By Alex Norman
Typically, the Major League Baseball Draft has been felt across Knoxville area high schools, as well as the University of Tennessee.
2018 was no different, as a handful of prospects from the high school and college ranks heard their names called last week, and will eventually have decisions to make regarding their amateur status.
Ryder Green, an outfielder from Karns High School, was picked in the third round by the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees. MLB.com listed him as then 82nd best draft prospect in the nation.
Green batted .462 with 39 RBI for the Beavers in his senior season. He has signed with perennial SEC powerhouse Vanderbilt, which isn’t limited in the number of scholarships they can offer since they are a private university. Green will have to decide whether a free education at a top academic university, with a solid baseball program, is enough to keep him out of pinstripes.
“First class organization, second to none, really,” Green told WBIR-TV about the Yankees. “Everything I went through with them has been extremely classy and so I’m excited.” Green worked out for the Yankees recently at their training facility in Tampa. “I used to hate the Yankees,” Green admitted with a smile. “I despised them. If the Yankees were on my favorite team was who beat them… but times change and it’s good.”
So, is it Nashville or The Bronx (someday) for Green?
“It depends on the money and what happens there,” Green said. “Hopefully it is there but if not, Vanderbilt is an unbelievable option and hopefully I’ll be able to do this again if it is Vanderbilt.”
Tony Vitello’s first season as Tennessee’s baseball coach ended as so many have since the firing of Rod Delmonico following the 2017 season, without a trip to the SEC Tournament. However, the Vols did show improvement, and will be bolstered by some key additions. Perfect Game USA has Tennessee’s Class of 2018 as the 8th best in the nation.
But can Vitello get them to campus?
Four Tennessee Vols signees were taken in the MLB Draft. It all depends on the money they are offered as to whether they head to the minor leagues or to Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Shortstop Jonathan Ornelas was picked in the third round by the Texas Rangers. Pitcher Aaron Ashby heard his name called in the fourth round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Pitcher William English was picked in the fifth round by the Los Angeles Angels. In the 12th round, second baseman Sean Guilbe was taken by the San Diego Padres.
Ornelas is a top-100 prospect that picked UT over Arizona State, Arizona and Florida, amongst others. He was the big get in this class.
With regards to current Tennessee Volunteers, two players from this year’s team were picked on the third and final day of the draft.
Sophomore pitcher Zach Linginfelter was picked in the 19th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. Linginfelter had a career best 71 strikeouts in 55 innings this past season. He led the Vols in that category, and chipped in save saves as well. Linginfelter was originally taken by the New York Yankees in the 2016 MKLB draft. He has until July 15th to decide whether to sign a contact with the Cardinals, or to return to Rocky Top for his junior season.
Senior catcher Benito Santiago, son of the former Major Leaguer of the same name, was taken in the 34th round by the Washington Nationals. Santiago started 54 games last season, with seven home runs and 34 RBI.
Tennessee Tech has been on a magical run this season, advancing to the Super Regionals where they were facing Texas as this issue was going to print. The news got even better for first baseman Chase Chambers. The former Farragut standout was taken in the 18th round by the New York Mets.
Congrats to all of these student-athletes for the realization of a life-long dream.
By Alex Norman