Baseball: Coach Tim Corbin talks recruiting

Vanderbilt signed 12 players to baseball letters-of-intent last November, but has added four other players to its roster since then. Commodore head Coach Tim Corbin talks about his recruiting class and looks ahead to what the future may hold for the 2004 Diamond Dores.

Vanderbilt baseball lost one player in the offseason when right-handed pitcher Robert Ransom signed with the Chicago Cubs. But Head Coach Tim Corbin has brought in 16 new freshmen and transfers to the roster since last spring. VandyMania talked with Coach Corbin recently about recruiting, his players' performances in summer leagues, and much more.


VandyMania: You had twelve guys who signed with you last November, but I know you've had several guys join your team since then. Start by telling us about Antoan Richardson, the fellow from Florida.

Coach Tim Corbin: He's originally from the Bahamas. He went to Palm Beach Community College. Speed-wise, he's probably the fastest player that I've ever recruited personally, and that goes back to Clemson too. He's a switch hitter. He had a great summer in the Valley League with Worth Scott. We're looking forward to him coming in. He's kind of a leadoff type, kind of a nuisance-type player, which we really didn't have last year.

VandyMania: Would he be a center-fielder?

Coach Corbin: Yeah, he could either play center or left. His arm is just average, but the tool that he presents is speed, lightning speed. He led Florida junior colleges in stolen bases the last two years.

VandyMania: We've been reading clippings about Ryan Rote, a pitcher, and Michael Baxter, the MVP up in the Senior Association.

Coach Corbin: Rote is someone that we recruited late, because we were afraid we were going to lose Robert Ransom. We wanted to fill in with a righthanded pitcher who had some experience. We were recruiting him for a long time, but we didn't pull the trigger until late because of Robert's situation. He's a good, right-handed arm. He's from Kishwaukee Junior College, a 25th-rounder. He's been drafted before. He's big, strong, has a hard slider, and has a chance to help us out right away.

Baxter, on the other hand, is from Columbia University-- he's a transfer. Freshman All-America this year, left-handed hitter. Can play first, third, even played some second and short in summer ball. I don't see him doing that here-- he's more of a first or third baseman. But he runs well, he's athletic, kind of a poor man's Mark Grace. He's not a home run hitter, but kind of a guy who uses the gap really well. I like him because he's serious and knows the game. I've seen him for years. He's been with the Bayside Yankees for four years, so I've seen him for a long time. He could play DH too. We're going to have to find a spot for him, because he can hit. He's got a good left-handed bat, and he can run.

VandyMania: The other guy who was kind of a late signee was a shortstop, Greg Del George. Tell us about him.

Coach Corbin: Good player. He was drafted late by the White Sox. He's probably more of a second baseman. He's better defensively than he is offensively. Offensively he needs to get stronger, so it may take him some time to play. But I like him. He's a switch hitter. His Dad is a college baseball coach at St. Francis, a Division I program in New York, so he comes from good stock. He's a hard worker, so I think something will develop from him.

VandyMania: You've lost almost nobody, and you've got 16 new players coming in. That to me says you've got to be an improved team. But my other question is, how do find scholarships for all these guys?

Coach Corbin: Scholarships really aren't the issue. We have 11.7 scholarships-- we realize that. What we did is go out and get some kids who could get some financial aid. The money has to come from everywhere. We just took charge of our resources. We have a lot of walk-ons on our team. As tough as it is sometimes, you need to better the base of players that you have. And we did that. We only had seven pitchers last year, and we knew we needed some numbers that way. Pitching and defense win. I know! I've seen it go around enough. We needed to better ourselves offensively too. We tried to, but we had a lot of guys coming back in the infield, so we didn't try to replace as many infielders. But the outfield, I thought we needed some help. We definitely had some speed issues. So I concentrated more on speed, and on pitching, so we'd have more depth that way, so that we can win those midweek games. Because really, looking back at last season, we probably would have been a regional contender, had we won four or five extra games midweek. So I like our team. I like the kids who went out for us this summer and had great summers. I'm really proud of guys like Worth Scott, Warner Jones, Cesar Nicolas, Jeremy Sowers, Ryan Klosterman, Tony Mansolino, Ryan Mullins-- they had great summers playing ball. Even Zach Simpson had a great second half of the summer. Matt Zeller-- he's added 15 pounds to his frame. So I think the guys can smell a lot of competition, and the more the competition you have, the hungrier everyone is. The motivation is just within yourself. Competition will breed good players, and the cream will rise to the top.

VandyMania: You went up for the Cape Cod All-Star Game, right?

Coach Corbin: Yeah. Went there four days, got to see all our kids play. Cesar Nicolas made me so proud, winning the home run contest. He hit 13 in the final round, and they were monster, monster shots. So there was a lot of interest in him-- there was some interest in wanting to sign him, but he's coming back. Warner Jones had a great summer. Third in the league in hitting-- .344, I think. Ryan Klosterman was in the All-Star game, played well. Jeremy Sowers obviously played well-- he was the top pitcher up there.

VandyMania: Tell us about what happens for the team in the fall.

Coach Corbin: We'll start September 16 with official practice, but we'll get them in the weight room before that and do some individual things to get them more what we want. We'll go for four weeks. Homecoming weekend, we may play a Black and Gold [intra-squad] series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday that concludes the fall.

VandyMania: I know you were pleased when Greg Moviel (freshman pitcher from Cleveland, Ohio) decided not to sign professionally.

Coach Corbin: Yeah, his negotiations stopped back around the beginning of July. He's in school, and we feel good about that one. Everyone else is on board.

VandyMania: You've got to be excited about bringing in a guy like Moviel.

Coach Corbin: Well, yeah, he's got good size. He's got arm strength, he's a worker, he's aggressive. I like him, but I never try to build up freshmen too much, because coming into this place, you know, it just takes a while. So I don't ever-- I get fired up about having them, but I don't overdo it, because it might take a year. Might take two years! It's all according to how hard a kid works. But I am extremely excited about him, because he was a projected top-three rounder. His signability forced him into the 14th round, and he still had options to sign that were pretty good, higher than the 14th round. He comes from a good hard-nosed family too.


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