Baseball Preview: Stanford

Feb. 15, 2012

Corbin Video | Ziomek Video | Beede Video | Game Notes

The Commodores took Vanderbilt to new heights in 2011, taking the school to its first-ever College World Series in June and matching the school record with 54 wins. On the way to Omaha, the Dores captured a share of the Southeastern Conference title, hosted and won a Regional and for the first time hosted and won a Super Regional sweeping Oregon State. Vanderbilt established a new SEC record when 12 Commodores were selected in the MLB draft, including two first round picks in Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin. The Dores lost only two series all season (South Carolina, Florida) and dropped back-to-back games only once (Florida, Georgia). VU finished the season 29-1 against teams outside the SEC with the lone loss coming to Stanford. From last year's squad 13 letterwinners are gone, including eight pitchers. Four players earned All-American honors (Gray, Garvin, Aaron Westlake and Jason Esposito) and four freshmen earned Freshman All-American accolades (Tony Kemp, Conrad Gregor, Kevin Ziomek and T.J. Pecoraro).

Friday, February 17
LHP Kevin Ziomek (0-0, -.--) vs. RHP Mark Appel (0-0, -.--)

Saturday, February 18
RHP Tyler Beede (0-0, -.--) vs. LHP Brett Mooneyham (0-0, -.--)

Sunday, February 19
LHP Sam Selman (0-0, -.--) vs. RHP Dean McArdle (0-0, -.--)/RHP A.J. Vanegas (0-0, -.--)

The Vanderbilt lineup will feature a few new faces in 2012 to go along with several familiar names. The Commodores must replace starters at first base (All-American Aaron Westlake), third base (All-American Jason Esposito) and catcher (Curt Casali). However, six starters from last season's team return, including an intact outfield with Tony Kemp, Connor Harrell and Mike Yastrzemski. Joining the three outfielders as returning starters are middle infielders Anthony Gomez and Riley Reynolds and designated hitter/first baseman Conrad Gregor. The mound will feature several new faces with the Dores' 2011 rotation (Sonny Gray, Grayson Garvin and Taylor Hill) and back-end of the bullpen (Navery Moore, Mark Lamm and Corey Williams) signing professional contracts last summer. Kevin Ziomek, Sam Selman, Tyler Beede and Drew VerHagen will compete for the weekend rotation while Will Clinard, Philip Pfeifer and Brian Miller will start the season at the back of the bullpen. The team's pitching will be bolstered by the scheduled return of T.J. Pecoraro from arm surgery later this spring.

The Commodores 13-man class was ranked No. 1 by Baseball America last fall. The class features 12 freshmen and one junior college transfer. Right-hander Tyler Beede headlines the class as the only first round pick in last summer's MLB draft to not sign a professional contract turning down Toronto. Catcher Chris Harvey is also a key component of the class's top ranking, graduating from high school after his junior year to join the Commodores in the fall. The class consists of six position players (Harvey, Connor Castellano, Will Cooper, Vince Conde, John Norwood and Zander Wiel) and seven pitchers (Beede, Adam Ravenelle, Philip Pfeifer, Nevin Wilson, Brian Miller, Jared Miller and Drew VerHagen). The top-ranked class is the second for Vanderbilt with the first coming in 2005, a class that included eventual first round picks Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty.

Vanderbilt travels west for the team's annual opening weekend trip with a visit to Stanford. The Commodores took two-of-three from the Cardinal last season at Hawkins Field, winning on Friday and Saturday before a 5-2 loss on Sunday. The last time VU visited Palo Alto was in 2009 when the Dores dropped two-of-three on opening weekend. Vandy is 3-4 all-time against Stanford in a series dating back to the first meeting in 1973.

Four freshmen Commodores garnered All-American honors last season with pitchers Kevin Ziomek and T.J. Pecoraro, outfielder Tony Kemp and designated hitter Conrad Gregor earning the distinction. The quartet, now sophomores, joins senior Riley Reynolds and junior Anthony Gomez as former Freshman All-Americans on the Dores' roster.

After a stellar freshman campaign last spring that netted him the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year award Tony Kemp opens his sophomore season as a preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball. Kemp was also a first team All-SEC performer last season after hitting .329 with a team-best seven triples, the most by a Commodore since Ryan Klosterman set the school record with eight in 2004.

Anytime a team sets a draft record (VU set the SEC record with 12 players selected in 2011) there will be lots of experience and stats to replace the next season. Here are just a few things the Dores must replace this season: hitting stats - 36 home runs (71% of team's 2011 total), 220 RBI (53%), 70 doubles (54%), 173 runs (38%) pitching stats - 55 starts (83%), 42 wins (78%), 14 saves (78%), 450 innings pitched (77%), 425 strikeouts (75%).

The Vanderbilt baseball program is nearing 2000 wins in the program's 114th season of baseball. The Commodores enter the 2012 season with an all-time record of 1992-1601-3. VU will become the seventh current SEC team to reach the 2000-win mark as a program joining Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

Head Coach Tim Corbin enters the 2012 season with 376 wins as the Commodores' skipper. His 376 wins at Vanderbilt are the third-most of any active SEC coach at one school trailing only Ole Miss' Mike Bianco, who has led the Rebels for the past 11 seasons and has 434 wins at Ole Miss, and South Carolina's Ray Tanner, who has 689 wins in 15 seasons with the Gamecocks. The Vandy coach needs only 18 wins to reach 500 for his career.

Tony Kemp enters his sophomore season having reached base in 30 straight games. The streak started at South Carolina April 16 with a five-hit performance. Connor Harrell also enters the season on a streak of 11 straight games having reached base.

Vanderbilt is scheduled to play at least seven games on television this season as part of the SEC's 66-game TV schedule. The Commodores' first TV game will come at Florida on Saturday, March 17 on CSS. Two-time defending national champion South Carolina visits Hawkins Field at the end of March with CSS airing Saturday's (March 31) game. The Dores host Auburn on Friday, April 13 on CSS. Saturday's (May 5) tilt at Tennessee will also be broadcast on CSS. The following weekend the Commodores travel to LSU to take on the Tigers with two games televised by Fox Sports Network. Vanderbilt's final regular season series is at home against Ole Miss with Thursday night's game televised by ESPNU as part of the network's national weekly SEC baseball package.

Senior catcher Drew Fann earned the nod as the Vanderbilt male representative for the Southeastern Conference Brad David Community Service post-graduate scholarship. Fann is a two-time member of the SEC All-Community Service team and received his undergraduate degree in Human and Organizational Development last spring.

Vanderbilt has produced more professional players over the last eight seasons than any other school in the Southeastern Conference; including a nation-best eight first round picks. The Commodores set a new SEC mark with 12 players selected in June's MLB draft last summer. During the offseason several players visit Hawkins Field to work out. Big leaguers David Price, Mike Minor, Mike Baxter and Pedro Alvarez all worked out at The Hawk this past offseason alongside numerous former Dores playing in the minor leagues.

The Southeastern Conference coaches have picked Vanderbilt to finish fourth in the SEC East Division this season. The Commodores are slated behind Florida, South Carolina and Georgia in the division and ahead of Kentucky and Tennessee. The Gators were voted to win the league while Arkansas was selected to win the West Division. The Razorbacks were picked ahead of LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn.

The Commodores enter the season with 33 players on the roster, including 22 underclassmen. The roster consists of 12 freshmen, 11 sophomores, eight juniors and two seniors. Riley Reynolds and Drew Fann are the only two seniors on the squad with Fann being in his fifth year at Vanderbilt. Two juniors, Will Clinard and Andrew Harris, are in their fourth season at VU after redshirting their first season on campus.

Vanderbilt had a busy fall after the team returned to campus. Coach Corbin was the 12th Titan raising the fans' flag at the Tennessee Titans' game against the Indianapolis Colts. The team hosted a two-game series with Cal State Fullerton in October on the Dores' final weekend of fall ball. The next weekend the 2011 team was honored at a football game and received their SEC Champion/College World Series rings.



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