The promising 2020 Texas A&M season came to an abrupt halt last March after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of all spring sports.
The Aggies looked poised to make a potential run to Omaha before the shutdown. They had everything a team needed to make a deep postseason run. Texas A&M was 15-3 and ranked 24th in the nation at the time of the shutdown. The Aggies had a solid weekend rotation led by Asa Lacy who was drafted #4 by the Kansas City Royals in the 2020 MLB Draft. A&M also lost Saturday starter Christian Roa who was taken #48 overall by the Cincinnati Reds in round 2 of the draft.
Other than losing their top two starters, the only other player lost was outfielder Zach DeLoach who was drafted 43rd overall in round 2 by the Seattle Mariners. Losing three key contributors off of the 2020 team will be tough, but the Aggies were able to retain players like Infielder Will Frizell and probable ace Chandler Jozwiak. A&M was also able to land two transfers from Incarnate Word and Grayson Junior College. The two players both started their careers at Incarnate Word before transferring to Grayson and then to A&M in the summer of 2020. These two players are catcher Taylor Smith and outfielder Jordan Thompson.
The Aggies have been a perennial NCAA Tournament team, with current streak of 14 years that they have only missed the tournament one time under manager Rob Childress. Although the Aggies have been to 14 straight NCAA tournaments, they come into the 2021 season unranked, which might be the best thing for the Aggies. As stated earlier, losing their two best pitchers and one of their best all around players will hurt. A&M does return do-it-all player Ty Coleman and slugger Will Frizell. They still have a decent pitching rotation, but it will be tough to compete with a brutal SEC schedule.
The Aggies’ weekend rotation which was one of its strong points the last two seasons will be very interesting this year. Midweek/Sunday starter Chandler Jozwiak will likely be the teams Friday starter, followed by Dustin Saenz and Jonathan Childress. With talk of Childress missing the early part of the year, one of the freshman will likely need to step up. I could see Chris Farrell, a grad transfer from William & Mary, taking the Sunday spot from Childress until he returns. Farrell went 2-0 with a 0.42 ERA in 4 starts for the Tribe. While previous Aggie teams have been anchored by pitching, the 2021 team may need to be carried by the bats.
Speaking of the bats, the Aggies return Ty Coleman and Will Frizell, who were both tearing the cover off the ball at the time of the stoppage. Other key players returning include Logan Sartori, Hunter Coleman and Zane Schmidt. The Aggies were actually clicking on offense other than the 3 game cold stretch in Houston against Illinois, UCLA and Oklahoma State, where they were outscored 19-7 and went 0-3.
The Aggies open the 2021 season with a home series against Xavier on February 19th. The first test of the year will come when A&M heads to Round Rock for the Round Rock Classic, where they will play Baylor and Oklahoma, before finishing with a non conference game against Auburn. The Aggies will then open SEC play by visiting preseason number 1 team in the nation Florida for three games on March 19th, before opening their home SEC slate with three games against the Georgia Bulldogs starting on March 26th. On March 30th, Texas will come to Olsen Field for their annual midweek matchup. The rest of the SEC schedule involves trips to Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Auburn, and home dates with preseason dark horses Alabama and Tennessee, as well as Ole Miss and LSU. While the Aggies are able to avoid Vanderbilt this year, it is still a brutal schedule for a relatively young and reloading team. My advice to Aggie fans would be to just enjoy the games and know that there will definitely be some growing pains.
Overall, I think the Aggies will still be able to challenge for a tournament berth, but with a brutal SEC West schedule and tough crossover games making the tourney will depend on how fast the new weekend rotation will be able to round into form. As always, never underestimate the power of Olsen Magic. Olsen is still one of the toughest venues to play at and should be a benefit for the younger players for A&M.
Season Outcome: 5th SEC West, NCAA Regional 3 seed
As I stated earlier, I think the Aggies will have a tough go of it in conference, but I do think they will be able to sneak into the NCAA’s for the 15th consecutive year. I just do not think they have the pitching depth to make a deep run this season.
Team MVP: Ty Coleman
Ty Coleman was one of the better players on the 2020 team and will produce again in 2021. Look for him to potentially make a post season All-SEC team.
Newcomer of The Year- Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith was another player who was having a great year before the pandemic forced the cancellation of the season. He had 5 home runs and 28 RBIs in 19 games. Look for Smith to make an instant impact for the Aggies.