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Report: UCLA Baseball Pitcher Kelly Austin Enters Transfer Portal

The Bruins' ace will be looking for a new destination after two seasons at Orange Coast College and another two in Westwood.
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Fresh off missing the NCAA tournament, the Bruins were reportedly dealt another blow over the weekend.

UCLA baseball right-handed pitcher Kelly Austin has entered the NCAA transfer portal, according to a report from D1Baseball's Kendall Rogers on Friday. Austin – who was in his second season in Westwood following a two-year stint at Orange Coast College – spent most of his senior season as a weekend starter for the Bruins.

This marks the second year in a row that UCLA has lost a key member from its starting rotation to the transfer portal. Last June, it was right-hander Thatcher Hurd, who wound up going to LSU.

In 2022, Austin went 4-3 with a 4.07 ERA in 25 appearances – 16 of which were starts. Austin improved in a new role in 2023, going 5-4 with a 3.39 ERA across 13 starts and four relief outings.

UCLA only had three players make the All-Pac-12 Team this spring, and Austin was the only pitcher of those three.

Austin's strikeouts per nine innings improved from 8.6 to 11.4 this season, and he trimmed his batting average against from .262 to .229. Across his two seasons in Westwood, Austin owned a 1.26 WHIP while only giving up 2.8 walks per nine innings.

But while Austin improved this season, UCLA, as a whole, did not.

The Bruins opened the year 16-3 with a 6-1 record in conference play, but they finished 2023 on a 12-21-1 skid. After finishing the regular season seventh in the Pac-12, UCLA fizzled out of the conference tournament with a 1-1 showing in Scottsdale.

Austin fell victim to the late-season slump himself, owning a 5.84 ERA across his last four starts. The Bruins lost in each of Austin's final three starts of the regular season.

UCLA failed to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016, and the team has still yet to make it back to Omaha for the College World Series since winning it all in 2013.

With Austin on his way out, coach John Savage will have even more work to do in regards to reshaping the Bruins' 2024 rotation.

Jake Brooks will be a senior next season, in contention to make his third-consecutive Opening Day start, but he posted a 5.64 ERA in 2023. Gage Jump and Alonzo Tredwell could make their returns from injury, but the former missed all of this season and the latter only made nine starts.

Rising junior left-hander Ethan Flanagan and rising sophomore right-hander Michael Barnett are the only other potential returnees with anything more than marginal experience as starters.

However, Brooks, Tredwell and Flanagan are all eligible to be selected in the 2023 MLB Draft. As a result, certain relievers or underclassmen may need to make the jump into the rotation as soon as next spring.

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