Draft : : State Preview
Thursday, May 09, 2013

MLB Draft Preview: Tennessee

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Perfect Game
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.  Please visit this page for all of the links to Perfect Game's 2013 Draft Preview content.

Tennessee State-by-State List

From a Tennessee perspective, this year’s draft may not be as front-end loaded as 2007, when the state produced five first-rounders, or as deep as 2011, when it yielded a total of 57 picks, but the 2013 crop should be plentiful by the Volunteer State’s emerging standard.

As has become the custom, Tennessee’s draft fortunes are typified by the talent flowing from Vanderbilt University, which may be unrivaled by college programs nationally in recent years. The Commodores provided two first-rounders to Tennessee’s windfall 2007 draft, then had six players taken in the first three rounds two years ago, and eight in the top six. This year, Vanderbilt’s contribution could be another half-dozen selections in the initial 10 rounds, though the first player off the board may be fast-rising high school right-hander Kyle Serrano. The Commodores also won’t have a monopoly on the talent in Tennessee overall as it is spread liberally throughout the college and high school ranks.

WEAKNESS: Signable high school position players
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4


PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Kyle Serrano, rhp, Farragut HS, Knoxville.
Just last summer, Serrano ranked no better than the fifth- or sixth-best high school arm in the Tennessee draft class. But his improvement this spring has been dramatic, and he has blown by every prep pitcher in his path—though a season-ending injury to Tullahoma High right-hander Jordan Sheffield, who entered the season No. 1, has facilitated his dramatic climb.

WILD CARD: Conrad Gregor, 1b, Vanderbilt University.
Gregor has one of the most disciplined swings in the college ranks, and when his raw power started to evolve in a meaningful way last summer in the Cape Cod League, he all but stamped his chances of emerging as a first- or second-round talent this year. But with just two homers in early May, his power hasn't developed as expected, and he may not be taken early enough to justify his leaving school a year early.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Tennessee Connection:
Daniel Wright, rhp, Arkansas State University (Attended high school in Bartlett)
Top 2014 Prospect: Tyler Beede, rhp, Vanderbilt University
Top 2015 Prospect: Walker Buehler, rhp, Vanderbilt University


Highest Pick, Draft History:
David Price, lhp, Vanderbilt University (2007, Rays/1
st round, 1st pick)
2008 Draft: Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Vanderbilt University (Pirates/1st round, 2nd pick)
2009 Draft: Mike Minor, lhp, Vanderbilt University (Braves/1st round, 7th pick)
2010 Draft: Bryce Brentz, of, Middle Tennessee State University (Red Sox/1st round, 36th pick)
2011 Draft: Sonny Gray, rhp, Vanderbilt University (Athletics/1st round, 18th pick)
2012 Draft: Sam Selman, lhp, Vanderbilt University (Royals/2nd round)


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 1/1
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 4/2


Best Athlete:
Myles Smith, rhp, Lee University; Connor Harrell, of, Vanderbilt University
Best Hitter: Jordan Hankins, 2b, Austin Peay State University
Best Power: Connor Harrell, of, Vanderbilt University; Will Haynie, c, Brentwood Academy
Best Speed: Dalton Dulin, ss, Memphis University HS; Tony Kemp, 2b/of, Vanderbilt University
Best Defender: Spencer Navin, c, Vanderbilt University
Best Velocity: Andy Hillis, rhp, Lee University
Best Breaking Stuff: Kyle Serrano, rhp, Farragut HS, Knoxville
Best Pitchability: Kyle Serrano, rhp, Farragut HS, Knoxville


GROUP 1 (rounds 1-3)

1. KYLE SERRANO, rhp, Farragut HS, Knoxville
Kyle Serrano is the son of second-year Tennessee coach Dave Serrano, who is looking to right the ship of the Volunteers to make them once again a force to be reckoned with in the Southeastern Conference. Kyle has blossomed from almost out of nowhere into one of the elite high school pitchers in the country, and conceivably could work his way into the bottom end of the first round in this year’s draft. At the same time, that represents something of a good-news, bad-news scenario for the elder Serrano as Kyle is one of his prized recruits, and could give his youthful college team a major shot in the arm a year from now. But that is looking increasingly doubtful as his son continues to climb draft boards. Serrano always had a quality arm with an advanced feel for pitching and projectable secondary stuff, but was rarely able to sustain the velocity on an average fastball into the middle innings. But the 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander became much stronger, and more physical in the off-season leading up to his senior year at Knoxville’s Farragut High, and it has transformed him almost overnight into an elite-level talent. Serrano’s fastball has been consistently in the 91-95 mph range this spring, and he has been able to hold his newfound velocity deep into games. Even more noteworthy has been the development of his breaking ball into a true power curve at 82-84 mph. He rarely throws a changeup in high school, but that pitch also shows the makings of becoming above-average with his superior arm speed. Even with an obvious spike in the quality of his raw stuff, Serrano continues to pitch with pinpoint accuracy.

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