VandyBoys set to begin another baseball season on West End

Baseball season begins today in Southern California as Vanderbilt is set to open their year against the Torreros of San Diego. The Commodores are projected yet again to have another big season and compete to find themselves back in Omaha at year's end. DoresDaily brings you your season preview of the upcoming 2017 baseball season with the Commodores.

Vanderbilt Commodores Baseball

Head Coach: Tim Corbin (15th year)

2016 Record: 43-19 overall (18-12 SEC) - NCAA Regionals

Location: Nashville, TN - Hawkins Field

Projected Starting Lineup

1B - Julian Infante - Soph (#22)

2B - Ethan Paul - Soph (#10)

SS - Connor Kaiser - Soph (#12)

3B - Will Toffey - Jr (#9)

OF - Jeren Kendall - Jr (#3)

OF - Ro Coleman - Sr (#1)

OF - J.J. Bleday - Fr (#51) - or - Stephen Scott - Soph (#15)

C - Jason Delay - Sr (#5)

DH - Alonzo Jones - Soph (#8)

Starting Rotation

RHP - Kyle Wright - Jr (#44)

RHP - Patrick Raby - Soph (#29)

RHP - Chandler Day - Soph (#27) - or - Drake Fellows - Fr (#66)

Closer - Matt Ruppenthal - Jr (#28)

Synopsis

Vanderbilt heads into the 2017 year with a veteran squad who saw their 2016 season end prematurely. They were upset in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament, here in Nashville but it was under some emotional circumstances. Freshman pitcher Donny Everett tragically passed away in a terrible accident the week of the tournament. It was a hard situation to go through but the team handled it like men. A year away from the event's, Vanderbilt is prepared to come back in 2017 better than ever and appear focused on getting back to Omaha for the 1st time in two years. The Commodores 2017 team sports a mixture of veteran leadership along with some youthful talent. Vandy is led by All-American candidates, Jeren Kendall and Kyle Wright. Both players are considered early 1st round draft picks and both are in contention for SEC player of the year. 

They are supported by a group of sophomores that could not only breakout for big season's but could also help propel the Commodores back to the College World Series. The threesome of Julian InfanteAlonzo Jones and Ethan Paul will be leaned upon heavily this year as big bats in the lineup and guys being asked to provide RBI's, homeruns, timely and clutch hitting. Those three are complimented by the smooth left handed stroke of Will Toffey. As a sophomore, Toffey struggled at the plate and never could find his swing. Hopefully an offseason of continued work has helped Toffey find his swing again and if he has, watch out because Toffey has the prettiest swing of anyone on the roster. You also can't deny Toffey's ability at third base. He is a sensational defensive player who locks down the hot corner for the Dores. 

Hitting and defense will continue to be worked on but those are expected to be the strengths of the team this season. Pitching is the biggest question mark headed into the year. Except for Wright and Ruppenthal at the end, Vanderbilt is inexperienced on the mound and need to find some arms to step up into bigger roles. The number two spot in the rotation behind Wright is solid with Patrick Raby, The Knoxville native stepped in last year and surprised many with his accuracy and steady competitive nature. He and Wright will give Vanderbilt a good one-two punch but they still need to find a third guy to shore up the rotation. Several options are being considered but right now it appears that sophomore Chandler Day may get the first shot at becoming the third starter. Things could easily change as the season moves on. Vanderbilt has a deep group of pitchers but several guys who have yet to face the rigors of a college baseball season. Helping the pitching staff is junior closer Matt Ruppenthal. Also considered a possible starter, Ruppenthal provides Vanderbilt a stable back end closer who baffles hitters with his outstanding curveball. The pitching staff is general will be the biggest key to a successful baseball season for Vanderbilt, so it will interesting to follow as the year goes on. 

SEC Season Predictions

Eastern Division

1. Florida

2. South Carolina

3. Vanderbilt

4-t. Kentucky

4-t. Georgia

6. Tennessee

7. Missouri

Western Division

1. LSU

2. Texas A&M

3. Ole Miss

4. Miss State

5. Arkansas

6-t. Alabama

6-t. Auburn


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