Three Tennessee baseball signees have been taken in the first five rounds of the Major League Baseball draft. And that could be bad news for the Vols’ recruiting class.
Jonathan Ornelas was the first selection. The middle infielder from Arizona was taken by the Texas Rangers in the third round with the No. 91 overall pick.
The shortstop features plus power with solid arm strength. Some scouts see the 6-foot Ornelas as a third-baseman in the major leagues. He’ll likely sign with the Rangers and forgo his college years with the Vols, meaning UT will be out on one of their top talents in their recruiting class.
The next pick from the Vols’ signing class was Aaron Ashby, a left-handed pitcher from Crowder College. He was taken with the No. 125 overall pick in the fourth round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Right-hander William English, the third Vols signee to be selected early in the draft, was taken in the fifth round by the Los Angeles Angels.
I expect at least two of these players to sign with their major league organizations. There’s a chance that Tony Vitello could be able to convince English to come to UT, but Ornelas will very likely sign his deal with the Rangers.
If Vitello can recruit English or Ashby to join Tennessee’s rebuilding program, it would be a huge win for a program looking to take a big step forward next season. The Vols finished a game short of the SEC Tournament this year, going 29-27 overall and 12-18 in conference play. Their SEC record was actually the best since Dave Serrano went 12-18 in SEC play back in 2014. That Vol squad went 31-23 overall and was eliminated by Vanderbilt 3-2 in their lone game of the SEC Tournament.