SEC Baseball Preview: Vanderbilt

The 2008 Vanderbilt baseball team hopes to build on the successes of last season. The 2007 Commodores won the most games (54) in Vanderbilt history and were ranked No. 1 throughout much of the season, but were stunned in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after a pair of 4-3 losses to Michigan. Vanderbilt won both the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles.

Scout.com went to its experts at each of the 12 SEC schools to put together preseason scouting reports for all the league teams. Now up: Vanderbilt

Pitching is an area of traditional strength for Vanderbilt. The Commodores will be hard pressed to replace left handed starting pitcher David Price and closer Casey Weathers. Both were selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft with Price being the overall top pick.

Sophomore lefty Mike Minor (3.09 ERA) will likely be the Friday starter for the Commodores in '08. Minor finished the 2007 season with a sparkling 9-1 record in his first season in Nashville. Right handers Brett Jacobson (3.15 ERA, 6-3) and Nick Christian (4.11 ERA, 5-3) should have the inside track to be the other weekend starters but could be pushed by several incoming heralded freshmen.

While questions loom for the Commodore pitching unit, Vanderbilt's hitting should be solid again in '08. The Commodores return several outstanding offensive weapons including third baseman Pedro Alvarez (.386, 18 HR), shortstop Ryan Flaherty (.386, 4 HR), rightfielder Dominic de la Osa (.378, 20 HR), centerfielder David Macias (.300), second baseman Alex Feinberg (.317, 4 HR), and catcher Shea Robin (.286, 2 HR). Flaherty had a 35-game hitting streak during the 2007 season.

Alvarez and de la Osa were both selected first team All-SEC.

Vanderbilt opens the 2008 season facing both Oregon State and Arizona State in Arizona. Illinois-Chicago, Kansas, Iowa, Xavier and Western Carolina then visit Nashville. The Commodores will later endure the usual SEC schedule gauntlet with trips to Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Florida.

Vandy gets visits from fellow conference members South Carolina, Arkansas, Auburn and Kentucky.

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