Tag Archives: SEC

UNC picks up elite ‘09 Catcher

Coach Mike Fox of North Carolina picked up one of the fastest rising stars on the High School circuit when Nashville Catcher/Pitcher Jacob Stallings verbally committed to the Tarheel baseball program. Stallings is an athletic, if lanky 6’4″ bodied Junior who Perfect Game gave a 9.5 ranking. Mike Rapp of Vandysports.com first reported the news in the premium content War Room, quickly followed by Mo Patton of the Tennessean.

Stallings is the son of Vanderbilt Basketball Coach Kevin Stallings and former basketball teammate of former UNC standout Brandan Wright, a lottery pick this past year in the NBA draft. The younger Stallings has been a fixture at Vanderbilt baseball games, while the senior Stallings is a sometimes-color commentator for Commodores baseball broadcasts and is a close friend of Coach Tim Corbin. This led many to believe Jacob Stallings would don the Black and Gold on West End. Furthermore, as the son of an employee, Stallings would have been entitled to free tuition at Vanderbilt. So why is Stallings headed to UNC? The College Baseball Blog has this insight and opinion as to the surprise commitment:

1) Money doesn’t always talk. Kevin Stallings is one of the highest paid coaches in the SEC, so scholarship funds likely aren’t particularly important.
2) In addition to the Brandan Wright connection, UNC’s Roy Williams is among Kevin Stallings‘ closest friends in the coaching fraternity, establishing solid ties to UNC.
3) The catching and pitching competition at Vanderbilt will be tight for the next three years. At Catcher, Vanderbilt will feature two established players in (’08-’09 year) Sophomore Curt Casali (rated the #60 prospect for the ’07 class and rated 10 by Perfect Game) and Red Shirt Sophomore Andrew Giobbi (rated 10 by Perfect Game in ’05). Casali is expected to win the starting job behind the plate by ’08-09, if not by supplanting incumbent starter Shea Robin this year. Giobbi has seen action at Catcher, Firstbase and DH for the Dores and figures to continue to do so for the next two years. In addition, Jesse Johnson of Vandysports.com reports that Corbin has a pair of solid Catcher walk-ons. Stallings could have faced stiff competition as a pitcher, with Corbin and recruiting coordinator Erik Bakich having assembled a star studded pitching class for ’08-09 featuring AFLAC All American Sonny Gray (PG rating 10), Will Clinard (PG 10), Grayson Garvin (PG 10), Corey Williams (PG 9.5), Ryan Westmoreland (PG 9) and Navery Moore, who was not given a number rating by PG despite being listed as the 18th best prospect in the ’08 class in November 2006. Also returning in ’08-09 will be standout pitchers including Mikie Minor, Drew Hayes, Chase Reid, Mark Lamm, Richie Goodenow and Caleb Cotham. Stallings had been recruited to Vanderbilt and UNC as a Catcher and by Auburn as a pitcher. The CBB believes, without any real basis, that playing time figured into the equation.
4) UNC has somehow managed to become one of the uber elite baseball programs in the country while flying a bit under the radar. They have appeared in the last two CWS finals and have always been a solid program, despite not getting some of the same athletic-academic regard that Stanford, Rice, Tulane and Vandy have received in conversations about “signability“. The “somehow” is not a reflection of UNC not having earned elite status or been excellent on the field, just that, for some reason, their recruiting, on the field and academic excellence don’t get seem to get enough praise in the media.
5) Finally, it provides Stallings the opportunity to have a college experience away from home. A factor for many students.

This writer thinks a combination of 3 and 4 led to the commitment, and that Mike Fox is getting one of the finest players in the nation. Stallings has starred in the Nashville area and on former Commodore Hunter Bledsoe’s Brentwood A’s summer team. He throws in the low 90s off the hill and has impressive defensive skills despite his lanky nature. It’s a pretty safe bet that Fox will get Stallings to campus and, as he grows into his body, Jacob could develop into one of the finest Catchers in the NCAA. Congratulations to Jacob, Coach Stallings and the family.

With one of his perceived top catching targets now in the Tarheel fold, attention will likely look to fellow Nashville Catcher Casey Dykes. Like Stallings, the Franklin based Dykes was rated 9.5 by Perfect Game. Unlike Stallings, Dykes‘ secondary position is 3B, a need area for the ‘Dores. Vanderbilt will likely lose Rivals All-Americans Pedro Alvarez (3B) and Ryan Flaherty (SS) to the next MLB draft. Dykes could compete for playing time at third, though ’07 signee Gabe Ortiz is expected to step into one of those slots, and though Chris Lee of Vandysports has confirmed the commitment of another ’08 elite prospect on the left side of the infield. The information is still not public on the new commitment, so I cannot comment further on the identity of the player pursuant to the College Baseball Blog’s policy on Use and Attribution.

Auburn welcomes incoming class!

Thursday was a banner day for the Auburn baseball team as the Tigers welcomed 13 freshmen and a transfer to the squad for the 2008 season. The freshman class includes three players that were drafted in this past summer’s Major League Baseball Draft while 23rd-round pick junior Mike Bianucci also chose to return to The Plains for the upcoming season.

PGcrosschecker.com had this to say about Auburn’s recruiting class. “Big, Deep and Talented (Brian Fletcher, Wes Gilmer, Hunter Morris, Kevin Patterson). If these hitters show up for class at Auburn, the Tigers might have the best offensive team in college baseball in a couple of years. They all hit and can hit right now without needing much projection. Morris and Patterson are left-handed hitters with middle-of-the-order potential; it’s a scary thought where they might be in three years with metal bats.”

Press Release from Auburn

Corbin Lands NAIA Star for ‘08 Class

Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin announced yesterday that he was remaining in Nashville. Just 10 hours after that decision, VandySports.com’s Mike Rapp broke the news that Corbin and Erik Bakich had landed coveted transfer candidate Drew Hayes.

Hayes will enter with this year’s class and be eligible to play immediately as a Sophomore. A 6’1″ 200 lb RHP, Hayes is described by Joshua Parrott of the Jackson Sun as having a body built like Casey Weathers, the former Vandy closer and #8 overall pick in this past draft. Parrott reports in today’s paper that Hayes will be given the opportunity to use his mid-90s heater to earn the right to close games on West End.

Corbin and Bakich were not unfamiliar with Hayes, nor are his new teammates. Hayes is most well associated with Mikie Minor, the Vanderbilt and Team-USA standout LHP. Minor and Hayes competed for honors as 2005-6’s top Tennessee baseball player. Minor ultimately drew the most acclaim, but Hayes bested the southpaw in the TSSAA State Championship game in an epic matchup. Hayes was recruited heavily by Vanderbilt; however, he chose to play at Bethel, where his father is the baseball head coach. Hayes batted .320 and carried a 6-4 record and 2.72 ERA on the hill.

Hayes joins another star-studded class of recruits that have all made it to Nashville without defection. Among them are Catcher Curtis Casali, LHP Kellen St. Luce, 1B/DH Aaron Westlake, LHP Ben Blanton, RHP Chase Reid, 1B Drew Fann, SS Gabe Ortiz, OF Joey Manning, LHP Sean Bierman and RHP Taylor Hill. Casali, Manning and Westlake are expected to push holdover starters at C, LF and 1B, respectively, while all six pitching recruits will join a solid redshirt class in replacing the six Vanderbilt pitchers who moved on to the professional ranks this year.
I would also be remiss if I did not link Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com‘s excellent article on Tim Corbin and the Oregon search. It touched on the topics I addressed in my late post last night, but Kendall actually attended the presser and knows Tim from attending a number of Vandy games and covering the Dores. It’s an outstanding read for those of you who aren’t sick of me talking about the Commodores yet.

More on Corbin and the Oregon Coaching Search

With Tim Corbin’s announcement today, Vandy fans stomachs finally settled. Mike Rapp and Chris Lee of VandySports.com, Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com, Brett Hait of the Nashville City Paper and Mo Patton of the Tennessean (and the College Baseball Blog) all covered the story in great detail. Early this morning, Coach Corbin announced, through Joe Fisher (the voice of Commodore athletics as announcer for all Vandy sports games), that he was staying in Nashville. Later in the day, Corbin hosted media to answer questions regarding the brief courtship.

Of interesting note, Corbin was not initially interviewing with Oregon. He was engaged by the University as a consultant to help build their program and advise on matters including the coaching search and facility construction. Much like Baylor, another program visited by Oregon officials, Vanderbilt is known to have among the best facilities in the country. However, during the courtship, Oregon upped the ante and offered Corbin a compensation package that dwarfed what Corbin currently receives at Vandy. Corbin is among the most well compensated coaches in the SEC, leading to speculation regarding just how large the package was — speculation Corbin did not address.

Ultimately, Corbin told the media that the entire experience has been: “slightly embarrassing, to be honest with you, because my first feeling is this has happened before. The last thing I want is for people to think, ‘Here we go again.’ I don’t have a sign over my head that says, ‘I need a job,’ because I don’t.” Corbin flirted with LSU and Auburn in the past three years and appeared to be attempting some damage control. Corbin acknowledged that he has an outstanding situation at Vanderbilt, evidenced by turning down NIKE money that would reportedly have doubled his current compensation package. Nevertheless, he came across as honest and open regarding his status as Vandy’s coach, his commitment to the program, and the fact that he will listen to offers if approached, as college baseball “is a performance driven business.” In this case, although Corbin entertained the Oregon offer, when asked if he was close to accepted he said, “It wasn’t close physically, emotionally or anything.”

Corbin also indicated what this blog suggested early last night. The presence of David Williams, Vandy’s Athletics Czar, is a key factor in the coach’s continued home in Nashville. So long as Williams is running the show, count on Corbin to turn down all offers outside of an opening at Clemson and in the Boston Red Sox organization. Corbin hinted that he has turned down more overtures than are public. Among those rumored are an immediate turn down of the University of Tennessee this past Spring.

Corbin’s press conference can be viewed at VUCommodores.com and Coach talks about his situation at Vanderbilt, the offer received from Oregon, the nature of Oregon’s program building and the departure of Chancellor Gordon Gee. Corbin also noted that recruiting coordinator Erik Bakich and pitching coach Derek Johnson have been approached and turned down opportunities at other schools.

To access the video of the press conference, you must register for free with VUCommodores.com’s all-Access video service, which also allows you to watch all home Commodore baseball games live.

In the early afternoon conference, Corbin did not address the status of then unsigned David Price, Dominic De la Osa and Jonathan White. All-American RF De la Osa and reserve OF White are returning to Vanderbilt for their Senior years. De la Osa will join fellow Rivals.com All-Americans Pedro Alvarez (3B) and Ryan Flaherty (SS) to form one of the most lethal middles of the lineup in baseball for the second year in a row. Alvarez and De la Osa currently rank #1 and #4 among returning players in career home runs.

Photo courtesy of Mike Rapp at VandySports.com.

D-Rays Set Record In Landing Big Fish

Mo Patton of the Tennessean is reporting that David Price will receive a record $11.25 Million package over six years, surpassing the “Prior” record of $10.4 Million over six years between Mark Prior and the Cubs. The son of two Vanderbilt alums, Prior also pitched in Nashville as a Freshman before transferring to USC for the remainder of his NCAA career.

Price will be introduced at a Friday press conference. Congratulations to the Devil Rays and David on coming together for this deal.
In other Signing Day news noted by Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com:
-Texas 3B Bradley Suttle signed with the Yankees
-NC State RHP Andrew Brackman signed with the Yankees
-Texas OF Kyle Russell will return to Austin for another year
-Texas A&M’s Blake Stouffer will return to school for a swan song
-Rice signee Carmen Angelini signed with the Yankees

Vandy’s Shea Robin picks up Sportsmanship Award

HYANNIS, Mass. – Strong-armed catcher Shea Robin (Vanderbilt) has joined six other Hyannis Mets alumni as a winner of the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Daniel J. Silva Sportsmanship Award.

The Vanderbilt junior enjoyed a solid first season in the CCBL, appearing in 29 games as catcher for the Mets. He batted .229 with a home run and eight RBI. Robin’s performance both on and off the field made a strong, positive impression on those around him as his character and selfless attitude demonstrated the true definition of a student-athlete at his best.

Robin’s selection continues what is becoming a tradition – selecting a catcher as recipient of the Silva award.

Last year’s winner, Brewster second baseman Matt LaPorta (Florida), was actually a catcher in high school and early in his college career. He wound up being chosen by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the 2007 MLB draft as a first baseman. Wareham catcher Joel Collins (South Alabama) was the award winner in 2005, following two other Hyannis catchers, Chris Robinson (Illinois) in 2004 and Richard Mercado (Arizona) in 2003. The position requires extreme concentration, discipline and leadership qualities and demands strong communication skills.

Other Hyannis Mets who have won the Silva award are Curtis Sapp (North Carolina State), 1999; Will Vespe (Miami), 1988; Jim Howard (Siena), 1983, and Brick Smith (Wake Forest), co-winner in 1980.

Combined with his strong arm and willingness to pitch out, Robin has been an integral part of the Mets’ late-season surge. They came within a whisker of making the post-season playoffs, only to be upset by last-place Wareham on the next-to-last day of the regular season. Those who have watched Robin in action have been impressed. “Shea has a strong arm and he is not afraid to throw out at any time, particularly to first and third base” noted John Garner, CCBL director of public relations and broadcasting.

Robin’s ambitious approach to the position has been a reflection of his strong character. Standing 5-11, the Woodland, Tex., native has always been a well-rounded athlete. He has also earned awards for his academic achievements, including a spot on the SEC 2007 academic honor roll, as well as Vanderbilt’s 2007 dean’s list.

Robin’s .311 batting average during the 2007 college baseball season was an important component of Vanderbilt’s surprise win at the SEC championship last spring. His roommate at Vandy is fellow catcher Andrew Giobbi, who spent this summer with the Falmouth Commodores.

Robin helped Vanderbilt hold the No. 1 spot in the USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches’ Poll for nine straight weeks and was selected as catcher for the SEC All-Tourney team.

Ticketed for the starting catcher’s job as he returns for his third year at Vanderbilt, Robin, a converted outfielder, has displayed determination and a desire to constantly improve, resulting in a smooth transition to the position of catcher.

Robin previously spent his college summers competing with the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League. He has displayed a consistent batting average throughout his baseball career and has also been a reliable run-producer.

This summer, Robin’s sportsmanship has made a profound impact on those around him. “Shea is sociable and a hard worker,” says Mets General Manager John Howitt, “ He has many qualities you do not often see in someone his age.”

Robin has built strong relationships with teammates, coaches and umpires. He has displayed respectful conduct and a gracious attitude for the game of baseball while showing strong competitive spirit combined with good character — important attributes when being considered for this award.

Since 1973, the Daniel J. Silva Award has been one of the Cape League’s most prestigious honors. The league’s umpires are charged with the task of picking the winner. The umpires witness a player’s sportsmanship first-hand and are in a unique position to make the selection.

The award honors the memory of “Danny” Silva, the league’s first commissioner in the so-called “modern” era, and a former CCBL umpire-in-chief. Silva was posthumously inducted into the CCBL Hall of Fame in 2000.

Thanks to Joe Sherman and John Garner for the Cape Cod League information.

Corbin set to decide about Oregon

The College Baseball Blog is on top of this breaking news that Tim Corbin has, in fact, been heavily courted in the last week by the University of Oregon. Despite public denials, solid information but uncorroborated information indicates that Corbin has been offered the job and the opportunity to play with NIKE founder Phil Knight’s substantial checkbook. The offer almost certainly includes a massive paycheck, first-hand input on stadium construction with a budget of approximately $10 million and the veritable NIKE name. Furthermore, as Brett Hait of the Nashville City Paper notes, the departure of Chancellor Gordon Gee to Ohio State removed one of Corbin’s biggest supporters in the building of the Vanderbilt program into a national power. Nevertheless, Corbin has strong ties to the Vanderbilt community and advantages in place in Nashville. Among his closest friends is Basketball coach Kevin Stallings (whose son Jacob is believed to be the Commodores #1 recruiting target at Catcher). And Vice Chancellor and athletics czar David Williams remains the driving force behind improvements to Hawkins Field.Corbin has assembled a stellar and very well compensated assistant coaching staff led by recruiting coordinator Erik Bakich and former National Pitching Coach of the Year Derek Johnson. Corbin also values the ability to sell a globally elite education and a University endowment in excess of $3 billion that allows Vanderbilt to be among the most liberal universities in the nation for providing aid and grants to all students.

Corbin met with Vanderbilt officials Tuesday morning and is expected to withdraw his name or accept the job sometime in the coming days. In 2005 and 2006, Corbin was offered and turned down offers to take over Auburn and LSU’s programs after courtships. This past Spring, Corbin rebuffed interest from the University of Tennessee. Sources in the media (including Aaron Fitt of Baseball America and Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com) and in Nashville have indicated a belief that Corbin is more likely to remain a Commodore.

Draft Deadline: The new rules

When MLB changed it’s draft rules last October, there were two key points to note:

1) Teams that do not sign a top 2 Round pick will receive a comparable pick in the 2008 draft. If you fail to sign the 7th overall pick, you would receive pick 7A in 2008. For example, if Tampa fails to ink David Price and if Tampa finished last in the standings again, they would receive the first overall pick and then receive pick 1A (functionally, the second overall pick). This provides significant leverage by improving the team’s BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). A draftee is in the same spot as before, but it’s a little easier for the team to stick to slot guidelines knowing they would be forfeiting a whole lot less. Source and a list of the unsigned first rounders.

2) Everything must be done by midnight Wednesday. That means not just an agreement in principal. A signed agreement won’t even cut it unless the player has passed his physical. It’s hard to tell if a physical can be performed before a contract is signed, because all draft rules aren’t public, but which unsigned stars go in for a doctor’s visit tomorrow or Wednesday morning can probably be an indicator as to who’s close to closing their deal. Source.

Notable unsigned players as of yesterday include #1 Price (Tampa Bay), #2 Mike Moustakas (Kansas City Royals), #3 Josh Vitters (Chicago Cubs) and #5 Matt Weiters (Baltimore Orioles).

UPDATE: Yahoo Sports has written an article on this topic. It is available here.