#1 Vanderbilt Baseball Preview

Vanderbilt Commodores

Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
Vanderbilt College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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The Vanderbilt Commodores head into the 2013 season with a nice array of talent at the plate and on the mound. The 2013 season has a lot of expectations as the 2012 season ended in a hard-fought battle in the Raleigh Regional against North Carolina State in the Regional Championship game. Head Coach Tim Corbin has steadily been building this powerhouse in Nashville and it appears that this year’s version of Vanderbilt baseball will have the best opportunity to bring home a national championship to its rabid baseball fan base.

2012: 35-28, 16-14 SEC
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tim Corbin

Field Players:
This was a young, offensive team in 2012 that got better as the season progressed and with a year of experience under their belt, should be ready to roll from the opening weekend in 2013 against Long Beach State.  Connor Harrell is the leading returning homerun hitter with seven, even though his average was .241. Tony Kemp provides the speed for the Commodores as he had 21 stolen bases in 2012. The key for Kemp will be to get his on-base percentage up well over. 400 and then he should be a threat to steal 30 or 40 bases. Conrad Gregor hit. 328, drove in 35 runs, and stole ten bases. If Gregor can crank up his power numbers, then this Vanderbilt offense for will be very dangerous.

Pitching was a definite weakness in 2012 for the Commodores as they had an overall earned run average of 4.05. That has to improve in 2013 for this team to make it to Omaha. The weekend rotation returns in full for Vanderbilt in 2013.  T.J. Pecoraro came back from Tommy John surgery at the top of the rotation in 2012 and should be the Friday night starter in 2013.  Kevin Ziomek is the leading returner in regards to wins with five in 2012.  Ziomek is going to have to be better within the strike zone in 2013 as he allowed 79 hits in 79.1 innings of work along with 39 walks. Tyler Beede is also looking to bounce back from a tough 2012 as he was 1-5, with a 4.52 earned run average. The bullpen will be solidified by the return of Brian Miller who had five saves in 2012. There should be plenty of competition in the bullpen with a lot of talented freshmen in the mix.

Who to Watch:
Carson Fulmer is a right handed pitcher and was a 15th round draft selection by the Boston Red Sox. Fulmer brings a fastball in the mid-90s along with excellent control. Fulmer should be in the mix immediately to strengthen the bullpen.  Rhett Wiseman projects as an outfielder who should be able to compete for playing time right away. Wiseman was a 25th round selection of the Chicago Cubs and brings a dynamic mix of speed and power to the Commodore lineup. Other potential freshman impact players include Walker Buehler, a 14th round draft selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He is a left handed pitcher that has a devastating breaking ball.  Dansby Swanson should provide some versatility within the infield and provide a good balance of offense and strong defensive play for Vanderbilt.  Luke Stephenson is another hard throwing right hander that was a 2012 Rawlings 3rd team All-American and could be in the mix for a midweek pitching spot or bullpen role as well.

Final Projection:
The non-conference schedule early on should allow for a fast start to the season. The only test before conference play should be out in Eugene, Oregon the weekend of March 8-10 in a return series against the Oregon Ducks. The Commodores were swept at Hawkins Field in 2012 and will be looking for redemption. The conference schedule is highlighted by showdowns at home against Florida, and tough road battles at Ole Miss, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Vanderbilt does get to miss Arkansas in the regular season this year so that is a scheduling break. The season is going to boil down to the ability to stay consistent offensively and get growth from a very talented weekend pitching rotation that needs to bounce back from a tough 2012 season. Overall, this team has the balance and depth to get back to Omaha and be a serious threat for the national championship.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Tony Kemp, IF, 241
Hits: Conrad Gregor, IF, 75
Home Runs: Connor Harrell, OF, 7
RBIs: Mike Yastrzemski, OF, 41
Runs: Tony Kemp, IF, 55
Stolen Bases: Tony Kemp, IF, 21

Wins: Kevin Ziomek, P, 5
Innings Pitched: Kevin Ziomek, P, 79.1
Strikeouts: Kevin Ziomek, P, 79
Saves: Brian Miller, P, 5

Madness 2013 MLB Draft Rankings:
#33 Conrad Gregor
#51 Kevin Ziomek

Madness 2013 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#47 Rhett Wiseman
#53 Carson Fulmer
#74 Walker Buehler


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