UGA baseball announces 16 signees for 2024 season
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UGA baseball announces 16 signees for 2024 season

UGA Baseball
Photo: Tony Walsh/UGA

UGA baseball has added 16 signees for the 2024 season, head coach Scott Stricklin announced on Wednesday.

The Georgia Bulldogs picked up six position players (catcher, first base, shortstop, two infielders, and one outfielder) and 10 pitchers (seven right-handed, three left-handed).

The early signing period began on November 9, 2022 and extends through August 1, 2023.

“This is an extremely deep and talented class,” said Stricklin. “We feel like we covered every area of need with a lot of exciting athletes. Also, I want to thank our entire staff including Scott Daeley, Sean Kenny, Brock Bennett and Tatum Hodge for their hard work in helping put this dynamic class together.”

Listed below are the 16 recruits with information and quotes provided by UGA Athletics:

Ryker Chavis (LHP, Warner Robins, Ga., 6-2, 185, R-L, Houston Co. HS)

An Honor Roll student, he posted a 6-0 mark and 1.90 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 59.2 innings for the Bears as a junior…Earned All-Region honors and helped Matt Hopkins squad advance to the elite eight of the state playoffs and a 28-6 record…Began prep career at the Maclay School in Tallahassee, Fla., and went 7-2 with a 2.40 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 52 innings as a sophomore while batting .382-4-26…Summer league action with 5 Star Baseball and named MVP of the WWBA after going 5-0 with a 0.00 ERA, tallying 68 strikeouts in 57 innings…Son of Kerri and Paul Chavis.

“There is a positive atmosphere at UGA,” said Chavis. “The coaches are a fit for me and playing baseball in the SEC is a dream. UGA is the best place for me.”

Coach Stricklin on Chavis: “Ryker is a left-handed pitcher who throws from a tough arm angle with three pitches he throws for strikes. He has one of the best changeups in the entire draft class.”

Connor Crisp (RHP, Locust Grove, Ga., 5-11, 170, L-R, Locust Grove HS)

Two-way standout for the Wildcats and coach Chad Crawford, posting a 7-3 mark, 2.22 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 50 innings as a junior…Also hit .377-3-19 with 23 stolen bases in 30 games…Earned All-Region, All-County and All-State honors as team went 22-8 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs….Went 5-3 with a 1.88 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 45 innings plus hit .405-3-24 with 25 stolen bases as a sophomore…Summer league action with 5 Star National…Part of family of college baseball players including older brother Nolan who is a senior pitcher for Georgia…Son of Brandy and Nic Crisp.

“I chose UGA because every year there is a chance to go to Omaha and win a championship while playing in the best conference in college baseball,” said Crisp.

Coach Stricklin on Crisp: “Connor is a good athlete and potential two-way player although his future is likely on the mound. He is very aggressive on the mound with a fastball that will get into the low 90s. He also has a plus slider and a good changeup. He could fit into many roles on our staff.”    

Alan Choo (1B, Southlake, Texas, 6-1, 230, L-R, IMG Academy)

A corner infielder who spent his first two years at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High School and now attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, FlaBatted .429-2-19 in helping the Dragons and coach Larry Vucan go 25-3 as a sophomore in 2021…Hit .372 with eight RBI as a junior for coach David Turgeon and the Ascenders…Rated the top first baseman in Texas and a Texas Region Underclass All-American by Perfect Game/Rawlings…Summer action with Five Star American…Father played 16 years in the Major Leagues including a 2018 All-Star with the Texas Rangers…Son of Won Mi Ha and Shin-Soo Choo.

“I chose UGA because I want to compete in the most competitive atmosphere in college baseball,” said Choo. “I look forward to a challenge and not guaranteed success. I loved the campus and how close everything is and how beneficial it will be for me.”

Coach Stricklin on Choo: “Alan is a big, strong, physical player who hits from the left side with a ton of power. He will hit a lot of home runs as a college player. He has baseball in his DNA and has been around the game all his life.”

Brett Denby (SS, New Albany, Ind., 6-0, 175, R-R, Jeffersonville HS)

Batted .351-2-17 with 13 stolen bases for the Red Devils as a junior while playing for coaches Derek Ellis and Shane Stock….Also posted a 3-1 mark and 1.80 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 19 innings in 2022…Ranked among the top five players in the state of Indiana by Perfect Game including the top shortstop…Hit .341-1-19 with 14 stolen bases as a sophomore plus went 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in 25 innings as the team went 17-13…Summer action with the Cincinnati Spikes…Son of Kendra and Timothy Denby.

“From the moment I was introduced to the program and coaching staff, I fell in love with the culture and everything about being a Georgia Bulldog,” said Denby. “My late grandfather was a diehard Georgia fan, and I’m excited to attend the university that he loved.”

Coach Stricklin on Denby: “Brett is a very athletic shortstop from the state of Indiana. He is one of the top defenders in the country and has a chance to pitch out of the bullpen too. He has a fastball in the low 90s and a good breaking ball.”

Paul Farley (RHP, Kennesaw, Ga., 6-1, 175, R-R, Mount Paran Christian School)

Tallied a 7-2 mark and 1.85 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 60.2 innings as a junior for the Eagles and coach Kyle Reese…Helped them advance to the Final Four of the state playoffs and a 32-4 record…Named 1st Team All-Region…Part of state championship squad as a sophomore when he went 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 25.2 innings…Part of family of college student-athletes…Son of Julie and Scott Farley.

“Between the coaches, players, and people at UGA, there is no place I’d rather call home,” said Farley.

Coach Stricklin on Farley: “Paul is one of the most projectable kids in this year’s class. He continues to develop physically, and we feel like he will be a frontline starter for us.”

Ryan Gold (LHP, Smyrna, Ga., 6-3, 195, R-L, Campbell HS)

Registered a 7-3 record, 2.01 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 38.1 innings as a junior for the Spartans and coach Jackson Cargle…Earned All-Region honors as a pitcher plus batted .379-1-22 with four stolen bases…Tallied a 7-4 mark, 2.26 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 40 innings as a sophomore…An All-Region selection on the mound plus hit .333-0-10 as the squad went 19-12…A National Honor Society member and regular member of the Honor Roll…Part of summer league team that won the 17U PG WWBA World Championship…Son of Kara and Mark Gold.

“UGA has been my dream school for as long as I can remember, and I look forward to being on campus in the fall,” said Gold.

Coach Stricklin on Gold: “Ryan is one of the best left-handed pitchers in the country who has a lot of swing and miss in his pitches. He can throw to both sides of the plate with his fastball, and he keeps hitters off balance with his offspeed stuff.”

James Hays (RHP, Hawkinsville, Ga., 6-2, 225, L-R, The Westfield School)

A three-sport letterman who has been limited on the mound the past two seasons due to elbow and knee injuries but seen action as a corner infielder…Batted .436-4-25 plus a .587 OBP in 22 games as a junior for the Hornets and coach Rob Fitzpatrick…Earned All-Region and All-State honors as the squad went 19-10…Participated in the 2022 MLB-USA Baseball High School All-American Game at Dodger Stadium…Summer action at the USA 18U National Team Training Camp and with 5 Star National…Son of Tracie and Chris Hays.

“I love Georgia, UGA’s atmosphere, and it’s where I felt at home,” said Hays.

Coach Stricklin on Hays: “James is one of the top baseball players in the country. He is a hard thrower with a fastball in the mid 90s. He’s a great athlete and has a chance to make an immediate impact for us.”

Jake Hembree (LHP, Hiram, Ga., 6-1, 196, L-L, North Paulding HS)

Tallied a 6-3 mark and 1.17 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 53 innings as a junior for the Wolfpack and coach Matt Richardson…Posted a 7-3 mark and 1.10 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 69 innings as a sophomore in helping the squad to a 30-10 mark…Named All-Region, All-State and the Perfect Game  (PG) Super 25 MVP…Summer action with the East Cobb Astros, winning the 16U National Elite Championship and the PG 16U World Series…Son of Kim and Jason Hembree.

“I have always wanted to be a part of the UGA community, said Hembree. “The coaches made me feel welcome and good about my decision, and I have no doubt they will mold me into the player I want to be.”

Coach Stricklin on Hembree: “Jake is a left-handed pitcher with a fastball in the low 90s with one of the best breaking balls in the country. He could fill a lot of different roles for us from being a starter to a high-leverage reliever.”

Trey King (INF, Peachtree City, Ga., 6-1, 178, L-R, McIntosh HS)

A two-sport letterman who batted .364-1-19 with a team-best 14 stolen bases as a junior for the Chiefs and coach Tom Kelley…Named Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in helping team to a 17-15 mark…Hit .389-1-22 with six stolen bases as a sophomore in earning Offensive Player of the Year honors…Also lettered in football…Son of Lori King.

“I believe UGA is the best place for me to make it to the next level,” said King. “Also, I come from a long line of Dawgs.”

Coach Stricklin on King: “Trey is one of the best left-handed hitters in the country, and he can play anywhere on the infield. We feel like he will be a middle-of-the-order hitter for us.”

Wyatt Land (RHP, Bishop, Ga., 6-3, 185, L-R, North Oconee HS)

Limited action due to injury for the state champion Titans and coach Jay Lasley as they went 39-1 in 2022…Set state record for victories including winning their final 36 games…Tallied four strikeouts in six innings with a 2.22 ERA as a junior in 2022…Summer action with Klutch Baseball… Son of Jamie and Ben Land.

“I grew up a Bulldog fan, and it’s always been my dream to pitch there,” said Land.

Coach Stricklin on Land: “Wyatt is a projectable athlete with his best days ahead of him. He has tremendous upside and athleticism. He will end up being one of the hardest throwers in this class.”

Jake Lankie (RHP, Milton, Ga., 6-2, 190, L-R, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS)

An Honor Roll student who posted an 8-2 mark and 0.53 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 55.2 innings as a junior for the Titans and coach Jamie Wagner…Named 1st Team All-State and Region Pitcher of the Year as squad went 22-11…Tallied a 7-1 record, 2.40 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 36 innings as a sophomore…Named 2nd Team All-Region and part of region championship squad that went 25-10…A member of the Hispanic National Honor Society…Summer action with the Georgia Jackets who were among the top five nationally-ranked Perfect Game teams and was named MVP Pitcher of the 16U PG World Series…Son of Kim and Sean Lankie.

“I had an instant connection with the UGA coaches and the program felt like home,” said Lankie.

Coach Stricklin on Lankie: “Jake has been recognized as one of the top right-handed pitchers in the country for the last several years. He throws four pitches for strikes and has one of the best changeups in this year’s class.”

Cooper Milford (OF, Cumming, Ga., 6-0, 170, R-R, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS)

An outfielder for the Titans and coach Jamie Wagner…Batted .340 with 14 RBI and a team-high 18 stolen bases as a junior…Helped the 2022 squad go 22-11 and advance to the sweet 16 of the playoffs…Named 1st Team All-Region and 2nd Team All-State….Hit .265-2-10 with a team-best 11 stolen bases as a sophomore to earn 2nd Team All-Region honors…Summer action included a LakePoint Championship…An excellent student with summa cum laude distinction throughout prep career…Son of Kim and Todd Milford.

“I choose UGA because it felt like home,” said Milford. “The community is so supportive, and I’ve always dreamed of being a Bulldog.”

Coach Stricklin on Milford: “Cooper is arguably the best athlete in this class. He can really run and put pressure on the defense with his speed. He covers a lot of ground in the outfield and should steal a lot of bases.”

Tre Phelps (INF, Kennesaw, Ga., 6-2, 210, R-R, Georgia Premier Academy)

An Honor Roll student who attends Georgia Premier Academy in Statesboro where he plays for Gene Reynolds…Batted .385-2-40 with 20 stolen bases in 45 games as a junior in helping the Sox to a 34-11 record…Named a 2022 Conference All-Star…Hit .425-5-22 with 15 stolen bases in earning All-Region honors as a sophomore…Also lettered in basketball…Participated in the 2022 Perfect Game All-American Classic at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks…Summer action with the USA Baseball 18U National Team and the GBSA Rays…Aunt is former Georgia standout and WNBA first round draft pick Angel Robinson…Son of Nichole Bradley and Edward Phelps.

“I chose UGA because no other coaching staff was more caring for their players,” said Phelps.

Coach Stricklin on Phelps: “Tre is one of the best hitters in the country and loves to play the game. He plays with a lot of energy. He should be a middle-of-the-order type bat for us.”

Bransen Powell (RHP, Locust Grove, Ga., 6-1, 180, R-R, Locust Grove HS)

A pitcher/infielder for the Wildcats and coach Chad Crawford…Did not pitch as a junior due to injury, however batted .335-1-37 with 21 stolen bases in helping the squad go 20-12…Named 2nd Team All-Region in 2022…Hit .321-0-31 with 18 stolen bases as team posted a 19-13 mark in 2021…An Honorable Mention All-region selection…A three-year letterman and Honor Roll student…Summer action with Team Elite National and named 2019 WWBA MVP as a pitcher…Son of Pascha and Bryant Powell.

“It’s always been a dream to play at a school like Georgia that has such a great baseball program great academics and great coaching staff.”

Coach Stricklin on Powell: “Bransen is another projectable right-handed pitcher with a fastball in the low to mid 90s who has shown an ability to throw three pitches for strikes.”

Cale Stricklin (C, Watkinsville, Ga., 5-11, 190, R-R, North Oconee HS)

Batted .398 with four home runs and 36 RBI for the state champion Titans and coach Jay Lasley as they posted a 39-1 mark…Set state record for victories including winning their final 36 games with 14 shutouts…Named 1st Team All-Region and All-State as a junior…Part of team that advanced to the final four of the state playoffs as a sophomore, going 31-6 while batting .299 with 25 RBI…Summer action with Team Elite that won the 16U WWBA National Championship…Dad played at Kent State plus six years of professional baseball and now coaches collegiately at Georgia…Son of Cheri and Scott Stricklin.

“I chose the University of Georgia to play baseball in the SEC and to be close to home,” said Stricklin.

Coach Stricklin on Stricklin: “Cale is an advanced defensive catcher that has developed physically over the last couple of years and shown he can handle the bat. He’s been in a dugout his whole life and has a high baseball IQ.”

Ethan Sutton (RHP, Acworth, Ga., 6-3, 208, R-R, Allatoona HS)

A two-way standout who posted an 8-1 mark, 2.41 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 61 innings as a junior plus batted .358-5-37 with 11 stolen bases…Helped the Buccaneers and coach Keith Hansen go 35-6 and finish as the state finalists in 2022…Went 2-1 with four saves and a 1.85 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 22.2 innings as a sophomore plus hit .337-1-22…Part of squad that went 32-7 and advanced to the final four of the state playoffs… Named 2022 Cobb County Pitcher of the Year plus honored as East-West Player of the Year and set mark for most strikeouts for the team…Summer action with Arkansas Sticks…Son of Misty and Jeff Sutton.

“My decision to commit to UGA was because of the great coaching staff and their vision for me and the program,” said Sutton.

Coach Stricklin on Sutton: “Ethan is a very versatile baseball play and could be a two-way guy for us. He has a fastball in the low 90s with a very good slider plus can swing the bat with some power.”

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