Monday, June 27, 2011

Vanderbilt Baseball 2012: Rebuilding Year?

Jeff Lockridge has a story in yesterday's Tennessean about Vanderbilt's baseball prospects going forward, specifically in 2012. It's been well-documented that the Commodores had 12 players from their roster drafted by major league teams, to say nothing of Vanderbilt's recruits selected who will also have the option of going pro and forgoing college.

Even if some of the Commodores drafted opt to return to Vanderbilt for their senior year, there is little doubt that Tim Corbin and his staff will lose significant talent. Allow me if you will to speculate as to who of the 12 players drafted might come back. For informed speculation, check out's War Room.

Good Bet to Return:
Will Clinard
Navery Moore
Both these pitchers had good years, but can probably do more to help their stock by returning for another year.

It Could Happen:
Corey Williams
Jack Armstrong
Emphasis on the "could" with these 2 hurlers. Armstong missed most of the season due to injury, and stuggled with command. His velocity, however, is extrordinary. Williams, who's claim to fame remains his x-ray, is a great lefty who definitely has big-league stuff. Both were taken in the 3rd round which means a lot of money that will be hard to turn down. Either one of these guys returning would be huge for Vanderbilt's starting rotation, which is poised to lose all 3 weekend starters.

Joe Loftus
I don't know what Joe will do. He's been completely replaced in the outfield (the only area where the Commodores were unaffected by the draft) and I have no idea if he can play the infield at the SEC level.

I Really Don't See it Happening
Sonny Gray
Grayson Garvin
Jason Espositio
Sonny and Grayson were taken in the 1st round. Of the 2, AOG's King James IV made a compelling case to me that Sonny could return given the team's unfinished business in Omaha. I don't see how a guy turns down being selected 18th overall. It's hard to think there's a lot more Sonny could do to improve his draft stock. Grayson and Espositio, on the other hand, might both be able to creep up a little higher with productive senior campaigns. Still, the potential marginal gain in draft position (and the money that entails) , could be outweighed by the risks of injury. If any of these guys returned, it would be gravy for Commodore fans. I'm not holding my breathe.

As for who's returning, Tim Corbin brings back his entire outfield (Tony Kemp, Connor Harrell, Mike Yastrzemski), the middle of his infield (Anthony Gomez and Riley Reynolds), DH Conrad Gregor (who's likely to play 1B) and lefty hurler Kevin Ziomek. Other Commodores will be returning, but these are the "impact players" returning from this year's squad. Who else from this year's roster will be everyday players for the Commodores remains to be seen and something that I am especially uninformed to speculate about (as opposed to the draft speculation where I am just somewhat uninformed).

What the line-up will look like is unsettled. King James IV and I hypothosized at the "Welcome Home" gathering as to what the top of the order might look like: Kemp, GoGo, Gregor, Harrell, and Yaz. Beyond that, the line-up will likely include a combination of new recruits and guys we didn't see a lot of this season. This time last year no one saw Tony Kemp coming and we all know how awesome that turned out.

Vanderbilt loses a lot, but there is reason to think that the Commodores are "reloading" rather than "rebuilding"

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