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Vols’ Backstop Signs With Baltimore

Photo Credit: Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee catcher Connor Pavolony has signed with the Baltimore Orioles, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reported Saturday.

The Orioles signed Pavolony for $325,000 after selecting him in the seventh round with the 167th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. The $325,000 signing bonus is well over the $237,000 estimated pick value.

Pavolony was a three year starter behind the plate for Tony Vitello and the Vols. While Pavolony started two weekend games— and Landon Gray caught the other— Pavolony’s first two seasons, the Woodstock, Georgia native started whenever healthy in 2021

As a junior, Pavolony hit .260 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs. Pavolony struggled at the plate early in the season before hitting his stride late in SEC and postseason play.

While Pavolony had a solid season at the plate, the catcher’s play behind the plate was what made him a three year starter. Pavolony caught nine baserunners stealing in his junior season and had excellent chemistry with the Vols’ pitchers, allowing three passed balls all season.

The 6-foot-1, 195 pound catcher also impressed with his toughness. Pavolony played through a myriad of minor injuries all season and missed under two weeks of play with multiple fractures in his hand during SEC play.

Replacing Pavolony will be a major challenge for Vitello and company, but they hope rising sophomore Charlie Taylor and West Virginia transfer Matt McCormick can do so.

Pavolony becomes the sixth player from the 2021 Tennessee baseball team to sign a professional contract, joining fellow infielders Max Ferguson, Liam Spence and Jake Rucker as well as pitchers Chad Dallas and Sean Hunley.

RHP Jackson Leath has yet to sign with the Texas Rangers.

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