Jason Delay, who made great strides behind the plate last year, and was able to wrest more playing time from fellow rising senior catcher Karl Ellison (42 games started to 21 for Hot Karl), has spurned a six figure contract offer from the San Fransisco Gigantes, and will return for another shot at a title (and a chance to complete his Vanderbilt degree in Economics) his senior year.
Catcher Jason Delay officially returning to Vanderbilt for his senior season. 11th rounder doesn't sign with Giants https://t.co/5A1pT2DKAE— Max Herz (@MaxHerzTalks) July 15, 2016
Delay, known as "The Rain" around these parts, had largely improved upon blocking pitches in the dirt, as passed balls had been his one achilles heel in the first two seasons of his tenure as a back stop for Coach Corbin's Diamond Dores. He has the stronger bat of the catching duo, batting .248/.296/.336 with 10 2Bs, 1 HR, and 31 RBI his junior year (for comparison, Ellison hit .213/.270/.388 with 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, and 11 RBI this past season).
There is still room for improvement in the batters box, however, as another year of conditioning and BP could elevate both his average and power numbers. Delay has a good, compact stroke, but can be streaky at the plate.
Behind the dish, Delay only made 4 errors on the year, and gunned down approximately half of would be base stealers. Both numbers, while good, can be improved upon, as well. If he puts in the effort this off season in these areas that he did last year with regard to blocking pitches in the dirt, the decision to return for his senior year could be not just for another shot at a title, but a calculated bet on himself by the Economics major for the '17 MLB draft.
The other notable starter to return is Will Toffey (25th round - Baltimore Orioles), who was a draft eligible sophomore. Toffey had a bit of a down sophomore year, but has been tearing up the Cape Cod League this summer, and will be counted on at third base and in the middle of the lineup next season.
Outfielder J.J. Bleday (39th round - San Diego Padres) is the lone drafted Commodore commit to actually make it to campus this year, as the Marlins were able to sign 1st rounder Braxton Garrett and 3rd rounder Thomas Jones by the deadline. Bleday is expected to compete for a corner OF job right away.
For those who are crestfallen by the losses to our incoming freshman class, I would like to remind you that since the last Collective Bargaining Agreement changed the draft rules, few if any high school players drafted in the first 10 rounds went unsigned. This year set a record, with only two players drafted in the top 10 rounds not signing: supplemental 1st rounder LHP Nick Lodolo, chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates, will instead head to TCU, and 7th round RHP Tyler Buffett turned down the Houston Astros to return to Oklahoma State for his senior season.
Still, Vanderbilt has one of the top, if not the top incoming freshman classes, and with Toffey and Delay returning, is primed for another trip to Omaha in '17.