Draft : : State Preview
Wednesday, May 09, 2012

State Preview: Tennessee

Ben Collman        

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.

Contributing: David Rawnsley/Allan Simpson

Tennessee State-by-State List
2011 Tennessee Overview

Tennessee Overview:
Vandy Talent Still a Factor, But Langfield is State’s Best Draft

Tennessee’s two Southeastern Conference programs, Vanderbilt and Tennessee, have produced most of the state’s draftable talent over the last half-decade, highlighted by a banner 2007 class that produced five-first rounders—two from Vandy, three from UT—including No. 1 overall pick David Price.

En route to its first College World Series appearance last year, Vanderbilt’s talent flow ran amok as it had six players scooped up in the first three rounds, and eight in the top six—one of the greatest single hauls of talent from one college team in draft history. With three Tennessee high-school players claimed in the first six rounds, as well, the 2011 draft proved to be a bountiful one for the state overall.

With that impressive bit of recent draft history as a backdrop, Tennessee’s 2012 draft class isn't as strong. Not only is it likely that the state won’t produce a first-rounder this year, but the high-school ranks may not have a single player taken in the first 10 rounds.

Even as this year’s Vanderbilt club is a mere shadow of last year’s powerhouse and has been challenged all season to reach the .500 level, the Commodores still project to have as many as five more players taken in the top 10 rounds, led by enigmatic lefthander Sam Selman. The state’s top draft prospect, though, will almost certainly be University of Memphis hard-throwing righthander Daniel Langfield, who should be tapped in the supplemental first round, or possibly second round.

Interesting, at one juncture in early May, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Memphis all had identical 23-24 records, which somewhat symbolizes the college talent in the state this year. Best college team in the state? Quite possibly, NAIA power Lee University with its 50-8 record and sterling pitching staff that could yield as many as four arms in this year’s draft, most notably unbeaten righthander Kris Hall, a serious candidate for the third or fourth rounds.

Walters State has thoroughly dominated the Tennessee junior-college ranks in recent years, much as Vanderbilt has at the college level, and should produce the top JC pick in outfielder Marcus Davis, a second-year player who has had one of the most-electrifying offensive seasons of any player in the country, and has an intriguing combination of athleticism and raw power.

The high-school talent in Tennessee suffered a devastating blow when Riverside High righthander Stephen Gant, a Vanderbilt recruit and one of the state’s top prospects, tragically committed suicide early in the 2012 season.

Tennessee in a nutshell:

College pitching.
WEAKNESS: Signable high-school talent.
OVERALL RATING: (1-to-5 scale): 2.

BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Farragut HS, Knoxville.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: MARCUS DAVIS, of, Walters State JC. Davis was barely on the radar of scouts at the start of the 2012 season as he missed his senior year of high school with a shoulder injury, was out of place as a prospect as a freshman recruit at Louisiana State and didn't stand out in 2011 after transferring to Walters State. It all clicked this spring at the plate for the 6-foot-3, 215-pound outfielder as he had some of the best offensive numbers of any junior-college player in the country.

WILD CARD: SAM SELMAN, lhp, Vanderbilt University. There is little questioning Selman’s upside if it all clicks as he has a fastball that already has topped at 97 mph, but he has struggled throughout his college career to command his raw stuff. He could zoom up draft lists if he can pitch with command and precision against meaningful competition in the coming weeks to close out the season.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Tennessee Connection: Andrew Triggs, rhp, University of Southern California (Attended high school in Nashville).
Top 2013 Prospect: Conrad Gregor, of, Vanderbilt University.
Top2014 Prospect: Tyler Beede, rhp, Vanderbilt University.


Highest Pick, Draft History: David Price, lhp, Vanderbilt University (2007, Rays/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Bryan Morris, rhp, Motlow State JC (Dodgers/1st round, 26th pick).
2007 Draft: David Price, lhp, Vanderbilt University (Rays/1st 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).


College Players Drafted/Signed: 
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 6/3.
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 10/3.


Best Athlete:
Connor Harrell, of, Vanderbilt University; Drew Steckenrider, rhp/of, University of Tennessee.
Best Hitter: Anthony Gomez, ss, Vanderbilt University.
Best Power: Marcus Davis, of, Walters State JC.
Best Speed: Travis Burnside, of, Tennessee Wesleyan College.
Best Defender: Anthony Gomez, ss, Vanderbilt University.
Best Velocity: Sam Selman, lhp, Vanderbilt University.
Best Breaking Stuff: Dan Langfield, rhp, University of Memphis.
Best Pitchability: Brady Bramlett, rhp, Arlington HS, Bartlett.


(Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)

1. DAN LANGFIELD, rhp, University of Memphis (Jr.)
Langfield has pitched impressively this spring as the Tigers’ Friday starter and leads Conference USA in strikeouts with 99 in 79 innings, while posting a 6-6, 2.75 record. He has a very quick arm and dominates with a fastball at 92-94 mph that tops at 96-97, and a hammer curve that can be a lethal weapon. Though Langfield has excelled in a starting role, most have him earmarked to pitch in relief in the pro game as he lacks both the ideal size to remain a starter and a dominant third pitch, though occasionally mixes in a slider and changeup. Langfield is listed at 6-feet-2 and 195 pounds, but appears shorter and stockier. Yet he has done a nice job of reshaping his body since high school and now has a very strong, firm, physical frame. Langfield, a Massachusetts high-school product, worked in relief for Memphis as a freshman before joining the rotation as a sophomore, and could move quickly to the big leagues if he reverts to a short role.

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