Feb. 3, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee sophomore shortstop A.J. Simcox, sophomore outfielder Christin Stewart and freshman right-handed pitcher Kyle Serrano have been recognized as top 50 players in their respective classes by Baseball America.
The organization, which released its preseason All-American teams and top 50 rankings entering the 2014 season on Monday, tabbed the highly-touted Serrano ninth on the list of freshmen. Baseball America also placed Simcox at No. 14 and Stewart at No. 37 on its list of sophomores.
Serrano ranks as the No. 1 freshman in the Southeastern Conference and the No. 4 freshman right-handed pitcher, according to the organization.
A 29th round draftee by the Colorado Rockies out of Farragut High School in Knoxville, Serrano was also recently tabbed the SEC's Preseason Top Freshman by Perfect Game. He was named a Louisville Slugger First Team All-American after leading the Admirals with a 7-1 record, a 1.76 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 63.2 innings as a senior. The 6-foot-2 hurler threw a no-hitter against crosstown rival Bearden, picking up 13 strikeouts en route to a 2-0 victory as a senior.
Listed as the 14th-best sophomore and the No. 2 shortstop in the class, Simcox appeared in 50 of 52 games for the Vols last season, the most of any freshman. Simcox finished the season with a .283 average with four doubles and one triple. He was second on the team with 26 RBIs and led the Vols with 144 assists. In SEC play, Simcox batted a team-best .327. Playing for the Alaska Baseball League's Mat-Su Miners over the summer, Simcox led the league in batting average (.356), hits (48) and runs scored (27). He was named a first team Perfect Game Summer All-American.
At 37th on the national list of sophomores, Stewart is the sixth ranked outfielder in the class. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native appeared in 46 games as a freshman, making 43 starts. He wrapped up his rookie season hitting .310 with eight doubles, two triples and a team-high tying three home runs. Stewart also led the Vols in RBIs (27) and multiple RBI games (7). A fellow Mat-Su Miner over the summer, Stewart was named the ABL's Most Valuable Player after leading the league with 31 RBIs, 14 doubles and five home runs. He also ranked second in batting average (.336), hits (42) and runs scored (26), and was also named a first team Perfect Game Summer All-American.
First pitch of the 2014 season is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 14, when the Vols host Nebraska-Omaha at Lindsey Nelson Stadium at 4 p.m. The Big Orange opens with a 13-game home stand, starting things off with three straight days of doubleheader action with Nebraska-Omaha and Purdue.