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Kennesaw State RHP Tanner Franklin Discusses Commitment To Tennessee Baseball

Photo via Kennesaw State Athletics

Tanner Franklin is spending his summer at the Cape Cod League in Massachusetts, but the Jefferson City native and transfer pitcher didn’t miss a game as Tennessee baseball went 5-1 at the College World Series to win the program’s first ever National Championship.

“Just as a fan it was just one of the coolest things ever. I watched about every game,” Franklin told RTI on Tuesday. “I’d call my buddies while the game was going on because they were back at home and I am here and we were just talking on the phone as the game was going. It was really exciting watching them go through and win it all.”

“It makes you want to be a part of it next year. It’s a big challenge and all that but I don’t think anybody would say no to that.”

Franklin made his desire to be apart of Tennessee baseball official on Tuesday afternoon, committing to Tony Vitello and his staff over interest from Vanderbilt and Lipscomb.

Tennessee associate head coach Josh Elander watched Franklin at the Cape Cod League over the weekend and chatted with the 6-foot-5 pitcher after the game, making it clear that the Vols wanted the Kennesaw State transfer to be apart of their program.

“I honestly felt like God was leading me there. I asked him for a lot of guidance through my recruiting process and the portal and all that,” Franklin said. “It was just really cool when they reached out and never thought I’d be able to do that and now that I have it feels pretty good.”

A rising sophomore, Franklin ranked second on the Owls with five saves while posting a 4-1 record, 5.60 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in 27.1 innings pitched. The right-handed pitcher has a mid to upper 90s fastball and a strong strikeout ability, recording 43 over the course of his sophomore season. Franklin mostly uses a slider and a cutter off of his fastball but he is also working on developing a changeup this summer at the Cape Cod League.

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But consistently finding the strike zone has been a challenge for Franklin in his college career. He walked 27 batters last season while allowing only 21 hits.

“Strengths is I feel like I’m a power pitcher. Pretty dominant guy up on the mound. I can throw it pretty hard, I think I have some good movement and all that,” Franklin said. “One thing I think I need to work on is just consistency in the zone. Because when a pitcher is in the zone and he has good stuff, it’s hard to beat him. … I think just being in the strike zone is big for me. That’s what I need to work on.”

That needed area of improvement made Tennessee and pitching coach Frank Anderson particularly attractive to Franklin. Tennessee’s pitchers are known for pounding the strike zone and Anderson has improved the command of a number of pitchers that he’s coached.

“Talking to him, he is short, sweet and to the point,” Franklin said. “He doesn’t like to beat around the bush and I really appreciate that. He is brutally honest and there’s not much more you can ask for besides that. Just, honesty goes a long way.

“His track record is unreal. He’s brought people in that you’ve never heard of and turned them into the next top draft pick. Just because he keeps thinks simple. He believes staying in the zone is the most effective way to win and develop as a pitcher. I believe that as well.”

Franklin is Tennessee baseball’s first transfer portal addition of this offseason and the power arm has a real chance to earn a major role out of the Vols’ bullpen in his first season with the program. The Vols lose Zander Sechrist, Kirby Connell and Chris Stamos to graduation and expect to lose Drew Beam, AJ Causey and Aaron Combs to professional baseball.

Tennessee returns a handful of promising arms like Nate Snead, AJ Russell and Dylan Loy but there will be opportunities for Franklin and any other Volunteer arm to grab.

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