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MLB Draft Preview: The Commits

Which commits will make it to Hawkins Field, and which ones are likely to sign contracts with MLB teams, thus making us think, "What if?"

Hmm... I wonder...
Hmm... I wonder...
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, I previewed which upperclassmen should expect to be drafted.  Today, I look at the incoming class of Freshmen currently committed to Vanderbilt.  Being a powerhouse in college baseball is a double-edged sword: on the plus side, some of the top talent in the country lines up to commit to play for you; on the minus side, some of them prove so talented that MLB teams back up the Brinks truck to get them to forego their college commitment.  C'est la vie.

In this article, I attempt my best educated guess about who will be picked highly enough, and see so much money thrown in their faces, that they might never step foot on campus except to visit.

*Note: This is the most up to date list of commits listed by Perfect Game.  They have been known to leave people off in the past, or leave someone on their list who has since decommitted and committed to another school.  Take that as it is.

The First Rounders

LHP Jason Groome

6'6" 180lbs Barnegat, NJ

BA Mock Draft: 1-14 to the Cleveland Indians

BA Top 500: #3

Coming into this year, the only guy I thought was destined to be a commit in name only was the big lefty from the Jersey Shore.  He was the consensus #1 overall pick for a while there, and as a big lefty who throws around 95mph with a big league curve, I didn't lose too much sleep over losing him.  Then... this season happened.  The more the draft spotlight hit Groome, the more warts MLB teams uncovered.  Sure, I think it's mostly because HS LHPs who have gone at or near the top of the draft have a high bust rate, so scouts and teams went through a prolonged self-fulfilling prophecy this season, but whatever.  The point is that industry consensus went from Groome being 1-1 and demanding a record signing bonus to Groome being a bit of an immature primadonna with an entourage full of nothing but Dramas and Turtles.  How did it get this way?  Who's to say, but my suspicion is that scouts and teams spent a year overly scrutinizing the kid, looking for flaws, and if you look close enough, you'll find it.  I mean, think of it this way: if a cop followed you for 10 hours straight, you'd get pulled over, right?

Either way, this does at least nudge the door open slightly that we might end up with Groome on our roster next year.  If he slides out of the top 10, as is currently projected, he might decide to spend three years in Nashville proving he's mature and making every team regret passing on him.  We can hope, at least, right?

That said, many industry insiders believe that if Groome doesn't sign, he still won't go to Vanderbilt - he'll sign with a JuCo team and re-enter the 2017 draft.  If this happens, all the naysayers will have been right on the money.

Prediction: Taken in the top 10, holds out until the last minute, but signs for around $5 million.

LHP Braxton Garrett

6'3" 190lbs Florence, AL

BA Mock Draft: 1-7 to the Miami Marlins

BA Top 500: #10

The word to describe Garrett is "polished."  The Alabama lefty won't overpower anyone, but his 90-92mph fastball and all world curve are enough to keep most hitters on their toes.  More than anything, Garrett already knows how to pitch, and would compete for the Saturday starter spot at Vandy from day one.  However, his polish (he's the son of a coach) and lack of any known character flaw have him rocketing up the boards.  At this time last year, he was a fringe 2nd rounder... now, it wouldn't surprise any industry insider if he was the first HS pitcher taken.

Prediction: Taken in the top 10-15 picks; signs pretty quickly.

RHP Ian Anderson

6'3" 170lbs Rexford, NY.

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #12

In last year's draft, it would be impossible to separate Anderson from Vanderbilt freshman RHP Chandler Day.  In fact, Day was more polished.  Regardless, this draft class is pushing talents like Anderson a lot higher than they would normally be taken, and this is bad news for us.  However, he is asking for a big number, and his signability concerns might just work out in our favor.  Many teams have him high on their boards, but he might only be a play for teams like Philly, Cincinnati, and San Diego - who have large bonus pools and could be using the strategy of signing their first pick to a discount to hoard money for over-slot guys like Anderson.  We shall see.

Prediction: Passed over in the first round, but taken by the Phillies at 2-1, and given top 15 slot money.

The 2nd-5th Rounder

OF Thomas Jones

6'3" 190lbs Greenville, SC

BA Top 500: #58

Thomas Jones's draft story is likely to be similar to another Vanderbilt player with the same surname.  Like Alonzo Jones, Thomas Jones is fast and uber-athletic.  If he makes his way to Hawkins Field, Thomas Jones will have a hell of a shot at snagging one of the two open corner OF positions, and be the odds on favorite to man CF when Jeren Kendall gets drafted highly this time next year.  If he's smart, he sees the rare chance at immediate playing time on an otherwise stacked team and sets his number so high, he's not drafted until after the 10th round.  However, I can't say I'd turn down $500k+, which is likely to be about what he's offered.  This one will likely go down to the wire in July.

Prediction: Passed over in the first 10 rounds due to signability concerns.  Drafted in rounds 11-20, and offered life changing money.  It's a coin flip as to whether he ever makes it to campus.

Likely Selected Later than Round 5

OF Kobie Taylor

6'0" 175lbs Portsmouth, NH

BA Top 500: #259

LHP Jackson Gillis

6'3" 225lbs Wilmington, MA

BA Top 500: #267

*Note: Sent a letter to all teams requesting not to be drafted, as he will honor his commitment to Vanderbilt.  Huzzah!

RHP Drake Fellows

6'5" 205lbs Plainfield, IL

BA Top 500: #281

LHP Zachary King

6'6" 185lbs Spring Hill, TN

BA Top 500: #412

C Tyler Duvall

5'11" 190lbs Lebanon, OH

BA Top 500: #472

Not Ranked in BA's Top 500 Prospects

OF JJ Bleday

6'3" 205lbs Panama City Beach, FL

RHP Joe Fulcher

6'2" 185lbs Munford, TN

RHP Reid Schaller

6'3" 210lbs Lebanon, IN

SS Harrison Ray

5'11" 188lbs Longwood, FL

3B Alex Brewer

6'0" 190lbs Lewisburg, TN

LHP Michael Sandborn

6'1" 190lbs Tampa, FL