Georgia Tech baseball coach Danny Hall believes there’s a chance that pitcher Buck Farmer and outfielder Brandon Thomas, both taken in last week’s Major League Baseball draft as juniors, could return for their senior seasons.
Hall shared that thought and a few other pieces of information regarding the team in a Thursday interview.
“I think it’s absolutely possible he could come back,” Hall said of Farmer, taken in the 15th round by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Thomas, Hall said is “kind of in the same boat.” Thomas was selected in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a first-team All-ACC selection, finishing fourth in the ACC in batting average (.360) and second in on-base percentage (.481).
Prior to the draft, Hall figured both had played their last for the Yellow Jackets. Farmer, a two-time All-ACC pick, was pegged to go in the first few rounds of the draft but fell.
What could sway Farmer and possibly Thomas to return to Tech are new rules governing signing bonuses in the draft. For the first time, teams were assigned a pool of bonus money that they can use to spend on picks through the first 10 rounds. Teams that go over the prescribed amount can be taxed and face the possibility of losing future draft picks.
Beyond the 10th round, bonuses exceeding $100,000 will count against the bonus pool. If it were to be more than $100,000, Farmer’s possible signing bonus would depend on how much of the pool the Brewers spend on their picks in the first 10 rounds.
“To me, he could still get the kind of money that he thought he was worth and that he wanted,” Hall said. “I think that possibility is out there. But I’m 100 percent convinced that if he doesn’t get that, he’ll be back in school.”
Teams have until July 13 to sign draftees.
“(If) we get both of them back, I’ll be more than happy,” Hall said. “But I think until July 13, we’re not going to know.”
2. Hall will be pulling for Kent State in the College World Series, which begins play Saturday against Arkansas. Hall coached at Kent State for six seasons. Further, Kent State coach Scott Stricklin played for Hall and then coached for him at Tech for five seasons.
Hall, who led the Golden Flashes to two MAC titles, said that Stricklin has taken the team to heights Hall didn’t think were possible.
“I think he’s one of the best assistant coaches I’ve ever had,” Hall said. “He was a great recruiter, a great evaluator and a great coach. I’m not surprised that his team is in the College World Series.”
Stricklin was a volunteer coach for Tech 1998-99, left for an assistant coaching position at Vanderbilt and then returned to Tech for the 2002-04 seasons. He was hired by Kent State in July 2004. As Tech’s recruiting coordinator, he helped bring in the 2002 class that was ranked No. 1 in the country by Baseball America magazine.
“In my mind, he’s kind of the guy that started making Vanderbilt be relevant in college baseball,” Hall said.
Kent State won the Gary, Ind., regional as a No. 3 seed and beat Oregon in the Eugene super-regional to make the CWS.
3. To Hall, mid-major teams Kent State and Stony Brook are evidence of the increasing parity in college baseball. Rules changes regarding bats and scholarship allotments have changed the landscape, according to Hall.
Bats must now perform like wooden bats, placing more of an emphasis on pitching and defense. The scholarship rule that Hall referenced now prohibits baseball coaches from giving out partial scholarships smaller than 25 percent of a full scholarship. Previously, schools could give out any fraction of a scholarship.
“I think it’s harder now to get [to the CWS] than ever before,” Hall said. “I think that there’s much more parity.”
4. Regarding Tech’s season, Hall said he was disappointed with the Jackets’ ACC record (12-18).
“That’s never acceptable in the ACC and not acceptable, certainly, to Georgia Tech, because I think our standards are so high,” Hall said.
Tech suffered injuries to the pitching staff that Hall called unprecedented in his 35 years as a coach, the past 19 at Tech. Hall was proud of his team for winning the ACC tournament, Tech’s first since 2005, and that the team did as well as it could have in getting eliminated by Florida, the tournament’s top seed.
Playing the Gators, who had five players chosen in the first three rounds of the draft and are a favorite in the CWS, was an eye-opener for Hall.
“We’ve got to look at Florida and say, ‘That is the standard that we have to get to,’” Hall said. “So you see that, and it’s one thing to say that and it’s another thing to realize that. When I say ‘we,’ I mean me, too. We’ve got to recruit better, we’ve got to stay healthy, we’ve got to put together a team together like Florida had for us to get to Omaha.”
Hall said that reaching the CWS has been and will always be his standard. He said he was frustrated that the 2010 and 2011 teams, both of which were the No. 1 seeds in regionals played at Tech but didn’t make the super-regionals, had the potential to reach Omaha.
“We’ve got to get better,” Hall said. “We’ve got to get better players and our team has to get better.”