Tulane baseball looks ahead to 2023 season, new era

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

Tulane baseball is set to begin a new era when they open the season on the road at the University of California at Irvine Cicerone Field and go up against the Anteaters for a three-game set starting Feb. 17. This will be the first full season with Jay Uhlman at the helm as head coach.

The Slugger Birds will have their home opener with a three-game series against the St. John’s Red Storm on Feb. 24-26. This season, Tulane will take three trips to the West Coast which include matchups with the aforementioned UC-Irvine and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and for the Los Angeles College Classic. In the classic, the Green Wave will play against the USC Trojans, UCLA Bruins and Sacramento State Hornets. 

On the home front, Tulane will have three-game sets against two Ivy League opponents: the University of Pennsylvania Quakers and the Columbia Lions. The LSU Tigers will make their first trip to Uptown New Orleans since 2018 on Apr. 18. As usual, Tulane will compete for the Pelican Cup over three midweek games against the New Orleans Privateers, play a home-and-home matchup against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and play their American Athletic Conference slate.

Head coach Jay Uhlman will lead the way for the Wave. A long time assistant at various stops, he ushers in a new era in Tulane baseball’s rich history. The Hullabaloo did an in-depth profile on Uhlman’s storied journey which you can read here.

The players are an accomplished group on and off the field. They achieved a team GPA of above a 3.0 for the 13th semester in a row and have done significant community service with the St. Michael’s Special School, a local special education school in the Lower Garden District.

Preseason all-conference member Dylan Carmouche leads the pitching staff. The left-hander was impressive last season, with an ERA of 4.48 and holding opponents to a batting average of .259. He issued 31 walks against 87 strikeouts in 90.1 innings of work. 

“He’s developed a third really usable pitch, which is now a slider,” Uhlman said. “[pitching coach] Izzio’s help has really taken his game to another level. He is holding on to his velocity a little bit more with his fastball. And as you know, his changeup [is] an elite pitch, strikeout kind of pitch.” Currently, his fastball sits between 90-93 mph.

However, the rest of the pitching staff looks different with seven transfers and three freshmen to the roster. Uhlman points out two exciting graduate transfers in right hander Ricky Castro from Purdue and left-hander Billy Price from Virginia. Castro, a three-year Academic All-Big Ten member, possesses a “really good breaking ball and a really good [changeup]” with a fastball sitting between 90-94 mph. 

Price spent his final two years on the ACC Academic Honor Roll. His older brother, Robbie Price, pitched for Tulane between 2017-21. He mostly worked as a relief pitcher for the Cavaliers and his fastball can hit 91 mph.

Currently, Uhlman plans on having his ace, Carmouche, pitch on Fridays, Cristian Sanchez on Saturdays and Castro on Sundays. 

On the hitting side, Jackson Linn is the player to watch. Last season, he hit .353 with 31 RBIs, seven doubles and seven home runs with an impressive on-base plus slugging of .946.

Uhlman had high praise for the sophomore. “This fall his defense has improved, his base running has improved and so I think those parts of his game continue to evolve in a positive direction. I mean, he’s no question in my mind, a big league talent,” he said. Uhlman did note that Linn is coming off Tommy John surgery so he may start the year as designated hitter before switching to left field.

The other sophomore to keep an eye on is two way player Teo Banks. Banks was limited last season due to injury but still managed to hit .317 with 16 RBIs, five doubles, two triples and two home runs with an on-base plus slugging of .961 in his half season of play. 

“He’s going to be a top to the middle part of our order hitting. [He] plays right field and he’s got a strong arm, he runs exceptionally well, he’s got power in the bat. He moves good. He physically is in great shape,” Uhlman said. Uhlman also mentioned that the team will not use Banks as a pitcher heavily — at least to begin the year — in order to preserve his arm.

To round out Tulane’s sophomore core, infielder Brady Marget is another name to keep an eye on. The Milwaukee native hit .290 with 26 RBIs, six doubles and three home runs with an on-base plus slugging of a respectable .776.

One area that is still not hammered out is the catcher position. The sensational Bennett Lee was the man behind the plate for the past two seasons, but after his transfer to Wake Forest, Uhlman said that Seth Beckstead, Brennan Lambert and transfer Reed Kellum will all have the opportunity to win the job full time.

The Slugger Birds have not made it back to the postseason since 2016, and this year’s team is looking to change that. With a new head coach, a core group of super sophomores and a reworked pitching staff led by their ace, Carmouche, Tulane fans should be very excited for the coming season.

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