The week before the Fourth of July was a big one for Vanderbilt's 2016 baseball recruits. A handful of future Commodores took part in the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars for the opportunity to represent their country on the Under-18 national team. When the rosters were trimmed to 28 players, three of Tim Corbin's recruits got to hang on to their red, white, and blue gear.
Vanderbilt commits Ian Anderson, J.J. Bleday, and Braxton Garrett all earned spots on the USA Baseball U-18 roster on Saturday. The three pitchers (Bleday also plays outfield) will now compete for a place on the team's final 20-man roster and a shot to play against the best athletes the world has to offer. The second round of cuts will happen after a four-day camp on August 16-19. If Anderson, Bleday, or Garrett make the team, they'll have the opportunity to represent their country in the 2015 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Nishinomiya, Japan.
That wasn't the only good news out of Cary, N.C. this week. Fangraphs broke down the top 15 high school performers at the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars on Thursday. Three future #VandyBoys made their list - more than any other school. That included Anderson, Garrett, and the guy who took the top spot in Fangraphs' rankings; Jason Groome. Here's what they had to say about the Commodores' potential first-round pick:
1. Jason Groome, LHP, IMG Academy (FL) | Commitment: Vanderbilt
Groome firmly established himself as an early 1-1 candidate at TOS, working 94-96 mph with a feel for pitching that goes well beyond his 16 years of age. At 6-foot-6, the ball comes out effortlessly from a clean arm action and mid-3/4 release with good downhill angle. He paired the heater with a 75-78 mph curveball that spun tightly in its 1-to-7 orbit with two-plane depth (you can’t miss it in the video, even through the double netting), mixing in a promising changeup with good arm speed. The scout section was atypically mum throughout his three-inning start, which concluded with six strikeouts as he threw 30 of his 48 pitches for strikes. With more physical strength coming and a chance for three plus pitches, Groome is as advanced as a 16-year-old pitcher can be and has no discernible ceiling with these tools at this age.
As usual, Tim Corbin has a dynamite class of young talent ready to carry the Vanderbilt banner back to the College World Series. His biggest problem will be convincing these young pitchers to play in Nashville rather than sign after being selected in the 2016 MLB Draft. He's been able to limit the damage that professional contracts have had on his 2015 class; only five of his recruits have signed with MLB clubs so far. All but one of those high-impact recruits negotiated contracts that were significantly higher than the slotted amount for the position where they were drafted.