Two of the best college baseball players in America will call Nashville home next season. If Jeren Kendall and Kyle Wright live up to their lofty expectations, the duo could wind up as the top two selections in the 2017 MLB Draft.
The Commodore juniors were named two of the NCAA’s hottest prospects in advance of next year’s amateur draft by MLB.com. The website pegged Kendall, a do-everything right fielder, as its No. 2 overall prospect and top collegiate player. Wright, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher, came in at No. 5.
The two will lead a Vanderbilt team still working to put a recent tragedy behind it. Commodore freshman Donny Everett passed away on June 2, one night before the team was set to host the Nashville Regional in the 2016 NCAA Baseball Tournament. Vanderbilt had been a borderline top 10 team to that point, but struggled to recover under the emotional weight of Everett’s passing.
Kendall and Wright can honor their teammate’s memory by guiding the ‘Dores back to Omaha in 2017. Vanderbilt is loaded with talent behind its two headliners thanks to the presence of veterans like Will Toffey, Alonzo Jones, Julian Infante, and Matt Ruppenthal. Add in elite high school prospects like Drake Fellows, J.J. Bleday, and Ty Duvall and you’ve got the makings of another College World Series team.
MLB.com also unveiled its first mock draft (top 10 only) of the season, and its destinations for Kendall and Wright reflect the site’s evaluation of the pair. Both Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo have Kendall selected No. 2 overall and landing with the Cincinnati Reds. Wright, they predict, will either end up as Tampa’s No. 4 overall pick or Atlanta’s No. 5.
Kendall and Wright were the only Vanderbilt players represented on either list, but the prospect rankings only ran 50 players deep and was limited to prospects who will be draft-eligible in 2017 — keeping players like Infante, Jones, and Patrick Raby from making the cut.
The Commodores’ 2017 season kicks off in a little over two months when the team heads west for a February 17 showdown with San Diego.