Three Vols Named Preseason All-Americans by Baseball America

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Preseason honors continue to pile up for some of Tennessee’s top players as three Vols were named to the Baseball America Preseason All-America teams on Monday.

Max Ferguson was tabbed as a first-team selection at second base while fellow infielder Jake Rucker was named to the third team as a third baseman. Jackson Leath rounded out UT’s selections, making the second team as a relief pitcher.

Tennessee has now had four players named to preseason All-America teams this season, marking the second straight year the Vols have had multiple players earn preseason All-America honors. Prior to last season, that had not happened since 2009.

Monday’s recognition marks the third preseason All-America nod for Ferguson, who was also named a first-team selection by and a second-team pick by Perfect Game. These are the first preseason All-America honors for Leath and Rucker.

Ferguson ranked second in the SEC with nine stolen bases while batting .333, scoring 12 runs and hitting two homers in 13 games played during the shortened 2020 season. Entering his third season with the Vols, Ferguson has been tabbed one of the top 2021 MLB Draft prospects by (No. 24) and Baseball America (No. 48).

Leath was arguably the Vols’ most dominant pitcher last season while splitting time as a reliever and starter. In five appearances (two starts), the Texas native posted a perfect 4-0 record and 1.45 ERA. He also led the team with 29 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched. His four victories led the SEC and were tied for second most nationally while his 13.98 strikeouts per nine innings ranked sixth in the conference.

Rucker continued his maturation as one of the team’s top hitters during his shortened sophomore season. The Greenbrier, Tennessee, native started all 17 games and was on pace to set career highs in nearly every statistical category before the season was canceled. At season’s end, Rucker ranked fourth on the team with three homers and 13 RBI while batting .339. He also ranked second on the team with 36 total bases. Rucker was also surehanded as they come while playing primarily at the hot corner, committing just one error in 39 chances. Rucker checks in at No. 56 on Baseball America’s Top 2021 College MLB Draft Prospects List, as well.

Baseball America annually polls major league organizations’ scouting departments to vote on the team and asks that they make their selections based on performance, talent and professional potential. In the past, the Baseball America Preseason All-America team has been a predictor both of the first round of the draft and of team success.

Eleven members of the 2020 preseason first-team became first-round picks last June, including the first seven picks. In all, 16 of the 29 first-round picks were Preseason All-Americans.

View the full Baseball America Preseason All-America teams HERE.

The 19th-ranked Vols are set to open their season on Feb. 19 when they travel to Statesboro, Georgia for a weekend series against Georgia Southern. The 2021 schedule can be found by clicking HERE.

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