Last week, six Commodores heard their names called in the 40-round MLB Draft. These players, all juniors according to the NCAA, will have the option between taking a signing bonus and stepping up to the professional ranks or hanging back in Nashville to build their stock for 2013. The dilemma is clear; will they take the guaranteed money now, or will they gamble on improving their draft statuses in the future in hopes of a bigger paycheck and a stronger developmental path for the future?
The Commodores had 12 players drafted last season, and only one - Will Clinard - opted to return to Hawkins Field for an extra year. Those same tough decisions will hit all six Vanderbilt draftees from now until July 13th, the final day for clubs to sign draft picks. So who will stay and who will go? Here are some educated guesses as to the future of our potentially departing #VandyBoys.
1. Sam Selman - 2nd round (66th overall) - Kansas City Royals
Chance of returning: Slim. Selman was a bit of a surprise at the 66th pick. His strong finish to 2012 likely lifted his stock a few rounds and gave the Royals the power arm that they were looking for on day two. "Crazy Legs" didn't log too much time as a SEC starter for Vanderbilt, but his breakout year and newfound control made him a commodity. He's still a young and volatile pitcher, and its possible that his stock may never be higher after shutting out Florida in the SEC Tournament this year.
Selman would be fiscally sound to take the money, but there's also the lure of being Vandy's ace in 2013 pulling him back towards Nashville. Even so, he'd have to compete for recognition alongside a pair of potentially elite starters (Tyler Beede, T.J. Pecoraro) and would have to deal with teams that now have a more complete scouting report on his abilities and tendencies. The big Texan could return, but it's tough to see him passing up what will likely be a fat contract and some high expectations with the Royals. Unless negotiations hit a snag, it's probably fine for Corbin and his crew to put Selman's locker up on the market.
2. Drew VerHagen - 4th round (154th overall) - Detroit Tigers
Chance of returning: Slim. VerHagen bounced around the Commodore rotation but still ended up as a high level pick thanks to his size and power. The junior college transfer did everything from starting weekend games to closing in a season where he became the team's Swiss Army Knife. He was rewarded for his first solid season at the NCAA's highest level with a fourth round selection by the Tigers, who liked his velocity and versatility.
If he stayed in Nashville, he'd likely have to compete for a spot in the weekend rotation against players like Kevin Ziomek and the brothers Miller (not actually brothers). He's also working on his third collegiate team (Oklahoma, Navorro JC, Vandy) in four years and has already had to deal with an injury scare (Tommy John surgery in 2011). I'd expect VerHagen to jump at the opportunity put in front of him rather than risk losing his status in a year filled with unknowns.
3. Anthony Gomez - 6th round (197th overall) - Miami Marlins
Chance of returning:
50/50. (UPDATE: Unlikely. Coach Tim Corbin says that Gomez expects to sign with the Marlins before the deadline). It's tough to imagine any one player who embodies the Commodore spirit better than Gomez. The rangy shortstop put together his best season in black and gold with a team-leading .353 average and 57 RBI. There was a void of leadership amongst this team's offense when Jason Esposito, Curt Casali, and Aaron Westlake all left after last year's CWS run, but Gomez was there to fill that role and lead this team back from the dead.
Gomez had already announced his plans to return to his summer league team before the draft, but that was before learning of his newfound opportunity with the Marlins. After three years of similar play (seriously, GoGo has been this good since coming to Nashville), it's tough to imagine scouts learning much more about him. He could stand to add more power to his game, but he may already be at his limit size-wise after three years in the SEC. Another all-conference year could elevate him to the fourth round or so in 2013, but if he returns to Vandy it would be to boost his team rather than his stock.
4. Will Clinard - 19th round (604th overall) - Detroit Tigers
Chance of returning: None. Clinard was a redshirt junior this season, which made him eligible for last season's draft. He was picked 928th by the Twins but opted to return to Vandy for a fourth year. He was the team's veteran presence out of the bullpen but still struggled, posting a 4.83 ERA. His twitter has indicated that he's played his last games at the Hawk, and it's unlikely that we'll see him back on the mound in Nashville next year.
5. Mike Yastrzemski - 30th round (911th overall) - Seattle Mariners
Chance of returning: Strong. The Mariners were hoping for a lottery ticket with their late-round picks, and they may have gotten one with the most famously named Vandy player of all time. Yaz has continually shown a promising and well-rounded attack in both the field and at the plate, but he has yet to put together the breakout season that Commodore fans have been waiting for. He has the ability to be a much higher pick in 2013 with a solid senior season, and an improving lineup at the plate should serve to better protect him in the order.
He's already turned down being a late-round pick once before, and that was with his hometown Boston Red Sox back in 2009. I'd expect Yaz to stick around in an effort to lead this team back to Omaha.
6. Connor Harrell - 31st round (964th overall) - Detroit Tigers
Chance of returning: Strong. The Tigers continued to show their Vandy-love by picking up Harrell late on day three. "HD" had his standard streaky season, miring him in "prospect" status rather than graduating to full-fledged impact player in 2012. With Josh Holliday moving on to take the head coach position at Oklahoma State, the 'Dores will work to bring in a new hitting coach that can help with Harrell's Adam Dunn-like approach to mashing at the plate. If he can harness his power while cutting down on the strikeouts, he can increase his draft stock by 20 rounds or more. The wise play for him would be to continue to hone his craft in Nashville.