Five current Tennessee baseball players and two Vols’ signees were drafted Monday in the 2021 MLB Draft. Four Tennessee infielders and a starting pitcher were drafted in the second through 10th round.
The five Vols drafted in the first 10 rounds are the most in Tennessee baseball history.
Tennessee signee Ryan Spikes was the first Vol to be drafted Monday. The Tampa Bay Rays drafted the Parkview High School shortstop with the second to last pick of the third round.
Just under an hour before being selected, Spikes tweeted a picture of himself in a Tennessee uniform. Spikes would be a major addition to Tennessee’s infield that is set to lose a plethora of players to professional baseball.
Redshirt junior pitcher Chad Dallas was the first current Vol to be drafted in the 2021 MLB Draft as the Toronto Blue Jays selected the right hander in the fourth round with the 121st pick of the draft.
The Texas native posted an 11-2 record and 4.19 ERA as the Vols’ Friday night starter in 2021. Dallas became the first Tennessee pitcher to record 10 wins since 2005 and the tough junior college transfer beat LSU, South Carolina and Florida this season.
The middle infield tandem that Spikes could help replace were the next two Vols off the draft board. The Chicago Cubs selected shortstop Liam Spence with the 21st pick of the fifth round and just six picks later the San Diego Padres selected Tennessee second baseman Max Ferguson.
Spence was Tennessee’s most reliable bat, hitting .336 with a .472 on-base percentage for the Vols. The leadoff batter was as reliable in the field as he was at the plate, helping anchor a Tennessee defense that ranked fifth in the SEC in fielding percentage.
Ferguson became a fifth round selection with his strong defense from second base this past season. The lanky left handed hitter flashes elite athleticism and defensive versatility. Ferguson played second base, first base and center field in his three seasons at Tennessee.
The junior slumped at the plate the first half of his junior season but his bat came alive in the second half of SEC play, pulling his average up to .253. Ferguson’s power jumped in his junior season, hitting 12 home runs including a walk off against No. 1 Arkansas.
The Kansas City Royals selected junior college transfer Dayton Dooney in the sixth round.
Dooney earned Freshman All-American honors during the 2019 season at Arizona where he hit .323 with 10 home runs. The switch hitter committed to Tennessee before his junior college season at Arizona Central. Dooney dominated at the JUCO level, hitting .376 with nine home runs.
The second baseman has two years of eligibility remaining if he elects to come to Tennessee, but Dooney would once again be eligible for the 2022 MLB Draft.
Dooney and Spikes join Georgia native Brady House— the No. 11 pick in MLB Draft— as Tennessee signees drafted in the first 10 rounds.
The Baltimore Orioles selected Tennessee catcher Connor Pavolony in the seventh round. The 197th pick was a three year starter behind the plate for Tennessee and played a major role in the resurgence of Tennessee baseball.
Pavolony showed his toughness frequently as a junior, playing through minor injuries before missing just two weeks with a fractured hand. The junior hit .260 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs in the Vols’ 50 win season.
Tennessee third baseman Jake Rucker would go late in the seventh round with the 219th pick in the draft. The Greenbrier, Tennessee native was a three year starter for Tennessee and was one of the SEC’s most underrated stars in 2021. If he signs professionally, Rucker will join former Vol Alerick Soularie in the Minnestota Twins farm system.
Rucker hit .330 with nine home runs and 55 RBIs, hitting in the three hole in the Tennessee order.
All college and high school players selected will have until August 1 to sign a professional contract. Anyone who hasn’t signed after that date will head to Knoxville for the fall semester.
Who wasn’t selected was the biggest Tennessee baseball news of the day. After not being selected in the second round, Beech High School standout Chase Burns told Volquest.com’s Ben McKee that he would not sign with a professional team.
Burns is a massive addition to Tennessee’s 2022 pitching staff. The 6-foot-4, 215 pound right hander is a five-star recruit and ranked as the number one prep player in the state of Tennessee.
With a high 90s fastball and an impressive slider, Burns should have a strong chance to earn a weekend starting spot from the get-go.
The MLB Draft will conclude Tuesday with rounds 11 through 20 beginning at noon ET. You can stream the draft at MLB.com.
Jackson Leath, Camden Sewell, Luc Lipcius and Sean Hunley headline the current Vols still available entering day three while Tennessee signees and incoming transfers Seth Stephenson, Christian Moore and Seth Halverson will also be worth watching.