*Series Note: I will do baseball player report cards in the order of their number (from lowest, #2 Vaz, to highest, #99 Gonzo) over the next few months. Did I agree to this to mess with Tom for never finishing the basketball report cards? Yes. Did I expect him to then finish said basketball report cards, thus dooming me to do 43 of these? Also yes. Am I doing this because I suspect I will need to continually remind myself that baseball exists and will return during Vanderbilt feetball season? You make the call!
#2 LF/UTIL Javier “Cloney Kemp” Vaz
.238/.396/.286 with 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, and 5-5 Stolen Bases in 23 games played (42 at bats).
Cloney Kemp was a revelation in the postseason, as he contributed stellar LF defense, showed the potential to be a top of the order bat, and was a terror on the base-paths. Many, yours truly included, thought the LSU-Eunice JuCo Transfer might win the second base job in the beginning of the season, but that was not to be. Though clearly talented, Vaz struggled to find playing time throughout most of the 2021 season.
In fact, it wasn’t until May 28th, in a SEC Tournament game against Ole Piss, that Vaz was allowed to come to the plate more than once in a game. He would go 1-2 with a 2B and a run scored (of course, it would be the only run we would score in that 1-4 loss).
His best game of the year was the first Super Regional game against East Carolina, where he went 2-3 with a 2B and an RBI against one of the best pitchers we faced all year—Gavin Williams. He was instrumental in that 2-0 Ace vs. Ace win.
Once Corbs went to him in the Regionals against Atlanta, Vaz made sure he stayed in the lineup. He is potentially a second lead-off hitter, excellent base runner, and Tony Kemp style Swiss Army Knife Utility Man in the field. I don’t care where he plays on defense in 2022, but he should absolutely be in the lineup. He more than earned that with his postseason run.