Major League organizations continued their plucking of orange-clad baseball players Tuesday.
Another likely starter for coach Dave Serrano got snatched up by the Tampa Bay Rays with signee and Woodrow Wilson (Calif.) High catcher Chris Betts going 52nd overall. The slot value for that pick is $1,160,500. Reportedly, Betts told clubs he wants a bonus in the $2.5 million range.
"Working out recently I was never thinking about being a freshman All-American (at Tennessee). I've only been thinking about playing Major League baseball."
In 2015, Betts didn't see many pitches worth offering at but still managed to carry a .473 average with 29 runs batted in. He struck out a total of 32 times in 113 high school games.
With Betts expected to ink, Benito Santiago and Tyler Schultz are the top candidates to start at catcher for the Volunteers in 2016. Sources indicate that redshirt freshman Dominick Cammarata will transfer and David Houser is no longer with the program.
Trey Cabbage wasn’t as well known when Serrano, recruiting coordinator Aric Thomas and then-assistant Greg Bergeron started recruiting the Grainger County (Tenn.) High standout to Tennessee. That changed over the last several months as the 6-foot-4, 205-pound switch-hitting infielder shot up draft boards.
The Minnesota Twins used the 110th pick in the fourth round to select Cabbage. The family put a number out before the draft, making it known that passing on a college baseball career on Rocky Top is something the prospect would definitely consider. It’s not known what level of a signing bonus it would take for the Twins to get Cabbage in their minor league system but the No. 110 spot carries a figure of $517,900.
With Hayes expected to sign with the Pirates, the third-base job is open to all comers this fall. Jared Pruett and Jordan Rodgers are candidates there alongside Brett Langhorne. However, Cabbage would be the favorite to win the spot if he passes on the immediate cash to suit up for the Big Orange.
In 2014, Cabbage led the Grainger County offense by batting .464 with eight home runs, 50 runs batted in and 23 stolen bases. He also struck out 83 batters while posting a 2.44 earned run average in 51 2/3 innings pitched. As a senior, the 4.0 student hit .495 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs.
Tennessee didn’t get through the fourth round without seeing another signee’s name submitted as left-handed pitcher Garrett Davila went 129 overall to the Kansas City Royals. According to sources, the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder won’t consider signing for less than $800,000 but the slot value is $431,100.
What Betts, Cabbage, Davila and Hayes must do now is stick to their figures and not budge at the prospect of minor league baseball. Recruiting is a part of what a pro scout does, so it will be an interesting finish to see which (if any) of the four make it to Tennessee.