When Georgia opens fall practice Monday, there will be 25 returning lettermen at Foley Field, actually, 26 if you count former shortstop Nick King.
King, a two-year starter from 2015-16, returns in a student coaching role while he completes his degree in communication studies. He will work with the infielders.
“We encourage all our players to get their degree, and we realize that many of them will finish once their playing career is over,” said Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “We’re excited that Nick is back in school. He will help our program as a student coach much like Jarrett Brown and Mitchell Boggs were able to when they came back and completed their degree.”
King, a native of Palm Springs, Calif., played three years of professional baseball, mostly in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He began his collegiate career at Riverside City College in California before transferring to Georgia. King made his professional debut with the Schaumburg (Ill.) Boomers in the independent Frontier League and then was signed by the Pirates. This year, he played briefly for the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League.
At Georgia, King played in 109 games with 107 starts. He batted .239 with four doubles, three triples, three home runs, 13 sacrifice bunts and 35 RBI plus registered 29 stolen bases and fielded .960.
Georgia welcomes back seven returning starters around the diamond including All-American two-way standout Aaron Schunk (3B/RHP), freshman All-Americans C.J. Smith (LHP/OF) and Mason Meadows (C) plus second-team All-SEC first baseman Adam Sasser. Also, Cam Shepherd is back after setting a school record for fielding percentage by a shortstop with a .980 mark last year. On the mound, Georgia returns a dozen pitchers from the 2018 staff that helped the Bulldogs go 39-21 overall (18-12 SEC) and earn a consensus top 25 final national ranking.
The Bulldogs have nine newcomers including seven freshmen, one junior college transfer in Kaden Fowler and one graduate transfer in John Cable. The incoming class features five pitchers including 6-5, 234-pound right-hander Cole Wilcox of Chickamauga, Ga., who was a projected first-round draft pick in last June’s Major League Baseball Draft. He went 9-2 with a 1.59 ERA as a senior at Heritage High School. Fowler is a 6-0, 207-pound left-handed hitting All-Conference utility player from El Dorado, Kansas who played the past two seasons at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kan. Cable is a former All-Sun Belt Conference catcher/first baseman who joins the Bulldogs after graduating from the University of New Orleans with a business degree. A native of Roswell, Ga., the 6-2, 225-pound left-handed hitting Cable missed the 2018 season due to a hamstring injury but hit .349-3-33 in 2017 for the Privateers.
Mark your calendar for Friday, Oct. 5 and Sunday, Oct. 14 as the Bulldogs will play two exhibition games at Foley Field. The NCAA will allow teams to play a pair of exhibition contests during the fall. The Bulldogs will play host to the University of North Georgia on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. and UNC Asheville on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. Admission is free for the exhibitions and the Red and Black Fall World Series. Georgia will conclude practice with its annual Fall Red and Black World Series slated for Nov. 1-3.