rico)

Georgia baseball returned to training Monday for the first time since March. Head coach Scott Stricklin adds a 15-man recruiting class to the 11 starters returning from last year’s roster, which went 14-4 in a season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Bulldogs are restricted to conditioning and individual workouts until Oct. 2, when they’ll begin a slate of 30 full-team practices through Nov. 16.

Last fall, Georgia baseball cut its teeth with two fall exhibition games against Division II Columbus State and Florida. Concerns over COVID-19 led the SEC to eliminate all baseball and softball exhibition games this fall, so Georgia could see an 11-month gap in competitions between its final game of 2020 and its 2021 season opener. 

Georgia experienced several high-profile losses to the MLB during its extended offseason. Starting right-handers Emerson Hancock and Cole Wilcox were among the 165 amateur players selected in the 2020 MLB draft, signing contracts with the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres respectively.

Despite a $20,000 cap on free agent signing bonuses this summer, junior left fielder Tucker Bradley and senior shortstop Cam Shepherd also signed with pro clubs. Bradley, Georgia’s leader in extra base hits and RBIs this spring, signed with the Kansas City Royals. Shepherd, who made 198 consecutive starts as a Bulldog from 2017-20, will compete in the Atlanta Braves organization this season. 

Redshirt senior catcher Mason Meadows will return for a fifth year in Athens after recording a .150 batting average in 13 appearances last season. Taking advantage of the eligibility extension offered by the NCAA to spring sport athletes, right handed pitcher Logan Moody comes back for a sixth year in Athens and will turn 24-years-old before the Bulldogs begin their spring campaign. Moody has made 64 appearances for Georgia since 2016 both in the outfield and on the mound. Last season he went 1-0, striking out seven and giving up zero earned runs across eight innings. 

With one true freshman ranked among Perfect Game’s top 100 prospect list, Georgia’s 2020 recruiting class comes in at No. 17 in the NCAA and No. 5 in the SEC, according to Perfect Game. In addition to four left-handed pitchers and three righties, the class includes two catchers, two shortstops, two outfielders and a third baseman. It’s the only time in Stricklin’s eight-year tenure as head coach that every committed recruit joined the team in the fall.

“This is one of the best classes we’ve had since I’ve been at Georgia,” said Stricklin. “It has depth on the mound and with our position players. We feel like it’s as good as anyone’s class in the country.”

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