The Virginia Cavaliers baseball team opens Friday afternoon against Navy in Wilmington, North Carolina. Here are some of the key new pieces on the roster that you ought to be familiar with.
We start with the transfer class. Head coach Brian O’Connor added three outfielders this summer. He also put an extra emphasis on a pitching staff that, in addition to last year’s struggles, lost about two thirds of their innings pitched.
OF Travis Reifsnider
Hoping to gain more publicity, Reifsnider transferred from James Madison to UVA as a graduate student. He led the CAA in home runs last season with 13 and slugging percentage at .632. Reifsnider was even built for the occasion against power conference competition, blasting a 400+ foot bomb against the ACC’s defending Pitcher of the Year Parker Messick in his first at bat of 2022. At 6’4, 230 pounds, Reifsnider mostly played center field for the Dukes but also logged some starts at catcher and first base.
OF Ethan O’Donnell
The second team all Big Ten outfielder transfers from Northwestern with two years of eligibility and 79 starts already under his belt. O’Donnell is a gap to gap power hitter, previously setting the single season Wildcats record with 24 doubles. With Chris Newell’s departure into the MLB draft, O’Donnell could potentially anchor the left field spot for the Cavaliers.
OF Tommy Courtney
Courtney will exercise his extra year of eligibility at Virginia after an impressive four-year career at Penn. He started every game for the Quakers from the 2019 season through 2022. Courtney is more of an on-base hitter, functioning previously as Penn’s leadoff man and currently holding a streak of 36 consecutive games hitting safely. He was a major contributor for the program’s historic 2022 season.
LHP Angelo Tonas
The southpaw emerged onto the scene at Georgetown last season where he pitched in 30 games and compiled 39.2 innings. A strikeout merchant, Tonas averaged over 10.5 K’s per nine innings, including an eight punch out performance in a three inning save against St. John’s. Tonas has command with his fastball on both sides of the plate and generally keeps the ball inside the park.
LHP Connelly Early
Early was a major part of Army’s tournament run last season. His 3.26 ERA through 85.2 innings of work was good enough to earn Patriot League Pitcher of the Year. Then, he fanned eight over six innings against host Southern Miss, all while allowing just one run. Early’s signature pitch is his plus slider, which is deceptive coming from the three-quarters arm slot. Early looks to be a vital piece in Virginia’s 2023 rotation.
RHP Nick Parker
Parker transfers over from Coastal Carolina after four productive seasons in the CAA. While he is susceptible to giving up the home run at times, he can also dominate games and strike out a ton. This included a 10 K, shutout performance against East Carolina in a regional elimination game. A true workhorse, Parker has the ability to eclipse 100 pitches if necessary.
RHP Chase Hungate
Hungate was dominant in his freshman season in the Atlantic 10 at VCU. He pitched to a 3.57 ERA, 2.00 walks per nine innings, and a 1.21 WHIP, all placing top five in the conference. He pitched in two games in the A-10 championship series and combined for 7.2 shutout innings, earning wins in both matchups. Hungate functioned mostly as a multi-inning reliever in 2022 but his arsenal gives him starter potential.
RHP Brian Edgington
A second team all-CAA selection at Elon, Edgington ranked in D1Baseball.com’s top 100 impact transfers. He out-dueled his future teammate Early against Army in a seven inning effort allowing zero earned runs. Edginton has exceptional command in the lower third of the plate with his fastball/changeup duo. He enters the UVA program with one year of eligibility with the expectation to play a pivotal role in the weekend rotation.
A quick look at UVA’s freshman class...
A consensus top 20 class, O’Connor added 14 first-year players, mostly focusing on the Virginia and New Jersey areas, like usual. The program continued the family legacy by bringing in Aidan Teel, Kyle’s younger brother, who’s a two-way high school standout with an exceptional arm. Also keep an eye out for Jack C’Connor, the top pitcher out of the state of Virginia who surprisingly was not selected in the MLB draft and instead will attend UVA.