Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin can check off another item from his bucket list: recruit the National Player of the Year.
Tullahoma High School's Justus Sheffield, a Vandy commit for 2014, was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year on Wednesday morning. The overpowering left-handed pitcher was presented the award by former North Carolina PotY and World Series champion Trot Nixon. He used his dominating three-pitch arsenal to run out to a 10-0 record with a 0.34 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 61.2 innings.
Sheffield will be one player who keeps Commodore fans split between Super Regional coverage and the MLB Amateur Draft on Thursday. He'll join flamethrowing righty Touki Toussaint as Commodore commits who are likely to hear their names called early in this week's proceedings. While Toussaint has been linked to picks in the top half of the first round, Sheffield has lagged behind at the fringes of the draft's opening night. Neither one will be especially easy to lure to Nashville, but Tim Corbin has proven that he can enhance a pitcher's stock with three years at Hawkins Field. Tyler Beede's rise from 21st overall pick in 2011 to projected top 10 selection in 2014 is a testament to that.
If Sheffield comes to Nashville, he'll take the mound in a familiar position. He threw a 17-strikeout no-hitter at Hawkins Field this April...in just seven innings of work. While mowing down high school kids is a world away from doing the same against SEC standouts, his polished game promises to translate quickly to the NCAA.
Sheffield and Toussaint already had the skills to make the rest of the SEC nervous. Now, Sheffield's work on the mound and at the plate has earned him national recognition. It would be a minor coup for Corbin to keep both of these All-American recruits if they're each selected in the first round of the MLB Draft on Thursday, but there's very few things that are impossible for Corbin at Vandy.