As of Sunday evening, more than 750 Division I baseball players have entered the transfer portal since the remainder of the 2020 season was canceled in mid-March, according to D1 Baseball.
There are four UCF Knights among that expanding group, and the most notable name of that quartet appeared on D1 Baseball’s tracker Sunday.
Left-handed pitcher Joe Sheridan has officially entered the portal. A redshirt junior, Sheridan is listed as a graduate transfer.
The other three Knights looking to transfer are all true freshmen who didn’t appear in a game this season: infielder JJ Gonzalez, catcher Jakob Runnels and right-handed pitcher Elijah McCormack
Any player who enters the portal can speak with other programs without the permission of his current school. He can also pull his name out of the portal and return to his current school.
However, a source told Black and Gold Banneret that the three freshmen “definitely will transfer to another school.” And as a grad transfer, Sheridan will have immediate eligibility wherever he ends up.
Sheridan, an Oviedo native who grew up attending UCF baseball games, burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2017. He compiled a 3.25 ERA across 12 starts and 72 innings. Most memorably, he beat USF in the season finale to clinch the Knights’ first regular-season conference championship since 2004. Sheridan was ultimately named to two Freshman All-American teams.
Sheridan’s sophomore season was a struggle as he battled a shoulder injury and, as a result, his control on the mound through 56.1 innings. His walk rate nearly doubled, from 7.8% in 2017 to 14.4 in 2018. By the end of that May, Sheridan was on the operating table to repair a torn left labrum. He later said he was “probably injured for pretty much the second half of the season.“
Sheridan wouldn’t get into another game until starting versus Siena on Feb. 16, 2020, a span of more than 20 months between appearances. He ended up posting a 3.32 ERA over 19 innings before the cancellation.
Black and Gold Banneret has also learned, per a team source, that two redshirt senior pitchers — Zack Helsel and Chad Luensmann — will not be returning to the Knights.
Helsel appeared in three games out of the bullpen in 2019 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He said prior to this season that he was targeting to return to the mound in April. Helsel took a job recently with DiamondZoft, a software development company.
We are very proud of US Elite alum, Zack Helsel. He graduated with a 3.5 GPA and has already accepted a job @DiamondzoftDZ Sports Management Software. Thank you @UCF_Baseball and @CoachLovelady23 We value the great connection we have with your program. #Uncommon https://t.co/aasVnEBVkC— US Elite Baseball (@USElitebase) May 3, 2020
Luensmann came to UCF in January as a grad transfer from Nebraska. He pitched just two innings over two appearances out of the ‘pen.
The Division I Council is expected to vote May 20 on the implementation of a one-time transfer waiver for all athletes in football, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, and hockey. That would give all athletes in those sports the ability to transfer and play immediately. But after the D1 Board of Directors advised the Council last month that changes to the transfer waiver process “are not appropriate at this time,” Wednesday’s vote is not expected to pass.