Vanderbilt 1, MLB Draft 0

Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin and recruiting coordinator Eric Bakich won round 1 of their battle with the MLB draft this spring when highly sought after Smyrna, TN RHP Sonny Gray officially announced that he has decided to forego the MLB Draft.

Unless Gray enrolls in June summer classes at Vanderbilt next week, he will still be eligible to be drafted and will likely be chosen on a mid- to late-round flyer. Gray follows in the footsteps of last year’s #1 pick David Price who, four years ago, asked not to be drafted but was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 19th round and reportedly offered between $1.5 to $2M in signing money.

Last year, several Vandy blue chippers such as Catcher Curt Casali and OF Joey Manning enrolled early, making themselves ineligible to be drafted. Manning was still drafted in one of the later rounds, despite not being able to sign a professional contract.

Gray, an Aflac All-American and the Gatorade player of the year in Tennessee, suffered a severe sprain in his right foot which saw him slip in draft projections from the middle of the first round; however, Gray told the Tennessean that his decision had been all but final to matriculate. Gray has been a regular at Commodore games for two years now and has developed close relationships with players including Price. With a mid-90s fastball and a curve some called the best in the draft, Gray figures to compete for the Saturday or Sunday starter spots in 2009.

Vanderbilt now turns its attention to fast-rising Connecticut SS Anthony Hewitt who has skyrocketed to the middle of the first round of recent mock drafts and is considered by some to be perhaps the highest ceiling player in the draft. Also receiving serious consideration for high draft slots are New Jersey OF Matt Marquis, Rhode Island OF Ryan Westmoreland and Walters CC OF Adam Milligan. The remaining players in the Vanderbilt class have been receiving less significant draft chatter, despite having high scouting grades.