Four members of the Vanderbilt baseball team were suspended prior to Sunday’s series finale against Texas A&M, leaving big questions for the team in a trying season.
The program announced it has suspended pitchers Drake Fellows and Zach King, outfielder Harrison Ray, and infielder Alonzo Jones indefinitely for “failing to meet team standards.” All but Jones are freshmen, but all had contributed in 2017.
Fellows, in particular, will be missed. The first-year player had developed into the team’s Sunday starter while going 3-0 as a starter in 2017. His 1.72 ERA ranks second among Vandy pitchers with at least 10 innings of work this spring.
Collin Snider earned his first ever start in his absence. He was tagged for three runs and six hits in just 3.2 innings in the Commodores’ loss.
King had made 11 appearances in 2017 and had developed into an important part of a shaky bullpen. Opponents are batting just .186 against him. Ray has shown flashes in his six starts for the team, and looked like the team’s top option in right field after back-to-back wins over the Aggies.
But the biggest blow may be Jones, who looked to be turning his season around after a prolonged sophomore slump. The 2016 Freshman All-American moved from second base to shortstop last week and showed off an improved bat after the switch. He was batting just .192 at the time of his suspension, but hit .285 with 35 RBI and 10 stolen bases last spring.
The turmoil comes smack dab in the middle of a trying year for the ‘Dores. Vanderbilt started the season as a top 10 team, but dropped non-conference series against Illinois-Chicago and Cal State-Northridge as the team failed to get a consistent effort on either side of the ball. While players like Jeren Kendall and Julian Infante have lived up to their considerable preseason hype, others — like Jones and preseason All-American Kyle Wright — have struggled.
Vandy appeared to get back on track after winning their first two games against A&M, but the sudden loss of four important pieces throws the team squarely into flux. Head coach Tim Corbin has proven time and again he can find a way to fix this team’s problems without compromising its integrity — but if he can’t right the ship soon, the Commodores’ chances of hosting an NCAA Regional are going to disappear.