BA Newsletter: Get Analysis, Rankings Delivered To Your Inbox!

2022 College Top 25 Preview: No. 2 Vanderbilt

Last season: 49-18 (19-10 in SEC), College World Series runner-up
Final ranking: No. 2
Coach (record at school): Tim Corbin (802-377-1, 19 years)

The good news: Vanderbilt last year finished as national runner-up, losing to Mississippi State in three games in the College World Series finals. Six starters from the CWS return, including leading hitter Dominic Keegan, electric leadoff hitter Enrique Bradfield Jr. and shortstop Carter Young. Bradfield is the fastest player in the country and his speed plays both on the bases and in center field. Keegan and Young both bring powerful bats to the lineup at premium positions, as Keegan will this spring split time between catching and first base with Jack Bulger. With that trio leading the way, the Commodores have a potent offense that should be among the best in the SEC. They also have a veteran lineup, with six players in the projected starting lineup in their third or fourth season of college baseball. When Vanderbilt has that much experience on the diamond, good things often follow. That experience is also buttressed by another elite recruiting class that ranked No. 2 in the country. Infielder Davis Diaz, an unsigned 12th-round pick and a top 75 player in the 2021 draft class, leads the way and could immediately make an impact.

The bad news: Vanderbilt last year was led by perhaps college baseball’s best 1-2 punch of starting pitchers in the last decade in Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, who were both drafted in the top 10 picks in July. The Commodores have no shortage of options to take over in the rotation but replacing them will be no small feat. Sophomore righthander Patrick Reilly emerged at the head of the pack with a strong summer and fall. Fellow sophomore righthander Christian Little, who last January enrolled at Vanderbilt a semester early and was one of the youngest players in college baseball in 2021, also figures to get a long look. Lefthander Carter Holton was one of the top pitching recruits in the country and used a strong fall to state his case for the rotation. Third-year righthanders Chris McElvain and Thomas Schultz both also have starting experience. Also helping Vanderbilt as it breaks in a new rotation is its strong bullpen options, as righthander Nick Maldonado, last year’s co-closer, returns. McElvain mostly pitched in relief as well last season and will pitch important innings no matter what role he takes on.

Player to know: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF

Bradfield last season was named SEC freshman of the year after hitting .336/.451/.414 and leading the nation with 47 stolen bases. He has game-changing speed and stole more bases than more than 150 teams. With his speed and on-base skills, he can impact the game in a number of ways and provides plenty of energy at the top of the Vanderbilt lineup.

Dub Gleed Bymattbrown Ucirvineathletics

Ranking College Baseball's Top 50 Names In 2022

The four-time winner of the award for the top name in college baseball, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Itchy Burts, graduated at the end of last season, leaving a void at the top of this list.

Path to Omaha: To reach its ceiling as a national title contender, Vanderbilt needs a couple starters to step up. But even without dominant starters at the front of its rotation, the Commodores are one of the most talented teams in the country. Early in the season they will likely need to lean more on their position players while their pitching staff settles into its new roles, but by the time the postseason begins they should have a well-rounded team that can face the rigors of postseason play. With power arms, power bats and speed mixed in, Vanderbilt has all the makings of an Omaha team.

2022 lineup

CDominic KeeganR-Jr..345.427.6382321557
1BJack BulgerSo..274.369.414157528
2BDavis DiazFr.
HS—Pittsburg, Calif.
3BParker NolandR-So..260.336.407246743
SSCarter YoungR-So..252.341.5592381652
LFJavier VazR-Jr..238.396.2864201
CFEnrique Bradfield Jr.So..336.451.414244138
RFSpencer JonesR-So..274.346.42195310
DHTate KolwyckR-Jr..290.371.507138625
RHPPatrick ReillySo.424.9843530
RHPChristian LittleSo.325.4843490
LHPCarter HoltonFr.
HS—Guyton, Ga.
RPNick MaldonadoR-So.122.3151599
RPChris McElvainR-So.514.3446582

Are you a member?

In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account. 

Login or sign up  

Additionally, you can subscribe to Baseball America's newsletter and receive all of our rankings, analysis, prospect insight & more delivered to your inbox every day. Click here to get started. 

of Free Stories Remaining