Georgia freshman Cole Wilcox (13) pitches the ball to a Missouri batter. The University of Georgia baseball team hosted Missouri for the second game of the series on April 19, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Kathryn Skeean)

The Red & Black’s assistant sports editor Austin Roper spoke on the phone with Cole Wilcox, Georgia baseball’s sophomore Saturday starter, who finished with a 3-0 record and 32 strikeouts in the shortened season. Wilcox discussed his upcoming decision to stay at Georgia or enter the MLB draft, his new training routine at home and how he’s spending his free time away from baseball. 

How shortened season weighs on his MLB decision

Wilcox’s success on the mound is impressive as it stands, but his success was primarily with his fastball and slider. He planned on using his change-up more as the season progressed.

“I would’ve definitely [thrown] more change-ups during SEC play because it’s big to have that third pitch as a starter, and I had it,” Wilcox said. “I threw it a lot during the fall, threw it a lot in the early spring. … But the game plan was kind of just sticking to the slider until [opposing batters] hit it.”

Recording the second-most strikeouts on the team while primarily using just two pitches explains why he’s valued so highly in the MLB draft. He was also a projected first-round pick coming out of high school in 2018, but he chose to come to Georgia. 

Wilcox said he hasn’t put much thought into his decision yet, but the fact that spring athletes will gain another year of eligibility has some influence over his decision. 

“Having another year of eligibility under your belt definitely changes some things, makes the decision a little easier,” Wilcox said. “Just knowing that [when] you come back, you’re kind of right where you started. I feel like I’m in a good position whichever way I go. I’ve always said I love it here. I love my time here. It’s been the best baseball experience I’ve had up to this point.”

Training adjustments

During the first week of a typical May, Wilcox and the rest of the Georgia baseball team would be nearing the regular season’s end. Wilcox would be on his routine weekly schedule, resting and training throughout the week leading up to his start on Saturday. 

However, he’s back in his hometown of Chickamauga, away from the Bulldogs’ training facilities. This has forced Wilcox to work out at home, and with the season over, continuing to strain his body with heavy training wasn’t his best option. 

“There’s just a lot of added stress, so I took a step back from throwing,” Wilcox said. “[I’m] only throwing like three or four days a week, no bullpens or anything yet, just to keep [my body] in decent shape for when I have to crank it back up.”

Wilcox spent the first month of training lifting weights with dumbells and a standard bar to squat. Georgia assistant strength and conditioning director Ryan Gearheart sends workouts to each of the baseball players so they have proper workouts available. 

“I’ve been able to stay in pretty good shape,” Wilcox said. “It’s just the resources that have changed the most.” 

Time away from baseball 

The cancellation of Georgia’s baseball season and on-campus classes created unusual free time for Wilcox during the spring. He’s taken advantage of it by turkey hunting and fishing more than he normally does. 

Wilcox has also ventured back into basketball, but he refuses to be involved with pick-up games since he would break social distancing guidelines and risk injury. However, for someone who accumulated 1,506 points, 996 rebounds and 198 blocks during his basketball career at Heritage High School in Ringgold, it’s just another way to pass the time. 

“I always enjoy going outside to shoot for an hour or two,” Wilcox said. “It’s one of the most stress-free things you can do.”

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