Top Pitcher & Hitter Go Early
Vanderbilt baseball has built the reputation for churning out high quality arms from their pitching staff and this season was no different. Commodores star Kyle Wright became the latest pitcher to be selected in the 1st round when the Atlanta Braves took the All-SEC standout with the 5th overall pick. Wright finished his junior season with a 5-6 overall record but that tell the story on his year. His season didn't go the way he exactly wanted it to but that didn't phase away scouts. Wright's stuff and mechanics are flawless and he was even considered the top overall prospect in the draft. The Braves were sold on Wright from the get go and felt lucky to him fall to the 5th pick. Atlanta didn't waste any time signing Wright as this past week the former Commodores signed his rookie contract and is now on the fast track to the majors.
Once considered a top five overall pick, Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall had an up and down junior campaign that saw his stock drop a bit but not enough to slide past Los Angeles. The Dodgers selected the All-SEC center fielder with the 23rd overall pick in the 1st round. Kendall is a high potential player that has the five tool talents to succeed in the big leagues, however he can be inconsistent at the plate and that's a big reason why he fell in the 1st round. Kendall led the Commodores in home runs (15) but also led the team in stikeouts as well (73). His swing and miss approach at the plate can be maddening at times but he makes up for it with his speed in the outfield and on the base paths as well as his range to track down balls from center field. It may some time for Kendall to make his way to Los Angeles but he has the tools and abilities to get their one day.
VandyBoy Veterans Find Pro Homes
Commodores 3rd baseman Will Toffey and Jason Delay both had to wait until the 4th round to hear their names selected but it was well worth the wait. Toffey went 111th overall to the Oakland A's and could one day play some pro baseball here in the town where he played his college ball. The Nashville Sounds are the local Triple AAA team for the A's and took Toffey with the idea of him becoming Oakland's full time 3rd baseman. Toffey has yet to sign but all indications point towards the Commodores top hitter signing with the A's.
Delay saw a significant bump in where he was selected as the Pittsburgh Pirates took him 118th overall after the Vanderbilt catcher being drafted last season in the 25th round. The Vanderbilt catching vet had a good senior season as he finally was able to man the catcher role full time after splitting reps over the past two years. Delay is a mature guy who could find himself in Pittsburgh sooner than later. He is solid defender behind the plate with a great arm and has the bat to handle off speed pitches from big league pitchers. Delay could easily become a starter or backup catcher in the pro's one day.
The little engine that could, Vanderbilt senior outfielder Ro Coleman saw his name drafted as well when the Detroit Tigers took the 5'5 dynamo in the 34th round. Coleman was a four year player for the VandyBoys and was a key spot time starter and bench guy and someone Coach Corbin could call on when he needed something to happen. The Chicago native is a speedy, contact hitter who might have to transition to 2nd base in the pro's. He might still get a shot in the outfield but the Tigers drafted him for his team first attitude, his contact hitting and willingness to do whatever the team asks of him.
Three bullpen pitchers for the Commodores heard their names called and two of them have already decided to take their talents into the pro game. Junior pitcher Collin Snider was the 1st from the bullpen to go as the Kansas City Royals took him in the 12th round (360 overall). The Riverdale graduate was the main guy out the bullpen for Vanderbilt this season and ended up pitching in 60 games over his Commodores career. Snider has already publicly announced his intentions to sign with the Royals.
Vanderbilt two way standout, Reed Hayes went next in the 13th round when the Baltimore Orioles took him with the 398th pick overall. Hayes is the Commodores closer as well as designated hitter and a guy who came on for Vanderbilt throughout the season, especially when they needed an extra bat and someone to close down the 9th. Hayes has yet to make his decision and there is a strong possibility he could return to Vanderbilt for his senior year.
The Houston Astros selected Vanderbilt junior Matt Ruppenthal in the 17th round (511 overall) to give the Commodores four pitchers taken in the 2017 MLB Draft. Ruppenthal has been a key bullpen arm and spot starter for Vanderbilt over the past three years and had one of the best breaking balls in the Southeastern Conference. He had inconsistent moments but also came through at clutch times when called upon. Ruppenthal is a big guy with a strong arm, so he is ready to get his pro career started as he has already stated publicly his intentions to sign with the Astros.
Entire Recruiting Class Coming to Vandy?
Every year is a battle for Vanderbilt when it comes to their recruiting classes being devoured in the MLB Draft but this year might have worked out perfectly for the Commodores. Left handed pitcher Jake Eder was the biggest name to watch and luckily for the VandyBoys, he wasn't drafed until the 34th round by Mets. Eder is a big, long armed lefty who has the look of a future starter and with being drafted late, their is a strong chance his comes to campus. Four more signees from the 2018 class were selected. Outfielder Cooper Davis (Blue Jays-25th rd), outfielder Pat DeMarco (Yankees-24th rd), athlete Austin Martin (Indians-25th rd) and pitcher Tyler Brown (Reds-26th rd) all were taken but as of right now, all four players are expected to attend Vanderbilt instead of signing pro contracts.
If things work out to where all five players from the recruiting class come to Nashville for college, Vanderbilt could end up having the No. 1 signing class in the country. Besides the five players drafted, other Vanderbilt signees expected on campus include 3rd baseman Jayson Gonzalez, C Phillip Clarke, SS Garrett Blaylock and LHP Hugh Fisher. It was a strong signing class to begin with for Vanderbilt but if the entire class arrives on campus, the Commodores will have a young but deep 2018 roster.