Baseball: Vandy Signing Day Update

The Commodores head into the 2011 season with plenty of optimism around the program. When Monday's deadline passed and players were forced to sign and play professional baseball or attend college, the optimism around Vanderbilt grew.

The few hits came in the bullpen. Redshirt juniors Russell Brewer and Chase Reid both signed professional contracts. Brewer was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 31st round, while the St. Louis Cardinals took Reid in the 41st round.

Aaron Westlake and Jason Esposito formed a two-headed monster in the middle of the Vanderbilt order in 2010, and they will do the same in 2011. Westlake was a 22nd round selection by the Toronto Blue Jays but decided to return for his redshirt-junior season. He hit .308 with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs last season.

The Cleveland Indians selected right-handed pitcher Taylor Hill in the 30th round, but he didn't sign and will return to campus for his senior season. Hill led the team with 17 starts on the mound. With starting pitchers Sonny Gray and Jack Armstrong potential first round picks in 2011, Hill could be the third starter in 2011.

Senior pitcher Drew Hayes (11th round/Cincinnati) and senior catcher Andrew Giobbi (32nd round/Seattle) both signed.

The returning members of the Vanderbilt team were mostly too early in their careers to be draft eligible, or they weren't drafted at all. Curt Casali hit .309 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs last season, but he likely wasn't drafted because he doesn't have a set position on the field. This fall, he will fight for the job as starting catcher, which is the position he wanted to play all along.

The top five batting averages from players with more than 150 at bats and top three pitchers in innings pitched last season all return for the Commodores.

They will also see a boost from a strong recruiting class.

6-2, 180-pound, left-handed pitcher Kevin Ziomek was a 13th round selection of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Amherst Regional School (MA) prospect elected not to sign, and he will provide an early deep pitching staff with another arm.

First baseman/outfielder Conrad Gregor doesn't look like a top prospect if only judged by the round he was taken in. The 40th round selection of the Chicago White Sox fell because of his strong commitment to Vanderbilt. He boasts the bat speed and power potential that has scouts drooling. His bat will be tough to hold out of the Vanderbilt lineup in 2011.

Right-handed pitcher TJ Pecoraro (47th round/Houston), right-handed pitcher Robert Hansen (45th round/St. Louis) and shortstop Joel McKeithan (39th round/Colorado) did not sign and are all expected to be on campus at Vanderbilt for fall workouts.

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