The Tennessee baseball regular season is far from over with three weekends of games still remaining. And if Tennessee can continue it’s postseason success from 2021, the Vols won’t be done playing baseball for a while. However, as the college baseball world is well aware by now, this Tennessee team is loaded with talent.
Tennessee’s offense lineup is powered by the nations leading home-run lineup (94), while the Vols’ pitching staff has collected an ERA of just 2.00 at this point in this season, leading the nation again. No matter which way you look at the Tennessee roster, elite talent is littered all over the place.
With the MLB Draft approaching this July, experts around the country have already been eyeing a few Tennessee players as first-round selections. In two recent mock drafts from this week, both organizations have three Tennessee players as first-round selections: Blade Tidwell, Jordan Beck, and Drew Gilbert.
In the mock draft released by MLB.com on Wednesday, Jonathan Mayo has Tennessee players going in back-to-back selections. Mayo has the reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves taking Tennessee right-handed pitcher Blade Tidwell with the 20th pick. Coming off of a terrific freshman season in Knoxville, Tidwell has missed a large portion of this season due to a shoulder injury. The sophomore pitcher has returned in the last few weeks though as Tennessee continues to ramp up his production.
Following Atlanta’s selection of Tidwell at No. 20, Mayo has the Seattle Mariners taking Tennessee outfielder Jordan Beck with the 21st pick. The junior from Hazel Green, Alabama has played in all 41 games for Tennessee this season and is second on the team in hits (51) and third on the team in home runs (10).
Lastly, Mayo has the San Francisco Giants taking Tennessee outfielder Drew Gilbert with the 30th and final pick of the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft.
“This finishes off the Volunteers trifecta and could be low for Gilbert, who is having a terrific year and has the skills to play center field for a long time,” Mayo said in his mock draft.
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In addition to MLB, Prospects Live also put out a first-round mock draft in the last week or so. And once again, Tidwell and Beck are back-to-back, except reversed this time.
Prospects Live has the Colorado Rockies taking Tennessee outfielder Jordan Beck with the 10th pick of the first round.
“Beck might have the best usable power in the college ranks this season, some calling it 70-grade raw juice,” Joe Doyle wrote for Prospects Live. “He’s an average hitter with sneaky athleticism in right field and a big throwing arm. In essence, Beck is the prototype right fielder in today’s game. He’s got a shot to be Colorado’s ‘Hunter Renfroe’ for a very long time.”
Right after Beck, Doyle is projecting the New York Mets to grab Tennessee pitcher Blade Tidwell with the 11th pick in the draft.
“Tidwell represents one of the best pitching prospects in the country with prototype size, athleticism and stuff that should entice New York brass… and they need pitching,” Doyle wrote. “The Mets pick twice in the first round, so it’s a shot to land two impact players. Tidwell was banged up in the first half of this season, but he’s come back and is pitching multiple innings for the Volunteers with the stuff every bit what folks expected. He’s been 94-96, touching 98 with an above average slider and flashes a changeup.”
Lastly, Doyle has Tennessee outfielder Drew Gilbert rounding out the list with a 24th overall selection to the Boston Red Sox.
While Tidwell, Beck, and Gilbert are Tennessee’s primary first-round projections, the Vols do have other players that are going to get plenty of looks. For instance, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel is high on Tennessee pitcher Ben Joyce.
“One of the other stories of this draft is Tennessee rocket-armed reliever Ben Joyce, who is regularly sitting at 100 mph,” McDaniel wrote for ESPN. “Given that Arkansas RHP Kevin Kopps, a lesser prospect, went 99th overall last year, Joyce should go ahead of that, but he comes with an injury history and command/consistency questions. Most scouts are guessing late second or early third round for Joyce, which is close to the ceiling for a relief-only prospect.”
The 2022 MLB Draft will begin on Sunday, July 17.
ESPN released its second MLB Draft player rankings this week. Here's where @Vol_Baseball players ranked.
No. 11 — Jordan Beck
No. 24 — Blade Tidwell
No. 26 — Drew Gilbert
No. 82 — Ben Joyce
Players listed outside top 150 — Trey Lipscomb
— Ryan Schumpert (@rschump00) April 27, 2022