AL HS Team Preview: Athens Golden Eagles


PBR Alabama Staff

High School: Athens Golden Eagles

 

2019 Record: 23-15

 Head Coach: Chuck Smith

 AHSAA Classification: 6A

 AHSAA Area: 15

 2019 Area Finish: 2nd

 2019 Playoff Run: Lost in 1st round

 

 RETURNING STARTERS: 

’22 DH/C Tucker Stockman

’20 C Dylan Johnston

’20 LF/LHP Parker Willoughby

’20 CF Jaelen Cates

’20 RHP/INF Tucker Reed

’20 RHP Tyler Gainer  

’20 OF/C Josh Simmons  

 

UNDERCLASSMEN TO WATCH: 

 ’21 OF Jayden Jones

’21 3B/RHP Rush Boyett

’21 RHP Cam Anderson

’21 LHP Grayson Harbin

’21 INF/RHP Jackson Campbell

’21 OF Heath Carden

’22 3B/RHP Cooper Cochran

’22 LHP/1B Sam Sandy

’22 RHP/OF Landon Leslie

’22 SS Connor Beck

’23 3B/RHP Reid Lauderdale

 

TEAM STRENGTHS: 

Depth on the mound

Should be solid on defense

Very good group of catchers coming back

 

OUTLOOK: 

 The Athens Golden Eagles advanced to the state playoffs in 2019, losing to Hazel Green in the first round. The 2020 team looks to build on that playoff spot and make a deeper run in the postseason. Coach Chuck Smith welcomes back four positional starters and three pitchers that saw time on the mound a year ago. The Golden Eagles should be led by a deep pitching staff but will depend greatly on some guys that do not have varsity experience to produce offensively. ’22 C/DH Tucker Stockman returns after playing an integral role as a freshman in 2019. Stockman will see time behind the plate, will DH and see significant time on the mound. He shows a mid to upper 80’s fastball with a plus breaking ball. Stockman hit .315 with 29 RBI's a year ago. ’20 C Dylan Johnston will see most of the time behind the plate as he shows very nice defensive skills behind the plate and made a lot of progress offensively a year ago, hitting .303 with 13 RBI's. Johnston is a UAH signee.  Another Golden Eagle headed to UAH is ’20 LF/LHP Parker Willoughby. He shows power to all field and could be a difference maker in the lineup while also throwing a lot of innings on the mound. The senior southpaw can command three solid pitches for strikes. He ht .309 with 22 RBI's a year ago. Senior CF Jaelen Cates was expected to return to the outfield this season, but an injury will force him to miss the season. ’20 RHP/INF Tucker Reed is a super athletic player that has signed with UT- Martin. He is a big-time player with lots of confidence and can dominate on the mound. Tyler Gainer is another senior right-handed pitcher who knows how to pitch and can command all three pitches. It is very possible that Gainer may be the opening day starter on the mound after throwing 30 2/3 innings in 2019. He was 4-1 with 42 K's and a 1.82 ERA. Senior OF/C Josh Simmons is a very athletic, versatile player that has committed to Martin Methodist College. He will see time in the outfield, behind the plate and on the mound.

Six juniors figure to be factors this season for the Golden Eagles:

’21 OF Jayden Jones will be competing for time in the outfield for varsity.

’21 3B/RHP Rush Boyett is big, physical kid with a ton of ability.

’21 RHP Cam Anderson is working for a spot to be the closer, sidearm pitcher with a lot of movement.

’21 LHP Grayson Harbin shows nice “feel” on the mound and does a nice job mixing pitches during any count.

’21 INF/RHP Jackson Campbell is competing for shortstop spot on varsity.

’21 OF Heath Carden has great speed in the outfield and on the bases, looking to be more consistent at the plate.

Four sophomores and one freshman name to remember for this year and beyond are:

’22 3B/RHP Cooper Cochran has a lot of potential could log innings on the mound for varsity.

’22 LHP/1B Sam Sandy is a left-handed pitcher with a plus breaking ball, swings it from the right side, has some power to all fields, and competing for a spot at 1st base on varsity.

’22 RHP/OF Landon Leslie is another player with a lot of potential and could log innings on varsity.

’22 SS Connor Beck is a high energy, super competitive player that is in the mix to play shortstop for the varsity.

’23 3B/RHP Reid Lauderdale has a lot of potential at the plate and is a name to remember for the future.

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