The University of Georgia ended the 2020 season as one of the top teams in college baseball, and the Bulldogs will start the 2021 campaign with a preseason ranking of No. 12. Additionally, Georgia right-hander Jonathan Cannon has been named a preseason third team All-American.
Collegiate Baseball newspaper released its first preseason rankings and All-America teams for 2021 this week. The Bulldogs are one of eight Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams in the top 25. Florida and Vanderbilt occupy the top two spots followed by Ole Miss (No. 5), LSU (No. 7), Mississippi State (No. 9), Georgia, South Carolina (No. 21) and Arkansas (No. 22). Meanwhile, Texas A&M (No. 26), Alabama (No. 27), Tennessee (No. 35) and Auburn (No. 37) all landed in their “Fabulous 50 Division I preseason poll presented by Big League Chew bubble gum.”
Currently, the SEC is finalizing the league slate for 2021, and then Georgia will release its schedule. The Bulldogs, under the direction of Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin, are tied with Vanderbilt for the best combined SEC record covering 2018 and 2019, going 39-21 in league play. Georgia finished second in the Eastern Division in both of those years, posting an 18-12 mark in 2018 and a school-record 21-9 league ledger in 2019. Georgia and Arkansas were the only two teams in that span that earned a national seed for both NCAA Tournaments too.
Cannon, a 6-6, 216-pound native of Alpharetta, Ga., is slated to join Georgia’s starting rotation along with left-handers Ryan Webb and C.J. Smith. In his first year with the Bulldogs, Cannon went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in five relief appearances. He did not allow a run in 11.1 innings pitched with 12 strikeouts and two walks. He is projected to be among the top professional prospects for the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft.
For example, Baseball America ranked Cannon No. 11 among the “2021 Breakout Candidates in College Baseball” and No. 19 on its list of “Top 2021 College MLB Draft Prospects.” Their report stated “on a pitching staff that featured elite draft prospects like Emerson Hancock and Cole Wilcox, Cannon didn’t get much of a chance to shine as a freshman in 2020…It will be a different story in 2021.” The review goes on to say Cannon has “good command of a four-pitch mix that includes a fastball that touches the mid 90s and a plus changeup.”
Georgia concluded 2020 ranked as high as No. 2 nationally with a 14-4 mark. The Bulldogs were headed to top-ranked Florida to begin the SEC portion of their schedule when the season was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Bulldogs will feature 20 returning lettermen including six starters around the diamond and 10 pitchers who saw action last year.