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Commodores on the Farm: A Look at Vanderbilt's Alumni in the Minor Leagues

If Tony Kemp keeps playing like this, the Houston Astros will have no choice but to call him up. Behind him, former Vanderbilt players like Tyler Beede, Taylor Hill, and Drew Hayes are making waves in the minors.

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Tim Corbin's era of success hasn't just had an impact in Nashville - it's been felt in Detroit, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and everywhere else Vanderbilt Baseball alumni call home. Players like David Price, Sonny Gray, and Pedro Alvarez have helped carry the Commodore mantle into the major leagues, but they'll soon have some reinforcements. Corbin's veterans have been a staple of recent MLB Drafts and a handful of young 'Dores are now turning heads as they shoot up top prospect lists and make scouts' short lists of potential call-ups.

Today begins our regular review of Vanderbilt alumni in the minors. We'll take a closer look at four former Commodores who are making moves through the lower levels of professional baseball - starting with one of the most beloved players to ever bat leadoff at Hawkins Field. Tony Kemp and Tyler Beede both earned a huge honor this week when they were chosen to participate in the Futures Game during the All-Star break. A quick look at how they've spent their summers shows why.

Tony Kemp

2015 stats (AA/AAA ball): .342 AVG/.429 OBP/.835 OPS, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 50 R, 21 SB in 31 attempts

It's become abundantly clear that Kemp will be he next #VandyBoy to make his major league debut - and it could be only a few weeks away. A torrid 50-game run in AA earned the former SEC Player of the Year a promotion to Houston's AAA team, and the jump in competition hasn't done much to slow Kemp's meteoric rise. He's batting .303 with the Fresno Grizzlies even after a 3-24 slump in his past six games. He's stuck out only five times in 19 games in his new home.

Kemp's path to the majors at second base is blocked by Houston All-Star Jose Altuve. No matter; Tony can find his way in the outfield if that's where the Astros need him.

Tyler Beede

2015 stats (Advanced A/AA): 3-4, 3.09 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 50:18 K:BB ratio in 75.2 innings

Beede has had an up-and-down year since getting the call up to AA ball, where control issues have limited his effectiveness after an impressive debut. He broke out with seven shutout innings in his first start with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, but he's allowed more than a hit per inning and six walks to only nine strikeouts in his last three appearances. The good news is that hitters are batting just .230 against him and that his movement is still as electric as it was in Nashville - but he'll have to limit his walks and deal with patient batters before earns another promotion.

Taylor Hill

2015 stats (AAA): 3-2, 4.19 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 33:12 K:BB ratio in 62.1 innings

Hill hasn't been as effective in the minors in 2015 as he was in 2014, but his composure on the mound helped earn him a return trip to Washington for a three-week stay in June. The former Sunday starter made six appearances for the Nationals and put together a 3.75 ERA over 12 innings of relief. However, batters were able to hit .304 against him and he allowed an average of 1.5 baserunners per inning pitched.

He'll use his time in Syracuse to sharpen the location of his breaking pitches. Hill has never been an overpowering pitcher, but he's the kind of junkball-floating hurler that would have given this 2015 Commodore team fits. He has been solid, if unspectacular, in his first two starts since rejoining the Chiefs. Expect him to return to Washington if the Nationals get pinched by injury problems in their bullpen.

Drew Hayes

2015 stats (AA/AAA): 3-1, 2.83 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 36:18 K:BB ratio in 35 innings

Hayes is the elder statesman of this list after grinding through six seasons of minor league baseball in the Cincinnati Reds system. The 2010 draftee has worked hard to sharpen his control and earn his first taste of AAA action this summer. He'll have some sage guidance while he works in Kentucky. He's currently teammates with former Commodore Matt Buschmann.

Hayes has been a boom-or-bust reliever for Louisville. He's striking out more than a batter per inning but he's also issued plenty of walks. The veteran has been able to keep those baserunners from scoring and justify his long-awaited promotion, but he'll have to cut out the free passes if he wants to earn a locker in Cincinnati.