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2023 NC State Baseball Preview - Part I: Who’s Gone

A first look at the 2023 Wolfpack baseball season

COLLEGE BASEBALL: APR 26 East Carolina at N.C. State Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re less than a month out from the 2023 college baseball season, so 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 (just trying to cover my rear in case life gets in the way):

  • Part I will take a look back at the 2022 season and the players who are no longer with the program.
  • Part II will look at the returnees from that 2022 team.
  • Part III will look at the newcomers for 2023.
  • Part IV will look at the non-conference schedule.
  • Part V will look at ACC opponents.

Let’s get this thing started!

2022 Season Review

First, let’s take a look back at the 2022 season so we can give ourselves a little perspective on the season to come.

How did things go in 2022?

In a gif...

Okay, so it’s not like the team was awful, but for a program that participated in 16 of the previous 18 NCAA Tournaments, it just sort of feels that way.

While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and start at the end because that was the big story. The Wolfpack were a clear bubble team entering the ACC Tournament, with clear work to do. The general consensus was that if the Wolfpack could snag a couple wins and make the semifinals, that it should punch their ticket to an NCAA Regional berth. Not only did State make the semifinals, they then proceeded to crush Pittsburgh and make their way to a Championship Game appearance opposite North Carolina.

While that ACC Tournament final didn’t go the way of the Pack, everyone assumed State was safely in the field of 64 and awaited selection Monday without an ounce of consternation.

And then the entire hour long ESPN selection show came and went and the entire Wolfpack nation wondered if they had been in the bathroom when State’s regional spot was announced. And then we all realized that wasn’t the case, and that the Wolfpack had clearly been snubbed in favor of clear SEC bias. To be fair, that SEC team that made it in instead of the Pack, Ole Miss, went on an absolute tear after being bounced in their first and only game of the SEC Tournament, losing just once on their way to a national title. The 2022 Pack, as much as I loved them, didn’t have that type of run in them.

The Rebels’ run was more salt in the still open wound that was NC State’s 2021 season, when the Wolfpack got hot and made a run to Omaha only to have the NCAA pull the rug out from underneath them. Watching Ole Miss hoist the trophy in the final game of the season was watching a what-could-have-been play out in real life a year later... but let’s get back to State.

The 2023 season was good, but not great for the Wolfpack. Straight out of the gate, the Wolfpack started 8-0, and the entire college baseball world was introduced to the freshman sensation that was Tommy White. There were some apparent flaws early, but issues that could be clearly swept aside by an offense that crushed the ball and pushed across double-digit runs in six of those eight games.

What followed was a four game slide that was a part of a 3-8 stretch that clearly indicated things weren’t all peachy in Raleigh. Among the issues, staff ace Sam Highfill was clearly playing through a significant injury - one that would quickly shut him down after just six starts - while the Wolfpack offense was showing strikeout issues and an inability to come up with timely hits. It was the penchant for the latter that helped propel the 2021 team to Omaha.

State went 18-5 over the next month and change, with the only series loss being on the road in the rain and snow against a Virginia Tech squad that would end up being the #4 overall seed in the NCAAs. Things appeared to be set up well heading into the final three weekends against a reeling UNC, a struggling Duke, and a talented but flawed Wake Forest. What resulted was a 4-7 skid that set the stage for the Selection Monday snub and early end to the 2022 season for the Pack.

All told it was... uhh... it was a ride. That can be said. It happened.

Among the pluses was the emergence of newcomers Tommy White, LuJames Groover, Josh Hood, Jacob Cozart, Payton Green, Justin Lawson, and Carson Kelly. Devonte Brown put together a huge final campaign in Raleigh, and Noah Soles took a big step forward in his development. Chris Villaman was again a stud reliever, while Canaan Silver was the do-everything arm without which the Pack’s season would have completely derailed. Perhaps best of all was the feel-good story of Logan Whitaker finally getting on the mound for State.

Among the minuses were, well, go back up and read those first few paragraphs. Injuries were a huge contributing factor there - Highfill’s injury alone had a massive ripple on the entire pitching staff - but at the end of the day, the biggest minus was simply not being in an NCAA Regional.

Who’s gone from the 2022 squad?

Below is a list of all those in the program who have left Raleigh this offseason.

  • Logan Adams - rJR - RHP
  • Devonte Brown - SR - CF
  • Trey Cooper - rFR - LHP
  • Eddie Eisert - SO - INF
  • DeAngelo Giles - SO - INF
  • Jacob Godman - JR - C
  • Sam Griesbauer - FR - RHP
  • David Harrison - SR - LHP
  • Josh Hood - rJR - SS/3B
  • Brandon Hudson - FR - RHP
  • J.T. Jarrett - SR - 2B
  • Cooper King - SO - RHP
  • Brady Lavoie - rJR - OF
  • Carter Lindsay - FR - OF
  • Garrett Moffett - FR - LHP
  • Matt Oldham - SR - C
  • Canaan Silver - SR - LHP
  • Andrew Tillery - JR - RHP
  • Trey Truitt - SO - OF
  • Chris Villaman - SO - LHP
  • Tommy White - FR - 1B/DH

(Starters and key contributors in bold)

The turnover between the 2022 and 2023 NC State squads (21 players) is actually greater than that between the 2021 and 2022 teams (18 players). Some of that is due to increased player mobility via the transfer portal, while some is due to natural roster turnover. After the 2021 season, NC State did not lose a single player due to exhaustion of eligibility, but there were five such cases following the 2022 season.

Not to diminish the impacts or contributions of the players listed above, and not to dive too much into the remainder of the season preview series, but the impacts of this departed group of players should be less than that of the year before them. As you’ll see above, only 7 of 21 players above are in bold - that includes Logan Adams who barely pitched over the last six weeks of the season - and only two MLB draft selections came from the group (although you could probably count Tommy White as a third). Compare that to the 2021 season that saw 10 of 18 departing players being starters or key contributors, with eight MLB draft picks among them.

Again, this group had some standout players and will be missed, but there is optimism in the group returning that leads to some hype building around the 2023 Pack9. But first, let’s look at that group above who has left the program.

Of the five previously mentioned players who exhausted their eligibility in 2022, Devonte Brown and J.T. Jarrett combined to start 342 games from 2018-2022, stepping to the batters box almost 1,500 times in total.

After biding his time as a reserve in his first two years on campus, Brown busted out as a starter in the covid-shortened 2020 season, crushing to a ridiculous .338/.429/.692 line over 77 PA. While that would prove to be an unsustainable level over his last two full seasons, Brown still completed his career with a .281/.401/.524 line with 30 2B, 5 3B, 33 HR, 150 R, and 109 RBI with 110 BB (15.8 BB%) and 162 K (22.9 K%) over 678 PA. He was also 16-of-20 on stolen bases in his Wolfpack career. His final year in Raleigh saw the Georgia native earn 3rd Team All-ACC honors. Brown signed with the Toronto Blue Jays as a UDFA after the 2022 season and hit .308/.477/.449 in A ball last year.

Jarrett was an unheralded signing out of high school after a brilliant prep career at Northern Guilford. Most of that was due to his size and lack of power with the bat, but he nonetheless stepped in as a glove-first Year 1 starter for the Wolfpack. The bat - including some pop for the lovingly nicknamed “Power Wheels” - would develop over his time in Raleigh, and Jarrett would finish his career as a .251/.341/.352 hitter with 33 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 103 R, and 102 RBI with 71 BB (9.1 BB%) and 122 K (15.6 K%) over 781 PA. He was 7-of-10 in stolen bases, put down an absurd 43 sacrifice bunts, and posted a .979 fielding percentage in his Wolfpack career. Jarrett is starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Mississippi State.

David Harrison appeared in 51 games over his five seasons in Raleigh, making 21 starts along the way. Nine of those starts came as a freshman in 2018, including making the Sunday start in the opening weekend series that year. All told, he threw 123.0 innings of 4.72 ERA ball, walking 46 (8.5 BB%) and striking out 109 (20.1 K%), while posting a 5-8 record.

Matt Oldham was a graduate transfer from Elon, spending just one year with the Wolfpack serving as a veteran presence to help mentor Jacob Cozart and providing catching depth for the team. He made two starts while stepping to the plate 13 times, posting a .250/.308/.333 line.

Canaan Silver was a former JUCO transfer from Spartanburg Methodist who pitched for the Pack across four seasons, bookending his NC State career as a starting pitcher. Silver saved his best for last, stepping into the rotation for State in April and making eight starts while keeping the Pack in contention for a postseason appearance. As the Wolfpack pitching staff battled injuries and inconsistency, Silver turned into a stabilizing force in ACC play. For his career, Silver posted a 9-5 record with 2 saves over 132.2 innings across 49 appearances, including 16 starts. He managed an even 4.00 ERA while walking 37 (6.4 BB%) and striking out 103 (17.8 K%).

Logan Adams was a former JUCO transfer from the College of Central Florida. He spent just one season in Raleigh, working as a weekend starter as the season opened, but falling out of the rotation and almost entirely out of use by the end of the season. Adams appeared in 11 games, making four starts and posting a 2-1 record with 2 saves and a 7.90 ERA over 27.1 innings, walking 16 (12.4 BB%) and striking out 24 (18.6 K%). Adams announced his intention to transfer after the season and initially committed to Georgia State before signing a UDFA deal with the Milwaukee Brewers organization to start his pro career.

A highly-regarded switch-hitting infield recruit, Eddie Eisert never quite found the footing needed to become an impact player for the Wolfpack. The Virginia native has transferred to Virginia Tech where he’s expected to be a key contributor for the Hokies this year. While at NC State for two years, Eisert hit .200/.319/.300 with 2 2B, 1 3B, 11 R, and 5 RBI over 47 PA with 5 BB (10.6 BB%) and 10 K (21.3 K%).

Making his way to Raleigh from Las Vegas via stops at UNLV and the College of Southern Nevada, Jacob Godman served as the backup catcher for the Wolfpack in 2022. The right-handed hitter was arguably under-utilized while at State, making just 54 plate appearances across 23 games (14 starts), but producing to the tune of a .250/.429/.278 line with 1 2B, 13 R, 1 RBI, while walking 9 times (6.7 BB%) and striking out on 10 occasions (18.5 K%). Godman has transferred to Oral Roberts for his final year of college eligibility.

Josh Hood transferred to NC State from Penn where he was a Freshman All-American in 2019, but barely played across the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to covid protocols at the Ivy League school. After starting the season at third base, Hood switched spots with freshman Payton Green and moved to shortstop midway through the year. The move paid immediate dividends as Hood helped secure the middle infield defensively with Jarrett for the remainder of the year. One of three players to start all 57 games for State (along with Jarrett and Green), Hood hit .268/.350/.498 with 14 2B, 13 HR, 42 R, and 52 RBI, while recording 31 BB (11.3 BB%) and 57 K (20.8 K%). He was 4-of-5 on stolen bases and led the team in assists with 139 while posting a .945 fielding percentage. The Seattle Mariners drafted Hood in the 6th round of the 2022 MLB Draft.

DeAngelo Giles spent three years with the Wolfpack as a reserve infielder after arriving in Raleigh from Central High School in High Point. He never quite developed into the big bat many hoped, but he did manage to crank a pair of bombs in 2022 on his way to a .273/.273/.909 line for the year. In 28 career PA, Giles hit .200/.250/.480 with 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, and 8 RBI. He has joined the NC State coaching staff as a graduate student assistant.

Like Adams and Godman, Brady Lavoie arrived in Raleigh via the JUCO route and will depart the Wolfpack program after a single season. Lavoie barely played for State, seeing just 10 PA and hitting .222/.300/.556 with 1 HR, 2 R, and 1 RBI. He walked once and struck out three times. Lavoie has transferred to San Diego State.

From a national perspective, Tommy White was the story for the 2022 Wolfpack baseball team. Tommy Tanks burst onto the scene with a 5 HR performance in State’s opening weekend, and kept the hitting going from there on his way to earning 1st Team All-ACC and ACC Freshman of the Year honors. The power kept up, too, as White set the NC State single season record for home runs while also setting the NCAA freshman record for dingers. His final line on the year was .362/.425/.757 with 12 2B, 27 HR, 54 R, and 74 RBI, while posting 23 BB (8.6 BB%) against 50 K (18.8 K%). White also stole a base on two attempts while primarily serving as the Wolfpack’s designated hitter, although he did play sparingly at first base and third base. Tommy Tanks broke the hearts of Wolfpack nation by transferring to LSU shortly after the season ended, where he’ll join the preseason #1 team in the country and also look for more playing time at third base.

Although one could argue that he would have been better suited as a starter with the Wolfpack, Chris Villaman stepped into the stopper role for the team in 2022, leading the Pack with 28 appearances (all in relief) and earning 3rd Team All-ACC honors. Over his three years with NC State, Villaman appeared in 51 games (10 starts), posting a 9-5 record with 13 saves (including 11 in 2022) and a 3.89 ERA. He tossed 127.1 innings in his career, walking 34 (6.6 BB%) and striking out 170 (32.8 K%) while holding opponents to a .205 batting average. Villaman teamed with Evan Justice to pretty much be the entire NC State bullpen for the Wolfpack’s 2021 CWS run. He had some mammoth outings in that season, and also had some incredible efforts in 2022. His last outing in a Wolfpack uniform was a five inning relief effort against UNC in the ACC Championship Game, where he retired all 12 of the Tar Heel batters he faced, including setting down eight of them via strikeout. The Tampa Bay Rays selected Villaman in the 9th round of the 2022 MLB Draft and he will begin his professional career in 2023.

Trey Cooper, Brandon Hudson, Cooper King, and Andrew Tillery combined to toss just 3.0 innings for NC State in 2022. Tillery saw the most time in a Wolfpack uniform, tossing 16.1 innings over four seasons in Raleigh, pitching to an 11.02 career ERA with 12 BB and 15 K. It’s unclear if Tillery has found a home for the 2023 season after pitching in the Alaska Baseball League this past summer. Cooper has transferred to Liberty, Hudson to UNC-Greensboro, and King to Lander University (DII).

Sam Griesbauer and Garrett Moffett never appeared on the mound for State; it’s unclear where (or if) either transferred. Likewise, Carter Lindsay and Trey Truitt leave Raleigh without having officially crossed the white lines for the Pack. It’s unclear where Lindsay has transferred to, while Truitt - who originally transferred to State from East Carolina - has transferred to Gaston College (JUCO).