Every college is known for something in athletics. Kentucky basketball churns out NBA stars, Alabama football fuels the NFL. Until recently, no one school had ever been annually successful on the field as well as producing MLB talent simultaneously above everyone else. But now, Vanderbilt University from the SEC conference has become that one school every baseball kid wants to be recruited by to go from preps to pros.
Vanderbilt’s run as one of college baseball’s best programs began with the hiring of head coach Tim Corbin in 2003. Previously, Vanderbilt had only made the NCAA Tournament 3 times without reaching the College World Series with the most recent bid coming in 1980 along just 3 conference championships. Corbin, through his unorthodox recruiting style in searching for players in non-baseball areas has found immense talent and brought Commodores baseball to the top.
After Corbin’s hiring, Vanderbilt has risen from SEC pushover to a top destination for baseball having owned a top 15 recruiting class in the country every year since 2011 and having the best classes from 2017-2021. And once these recruits graduate Nashville, many become stars at the MLB level.
Vanderbilt since 2003 has pumped out Major League talent consistently with 25 players having played under Corbin debuting on a major league roster. Notable names include CY Young Winner and World Series Champion David Price, 2-time All Star Sonny Gray, former #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All Star and ace Walker Buehler.
Vanderbilt isn’t done producing Major League players. Former Commodores who are currently top prospects in the minors include pitcher Kyle Wright and last year’s #4 pick JJ Bleday.
A multitude of young talent is in the works in Nashville. Projected top 3 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, 3B/OF Austin Martin shows fantastic potential in every aspect of baseball. Fireballing Kumar Rocker is sure to go quick in the 2021 draft after an amazing freshman season in 2019, highlighted by a 19 strikeout no hitter in the Super Regionals. 2021 hurler Jack Leiter looks primed to be the next great pitcher in the majors having already been drafted in the 20th round last year by the New York Yankees.
Not only has Vanderbilt made successful players, but their teams are perennial championship contenders. Under Corbin, the Commodores have not suffered a losing season. And since 2003, Vandy has won 4 SEC regular season titles (2 tournaments), made the NCAA tournament all but twice, reached the College World Series 4 times (’11, ’14, ’15 and ’19) and won the College World Series twice in 2014 and 2019.
Vanderbilt baseball has and will continue to dominate the NCAA for the foreseeable future. With their unmatched player development, products of Vanderbilt will surely continue their elite status in the MLB. Along with college baseball only getting more competitive, Vanderbilt looks likely to lead the charge as the best program in the NCAA for a while.
Photo Credit: VanderbiltHustler.com