Shuffling the lineup

February 15, 2013: Coach Tim Corbin congradulates his players after the game vs. Long Beach State at Hawkins Field. The Commordores defeated the Dirt Bags 10-4 improving to (1-0) on the season.
Ro Coleman
Class: Junior
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Bats: S; Throws: R
Height: 5’5″ Weight: 150

Coming off of a stellar season, in which, he hit .295, scored 52 runs, and was one of four Commodores with an on-base percentage above .400, Ro Coleman will look to have an even bigger impact this season. Though Coleman has spent the vast majority of his career as a designated hitter, he is expected to see some time in the outfield this season. Coleman doesn’t run as aggressively as many leadoff hitters with his speed, only picking up 5 steals last year from 10 attempts, but he may have more pop with two home runs (including a grand slam) in last fall’s Black and Gold Series.
— Karim Oliver, Sports Reporter

Tyler Campbell
Class: Senior
Hometown: Portland, OR
Bats: R; Throws: R
Height: 5’11” Weight: 170

After playing hero during the 2014 College World Series, Tyler Campbell grabbed the starting spot at second base for most of the season last year, having been vacated by Dansby Swanson’s shift over to shortstop. Although he only batted .229 in 2015, his fielding percentage of .987 was tied for best on the team for everyday starters and was higher than Swanson’s the year prior at the same position. He’s a plus defensive fielder, which is where the Commodores’ derive much of their value from him. Campbell is just one of two seniors on the team and should be able to add value through his prior experience.
— Josh Hamburger, Managing Editor

Connor Kaiser
Class: Freshman
Hometown: Overland Park, KS
Bats: R; Throws: R
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 185

Fans will see a pair of new faces at shortstop as the Commodores turn to a pair of freshmen to take over for Dansby Swanson with Connor Kaiser likely to receive the majority of playing time ahead of Ethan Paul. Kaiser brings elite size to the position with his 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame, and is thought to be the best defender among Vanderbilt’s group of young middle infielders. The Overland Park, Kansas native will need to improve upon his .166 batting average from this past fall’s Black and Gold Series, but his physical tools illustrate the type of potential the 2015 Perfect Game All-American possesses both at the plate and in the field.
— Robbie Weinstein, Asst. Sports Editor

Kyle Smith
Class: Senior
Hometown: Old Hickory, TN
Bats: R; Throws: R
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 220

Kyle Smith is back for his final season at Vanderbilt. With National Championship and National Championship Runner-Up titles under his belt, Smith is an experienced player who will be an asset to this year’s team. In 2014, Smith was a versatile player, stepping in at outfield and as a pinch hitter. He set personal career game highs in the game against Illinois-Chicago, when he had three hits and four runs. Last season, Smith did not get to see much of the field between his own struggles and the team’s stacked lineup. Now, as one of two seniors on the team, Smith has the opportunity to take his game to the next level and to lead the Vandy Boys to success again.
— Callie Meisel, Sports Reporter

Karl Ellison
Class: Junior
Hometown: Naples,
Bats: R; Throws: R
Height: 6’0″ Weight: 210

For the third consecutive season, Karl Ellison will be splitting time with Jason Delay at catcher. A stellar defensive player, Ellison will look to be a leader on this team in his junior season. Head coach Tim Corbin said of Ellison: “He is a very talented defensive player who receives and blocks like very few we have had at that position.” At the plate last season, Ellison batted .215, driving in 15 RBI and finishing with 2 home runs on the season. With two years of experience behind him, Ellison’s pitch-calling skills will be better than ever, and he will look to help lead the Commodores back to the College World Series in 2016.
— Torben Ginsberg, Sports Reporter

Will Toffey
Class: Sophomore
Hometown: Barnstable, MA
Bats: L; Throws: R
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 195

Toffey started 67 of 72 games at third base as a freshman in 2015 and will be counted on even more in the middle of the lineup as a sophomore. After producing a .294/.380/.420 slash line last season, Toffey didn’t change much with his approach at the plate over the winter, and will remain a line drive hitter with gap power. The biggest change in Toffey’s game from last spring to now is his number. He’ll wear number nine this year, making a move into the single digits after sporting ten on his back in 2015.
— Max Herz, Sports Reporter

Bryan Reynolds
Class: Junior
Hometown: Brentwood, TN
Bats: S; Throws: R
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 210

Lauded by head coach Tim Corbin as a “young man with who has many skill sets”, Bryan Reynolds has established himself as a key player of the Commodore outfield. His play during the 2015 postseason tournaments earned him SEC All-Tournament and Nashville NCAA Regional All-Tournament honors. His .318 batting average and stellar outfield play have put him on the Golden Spikes watchlist, an award for the nation’s best amateur player. Already having notched a career total of 109 runs and 186 hits, Reynolds will help lead the Commodores to another successful year.
— Evan Mercer, Sports Reporter

Mystery DH
Class: ??
Hometown: ????, ??
Bats: ?; Throws: ?
Height: ?’??” Weight: ???

Ruh-Roh! Who doesn’t love a good mystery? That bad Scooby Doo joke is ironic because, for the first time in three seasons, Ro Coleman won’t get the majority of designated hitter at-bats for Vandy, as he’ll slot into left field to start the season. Alonzo Jones Jr., a freshman with a skillset similar to Coleman’s, will DH quite a bit early on as Corbin looks for where he fits best in the field. Penn Murfee will get at-bats against left-handed pitching but also factors into the conversation at first base. Vanderbilt will use the DH to ease the burden on players in position battles who need more game action and can bring some pop to the offense.
— Max Herz, Sports Reporter

Jeren Kendall
Class: Sophomore
Hometown: Holmen, WI
Bats: L; Throws: R
Height: 5’11” Weight: 180

Jeren Kendall showed flashes last year that he’s an all-around player. He has some power, hitting 8 home runs last season. He can get on base, with a .392 OBP in 2015. He can run, stealing 19 bases to lead the team. He can field, playing a solid left and center field. And after a season under his belt, Kendall should improve coming into 2016. If Kendall makes strides, he’ll be a force in the Commodore lineup to help fill the voids left by Dansby Swanson, Rhett Wiseman, and more.
— Matt Lieberson, Features Editor

John Kilichowski
Class: Junior
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Bats: L; Throws: L
Height: 6’5″ Weight: 210

2016 will be a major transition year for the Vanderbilt pitching staff, but the experience of hurlers like John Kilichowski ensures that the Commodores’ weekend rotation is in good hands. Kilichowski was selected in the 39th round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Cubs as a draft-eligible sophomore, but he made clear both before and after his selection that he wasn’t leaving Vandy. He’ll slot in nicely between Kyle Wright and Jordan Sheffield on weekends, giving the Commodores nice righty and lefty balance come conference play. Kilichowski added a slider to his fastball, curveball, changeup mix this offseason and will be a leader on this staff.
— Max Herz, Sports Reporter

Jordan Sheffield
Class: RS Sophomore
Hometown: Tullahoma, TN
Bats: R; Throws: R
Height: 6’0″ Weight: 185

Perhaps Vanderbilt’s biggest question mark going into this season is the pitching staff. Will a staff of mostly freshmen and sophomores be able to recover from losing Carson Fulmer and Walker Buehler to the MLB Draft? If they are going to do just that, the leader has to be Jordan Sheffield. The redshirt sophomore worked mostly out of the bullpen last season but could take on a starting role this season on an inexperienced staff. The end of last season was crucial for Sheffield, as he pitched in key situations in the SEC Tournament and NCAA Regionals. If Sheffield can be a reliable five- or six-inning pitcher and a leader on this staff, this team is going to be just fine.
— Cutler Klein, Sports Reporter

Kyle Wright
Class: Sophomore
Hometown: Huntsville, AL
Bats: R; Throws: R
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 200

In his second season with the Commodores, right-handed pitcher Kyle Wright will transition his role from an integral member of the bullpen to a weekend starter. As a freshman last year, he took on the role of closer in the postseason when Hayden Stone was injured. He nabbed a win in a comeback against Fullerton and a save against TCU in the playoffs and finished the season with four saves to go with a 6-1 record. He posted a 1.32 ERA along with 62 strikeouts. He was named to the All-American second team for the 2016 preseason by Louisville Slugger, along with three teammates.
— Isabel Futral, Sports Reporter

Ben Bowden
Class: Junior
Hometown: Lynn, MA
Bats: L; Throws: L
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 225

Ben Bowden became one of Vanderbilt’s most dominant relievers last season, and he will expand his role to the rotation this season – at least as long as injuries remain in the rotation. The big left-hander held a 2.89 ERA with 49 strikeouts over 37.1 innings last season and was even more dominant in the Cape Cod league over the summer, where he was named MVP with a 0.30 ERA and 43 strikeouts over 30 innings. With a powerful fastball and two promising off-speed pitches, Bowden is a projected first-round pick in the upcoming 2016 MLB Draft.
— Ben Weinrib, Sports Editor

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