Vol baseball inks 14 in early signing period

by UT Sports Information on November 22, 2010

in tennessee vols baseball

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –The University of Tennessee baseball program and Head Coach Todd Raleigh announced the signing of 14 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent on Monday. Highlighting the class are eight players from the state of Tennessee.

“This is the biggest class I’ve ever been a part of,” UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. “It feels like we signed a football class, but we are really excited about it. It shows the hard work of (assistant coaches) Ash Lawson and Jason Beverlin. They did a tremendous job identifying talent to fit our needs and going after them. It’s not easy to sign one guy, let alone 14. The thing I am most excited about is the athleticism this class brings in and how we were able to address our needs for next year.”

The players hail from seven different states with 11 coming from the high school ranks and four currently attending junior colleges. In addition to the eight in-state players, the talented group also includes two from Georgia and one each from Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio and Virginia.

“We’ve talked about this since I got here, but recruiting in-state kids is very important,” Raleigh said. “It has to mean a lot to wear ‘Tennessee’ on the front of your jersey. It is important for us to take care of the homeland and I feel our coaches have done a tremendous job of really going after the best kids in the state since I’ve been here.”

One common trait among the majority of this year’s signees is the ability to play multiple sports. Of the 14 players, seven have played high school football, including four quarterbacks, and six have lettered in basketball. The group also includes a wrestler, a track star, a hockey player and a bowler.

“This is the most athletic class we’ve signed by far,” Raleigh said. “Almost every single one of these kids is a multi-sport player. We like that. We don’t just need baseball players, we need athletes and these kids have learned how to win. Everybody wants to win, but we want players who don’t like to lose. There is a big difference between those two things and these kids who play a lot of different sports get that. Quarterbacks are leaders, basketball players learn how to play together, wrestling shows toughness. I know I’ve already said this, but we have a lot of athleticism in this class.”


Name Pos. Ht. Wt. B/T Hometown (School)
Jared Allen OF 6-2 220 R/R Delano, Tenn. (Polk County HS)
Mookie Betts INF 5-9 160 R/R Nashville, Tenn. (Overton HS)
Samuel Davis RHP 6-0 190 R/R Manchester, Tenn. (Columbia State CC)
David Horne RHP/3B 6-4 220 R/R Columbia, Tenn. (Columbia Central HS)
Will Maddox INF 5-11 180 L/R Gainesville, Ga. (Gainesville HS)
Eric Martin RHP 6-2 190 R/R Cincinnati, Ohio (Turpin HS)
Drew Masingale RHP/OF 6-2 215 R/R Athens, Tenn. (McMinn County HS)
Logan Moore C/3B 6-3 200 L/R Loveland, Colo. (Northeastern JC)
Sal Romano RHP 6-4 220 L/R Southington, Conn. (Southington HS)
Jake Rowland OF 6-1 180 L/R Decatur, Tenn. (Meigs County HS)
Blake Thomas RHP 5-11 200 R/R Milledgeville, Ga. (Gordon College)
Joseph Vanderplas LHP 6-2 215 L/L Fairfax, Va. (Fairfax HS)
Parker Wormsley INF 6-0 170 R/R Knoxville, Tenn. (Webb School)
Brandon Zajac LHP 6-4 200 L/L Cleveland, Tenn. (Walker Valley HS)

Jared Allen, OF
Benton, Tenn. (Polk County HS)

A three-time all-district, all-region and all-state honoree, Allen guided Polk County High School to the 2010 District 5-AA and Region 3-AAA championships for the first time since 1986. He led the Chattanooga area in hitting last season with a .539 batting average to go along with 10 doubles, a triple, 16 home runs, 51 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. The 6-2 right-hander also went 8-1 on the mound for the Wildcats en route to being named the district player of the year for the second straight season. A standout on the gridiron at both quarterback and defensive back for Polk County, Allen has been tabbed to the Chattanooga Times Free Press “Best of the Preps” list in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He will serve as a representative from Tennessee at the 2010 POWER SHOWCASE International High School Home Run Derby to be held Dec. 27-30 in Phoenix, Ariz. Allen also considered Middle Tennessee State and Belmont before committing to the Vols early in the recruiting process.

Coach Raleigh on Allen: “Jared has tremendous bat speed and tremendous power, probably the most of any player in Tennessee that I have seen. He is also a great athlete who plays the game the right way.”

Jared Allen on signing with Tennessee: “It means a lot to me personally to be joining the Tennessee baseball program. I am very excited and can’t wait to get started. I only live about an hour away from Knoxville and growing up as a little kid, I have always wanted to play at UT.”

Markus “Mookie” Betts, INF/OF
Nashville, Tenn. (Overton HS)

A multi-dimensional player, Betts was one of the most highly regarded prospects in the state of Tennessee. He led Overton High School in Nashville to the Class AAA sectionals last season and earned All-Midstate First Team honors from The Tennessean after hitting .459 with six home runs, 37 RBIs, 24 stolen bases and 72 runs scored. Betts also was named the state’s bowler of the year and claimed third-team honors in basketball from the same publication. The nephew of 14-year MLB veteran Terry Shumpert, Betts also considered Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and UAB before making his decision to join the UT program.

Coach Raleigh on Betts: “Mookie is probably one of the best players in the state of Tennessee and probably the country. He is multi-dimensional and we will be looking for him to play in the infield, but he can certainly play pretty much anywhere. He has tremendous speed, is a great hitter and just a great athlete.”

Mookie Betts on signing with Tennessee: “I signed with Tennessee because of the outreach I have received from the program, specifically Coach Raleigh and Coach Lawson. I love playing in front of a lot of people, so the fan support the players get is a huge plus as well. I really liked the atmosphere when I visited. Everybody loves the school and shows their school spirit.”

Samuel Davis, RHP
Manchester, Tenn. (Columbia State CC)

Currently in his second year at Columbia State Community College, Davis prepped at Coffee County Central High School in Manchester, Tenn. A side-winding righty, he posted the second-lowest ERA in Columbia State history last season, finishing at 0.64 with just two earned runs in 28.1 innings of work. During his 18 appearances, Davis recorded six saves, struck out 30, allowed just eight hits and walked 14. This past summer, he helped the Wilson Tops post the best record in the Coastal Plains League, going 1-1 with two saves and a 1.07 ERA in 19 appearances. In his 25.1 innings on the mound, he struck out 24 and held opponents to a .237 batting average with just five extra-base hits. Davis also considered Western Kentucky and was heavily recruited by most Tennessee schools before committing to the Vols.

Coach Raleigh on Davis: “Sammy is a tremendous pick-up for us. He’s a submarine right-handed pitcher who has been unbelievable. He has really honed his delivery and had a fantastic season at Columbia State last year. He definitely has the potential to come in and play a huge role for us immediately.”

Samuel Davis on signing with Tennessee: “I’ve been a Tennessee fan my whole life. When the coaches first told me they were coming to watch me pitch, my heart just dropped I was so excited. My parents are both big UT fans and the only thing I ever heard growing up was ‘Go Vols,’ so it was a pretty easy decision for me.”

David Horne, RHP/3B
Columbia, Tenn. (Columbia Central HS)

A three-time All-District 8-AAA award-winner, Horne is a right-handed pitcher/third baseman from Columbia Central High School. He was named the district’s co-MVP and first team all-Midstate by The Tennessean last season after hitting .381 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs and posting a 9-1 record on the mound with 68 strikeouts. Horne also considered Kentucky, Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee State, Memphis, Belmont and Lipscomb.

Coach Raleigh on Horne: “David is a two-way player with a lot of upside, especially on the mound. He has done some really good things offensively, but we are really excited about his potential as a power pitcher. He is a strong kid that we expect will really blossom as he starts to focus more on pitching.”

David Horne on signing with Tennessee: “I chose Tennessee because I really got along with the coaching staff and the entire team and liked the facilities. Everything about the program just felt right.”

Will Maddox, INF
Gainesville, Ga. (Gainesville HS)

A left-handed hitting middle infielder, Maddox was named to the All-Area First Team by the Gainesville Times last season after leading Gainesville High School to the Region 7-AAA title and Class AAA quarterfinals in 2010. During his junior campaign, he hit .487 with 10 home runs, 52 RBIs, 13 stolen bases and 55 runs scored while leading the Red Elephants to a 28-5 overall record. Maddox was also recruited by Georgia, Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern before signing with the Vols.

Coach Raleigh on Maddox: “Will is another multi-dimensional player who can really, really run. He had a great season last year for one of the best high schools in Georgia and has the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the infield for us. He’s a left-handed hitter which provides some obvious benefits and is just a very versatile, athletic player.”

Will Maddox on signing with Tennessee: “I came up to Knoxville to play this summer and it just always felt like the right place for me. It was hard to turn down the other schools, especially Georgia because it is so close to home, but I know that Coach Raleigh and the rest of the coaching staff are going to make me the best possible player that I can be.”

Eric Martin, RHP
Cincinnati, Ohio (Turpin HS)

A 6-2 right-handed pitcher, Eric Martin is the son of former Vol swimmer Kent Martin who was a five-time SEC champion at UT from 1977-80 and helped lead the Big Orange to an NCAA championship in 1978. The younger Martin is a three-sport star at Turpin High School in Cincinnati where he also plays football and basketball. On the diamond last season, he was named a Rawlings Honorable Mention All-American, the FAVC Co-Player of the Year and first team all-city after posting a 1.07 ERA, 53 strikeouts and a 5-1 record as a pitcher and hitting .417 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs. He also serves as the Spartans’ quarterback, throwing for over 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior and leading them to a league championship and an 11-1 overall record en route to first team all-league and all-city accolades. On the hardwood, he averaged 16 points per game and was named first team all-conference. Martin also considered Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU, Rice, Xavier and Cincinnati.

Coach Raleigh on Martin: “Eric comes from great bloodlines obviously. His dad won a national championship at Tennessee as a swimmer. He’s a three-sport star as one of the best quarterbacks in Ohio, a great basketball player and just a tremendous pitcher with a lot of upside. He knows how to compete and carry himself and I expect for him to make an immediate impact.”

Drew Masingale, RHP/OF
Athens, Tenn. (McMinn County HS)

Masingale is a two-sport star from McMinn County High School in Athens, Tenn., where he excels on both the diamond and the gridiron. As a junior, he was a second team all-area selection by the Chattanooga Times Free Press and earned all-district honors after striking out 85 batters and posting a 3-3 record, including a no-hitter against Wheaton Academy (Ill.). The lifelong Vol fan also stood out on the summer circuit where he helped Team Tennessee claim a runner-up finish at the Sunbelt Junior Classic.

Coach Raleigh on Masingale: “Drew is a strong kid with a great arm. He is a two-way guy, but we expect his best days are ahead of him on the mound. He is an athletic, two-sport athlete who we were fortunate enough to be able to lock down early in the process. We are very excited about his potential and think he will really take off once he gets here.”

Drew Masingale on signing with Tennessee: “I have grown up watching everything Tennessee. I have lived 45 minutes away my whole life, have season tickets to all the football games and make the trip up to Knoxville as often as I can. I also love the way the UT baseball program is going up and want to be part of helping the team make it back to Omaha.”

Logan Moore, C/3B
Loveland, Colo. (Northeastern JC)

Moore is entering his second season at Northeastern Junior College following a prep career at Mountain View High School in Loveland, Colo., where he earned 2009 All-Northern Conference accolades after leading the Lions to a runner-up finish in the 4A state championship. He also lettered in football three years and hockey for four years while at Mountain View. Last season, Moore hit .352 in his rookie campaign with Northeastern and was tabbed first team All-Region IX as an infielder. He is the son of Brad Moore who spent parts of two seasons in the Major Leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies. Moore also considered Oregon State, Mississippi State and Gonzaga before signing with Tennessee.

Coach Raleigh on Moore: “Logan is a very versatile player who we are looking at to catch for us. He’s a left-handed hitter whose dad played in the big leagues so he knows how to play the game. He’s a little new to the position, but he has a big body and a tremendous arm and is exactly what we are looking for in a catcher.”

Logan Moore on signing with Tennessee: “I chose Tennessee because I felt that it would provide me the best opportunity to become the best possible player and student that I can be.”

Sal Romano, RHP
Southington, Conn. (Southington HS)

A 6-4 right-hander, Romano is ranked as the sixth-best prospect in the state of Connecticut and 439th nationally by A 2009 Rawlings Honorable Mention All-American, he posted a 7-3 record, including four complete games, and a 2.12 ERA in 12 games for Southington High School last season. In 59.1 innings of work, he struck out 51 and held opponents to a .253 batting average. Romano is also a standout forward on the Blue Knights’ basketball team. He also considered Connecticut and Coastal Carolina before committing to the Vols.

Coach Raleigh on Romano: “Sal is a big kid who is all of 6-4. He has a really projectable body and a lot of upside as a power pitcher. His best days are definitely ahead of him as he continues to develop physically and we think his ceiling is as high as any player in this class.”

Sal Romano on signing with Tennessee: “I fell in love with the school and the campus when I first visited last summer. I have always wanted to play down south because of the competition and because you can play all year. The facilities at UT are some of the best in the country as well and will help me become the best player I can be. The opportunity to play in the SEC and get a quality education was just too much to pass up.”

Jake Rowland, OF
Decatur, Tenn. (Meigs County HS)

Despite a stress fracture to his elbow that limited him to the DH role for most of his junior season at Meigs County High School, Rowland was still able to claim all-district, all-area and team MVP honors for the third straight year. The Tigers’ leadoff hitter, Rowland hit .447 with six doubles, three triples, four home runs and 24 RBIs, in addition to stealing 24 bases and scoring 34 runs. A shortstop for most of his prep career, Rowland will likely move to centerfield for the Vols, who he chose early in the recruiting process after also considering Coastal Carolina, Lipscomb and Austin Peay.

Coach Raleigh on Rowland: “Jake is going to be a tremendous hitter for us. For a young player, he really has a knack for hitting which is what I was most impressed with. Every time I’ve seen him, he hits. He just looks like he is going to hit. He has broad shoulders and hitter’s forearms and that is exactly what you look for. He can really run too, so we’ll probably look at him in the outfield.”

Jake Rowland on signing with Tennessee: “Just being from around the area, this is a lifetime dream to have the opportunity to come play at Tennessee. I felt very comfortable with all of the coaches throughout the recruiting process and felt that UT provided me the best chance to succeed at the next level.”

Blake Thomas, RHP
Milledgeville, Ga. (Gordon College)

Thomas is in his second year at Gordon College following a prep career at John Milledge Academy in Milledgeville, Ga. As a senior in high school, he was named to the 2009 Rawlings Southeast Region Honorable Mention Team and earned all-region laurels after posting a perfect 4-0 record, one save and a 2.39 ERA in 41.0 innings of work. He also struck out 79 and walked just 19. In his first collegiate campaign, Thomas was tabbed to the 2010 Region XVII All-Tournament Team and finished the season with a 4-4 record in 18 appearances, including nine starts. He averaged nearly a strikeout per inning with 51 punchouts in 55.1 frames and held opponents to a .238 batting average. Thomas also considered Auburn, Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State before deciding to join the Tennessee program.

Coach Raleigh on Thomas: “Blake is a junior college pitcher with a lot of pitchability right now. He has a tremendous breaking ball and we expect him to come right in and help us immediately. He pitches 88-90 and Coach Beverlin said his slider was one of the best he saw all last year.”

Blake Thomas on signing with Tennessee: “When I came up to visit with my family, we all fell in love with Knoxville. I’m from a small town, so I really liked how close the community was and how everyone rallies around athletics. As far as baseball, I’ve always played for tough-nosed coaches, so I just felt like I really fit in with Coach Raleigh, Coach Beverlin and (strength coach) Herman (Demmink) and what they try to do with the program. My favorite color is orange so that probably helped out a little bit too.”

Joseph Vanderplas, LHP
Fairfax, Va. (Fairfax HS)

A 6-2 lefty, Vanderplas garnered All-Liberty District First Team and All-Northern Region Second Team accolades following a solid junior season at Fairfax High School. Also a three-time letterwinner and all-region performer on the wrestling team, he posted a 6-2 record for the Rebels to go along with a stellar 1.70 ERA and 92 strikeouts. He also hit .350 and blasted three home runs as a first baseman and outfielder. Vanderplas also considered Coastal Carolina, Maryland and William and Mary.

Coach Raleigh on Vanderplas: “Joseph is a lefty with a lot of upside. He has two or three different pitches that are already effective, has a good body that projects well and is also one of the best wrestlers in Virginia. That speaks to his toughness, which was something else we really liked about him.”

Joseph Vanderplas on signing with Tennessee: “I chose Tennessee because of the total package of coaching, facilities, conditioning, academics and support. It also provides me with the chance to test myself against the best competition and the best chance to be part of building a championship team. Having the stadium, weight room, dorm, cafeteria and academic support building so close together means I can work harder with less time going back and forth.”

Parker Wormsley, INF
Knoxville, Tenn. (Webb School)

The lone Knoxville product in this year’s signing class, Wormsley has been ranked by as the No. 5 prospect in the state of Tennessee and No. 336 nationally. He guided Webb School to the 2010 Division II-A state baseball championship just one year after quarterbacking the Spartans to the state football title. On the diamond last season, Wormsley hit .514 with 15 doubles, five home runs, 26 RBIs, 22 stolen bases and 45 runs scored. He is a two-time Louisville Slugger Honorable Mention High School All-American and picked up the same honors from Rawlings in 2010. His older brother, Jordan, played baseball at Vanderbilt from 2006-09 and his father is Webb Head Baseball Coach, Clark Wormsley. He also considered Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina, Memphis and Lipscomb before deciding to join his hometown Vols.

Coach Raleigh on Wormsley: “Parker is a winner. He’s a tremendous leader and comes from a great baseball family. We just like everything about him. He is very mature for his age and is a great pick-up for us. We project him to play middle infield and strongly feel that his best days are ahead of him once he puts his entire focus into baseball.”

Parker Wormsley on signing with Tennessee: “I chose Tennessee because I grew up 15 minutes away from campus so I always had the chance to watch Tennessee sports and have always been a big fan. Also, the opportunity to play in front of my family and friends and my hometown had an impact on my decision. I thought Tennessee was the best fit for me and I am looking forward to playing for the Vols.”

Brandon Zajac, LHP
Cleveland, Tenn. (Walker Valley HS)

A 6-4 southpaw with loads of potential, Zajac is ranked by PGCrosschecker as the No. 7 prospect in the state of Tennessee and 391st nationally. He twirled 14 innings as a junior last season for Walker Valley High School in Cleveland, Tenn. He also tallied a .372 batting average with nine doubles and a pair of triples as an outfielder for the Mustangs. Zajac, who committed to Tennessee early in the recruiting process, also considered Belmont and East Tennessee State.

Coach Raleigh on Zajac: “Brandon kind of came out of nowhere. I think people are going to ask who he is, but we got on him early and he has an unbelievable amount of potential. I think he is one of the best pitching prospects in the state. He is a hard-throwing lefty with a great body and is just getting started. He’s got some work to do, but he has a chance to be a special player.”

Brandon Zajac on signing with Tennessee: “I’ve been coming to the games at Tennessee since I was little. There was no way I could turn them down when they offered me. It was like a dream come true. I get along with everyone on the team and coaching staff really well, so it was just a great fit for me.”

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