Six Volunteers were taken in the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, the most for the program since 2006 when seven were chosen. Joining those six were five recruits who signed in the early signing period last fall. Christin Stewart was selected in the first round, the first Volunteer drafted in that round since 2009.
Bret Marks was the sole Volunteer senior drafted this season, which was not too surprising seeing he was the only one that really saw a lot of action this season. He was chosen in the 15th round by the New York Yankees 453rd overall. Marks spent two years in Knoxville after two seasons at Wallace State Community College in Alabama. He was 7-6 in his UT career, with a 3.46 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 91 innings pitched.
Christin Stewart was drafted 34th overall by the Detroit Tigers as a compensation pick for the Tigers losing Max Scherzer to the Nationals. Stewart is the first Vol drafted in the first round since Kentrail Davis in 2009, and the sixth in the last decade. Stewart is coming off of his second straight First Team All-SEC campaign. He hit .311 this past season with 47 RBI, 15 homers, and 39 runs. Stewart has started in all 104 games over the past two seasons. Stewart's recommended slot value (thanks to BaseballAmerica) is $1,795,100 so it is safe to say we will not see him on the Hill again.
Andrew Lee was drafted in the 11th round by the Washington Nationals, 344th overall. He put together an outstanding season both on the mound and at bat, which earned him a spot as one of the top 10 candidates for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year award. He hit .306 in 41 games with 9 home runs, 22 runs scored, and 31 RBIs. On the mound he recorded 9 saves with a 2.67 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.
Drake Owenby was chosen by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 12th round, 361st overall. In his three seasons pitching for the Vols Owenby is 6-10 with a 4.66 ERA and 7 saves. He led the team in saves his sophomore season before becoming a weekend starter this year.
A.J. Simcox was selected 430th overall in the 14th round by the Detroit Tigers. Simcox has been the Vols starter at shortstop these past three seasons, and started every game in the past two seasons. He hit .282 in his career in Knoxville with 36 stolen bases and 85 runs scored. As you'll see in the other news section below, his father was just rehired by Coach Serrano so there's a chance we might see him again.
Andy Cox was chosen in the 37th round by the Oakland Athletics, 1118th overall. In three seasons he is 10-6 with a 3.47 ERA and 164 strikeouts. Cox also recorded six saves in his 192 innings pitched.
Ke'Bryan Hayes was selected 32nd overall in the 1st round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was the 57th rated high school prospect in BaseballAmerica's Top 500. There's no way we see him in Knoxville though, and hopefully he has an outstanding professional career. Hayes' recommended slot value is $1,855,000.
Chris Betts was chosen in the 2nd round by the Tampa Bay Rays, 52nd overall. He was the 28th rated high school prospect by BaseballAmerica. and has already announced he is going pro with his recommended slot value being $1,160,500.
Trey Cabbage was chosen 110th overall in the 4th round by the Minnesota Twins. The third baseman who graduated from Grainger High School was the 112th rated BaseballAmerica high school prospect. His recommended slot value is $517,900.
Garrett Davila was also chosen in the 4th round, the 129th overall pick by Kansas City. He was the 175th rated high school prospect by BaseballAmerica. He rounds out the players with a recommended slot value over 150k at $431,100.
Bryant Harris was chosen 1150th overall in the 38th round by the Detroit Tigers. He was Perfect Game's 135th rated recruit when he signed last fall.
Now we come to the biggest question we have after the draft.... Who we will see back in Knoxville? According to an interview Dave Serrano had with the Sports Animal last week he feels a large portion of the juniors will return to the team after their individual meetings prior to the draft.
I'm not so sure I agree with him now that we see where everyone landed in the draft. I feel like Cox will probably return after his low draft selection (which surprised me). Simcox has a chance to stay and play under his father, but I would not bet on him, Owenby, or Lee returning. Out of the five signees drafted, Harris is the only one that I would guess will end up in Knoxville.
We'll have to see in the coming weeks what they decide to do. If a few of the juniors do decide to return Tennessee will be in much better shape for next season.
Other Baseball News
Associate Head Coach Greg Bergeron left the program around two weeks ago to "pursue other baseball opportunities." It was later mentioned by Dave Serrano that Bergeron left because his goal was to become a head coach and he is working towards that. Bergeron had been with Tennessee baseball for the past four years and an assistant under Serrano for the past eleven. Prior to that he played at Cerritos College under Serrano. To fill the gap left by the departure Dave Serrano announced the hiring of former long-time Tennessee assistant Larry Simcox.
Simcox, the father of current shortstop AJ Simcox, coached under Rod Delmonico for the Vols from 1991 to 2007. The elder Simcox and Serrano were both assistant coaches for the 1995 Tennessee team that made the College World Series. Simcox was hired as the hitting coach, a place where the Vols struggled at times this season. His first tenure in Knoxville saw some of the greatest players to ever wear the orange and white such as Todd Helton, Chris Burke, and Chase Headley.
Players Leaving the Team
The draft isn't the only reason players won't return to Knoxville. Three additional players will not be back next season according to Serrano. Andrew Plunkett is heading to Wallace State CC. Nathaniel Maggio will transfer to another program. David Houser was wanting to go pro but was not selected in the draft. He'll either sign as a free agent or transfer to another program.