Every Vanderbilt baseball fan is eager to see the #1 recruiting class in college baseball according to Baseball America. The 2006 Vanderbilt baseball team has just three seniors and five juniors the rest sophomores and freshmen, which would lead one to think that this team is in a rebuilding mode. The team has a lot of question marks coming into this year and some positions remain up for grabs with less than four weeks away.
This looks to be the most challenging schedule in Coach Corbin's tenure.
The season starts out with a round robin series against the University of San
Diego a team highly regarded who will be tested when they play the 2005 Champion
University of Texas
Longhorns a week prior.
Southern California and the University of Kansas
will be the other participants. This
will be an early test for a young inexperienced ball club. San Diego has a high
powered club with a top five recruiting class as well. Southern California the
) is coming off a Super Regional
appearance and brings back many veterans including a well seasoned pitching
staff. Kansas comes from a highly competitive conference the Big 12 and has
fared quite well in conference play over the last few years.
With the loss of some significant contributors, it was essential that the
coaching staff replace the talented group with a competitive freshmen class.
That they did, with what Baseball America has touted as the #1 recruiting class
in the country. There are fifteen newcomers to the team, twelve freshmen, one
sophomore transfer and two Junior College transfers. Of the 15 new faces, five
are pitchers, two are catchers, four infielders, two outfielders and two players
that can play both the infield and outfield.
Less than four weeks away many Vandy baseball fans are speculating what the
line-up may look like and how the pitching staff is forming. Here's a look and
breakdown of what may surface up until game time on February
If fans have speculated a starting line-up based on what they saw in the
fall season, good luck. A lot has changed and some players have emerged to the
forefront. Here's a look at a position by position analysis and who as of now
could be penciled in as starters and reserves. This team has quality depth at
positions that Vanderbilt fans have never seen before. There is a great group of
freshmen but don't look for a lot of them to start immediately.
Starter - Alex Feinberg : One of the most versatile players on
the 2006 roster. Though a
Sophomore, Feinberg carries himself like a veteran and leads by example.
Last season, Alex started as a DH, but played the second half of the season at
3B when Tony Mansolino came down with a broken hand. Feinberg played some 1B
this fall and has emerged as the starter. Alex is one of the better contact
hitters and needs to be in the line-up offensively, but is also valuable
defensively at any of the INF positions except for catcher. Feinberg can make
the adjustment as a 1B because of his hand-eye coordination and his ease and
ability with his glove.
Backup - Brad French:
local product has emerged as a contender for the first base position despite
being saddled with an injury for the majority of the fall campaign. Brad is a
sophomore with little experience having only played a hand full of games last
season, many as a late inning reserve. French is regarded as a hard-nosed
determined player that is well respected by the coaching staff. Brad's work
habits are exceptional and his improvement will elevate him into a contributing
role for the 2006 season.
Cronk will primarily be a designated hitter and late inning Pinch Hitter
for the Dores. Adam is going into his sophomore season with very little playing
experience, but has improved physically and is a power threat offensively. Cronk
is fit enough to play defensively, but will play in a reserve role. Parker Hanks
can play first in an emergency situation but will primarily play the outfield
and at designated hitter. Brian Hernandez saw considerable action in the fall at
first base, primarily to have another position to fall back on and to give Carter Hawkins
and Shea Robin
more of an opportunity to garner the
catching duties and get familiar with a restructured and young pitching staff.
Hernandez will certainly start the year as a catcher but his playing time behind
the plate could be limited a bit just because of the wear and tear the body goes
through playing the position.
Starter - Rucker Taylor: A four- year senior, and the one of
only two players that has been with Coach Corbin and his staff since their
inception. Taylor started as a freshmen at second base, came off the bench as a
sophomore and played as a reserve infielder and starting DH for most of his
junior season. Taylor is a reliable and experienced player that will play a
significant role as a leader and should be an every day player as the 2B. Taylor
is versatile and has experience at SS and 3B, but has the qualities you look for
in a second baseman. Taylor is sure handed and has good glove to hand control
and can turn the double play effectively. Taylor is a contact hitter that can
either hit at the top or bottom of the order. Look for Taylor to be at the top
of the order at least at the beginning of the season. His ability to bunt and
move runners over could make him an effective # 2 hole hitter.
Back-Up - Alex Feinberg: A valuable infielder that will most
likely be the starting first baseman, but is able to play second, short and
third in a back-up role in case there is an injury or lack of performance at any
one of the three positions. Feinberg's college playing experience was at third
base last season, but has worked out at these other positions in the fall.
Feinberg is comfortable at the corner positions but has the ability to adjust as
a middle infielder as well. Alex is as valuable a player as anyone on the roster
because of his versatility.
Starter - Dominic De La Osa:
It was thought early on that
freshman Ryan Flaherty
could start, but it
appears Dominic De La Osa will start the season out at SS. De La Osa started as
a freshman at the position and had some hic-ups along the way but seemed to
settle in nicely toward the end of the season. De La Osa has a good arm and
improved range and has garnered one year of valuable experience in a lot of
pressure situations. Flaherty looks smooth at the position as well, but the
transition of coming from high school ball in the State of Maine to SEC Baseball
is a tremendous adjustment.. Flaherty will continue to progress in practice and
will certainly play as a back-up and could play in time, but there is no need to
throw him to the wolves right away. De La Osa will be one of the key
contributors to the team offensively and having him in the line-up is best
served if he plays a position he is most familiar with in SS. De La Osa had
worked a little bit in the outfield in the fall, but with the depth at those
positions and his lack of familiarity as an outfielder it makes sense for him to
Back - Up - Ryan Flaherty: Ryan though a SS in high school can
play 2b and 3b and worked there in the fall. His versatility will come into play
and he certainly will play a key role before it's all said and done. A lot of
scouts believe Flaherty is best suited for 3B in the long run but he has the
experience and ability to play the SS position presently. Flaherty may be
further along defensively than he is offensively, but he has improved his
strength and with repetition in practice will come around offensively sooner
than later. Flaherty's father is a college head coach for a Division III power
in Maine, so Ryan has been around the game closer than most his age and his
poise and perseverance show it out on the playing field.
Reserves - Rucker Taylor & Alex Feinberg: Two key
contributors at other positions, but both have the experience to fill in at the
position if injuries occur. Taylor has seen considerable time over the years as
a SS and can easily play the position if the two players before him
Starter - Pedro Alvarez:
player many are anticipating great things out of, is one of the most heralded
high school position players to ever come to Vanderbilt. Don't let Alvarez'
quiet demeanor fool you, this kid can stroke it offensively and can bring the
leather defensively. If you have seen practices you realize the ball comes off
the bat a little differently than most. Pedro struggled in the Black & Gold
Series, but it's evident that his bat will be potent in time. As a freshmen in
the SEC and playing right away he will have adjustments to make but his future
is bright. Defensively he will need to be consistent and poised at the hot
corner where he will be tested.
Back-Up - Alex Feinberg: Played this position last year and was
a starter the second half of the season. Feinberg may see time at third this
season but will most likely start the season off as the starting first
Reserves - Brad French: Plays both corner positions equally as
well. With Brad's versatility at the corner positions it gives him a much better
chance to play. May see considerable action as a late defensive substitution.
French will be a significant contributor as a role player.
Starter - Brian Hernandez:
Will take over as the vocal leader on
the team and where better suited to play than as the catcher. Hernandez has been
a three year college starting catcher both at Duke
and here at Vanderbilt. His experience
behind the plate will be very beneficial in handling a young but potentially
strong pitching staff. Brian's defense has improved but his arm is somewhat
suspect. He keeps the ball in front of him and blocks the ball well but his lack
of quick release may be tested by opponents on the base paths. Brian is one of
the better hitters on the team and when he is not catching, he will be the
designated hitter. Look for Hernandez to hit in either 3 or 4 hole.
Back-Up - Carter Hawkins: Carter is in his third year of the
program as a catcher and looks to be the back-up to Hernandez again this season.
Hawkins playing time increased in his sophomore year where he started the
majority of mid-week games. Carter brings added experience to the position and
the pitching staff feels comfortable when Hawkins is behind the plate. His
offensive skills have improved each year and look for that to continue.
Reserve - Shea Robin: Only in his second full year playing the
position of catcher, Robin looks like a natural playing the position. Shea has
all the tools necessary to be a quality catcher. He brings a lot of energy to
the position and has a very strong and accurate arm. Offensively Robin can hit
and proved it this fall, he could see time as a designated hitter and pinch
hitter. His playing time will certainly increase from last year and it would not
surprise me to see him in the line-up in some capacity before years'
Starter - Matt Meingasner:
JC transfer who played catcher the last two years at Broward CC and also had
experience as an infielder. Meingasner opened eyes this fall with the way he
handled the bat, a very good hitter with a keen eye for the strike zone. Matt
was moved to the outfield this fall and has seemed to make the proper
adjustments for him to secure a starting position, most likely in left field.
Catcher was not an option for Meingasner due to the depth and experience of
players already on the roster, but it was evident a vacant position needed to be
filled and this was the logical player to fill that role. Matt should be an
every day starter for the 2006 Commodores.
Back-Up - Parker Hanks:
A sophomore transfer from UCLA
who only started one game as a freshmen
and played very little. Hanks is a very athletic and versatile player who played
catcher at UCLA, but will play the corner outfield positions and could be the
starting designated hitter. Parker was the overall leader this fall for all
position players in the Omaha Challenge. The Omaha Challenge is a series of
physical agility and conditioning tests. Hanks will be valuable as a back-up for
various positions in the outfield and at first base. Look for him to start the
year as a designated hitter, at least against left-handed starting pitchers.
Reserves - Jonathan White &
Players that have a lot of
ability but are not ready to be used as every day starters. Both are freshmen,
though White is a red shirt and is in his second year of the program. Lipton is
an aggressive hitter and may be used in late innings as a pinch hitter in time,
but needs to work and improve defensively. Kurt has the tools but it will be a
process in getting all those tools to come together for him to see considerable
playing time. White will play a reserve role and is capable of playing all three
outfield positions. Could be used in late innings as a pinch runner and a
Starter - David Macias:
may surprise some hard core fans, but look for Macias to at least start the year
in center field. Has shown great progress and has learned to play the position
over the last year. David will cover a lot of ground in center field and has a
strong and accurate arm. It was evident Macias was making progress offensively
toward the end of last season, when he was used in the starting line-up as a
designated hitter in the last series of the year against eventual 2005 NCAA
runner-up, the University of Florida
Macias is a pesky and scrappy hitter that will prove not to be an easy out. An
extremely versatile player who could also back-up as a middle infielder..
Back-Up - Diallo Fon:
highly regarded recruit from outside the San Francisco bay area. Fon may not
start at the beginning of the season as an outfielder but he will play and
depending on his progress may enter the line-up soon. Physically Fon could play
right away, especially offensively and may as a left-handed designated hitter
but the coaching staff will implement Fon into the line-up when they feel he is
ready. This years' team has quality depth and with that, the coaching staff is
not forced into starting freshmen right away like they have in the past.
Reserves - Ryan Davis &
Two players with a year experience in the system. Both
players are versatile to play all three outfield positions and give the team
Starter - Ryan Davis: Davis had a successful fall and has
emerged as the starting right fielder for the 2006 squad. Ryan continues to show
improvement in his overall game and with his consistent play and no blaring
weaknesses he is certainly the front-runner for the position. Davis played
sparingly last season, but when he did play he produced offensively and
defensively. He has a very good glove, good arm and the versatility to play all
three outfield positions. Having another left-handed stick in the line-up also
is a positive for Davis and the Commodores. It will be up to Davis whether he is
a permanent fixture to the starting line-up based upon performance. I believe
the more Davis plays the better he will get, he has proven that when playing
summer ball and further demonstrated that this fall.
Back - Up - Diallo Fon: Diallo will play CF but can play RF if
an injury occurs. Fon would probably be the first outfielder off the bench when
looking for a CF or RF. With experience and time Fon will play a beneficial role
in the outfield before too long.
Reserves - Jonathan White & Kurt Lipton: White's versatility
and speed make him a jack of all trades in the outfield. A good player to have
coming off the bench in various capacities. Lipton a freshman is a raw talent
and has the best outfield arm but will play in a reserve role and will need to
continue to develop. These two players are a luxury to have as reserves and give
the 2006 team depth that Coach Corbin has yet to see in his prior three
Starter - Parker Hanks: Initially could be the every day
designated hitter but could be a situational DH as the season churns. Hanks is a
right-handed hitter that demonstrated pop off his bat this fall and showed the
ability to be a line drive gap type hitter. Has the ability to hit for power
which would be a welcomed addition to the line-up. Depending on how he plays
early and with the development of Diallo Fon both could platoon as the
designated hitter. Hanks would face left-handers and Fon would face
right-handers, but if Hanks produces and hits consistently that perhaps may not
Back-Up - Diallo Fon: A kid that can flat out hit, but can he do
it right away at this level. Time will tell, though Fon will get plenty of
opportunity to show what he can do.
Reserves - Adam Cronk & Shea Robin The majority of Adam's
playing time will come as a designated hitter and pinch-hitter. Demonstrates
hitting power that is sorely needed. Needs to improve knowledge of the strike
zone and continue to show consistency and improvement in practice. Being a power
threat will give him an opportunity to play perhaps as a late-inning
pinch-hitter. Shea's game continues to progress and he's the type of player that
the coaching staff will need to find a place for. Is ready to play offensively
and is improving rapidly as a defensive catcher. Designated hitter may be
Robin's best way of playing this year. He may get a chance to catch during the
mid week-games at some point, but with two experienced catchers in front of him
time may be limited.
1.) David Price
- The obvious
choice as the #1 starter. The 6-6 Sophomore LHP is one the marquee college
pitchers in the country and is coming off a very successful summer with the USA
amateur team. Though only 2 -4 last season, Price pitched much better than his
record indicates. His strikeout ratio was among the best in the country and he
ended the season with a highly respectable 2.86 era in 69.1 innings giving up
just 51 hits.
2.) Matt Buschman
- Entering his
fourth season, Buschman brings a lot of success and experience as the #2
starter. Matt has a career record of 17 wins & 6 losses and has been used in
various roles over the prior three years. This year he will begin the season as
a starter, how he concludes the season time will tell.. Bushchman's versatility
makes him a valuable commodity on the staff. He's the type of pitcher that can
be inserted in any situation, and depending on how the younger pitchers develop
and how their used will determine what role Buschman will be used in. Matt has
been a consistent performer in every role, but as a #2 starter his experience
will be a tremendous asset. Look for Buschman to log a lot of innings regardless
of the situation he ends up in.
3.) Cody Crowell & Ty Davis:
There are still some positions
that have not been finalized and the #3 weekend starter is one of those. This
may not be decided until SEC conference play comes around. Both pitchers are red
shirt sophomores and though not a lot of game experience for either, both have
been under this coaching tutelage going on its third season. Each has progressed
each year and both have put themselves in a position to be a #3 starter. The
difference between the two is Crowell is a left hander and Davis a right hander.
Crowell is one of five left-handers but the status of two of those could be
uncertain, therefore Crowell may be more valuable in the bullpen for that reason
alone. Both have proven that they have the ability and both ended last season on
a high note. Which ever one becomes the third starter, the other could become a
mid-week starter and set-up man in the bullpen for a weekend game. Crowell may
have the ability to pitch more than once a week and Davis may be better suited
as a one game a week starter. If that's the case, Davis could be #3 starter.
We'll just have to wait and see.
At this time it's difficult to declare who some of the weekday starters
could be. Last season there were a committee of starters just to give some
pitchers innings and the same scenario may take place this year.
Here are some of the candidates:
Brett Jacobsen - A highly regarded freshmen right hander out of Arizona
, Jacobsen could emerge into a
weekday starter, but perhaps not right away. The coaching staff will progress
with Jacobsen slowly at the beginning and put him into reasonable situations.
- The junior will be
used only as a pitcher this year, after splitting his prior two years as a left
fielder and pitcher. With Shao able to exclusively work with the pitchers and
pitching coach Derek Johnson on an every day basis, it should ease his mind and
give him more structure in how he will be used. Shao's innings will no question
multiply from last season in various roles. Stephen has an arm that can respond
to back-to- back outings in relief on weekends and come back and throw a few
innings as a starter or reliever during the week. As a left-hander, Stephen
could also be used in late inning situations to face left-handed hitting. Last
season, Shao was one of the more successful pitchers in late inning pressure
- Another heralded pitcher
that will start the season in the bullpen for the Commodores. A hard throwing
pitcher that has already made considerable progress this fall. Will be used
similar to that of Brett Jacobsen early on, but as the season goes on based on
their performances, roles will be defined. Zeid could be used in late inning
situations with an above average fastball. Josh will be effective as long as he
is able to locate his pitches.
- A JC transfer out
of California that began his career as an outfielder but was later converted to
a pitcher. The right-hander will begin the season in the bullpen as a reliever.
Weathers had a successful fall and should prove to be effective as a middle
- The only lefthander
out of the highly regarded freshmen class of pitchers. The Florida native is
another highly regarded recruit who will also play a role in the bullpen.
Kennedy may not see many innings right away. His status may depend on how some
of the left-handers in front of him progress. Kennedy is a kid with a positive
attitude and a lot of confidence which is needed if you are to pitch
successfully in the SEC as a freshman.
Greg Moviel - The 6-6 junior lefthander is a relentless worker but has
struggled mightily in his first two seasons at Vanderbilt. Has the potential to
be a very effective pitcher but has not been able to be consistent from pitch to
pitch. When given the opportunity Greg has not proven to be consistent enough to
throw strikes. Obviously if you can't throw strikes it's difficult for the
coaching staff to insert you in a game. Hopefully, Moviel can overcome his
struggles and throw strikes, if he can he will be of great significance to this
pitching staff. Moviel may get the opportunity early in relief and his early
progression or digression will be the determining factor in how he is utilized
- A sophomore red-shirt
who sat out the entire 2005 season with an injury, is healthy and ready to go in
2006. As a freshman, Rhoden was a contributor mainly out of the bullpen. Rhoden
though in his second year playing, is in his third year with the program. Tyler
is one of the more experienced pitchers on the staff and can be used in various
roles. He could pitch in long or short relief and could even start a mid-week
game depending on the use of other pitchers on weekends. Could be one of the
first right-handers out of the pen. Rhoden throws strikes and has a strong
presence and good composure on the mound.
- Normally you would
like to think that you have an established and experienced pitcher off your
present staff that could step in, and that still may happen. Initially freshman
Nick Christiani may get the opportunity to be featured in the role of a closer.
Many college baseball teams aren't able to distinguish who their closer is,
until well into the season. Nick has proven this fall to be an outstanding
pitcher and has the make-up of a kid that's pitched at this level for a while.
Arguably you could say Christiani was the most impressive freshman pitcher on
the mound this fall. In his one outing this fall in the Black & Gold Series,
Christiani started and pitched five innings of one hit shutout baseball. Nick
has good action on his pitches and is very poised on the mound, and has the
attitude to adjust to the pressures of being a closer.
Other possibilities as closers are Josh Zeid, Tyler Rhoden
& Cody Crowell: Both Rhoden and Crowell have late inning experience
in relief and could be used in the role, but everything will depend on how the
complexion of the pitching staff shakes out over the duration of the season.
Crowell may well be suited to be the closer but having another left-hander in
the starting rotation is also a nice luxury to have. Josh Zeid has the ability
to possibly pitch in this role as the season progresses. Josh provides a heavy
fastball and the confidence needed to pitch in this role.
Red-shirts: The following players could be red-shirt possibilities:
Mike Giobbi - FR.- C, Jay Moreland
- FR - C, Matt Shao - Fr. - INF,
& Brian Harris - Fr. -
All four players have solid futures and are caught up in a numbers game
at the positions they play. With Giobbi and Moreland both catchers, they play at
a position that Vanderbilt features the most depth. With three catchers in front
of them, one a senior, another a junior and a sophomore, the playing time this
season would be sparse for both players. The only alternative at this point
would be to red-shirt both players. Infielders Matt Shao & Brian Harris have
similar situations in front of them, where playing time would not come there way
this season with the degree of depth. Both players have shown great strides in
their development and by not losing a year of their eligibility as a player it
would benefit both in getting more of an opportunity of playing time in the
A lot can still change between now and the first game on February
17th. Keep in mind there could be injuries, academic casualties,
suspension due to breaking team or school policies that could change the
complexion of the team and it's chemistry. With the amount of team depth and the
competition at various positions, the starting line-up may change from one game
to the next, but the coaching staff will tell you that's a good thing. What sets
this year apart from the previous three is the depth this team has. If a player
is slumping and struggling, instead of playing his way through it and not
contributing to the team, another player can heed the opportunity and have a
chance to contribute. The reward of having depth is to be able to insert players
into situations late in the games, whether it be for defense or as a base runner
or late inning pinch-hitter.
The 2006 season will be exciting and full of anticipation in how this
youthful team can respond to their difficult schedule and the rigors of the SEC
conference. There are a lot of questions going into the season, but with the
quality of depth the team has a lot can be answered. The players you may see
start the season may not be in the line-up toward the end of the season.
Good Luck Commodores!
Vanderbilt Baseball Roster
2006 Vanderbilt Baseball Schedule