NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Player retention was at the forefront of Jay Uhlman’s agenda when he was hired as Tulane’s head baseball coach in June.

That included key players in a talented freshman class that entered the transfer portal at the conclusion of the 2022 season, but returned uptown for their sophomore year once Uhlman was named leader of the Green Wave.

“That is the core nucleus of the club right now, you know, and they’re sophomores and they’re physically gifted and all in their own rights,” said Uhlman. “Potential high draft picks. By the time they’re juniors, that group kind of sticks out, you know, certainly, because it was the most highly regarded recruiting class since I think ’03.”

That class includes Jackson Linn, who in 46 games last year was the Green Wave’s top slugger – hitting .353 with 31 RBIs and 7 home runs.

Linn has been recovering from an elbow injury that forced him to miss Tulane’s last six games.

His arm strength is returning and his hitting ability has not been affected.

“You know, if you watch me take [batting practice], it’s not too hard to hit homers, and I can,” explained Linn. “My power potential is pretty high, I’d say. So I’d say for me, just building on the power numbers that I had from last year is going to be kind of the next step for my improvement. And, you know, I think that’s what’s happened during the fall.”

Power and potential is what classmate Teo Banks flashed in Tulane’s postseason run, where Banks made headlines for becoming the first player to hit for the cycle in the American Athletic Conference tournament.

Banks also missed time last year with injury, but when healthy he’s a reliable bat and arm in the Tulane rotation.

“What I’ve told him is I’m not interested in burning him out at the beginning of the year. It’s more important in May and June,” explained Coach Uhlman. “So don’t be surprised if you kind of see his pitching outings start off slow and increase as we go. Health is going to be the primary thing for him and us.

“But yeah, he’s a tremendous talent on both sides,” he continued. “It bothers a lot of scouts when he was coming out of high school that liked him better on the mound than they did as a position player.”

Tulane was ranked fourth in preseason conference polls with just one preseason All-Conference selection – junior pitcher Dylan Carmouche.

According to Uhlman – in terms of continuity and talent – they’re a lot closer to being a top-tier team than people think.

“People are going to pay a steep price for underestimating us,” said Uhlman. “I really feel that way and I believe it now. We just got to go out and do it.”