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Old 11-09-2017, 07:43 AM   #1
OldTimer
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D1 Baseball Tennessee Fall Report

sorry guys, this was published a while back but I'm so wrapped up in Grudenodium I neglected to share. #SOON

I've provided snippets of the article.........



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Coach Tony Vitello detected a heightened level of energy and focus from his players as he walked down from his office for the start of Tennessee's fall world series opener last week. For six innings, both teams played with the energy and focus he wanted, as the teams top two arms battled to a crisp scoreless draw through five innings.....

.......but we arere not looking to be the average team, Vitello said.......

Rebuilding a winning, competitive and confident culture is one of Vitello's primary objectives during his first fall as UT's head coach, and it doesn't happen overnight. Remarkably, Tennessee has not been to a regional since its 2005 College World Series run. Vitello's predecessor, Dave Serrano, had taken two different programs to Omaha as head coach at UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton, but he couldn't quite get the Vols over the hump in his six years in Knoxville, posting a 157-163 record in those years.

.......procuring high-end talent is half the battle; getting players to believe is the other half. But even then, it's not easy to make headway in the rugged SEC. Serrano made progress, and now Vitello believes he can build upon that work and get this program back to being a regular contender, for the first time in a long time.

Step one was making sure these kids recognize that there is a tradition here said Vitello, who was part of plenty of success as an assistant at Arkansas, TCU and Missouri. What have you done for me lately with this generation. I think putting that in front of their face and letting them know is important. They all know who Chris Burke is, but they don't all know Chris Burke went to Tennessee, and thats an issue. So we've just kind of brought that to the forefront, and I think thats step one. It's not start a new tradition, but really revitalize whats gone on here. When Rod (Delmonico) left, it was going pretty good. The program was dug into a hole, and I think Coach Serrano and his staff, give them the respect they deserve, they dug Tennessee out of a hole. Now we are able to take this job with the facilities and the roster and the reputation and at least get a running start. Is it what we want this year? I don't know, we will find out come May, but at least we have a running start thanks to work that has been put in before us.

Vitello seems quietly optimistic that his first group of Vols will be competitive in 2018...... He likes his frontline arms and the depth on his pitching staff, and he feels good about the potential of his offense. The defense is more of a question mark........

It starts with sophomore righthanders Zach Linginfelter and Garrett Stallings, who worked a combined 9.2 shutout innings in the fall world series opener, striking out nine combined and allowing just six hits........He sat comfortably at 92-93 and touched 95 last week, but unlike last year when he pitched overwhelmingly off his fastball, he is working to develop his secondary stuff. His changeup is firmer than usual at around 88 mph, but it has some good action to it and should be a quality second weapon. His 84-86 slider remains a work in progress and is not really a true out pitch, but it flashed some tight break at times last week, and Vitello was encouraged that he at least showed the ability to throw it for a strike.



Stallings (3-4, 3.47 in 70 IP) has mound presence beyond his years, and he stands out for his feel for pitching with a solid three-pitch mix. Even without his best fastball velocity last week, when he sat at 86-88, he still succeeded by hitting his spots and mixing in a quality 82-83 slider and good 81-82 changeup......

......Stallings and Linginfelter should form a dependable duo atop the Tennessee rotation, giving the Volunteers a chance to compete in every weekend series.

.....now who is that third guy?ť Could it be an upperclassman, a freshman, a righty or a lefty?

....the leading candidate for the Sunday spot appears to be junior Will Neely (3-1, 3.43), a wiry 5-foot-11 righty with a quick arm that can produce low-90s heat and a very good breaking ball. He had some struggles last year after the death of his mother, but Vitello said he has really clicked with Anderson this fall, and he's led the Vols in strikeouts-to-walks. Another strong starting candidate is freshman lefthander Garrett Crochet, who owns a big pitcher's frame at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds and has flashed 91-92 mph heat at times, though his velocity has been down some for most of the fall due to fatigue. He has shown a dynamiteť breaking ball at times, as Vitello put it, but it has been inconsistent. His stuff got firmer toward the end of the fall, and he's obviously a high-end talent who will make a big impact on this pitching staff.

Six other freshmen should help make this a fairly deep staff, though they have been limited on the mound in the fall. Righthanders Morgan Copeland, Riley Watkins, Brandon Trammell, Donovan Benoit and Chase Wallace are all two-way players who figure to help most on the mound. Copeland is a catcher with some power potential at the plate, but he is also capable of running his fastball up to 95 mph, and he should be an important bullpen piece.

Trammell, the son of former Vol and ex-big leaguer Bubba Trammell, hasn't been able to pitch due to an ankle injury, but Vitello said he's seen big power stuff from him in the past. Wallace, who has been sidelined after having his knee scoped, was a three-sport athlete who turned down some money in the draft and could make a jump after focusing solely on baseball. A sixth freshman, righty Sean Hunley, didn't have a great fall but performed well last Tuesday in a more competitive atmosphere, showing good angle and sink on his 87-88 fastball and mixing in a developing mid-70s curve. Vitello said he was pleased with Hunley's sense of urgency and tempo in that game, and suggested he could take on a bigger role in the spring if he can build upon that.
The Vols also have some lefthanders without big power stuff who should help in matchup situations, though sophomore Will Heflin could have a bigger role after posting a 2.93 ERA in 15.1 innings last year. He showed an 87-88 fastball and a big-breaking 73-76 curve last week.

.......Vitello said the Vols haven't really bred a closer yet, so that competition should be wide open heading into January. One of those power-armed freshmen could get a crack at the role, but keep an eye on sophomore Andrew Schultz, a low three-quarters righty who has shown 94-96 mph heat with devastating life this fall, though his breaking ball is behind his heater.

The strength of the lineup could be its speed and athleticism........so its reasonable to expect them to force the action with their speed more often, especially because they have plenty of it. Sophomore outfielder/second baseman Jay Charleston was a spark plug last Tuesday, getting on base repeatedly and making things happen on the basepaths. He got up the line in 3.86 seconds from the right side on a bunt, showing off his blazing wheels, and he made a standout catch in left field.



.....one thing I think we might really be able to do is run on some people......

Outfielders Brodie Leftridge, Justin Ammons and Zach Daniels also bring really good speed. Leftridge has underperformed offensively in his career, but he's a premium defensive center fielder, and Vitello is working with him to try to slow the game down at the plate. Ammons is a slasher with a pretty lefthanded swing who roped a triple into the right-field corner last week. His bat is ahead of his defense, which really needs to improve in the outfield but he's making strides. Daniels, a freshman from Georgia, is an explosive athlete with intriguing bat speed and very good defensive instincts in the outfield.

Sophomore Pete Derkay, a thicker-bodied, less mobile thumper, could also get time in left field when he's not spelling veteran Benito Santiago behind the plate or DHing. Derkay is an obvious breakout candidate at the plate, where he has big lefthanded power potential and a mature approach. Vitello marveled at a ball he hit 415 yards over the scoreboard recently.

The Vols will also rely heavily upon sophomore brothers Luc Lipcius and Andre Lipcius, who will man first base and shortstop, respectively. Luc offers good power potential from the left side, while Andre has some righthanded pop. Andre is making the unorthodox move from first base to shortstop out of necessity. He's not a prototypical rangy shortstop, but he's making most of the routine plays, though he still needs to become more consistent.

I think its Andre's job to lose. Obviously it's a unique deal, an SEC team sending a starting first baseman over to shortstop, usually it works the other way. But there are a lot of things about this team that are non-conventional.

Charleston or sophomore Brandon Chinea should compete to replace Moberg at second base, and freshman Wyatt Stapp has emerged as the front-runner to take over for Rodgers at the hot corner. Stapp was originally slated to play at McLendon (Texas) CC, but he decided to walk on at Tennessee just a couple of days before the fall began, and he's been a revelation. He went 5-for-5 with two RBIs when I was in Knoxville, showing the ability to drive the ball all around the field. He also impressed Vitello with his baseball savvy on two occasions last Tuesday, showing good judgment defensively on a bunt, and stealing third base when the defense fell asleep.



I did expect him to come out and compete, and this stuff is very serious to him, but he approaches it the right way every day, Vitello said. He's a guy who is consistently in that cage by himself putting in extra work, and you saw that work pay off tonight.......

......Tennessee's infield is certainly an area of concern, but Vitello hopes he can piece it together with the guys on hand. It won't be easy to gain ground in the always-competitive SEC, but Vitello has assembled the right staff to get his guys to believe. Anderson is a respected pitching coach with a long track record, and his presence has given Vitello peace of mind. Recruiting coordinator Josh Elander and volunteer assistant Ross Kivett are young coaches with limitless energy and enthusiasm, neither is far removed from being a star player in college baseball, and they can relate to players well. The same goes for director of baseball operations Chad Zurcher, a former shortstop at Memphis. And its nice to have a pair of former big leaguers on staff as well: former UT catcher JP Arencibia is serving as graduate assistant, and longtime MLB star Todd Helton is the director of player development.

Helton's really been a mentor for the guys, thats really what it is. Helton's just Coolhand Luke, Vitello said. They complement one another because he's a high-energy guy, he's a big mental game guy, and he's really wanting to be a part of things, kind of full speed ahead.

Fall Report: Tennessee | D1Baseball.com

Last edited by OldTimer; 11-09-2017 at 08:08 AM..
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:06 AM   #2
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thanks OldTimer...sounds like Coach V is on the job...sure like his demeanor...one word popped out to me that he used and it was "tradition"...I thought yep, one time we did...looks like Coach V is trying to bring that back...

PS. Coach V says the boys will be "competitive"...well, we'll see and I certainly hope so...and,

GO BIG ORANGE!
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:21 AM   #3
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That is encouraging...and a welcome bit of news after so many down years. Let's hope it's real.
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:47 AM   #4
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I haven't seen anything written about this, but it would sure seem to me that CV is trying to corner the market on East Tennessee recruits. I don't ever recall seeing a coach focus so much on this area.
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:27 AM   #5
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There's enough talent here now...This team will be in Hoover in 2018.
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Old 11-09-2017, 10:28 AM   #6
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There's enough talent here now...This team will be in Hoover in 2018.
I personally think we finish in the 8-10 range with a little luck.....
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:44 PM   #7
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I personally think we finish in the 8-10 range with a little luck.....
Completely agree. From what I saw this fall compared to the past few years, I think winning 12-15 conference games is very achievable.
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Old 11-09-2017, 03:00 PM   #8
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Completely agree. From what I saw this fall compared to the past few years, I think winning 12-15 conference games is very achievable.
I think the biggest difference will be the coaching. Anderson knows pitching. This allows CV to focus on improving the hitting, which he has done at every stop. I'm pretty excited to see this team.
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Old 11-09-2017, 03:12 PM   #9
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It just seems like there is new life to this program with strong talent coming in very soon as well. Excited to see what the team does this spring.
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Old 11-09-2017, 04:36 PM   #10
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I personally think we finish in the 8-10 range with a little luck.....
...but no pressure Coach V...we wouldn't do that...

GO BIG ORANGE!
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Old 11-10-2017, 12:02 AM   #11
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Great stuff OT, thanks for posting. That got me stoked.

And Derkay hit one 415 yards, damn. 😬
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:55 AM   #12
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Great stuff OT, thanks for posting. That got me stoked.

And Derkay hit one 415 yards, damn. 😬
In the process he racked up 2500 frequent flier miles for a flight of that length...
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:13 AM   #13
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It is nice to see a new coach not throw the previous staff under bus and pretend that the first season is "Year 0"

I want this program to succeed like no other on the Hill and would love to spend the entire Spring with a great base tan and an actual sunburn from tournament play.
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Old 11-14-2017, 08:34 AM   #14
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It is nice to see a new coach not throw the previous staff under bus and pretend that the first season is "Year 0"

I want this program to succeed like no other on the Hill and would love to spend the entire Spring with a great base tan and an actual sunburn from tournament play.
Can't deny Vitello is coming in to a significantly better situation than Serrano did. He doesn't really have grounds say that. And that's coming from a guy who liked Raleigh, but didn't have any complaints when he was fired.
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Old 11-15-2017, 10:45 AM   #15
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New staff is working hard for sure.
I look forward to Coach A. working with the pitchers to make them better. Lingo & Stallings looked sharp at the games I went to this fall. Who is number 3?

Is weekday by Committee?

Go Vols be safe over thanksgiving.
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