Baseball America ranks Vandy 8th

NASHVILLE — Eight position starters and a veteran pitching staff returning from last year's NCAA tournament and SEC tourney finalist squad has gained national recognition for Vanderbilt baseball as the team is ranked No. 8 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Preseason Top 40 Poll.

The two stalwarts of the team, sophomore third baseman Pedro Alvarez and junior southpaw ace David Price were also honored by the newspaper as first team preseason All-Americans.

With a young and inexperienced club in 2006, the Commodores jelled at the end of the season, finishing with a 38-27 record and advanced to the finals of the SEC tourney. They then made the finals of the NCAA Atlanta Regional before falling to eventual College World Series participant Georgia Tech.

Alvarez, the National Freshman of the Year by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America, finished the 2006 season with a .329 batting average to go along with a school record 22 homers and 64 RBI. His homer total was third most nationally and second best in the Southeastern Conference. Alvarez had a torrid summer with the USA Baseball National Team that captured a gold medal at the World University Championships in Cuba. The New York City resident led the collegiate all-star squad with a .379 batting average to go along with five homers, 12 doubles and 43 RBI. Baseball America listed him as the No. 2 prospect off of the USA team that was coached by Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin.

Price, the No. 1 prospect on the USA squad, was a three-time National Pitcher of the Week honoree in 2006 and finished the year with a 9-5 record and a school record 155 strikeouts in 110.1 innings. His. 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings was third best nationally and No. 1 in the SEC. He was named BA's Summer Player of the Year after going 5-1 with a 0.20 ERA with 61 strikeouts and only seven walks in 44.0 innings for Team USA.

Vanderbilt faces a formidable opening weekend slate at the Houston Astros College Classic February 9-11, starting with preseason No. 1 Rice. The Commodores will then take No. 14 Arizona State, before closing out with No. 21 Baylor.

South Carolina and Arkansas were the two SEC schools ranked ahead of Vanderbilt at No. 3 and No. 4 respectively. Other SEC school ranked were Tennessee at No. 18, Ole Miss at No. 20, Georgia at No. 22, LSU at No. 31 and Mississippi State at No. 32.

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