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2022 NC State Baseball Preview - Part III: Who’s New

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We’re closing in on the start of the college baseball season, so let’s take a look at the team

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-NC State v Stanford Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

With the calendar getting ready to turn over to February and the 2022 baseball season quickly approaching, let’s take a look at the NC State Wolfpack team that will take the field this season. We’ll attempt to do this in a four-part series again:

  • In Part I of this series, we took a look back at the 2021 season and the players who are no longer with the program.
  • In Part II of this series, we will look at the returnees from that 2021 team.
  • Part III will look at the newcomers for 2022.
  • Part IV will take a look at the schedule and opponents for the Wolfpack this season.

So let’s get started!

Who’s new

As we discussed in the “Who’s Gone” and “Who’s Back” parts of the preview series, this Wolfpack squad will have to rely on a bevy of newcomers to reach the heights the team is aiming for. That group of newcomers will comprise of eight transfers (three JUCO transfers and five D1 transfers) and 13 freshmen, including four guys named ‘Jacob’... weird. Worry not, there is talent abound in this group, and a bunch of them - and not just the transfers - will push for playing time immediately, if not outright starting gigs.

All-told, this is the 8th ranked recruiting class in the country according to D1 Baseball, which only accounts for the players who actually make it to campus.

Let’s look at the 21-man class of newcomers for the Wolfpack in 2021:

  • Logan Adams (RHP - rJR)
  • Jacob Cozart (C - FR)
  • Jacob Dienes (LHP - FR)
  • Jacob Godman (C - JR)
  • Payton Green (INF - FR)
  • Sam Griesbauer (RHP - FR)
  • LuJames Groover III (INF - SO)
  • Jacob Halford (RHP - FR)
  • Josh Hood (INF - rJR)
  • Brandon Hudson (RHP/OF - FR)
  • Carson Kelly (RHP/INF - FR)
  • Brady Lavoie (OF - rJR)
  • Justin Lawson (RHP - SO)
  • Carter Lindsay (OF - FR)
  • Will Marcy (INF - FR)
  • Garrett Moffett (LHP - FR)
  • Chase Nixon (OF - FR)
  • Matt Oldham (C - SR)
  • Dominic Pilolli (OF - SO)
  • Win Scott (LHP - FR)
  • Tommy White (INF - FR)

Logan Adams is a massive (6’6, 231 lbs) righty from Hoggard HS in Wilmington, who started his career at Charleston Southern before heading the JUCO route for a year. Adams struggled in his first year at Charleston Southern (0-2, 12.55 ERA, 23.2 IP, 37 H, 12 BB, 14 K) and then did not play in the abbreviated 2020 season. At College of Central Florida in 2021, he looked like a much different (and better) pitcher (1-5, 3.80 ERA, 47.1 IP, 50 H, 17 BB, 57 K). For a big-framed kid, he has a nice, repeatable delivery and unleashes a low-to-mid-90’s fastball with some great arm side run. His change-up drops off the table, and the slider - when he can get it going - has some serious bite. D1 Baseball thinks he’s going to be the Sunday starter this year, but I could also see him as a closer type if they want to go with Villaman in the weekend rotation.

Jacob Cozart is a well-regarded catcher out of Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point. If that sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same place as former Wolfpack catching great and 2020 1st round MLB Draft pick Patrick Bailey. Cozart is the son of former High Point Baseball Coach Craig Cozart, and he’s exactly what you’d expect from a coach’s son: fundamentally sound. A big lefty bat and a strong arm to complement his defensive skills, Cozart should be the starting catcher for State from Game 1.

Jacob Dienes is a freshman left-handed pitcher out of Wilson who played his high school ball with the Wake County Home School team. As a small school kid he comes in flying a bit under the radar, but has shown a lot in his time thus far on campus. Dienes was named as a 1st Team All-State selection in 2021 after posting a 10-1 record with a 1.29 ERA. He’s a smart and athletic kid who earned some mentions on preseason articles from multiple publications, so he shouldn’t fly under the radar too long.

After NC State’s entire 2021 catching group left following the College World Series appearance, the Wolfpack had to completely rebuild that part of the roster. They had their high school recruit in Cozart, but putting all your hopes on a freshman backstop can be iffy. Thankfully, the school grabbed a commitment from Jacob Godman, a JUCO transfer from Southern Nevada. Godman started his career at UNLV where he slashed .215/.273/.256 over 143 PA from 2019-2020. At Southern Nevada in 2021, he slashed .325/.442/.536 with 8 2B, 8 HR, 32 R, 48 RBI, 34 BB, 27 K, and was 6-for-6 on SB. His offense is ahead of his defense, but he should provide great depth behind the dish and a plenty capable bench bat for this team.

Another freshman who is likely to start from Game 1, Payton Green is a 6’3 local infielder from Green Hope HS, although he spent his last prep year with Pro5 Academy. He was a 15th round pick of the Red Sox in 2021, but thankfully chose to come to NC State rather than starting his professional career. Green should be the starting Wolfpack shortstop when the season starts, but if not, he’ll find his way into the lineup somehow. The kid has a ton of talent and even more potential. Here’s his MLB draft profile from last year.

Sam Griesbauer will be a wildcard for the Wolfpack pitching staff in 2022. A big 6’3, 211 lbs righty out of the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, Griesbauer could pump it in the low 90’s heading into his high school senior season. Unfortunately, he had to have Tommy John Surgery and is just now getting back on the hill. Time will tell what he looks like post TJS and what role he’ll play on the mound for State this year.

LuJames “Gino” Groover III is a transfer from Charlotte who can straight mash. A 2021 C-USA All-Freshman Team selection, Groover hit .351/.380/.489 with 14 2B, 4 HR, 29 R, 38 RBI, 11 BB, and 22 K. He has experience at multiple infield positions, including first base, which may well be where he plays for the Wolfpack in 2022. Long-term, he has a lot of potential as a second baseman at the professional level - and if his defense is solid enough from the start in Raleigh, he could push J.T. Jarrett out of the lineup.

The Northern Guilford to NC State connection remains alive and well as Jacob Halford makes his way to Raleigh in 2022. Halford will suit up this year with fellow Northern Guilford alum J.T. Jarrett, although their respective times at that high school did not actually overlap. Not that he can’t or won’t contribute in 2022, but Halford is more of a project arm. As he adds muscle to his 6’3, 177 lbs frame, he should be able to bump his velocity up with it.

Another immediate impact transfer is Josh Hood from Penn of the Ivy League. The Vineland, NJ, native was a Freshman All-American in 2019 when he hit .331/.411/.580 with 13 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 42 R, 42 RBI, 20 BB, 5 HBP, 21 K, and was 1-of-4 on SB. Hood played in all eight Penn games in the brief 2020 season (.263/.256/.342), but left the program when the 2021 season was announced to be very abbreviated for Ivy League schools. Despite not playing in 2021, Hood was still drafted in the 20th round of the MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox, although he can dramatically increase he draft stock by playing this year for the Wolfpack. He was a shortstop at Penn and his defensive skills will easily translate there to the ACC level. With the emergence of Payton Green, Hood is a prime candidate to man the third base position this year.

Brandon Hudson enters the Wolfpack program without a lot of hype despite what he’s done thus far on the mound. As a senior at Cuthbertson HS, the 6’4 righty with the high-80’s/low-90’s fastball tossed a pair of no-hitters on his way to Pitcher-of-the-Year honors for his conference. He needs some work on his delivery, but should slot in as a potential relief arm immediately, assuming the control and secondary pitches can play up.

Carson Kelly comes to Raleigh as a two-way player, although his future is likely on the mound. As a high school senior, he hit .585 while pitching to an 0.35 ERA with 87 K across 39.2 IP. The freshman from Lee County has a high-80’s/low-90’s fastball that pairs with a good changeup. The two-slot (high 3/4, sidearm) righty is likely to factor in as a bullpen arm for now while he works on his off-speed offerings. With plenty of room to add muscle to his 6’2, 197 lbs frame, he has a ton of potential.

Brady Lavoie is a JUCO transfer outfielder from Palomar College in California. He graduated high school in 2018, redshirted at Palomar in 2019, played in a brief 2020 season, and then the team didn’t play in 2021. There’s a lot unknown about this kid. Lavoie was a late bloomer in high school, and the JUCO route has helped transform him from a lanky high school senior into a solidly built college junior. Over 18 games in 2020 at Palomar, he hit .327/.514/.596 with 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 15 R, 21 RBI, 16 BB, 5 HBP, 15 K, and was 1-of-1 on SB. (Quick side note, that Palomar team racked up 47 HBP in 21 games, so I’m assuming they were the single most hated team in the state of California.) Lavoie should slot in as outfield depth on the 2022 Wolfpack squad.

If you’re looking for a darkhorse candidate to be the Wolfpack’s 2022 closer, my money is on Justin Lawson. He doesn’t have the massive velo that you’d expect out of that role from the right side, but the guy just knows how to miss bats. The JUCO transfer from Bossier Parish CC threw 64.1 innings over 16 appearances (10 starts) over two years there, allowing just 48 hits during that time and tallying 96 strikeouts. He did walk 49, so control can be a major issue, but if he can harness the location, the upside is tremendous. He has three years of eligibility with the Pack.

Carter Lindsay is a stocky left-handed hitting, lefty throwing outfielder from A.C. Reynolds HS in Asheville. A two-sport athlete in high school, Lindsay was also an accomplished football player at the prep level. He should provide outfield depth as a freshman while he adjusts to the college game.

Another player to keep an eye on in the future is Will Marcy, a 6’3, 191 lbs infielder from Raleigh. Marcy played his prep ball at Pro5 Academy along with fellow Wolfpack freshman infielder Payton Green. While Marcy was listed in recruiting services as a shortstop, he’ll likely slot in as a future second baseman. He does have the ability to play third base, but his arm strength will need to continue to improve. The right-handed hitter has a few mechanical items to clean up, but the bat has potential.

Garrett Moffett is a freshman lefty with a very good curve. He’ll need to add some velo to his fastball - as well as continue to work on locating it - as he moves up to ACC competition. Moffett likes to work quick from the mound and could carve out a role immediately as a lefty bullpen option. He’ll need to develop a third pitch if he’s to break out as more than a bullpen arm, though. While listed on the Wolfpack roster only as an LHP, he hit .517 with 6 2B and 11 HR as a high school senior, while also tallying 61 K in 31.1 IP on the mound.

Chase Nixon has a last name that’s a familiar one to baseball fans. His father, Trot, was an NC State two-sport signee (baseball, football) who opted to sign with the Boston Red Sox out of high school (good call) and is now a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Chase was a late bloomer in high school whose college prospects were hurt by the 2020 season being all but cancelled. After spending a post-prep year at Pro5 Academy, Nixon comes to State as a 6’0, 202 lbs lefty-hitting freshman outfielder. The swing will remind you a lot of his dad’s, and hopefully he can end up being the same level of player when all is said and done. It’s unclear his role on this year’s squad, but he should earn one.

Remember when we were talking about the catcher position being completely overhauled? Enter Matt Oldham, a Pittsboro native and transfer from Elon. Oldham, a lefty-hitting backstop, was the starting catcher for the Phoenix his first three years on campus (110 starts in 121 games), but took on a reserve role in 2021. Whereas Jacob Godman is an offense-first catcher, Oldham is a defense-first guy. In the shortened 2020 season, he threw out 6-of-8 would-be base stealers. For his Elon career, he hit .238/.329/.339 with 20 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 66 R, 67 RBI, 55 BB, 9 HBP, and 110 K in 520 PA. Oldman should provide a veteran presence behind the dish this year, while being a plenty-capable backup.

Joining Groover in transferring to the Wolfpack from Charlotte this year is Dominic Pilolli. The lefty hitting and throwing outfielder from Youngstown, Ohio, will certainly find himself in the Wolfpack’s starting lineup this year, assuming his knee is back to 100% from an injury that cost him almost half of his 2021 season. Defensively, he can man all three outfield spots, but very could well be the favorite to take over in center field. At Charlotte, Pilolli hit .327/.429/.525 in 46 games (44 starts) over his two seasons on campus. He tallied 8 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 38 R, 36 RBI, 25 BB, 4 HBP, 46 K, and 11-of-13 SB. In 2020, his .403/.481/.567 effort in 17 games earned him Freshman All-American honors.

First-year player and 1st Team All-Name Team candidate Win Scott is a 6’2, 197 lbs left-handed pitcher from Ragsdale HS. As a prep senior, he garnered All-State honors while pitching to a 1.94 ERA with 94 K over 47.0 IP, including a perfect game effort. Scott has a high-80’s fastball and can locate his pitches well.

It’s a bit of a surprise to find that Tommy White actually made it to campus (here’s his MLB Draft profile from a year ago). The linebacker sized (6’0, 242 lbs) corner infielder was popping up on MLB Draft radars all over the place last spring at IMG Academy in Florida. Somehow he went undrafted, and that’s perfectly fine, as the Wolfpack will love adding his light-tower home run power to the lineup this year. In 2022, he’ll battle for the job at first base, but will at least factor in as the team’s DH. He’s athletic for his size, though, and has the arm strength to play third base in the future, should the glove play up to it.

For those keeping count at home, the 21 newcomers above plus 20 returnees brings the current roster to a total of 41 players. Per NCAA rules, baseball rosters can be up to 40 players in 2022, which means one of the players that has been detailed thus far won’t be on the final 2022 roster come opening day.

On the coaching side of things, Bo Robinson joins the Wolfpack program after a long run with his alma mater, the Charlotte 49ers. Robinson will serve as the new Director of Player & Program Development for NC State after having served as the Associate Head Coach with the 49ers. A former record-setting player for Charlotte, Robinson was not only key in the areas of player development, but also recruitment. Among those he recruited to Charlotte and coached to great success there are current NC State players Dominic Pilolli and LuJames Groover III.

Last but not least - and certainly not entirely new to the program - is assistant coach Brett Austin. With Joey Holcomb heading down to a new role at Campbell, Elliott Avent welcomed back a beloved former player in Austin. A Wolfpack catcher from 2012-2014 before being drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox, Austin had a six-year pro career, topping out at the AAA level with the White Sox in 2018. He was the Washington Nationals bullpen catcher the last two seasons, and this will mark his first foray into full-time coaching. During his career with NC State, Austin hit .290/.363/.408 with 50 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 129 R, 105 RBI, 91 BB, 136 K, and was 27-of-35 on SB. He was a member of the 2013 Wolfpack squad which made it to Omaha, so the team success of last year’s squad will not be lost on him.