Other than College Baseball’s top eight teams in Omaha, most of America has turned their full attention to the ever turbulent summer. This means summer leagues, coaching movement and draft watching. Things are no different at Vanderbilt, which for the third straight year failed to escape the Regionals. But that doesn’t mean the summer has not been active already.
On the Cape
Vanderbilt features six roster members on teams in the prestigious Cape Cod League. Friend of the College Baseball Blog Jarred Amato (publisher of SportsVU, a Vanderbilt Sports Blog) traveled to Wareham to spend some time with Vanderbilt sophomore leftfielder Steven Liddle as he started his season with the Gatemen. The article, found here, is a great glimpse into the magic of the league and what it means to the players and the community proper. I have a feeling our publisher, Brian Foley, will enjoy it as a top-notch fan of the league.
Vanderbilt fans are again also keeping a close eye on Team USA, with 4-year Commodores student manager and 2008 Vanderbilt graduate Steven Goldburg spending his third straight summer on TeamUSA’s staff. Goldburg is blogging the summer again for VUCommodores.com. In Team USA’s opener, lefty Mikie Minor picked up the win, extending his carreer stats for American squad to 6-2 in 37 innings, with just 33 hits and a whopping 42-4 strikeout to walk ration complementing a 1.46 ERA. Mikie is unlikely to match David Price’s sub-1.00 ERA with TeamUSA, but he’s already closing in on Price’s 7-1 2 year record with the squad.
Vanderbilt is unlikely to have any major shifts in its coaching staff with Head Coach Tim Corbin not expected to be courted again in the near future after turning down the Oregon spot and Phil Knight’s paycheck last summer. Similarly, Recruiting Coordinator Erik Backich turned down Western Carolina last year and is believed to be still a couple of years away from accepting a head coaching spot of his own. Former Pitching Coach of the Year Derek Johnson is in a similar spot as Bakich, expected to hold off testing the head coach waters for a few more years, if at all. Bakich and DJ are among the highest paid assistants in the country and are believed to likely have to take a pay cut unless receiving a high D1 head coaching gig.
That said, before this season it was anticipated that Volunteer Assistant Coach Blake Allen would likely be moving on to a full-time assistant job after this season. Nothing has been announced as of yet; however, Coach Allen, who has been an integral part of the Commodore growth, is anticipated to make a move.
Across the nation, coaching shifts are being made and the best source for the moves, as always, is right here at TCBB.
Vanderbilt fans woke up to a pleasant surprise this past Saturday with the landing of Ryan Flaherty’s replacement at shortstop. Bethany, CT SS/3B Jason Esposito was taken with the first pick on the second day of the draft by the Kansas City Royals, a position which usually only comes about with a contract already agreed to. Sure enough, Jason said he had agreed in principle to a number with the Royals, that number now known to be $1.3M. But one week later, things had changed and, despite the Royals bumping the offer up to $1.5M, the Esposito family decided that Vanderbilt was the best path.
The Royals offer of $1.5M is believed to be the second most turned down by a Vanderbilt player to enroll. David Price turned down a $1.9M offer to come to campus, while Pedro Alvarez eschewed a $950K offer from Boston. The move adds significant (but perhaps imaginary) pressure to the negotiations between Boston and OF recruits Ryan Westmoreland (Portsmouth, NH) and Matt Marquis (Annandale, NJ), between Atlanta and two time JuCo All American Adam Milligan (Walter State Jr Transfer), and possibly even between the Phillies and 1st round SS/3B Anthony Hewitt (Brooklyn, NY). The remaining Vanderbilt recruits are all considered safe bets to arrive on campus with Navery Moore (drafted by Boston) enrolled before the draft and ineligible to sign and Sonny Gray (Chicago Cubs) planning to enroll on July 8th.
All in all, with Esposito turning down the Royals, it appears Vanderbilt is again lined up for a top rated recruiting haul. Vanderbilt players who have signed are Jr. SS Ryan Flahery (Cubs, with a bonus around $1M), Jr. RHP Brett Jacobson (Detroit) and Sr. 2B Alex Feinberg (Colorado). Rivals.com members can read VandySports.com’s rundown of VU and the draft by Mike Rapp.