Aug. 26, 2005
The Tennessee baseball team has welcomed 17 newcomers to campus for the fall semester. The group includes five players who were previously drafted, three junior college transfers, one Division I transfer and an early high school graduate. Among the noteworthy names to recently arrive on Rocky Top are third-round MLB draft pick Josh Lindblom and switch-hitting shortstop Tony Delmonico, who was rated by Baseball America as the 15th-best high school junior in America last season.
"As a coaching staff, we are really excited about this recruiting class," UT head coach Rod Delmonico said. "This collection of young men is packed with talent and potential. On a national scale, this group of newcomers should rate very near the top."
Despite being drafted No. 104 overall by the Houston Astros in the 2005 MLB Draft this past June, Lindblom elected to pursue his education at Tennessee. A native of West Lafayette, Ind., Lindblom was listed by Baseball America as the top prospect in the state of Indiana. He posted an 8-2 record as a senior this past spring while compiling a 2.30 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 76 innings.
Delmonico graduated one year early from Knoxville's Farragut High School and looks to be a contributor to Tennessee's success in 2006. Delmonico was rated as the No. 10 prospect at the 2004 East Coast Professional Showcase (the only junior among the group ranked). He also garnered third-team All-America honors from Baseball America after helping lead Farragut to a pair of Class AAA Tennessee state titles in 2003 and 2004.
Right-handed pitcher Ty Pryor has joined the Tennessee squad after playing as a freshman at the University of South Florida last season. Pryor won five games for USF in 2004 before enjoying a breakout summer with the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs of the Florida Collegiate Summer League, during which he posted a 4-0 record in six starts with a 0.66 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 41 innings. Opponents hit just .142 against him as he led the FCSL in ERA and opponents' batting average while ranking second in strikeouts. Pryor received the league's Frank Viola Most Valuable Pitcher Award after allowing just 19 hits, leading Baseball America to select him as the league's top-rated player. The Orlando, Fla., native was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 27th round of the 2004 MLB Draft and will be a sophomore in 2006.
Right-handed pitcher Danny Wiltz follows in the footsteps of former Vols Javi Herrera (2001-03), Dennis Gomez (2001-02) and Alex Suarez (2003-05), all of whom attended Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, Fla. Wiltz fashioned a 1.22 ERA and posted a 5-1 record with the Raiders in 2005 and received honorable mention on the All-Dade 4A-1A Team in 2003.
Outfielder Brian Van Kirk of Miami Dade College will be looked upon to provide power at the plate in 2006. A native of Southwest Ranches, Fla., Van Kirk was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 20th round of the 2004 MLB Draft. He will be a sophomore for the upcoming season. As a prep standout at Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Van Kirk garnered national attention by winning the 2004 South Florida "Power Showcase" Home Run Derby with 38 long balls. He also put together a strong showing at the 2003 Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat Association Fall Championship, during which he clubbed a grand slam.
The Vols' crop of newcomers also includes May signee Drew Bowlin of Dandridge, Tenn. A right-handed pitcher, Bowlin hit .410 with 12 home runs for Jefferson County High School this past season and also posted a 4-2 record on the mound. He recorded 37 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings of action. Bowlin led the Inter-Mountain Athletic Conference with 58 RBIs in 2005. As a junior in 2004, he led his team to district and regional titles while also leading the Patriots in home runs.
Of Tennessee's 13 signees from last November's early signing period, 10 have arrived in Knoxville and begun classes. Each of the remaining three players from that group signed professional baseball contracts. The Vols added five more signees this past May, three of whom are now attending class. Delmonico, Pryor and East Tennessee products Zach Gosselin (Knoxville, Tenn./The Webb School) and Steven Hawk (Chattanooga, Tenn./The Baylor School) round out the crop of 17 newcomers. Tennessee's roster for 2005 fall practice -- slated to begin Sept. 26 -- presently looks to include 29 players.