Virginia Baseball Off To Fast Start

Virginia Cavaliers
Kyle Teel and the Hoos have won 15 games so far this season. ~ Photo courtesy of Virginia Athletics Media Relations/Matt Riley

The Virginia baseball team is off to a fast start, roaring to a 15-1 record to start the season. This includes series wins versus Rhode Island, Columbia, and No. 14 North Carolina. The Cavaliers took care of the Tar Heels to open ACC play on the road.

The Hoos have been dominant on both sides of the ball, making it difficult for their opponents to keep games close. In fact, UVA has 12 wins by at least 5 runs in 2023, including 5 wins by at least 10 runs. That includes the most recent 20-5 victory against George Washington. Even the two ACC wins for Virginia last weekend came by 4 runs each.

What has been the key to the Hoos’ success? Let’s look at some of the notable storylines so far to find out.

Virginia Has MLB Capable Talent

The first thing to note is the fact that there is Major League Baseball potential all over this roster. The Hoos’ offense is led by junior Kyle Teel, the nation’s highest-rated catcher who is currently sixth in the country with an impressive .492 batting average. Teel is projected to go within the top three rounds of this year’s MLB Draft. In addition to his hitting, scouts are in love with his ability to frame pitches on the corners as well as his quick transition to throw out runners attempting to steal.

Teel is followed closely by sophomore Ethan Anderson and junior Ethan O’Donnell, who are both over the .400 mark as well. Anderson is eligible to be taken in the 2024 MLB Draft while O’Donnell should be taken in the 2023 draft. O’Donnell’s simple yet powerful swing is turning scouts’ heads, and leading the team with 5 home runs certainly isn’t hurting his prospects. Third Baseman Jake Gelof rounds out the trio of 2023 prospects, pacing the Hoos with 24 RBI.

Altogether, this top talent has allowed UVA to develop into the nation’s fourth ranked offense, averaging 10.9 runs per game. Though the Cavaliers have not faced too many top defenses to this point, the team did manage to put up consecutive games of 7 and 8 runs versus their toughest test to date in UNC.

UVA Rebuilt Its Pitching

Whilst many of the offensive contributors were retained from 2022, Virginia is rolling out almost an entirely new group when it comes to pitching. The Hoos had to fill a whopping 86% of their innings from 2022 that were vacated by last year’s departing pitchers. Thus, coach Brian O’Connor was forced to explore his options in the transfer portal, which he did to great effect.

The team has welcomed 6 transfer pitchers this season, who have filled the team’s pitching void in a big way. Three of UVA’s top four pitchers, in terms of innings pitched, are transfers. They include junior Connelly Early, who transferred in from Army, graduate student Brian Edgington, who transferred in from Elon, and graduate student Nick Parker, who transferred in from Coastal Carolina. This group brings some much-needed experience to the pitching staff as many of the returners have only pitched a few innings in their college career.
Together, the pitchers have led UVA to the ninth-lowest ERA in the country (2.74). Early is currently the best of the lot with an ERA of 1.87, but no one pitcher is clearly fronting the squad. It is largely the team’s newfound depth that can be attributed to its early pitching success.

One Well-Known Virginia Returner

Speaking of pitchers, one of the most intriguing stories on this year’s Cavaliers squad revolves around dual-sport athlete Jay Woolfolk. Woolfolk is currently serving as a relief pitcher for the team with 8.2 innings pitched on the season, but also aspires to become UVA’s starting quarterback this fall. Many college quarterbacks have been