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Virginia Tech Hokies Baseball 2023 Roster Review

We looked at the early schedule, now we take a look at exactly who is going to be taking the field for those games. The MLB (Minor League Baseball... face it) draft took a chunk out of last year’s roster, but there are lots of returners, too. GO HOKIES!!!

Pregame warmups for early Spring ages ago
John Schneider - SB Nation

Baseball is Long, and Pro Baseball is Murder on College Baseball

Yes, we said the quiet part outloud because it deserved to be said. Baseball is a life sport, and the dreams of devoted baseball players are always aimed at the Big Leagues, and the huge money that those games bring in the door. A college degree, nozzomush... That’s kind of a sad situation but not much different from many of the other big revenue sports in the transfer era.

Tech is no different, and the big exposure and lofty finish last season meant lots of pro scouts looking at lots of player with promises of big money contracts in the majors. Well, that’s not actually the case, and minor league contracts range from “okay” to “pathetic”, but telling a young baseball player that his degree in business administration, or communications, or even engineering (we had one of those for a few years) is a better bet than playing baseball and riding a bus for a meager living just can’t get past the dreams of the guaranteed multimillion dollar contract in the majors.

This season the Hokies are lucky enough to get back quite a few experienced players. That didn’t mean that Coach John Szefc (pronounced “Chef” for you noobies) didn’t have to work high school recruiting and the transfer portal really hard. He has been forced to replace a huge chunk of his lineup and bench players, and restock his bullpen.

The Players

So, let’s take a general look at the entire roster before splitting it out into position players and pitchers.

Coach Szefc has nine pitchers returning to the staff this season and that’s a good thing. Most of those nine pitched in games and have solid experience on the mound either as starters or relievers. This is really important for those mid-week non-conference pitch-by-committee games that can make or break a schedule.

He returns nine starting quality position players including a few big stars who shined last year. That doesn’t seem like he has to replace too many players, but he did reach into the transfer bag and pull out two graduate students and another mid-career transfer or two. So far though the Hammerin’ Hokies look like they are back in good order, looking to make strong contact.

There have even been a few notices of watch lists for kudos and ribbons.

The NCBWA has put Starting Pitcher Drue Hackenberg, and Outfielder Jack Hurley on their second team roster, and Reliever Kiernan Higgins on the third team.

Jack Hurley has also been noticed enough that he’s on the watch list for the Golden Spikes Award for the end of the season.

Position Players

So, the core of the lineup, and with the DH rule in place, the offensive as well as defensive players on the team, is solid. The nine returners marked with an asterisk (*) in the chart, played significant time and made serious contributions to the team in the playoff run last year. It will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure on their return, and also how they work with the new players. There are several transfer players, in the mix, Coach Szefc picked up a couple of graduate students (Chris Cannizzaro - Bucknell and David Bryant Radford from the transfer portal). Eddie Eisert and Chris Sparber transfer in from NC State and Louisburg College in Jersey, respectively. If these players work out as well as transfer Eduardo Malinowski, they will be happy additions to be sure. Malinowski is back this season, BTW.

2023 Virginia Tech Hokie Baseball Position Players

Number Name Class B/T Position Height Weight Hometown High School Previous School
Number Name Class B/T Position Height Weight Hometown High School Previous School
24 Chris Cannizzaro Gr. R/R OF 5' 10" 175 Staten Island, N.Y. Poly Prep Bucknell
8 David Bryant Gr. L/R IF 6' 1" 195 Johnson City, Tenn. Science Hill Radford
23 Eduardo Malinowski* Gr. R/R IF 6' 0" 195 Spring, Texas Klein Oak Pennsylvania
33 Nick Holesa* R-Sr. L/R 1B 6' 2" 205 Huntingdon, Pa. Huntingdon Area
32 Lucas Donlon* Jr. R/R IF 6' 0" 205 McLean, Va. Georgetown Prep
5 Gehrig Ebel* Jr. R/R C 6' 0" 190 Ooltewah, Tenn. Baylor School
11 Eddie Eisert Jr. S/R IF/OF 6' 2" 197 Fairfax Station, Va. Bishop O'Connell NC State
29 Carson Jones* Jr. L/L OF 6' 2" 190 Glen Allen, Va. Deep Run
31 Jack Hurley* Jr. L/R OF 6' 0" 185 Boalsburg, Pa. State College
28 Chris Sparber Jr. R/R C/OF 6' 1" 210 Lincroft, N.J. Red Bank Catholic Louisburg College
2 Sam Tackett* R-So. R/R UTL 6' 0" 195 Lexington, Ky. Lafayette
3 Christian Martin* So. L/R IF 5' 10" 170 Amherst, Va. Amherst County
4 Carson DeMartini* So. L/R IF 6' 0" 185 Virginia Beach, Va. Ocean Lakes
18 Warren Holzemer So. R/R IF 5' 10" 180 Burke, Va. Robinson Secondary School
9 Clay Grady Fr. R/R IF 5' 9" 165 Suffolk, Va. Nansemond River
21 Carter Newman Fr. R/R IF 5' 11" 150 Woodbridge, Va. Colgan
25 Garrett Michel Fr. L/R IF 6' 0" 200 Denver, N.C. East Lincoln
17 Trey Way Fr. R/R UTL 5' 10" 185 Asheboro, N.C. Randleman
7 Henry Cooke Fr. R/R C 6' 3" 225 Stuarts Draft, Va. Stuarts Draft / Miller School of Albemarle
19 Brody Donay Fr. R/R C 6' 5" 215 Lakeland, Fla. Lakeland Christian
Lots of returners lots of new guys. Hokie Sports and Gobbler Country

The reality remains that the experienced core of this baseball team has played in pressure situations and pushed the limits in their season enough to grab a top seed in the NCAA tournament that netted Blacksburg/Virginia Tech hosting 2 playoff rounds for the first time in ages. (The softball team did, too, and the town was hopping happily in the early summer months.)

The Pitchers

The position players are important, they are your offense and your field defense. As the season grinds, they have to grind along and actually get better each series. The same can be said for pitchers. College Baseball rarely has lights out pitching. The best arms are often pulled into the majors, and keeping a quality hurler on the mound is really difficult. Tech is really lucky this season. Eight returning pitchers are heading up the bull pen this season including two of the best staring pitchers that we have had in quite a while, Drue Hackenberg and Griffin Green. There are several other relievers who are solid starters for the pitch-by-committee games and can put up a good core three to four innings in middle relief mode as well. Returning Relievers are marked with single asterisks (*) and the returning ace starters in doubles (**). The reality is that the team will follow the path of the pitchers. If they are good the team will win its share of games. If the pitching struggles, the team will, too.

2023 Virginia Tech Hokies Pitching Staff

Number Name Class B/T Position Height Weight Hometown High School Previous School
Number Name Class B/T Position Height Weight Hometown High School Previous School
49 Kiernan Higgins* Gr. R/R P 6' 4" 235 Buffalo, N.Y. Bishop Timon ? St. Jude Coastal Carolina / Shippensburg
22 Anthony Arguelles Sr. R/R P 5' 10" 195 Miami, Fla. Christopher Columbus Santa Fe College / Miami
47 Jonah Hurney* Sr. L/L P 5' 8" 180 Kamuela, Hawaii Hawaii Prep Southwestern Oregon CC
16 Matthew Siverling* Jr. L/L P 6' 4" 190 Matthews, N.C. Charlotte Christian
20 Grant Umberger* Jr. R/L P 6' 4" 225 Chester Springs, Pa. Downingtown East
39 Peter Sakellaris Jr. R/R P 6' 0" 185 Milton, Mass. Milton Academy
40 Henry Weycker* Jr. L/L P 5' 11" 205 Wellesley, Mass. Wellesley
45 Christian Worley* Jr. R/R P 6' 1" 170 Alton, Va. Halifax County
46 Griffin Green** Jr. R/R P 6' 3" 205 Chelmsford, Mass. Phillips Academy
48 Brady Kirtner* R-So. R/R P 5' 11" 170 Christiansburg, Va. Christiansburg
10 Tyler Dean So. R/R P 6' 3" 195 Vinton, Va. William Byrd
15 Drue Hackenberg** So. R/R P 6' 2" 220 Palmyra, Va. Miller School of Albemarle
50 Luke Jackman R-Fr. R/R P 6' 0" 195 McLean, Va. Gonzaga College
12 Nick Finarelli Fr. R/R P 6' 4" 200 Hunlock Creek, Pa. Lake Lehman
27 Ryan Kennedy Fr. R/R P 6' 5" 225 Manassas, Va. Colgan
30 Andrew Sentlinger Fr. L/L P 6' 2" 180 Charlotte, N.C. Ardrey Kell
34 Ryan Grzesiak Fr. R/R P 6' 6" 185 Chantilly, Va. John Champe
35 JT Gibson Fr. R/L P 6' 4" 210 McLean, Va. St. John's College
37 Jacob Exum Fr. R/R P 6' 4" 190 Virginia Beach, Va. Miller School of Albemarle
38 Truman Richter Fr. R/L P 6' 0" 180 Glen Gardner, N.J. Voorhees
43 Tommy Szczepanski Fr. R/R P 6' 5" 222 Bay City, Mich. Garber
26 Griffin Stieg Fr. R/R P/OF 6' 3" 215 McLean, Va. McLean
Hackenberg and Green returning is huge. Hokie Sports and Gobbler Country

The keys to the kingdom go through the mound at English Field.

The Guy

He’s a bit taciturn. He’s really quiet and that can be a bit surprising given his occasional fire off the bench when he thinks things are a bit messed up, and as the season heated up and the wins started top pile up to something special about to happen, Coach John Szefc even smiled... and “bigly” too! More than a few times. Everyone says that he’s a “teacher” and given his impact on this baseball program he’s a really really good teacher at that.

There is a lot of talent credit to be handed out for last season, and a lot of talent kudos to be on the lookout for this season, but one thing is for sure the reason for all the hoopla and the anticipation for 2023 is this man, right here:

Good Luck to Coach Szefc, his staff, and the Hokies who he coaches. We certainly hope that 2023 gets even better than 2022. It sure was fun, let’s do that again!