Last season, the Tennessee Volunteers had a first-round pick on their roster in outfielder Christin Stewart, giving the program their first player to be drafted that high since 2007 when future big leaguer J.P. Arencibia was a first-round selection.
In 2016, they very well could have another in infielder Nick Senzel. It’s a bit surprising given that he plays his baseball in the SEC, but it feels like Senzel is a little bit overlooked on the national scale.
The fact of the matter is that he’s been a key cog in the Volunteers’ lineup for the last two seasons. As a freshman in 2014, he hit .315/.419/.420 with 12 doubles, 39 RBI and 14 stolen bases. He was just as steady as a sophomore and he even took a step forward in the power department, as he hit .325/.399/.495 with 12 doubles, five triples, four home runs, and 28 RBI.
In a league as competitive as the SEC, that’s pretty impressive, but his 2015 summer spent with the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League likely put him over the top as a high-end prospect. It was there that he hit .364 with 16 doubles, four home runs, 33 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. His 56 hits were 16 more than the next-highest total on the team, his doubles total was ten more than anyone else on the team had, and he had 13 more RBI than anyone else on the roster. His RBI total, in fact, was good enough to lead the entire Cape Cod League, and had it not been for Andrew Calica and his ridiculous .425 average for Wareham, he also would have led the league in hitting.
The Vols are still working to get back over the hump and into a regional for the first time since 2005. They’ve come very close under head coach Dave Serrano, but just haven’t been able to get there. It’s going to be a tough row to hoe in 2016 for this to be the season they break through, but in Nick Senzel (and in potential staff ace Kyle Serrano, for that matter) Serrano and staff have a great building block.