KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A total of five current Tennessee players and four Volunteer signees heard their names called during the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
With the selections of juniors Steven Gruver, Matt Ramsey and Charley Thurber and seniors Matt Duffy and Khayyan Norfork, UT has now had 118 players drafted a total of 130 times since the free-agent draft began in 1965.
The Vols have had at least one player selected in each of the last 28 drafts, with 111 selections during that span for an average of 3.96 per year. This year marks the seventh in the last nine that UT has had at least four players drafted.
Gruver was the first Tennessee player to be drafted, going in the seventh round to the Minnesota Twins. Ramsey was then drafted for the second time in his life as the Tampa Bay Rays made him their 19th round selection. Just 10 picks later, Duffy was picked up by the Houston Astros in the 20th round.
The final Vol to be drafted on day two was Norfork as the Washington Nationals took him in the 23rd round. Thurber was the lone UT player to go on third day of the draft as the New York Mets scooped him up with their 39th selection.
A quartet of Vol signees also heard their names called on Tuesday, beginning with Mookie Betts from Overton High School in Nashville, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Boston Red Sox.
Four rounds later, Logan Moore, a catcher from Northeastern Junior College in Colorado, was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies with the final pick of the ninth round. Moore's father, Brad, pitched in eight games for the Phillies from 1988-90.
A 6-5 righthander and the Gatorade Connecticut High School Baseball Player of the Year out of Southington High School, Sal Romano became the third UT signee to be drafted, going in the 23rd round to the Cincinnati Reds.
The fourth and final signee to be drafted on Tuesday was 6-4 lefthander Brandon Zajac out of Walker Valley High School in Cleveland, Tenn. He was picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the first selection of the 28th round.
The draft will conclude with rounds 31-50 tomorrow. The 30 Major League teams will resume their selections at noon.
|Vols in the 2011 MLB Draft|
|Player||Pos.||Round||Pick||MLB Team||Hometown (School)|
|Steven Gruver||LHP||7th||238||Minnesota Twins||Canfield, Ohio (Austintown Fitch HS)|
|Matt Ramsey||RHP/C||19th||600||Tampa Bay Rays||Knoxville, Tenn. (Farragut HS)|
|Matt Duffy||3B||20th||610||Houston Astros||Milton, Mass. (Vermont)|
|Khayyan Norfork||2B||23rd||697||Washington Nationals||Ripley, Tenn. (Jackson State CC)||Charley Thurber||OF||39th||1182||New York Mets||Elmira, N.Y. (Elmira Free Academy)|
|Vol Signees in the 2011 MLB Draft|
|Player||Pos.||Round||Pick||MLB Team||Hometown (School)|
|Mookie Betts||INF||5th||172||Boston Red Sox||Nashville, Tenn. (Overton HS)|
|Logan Moore||C/3B||9th||301||Philadelphia Phillies||Loveland, Colo. (Northeastern JC)|
|Sal Romano||RHP||23rd||715||Cincinnati Reds||Southington, Conn. (Southington HS)|
|Brandon Zajac||LHP||28th||842||Pittsburgh Pirates||Cleveland, Tenn. (Walker Valley HS)|
A 6-1 lefty, Gruver was drafted in the seventh round (238th overall) by the Minnesota Twins. He served as Tennessee's ace during his junior campaign, pitching 95.2 innings, more than twice as many as any other player on the roster. The Canfield, Ohio, native compiled a 5-7 record and 3.95 ERA in a team-high 14 starts. He also led the squad with two complete games and 84 strikeouts while walking just 28 and holding opposing hitters to a .270 batting average.
For his career, Gruver is 9-12 with a 4.99 ERA in 44 appearances, including 30 starts. In 184.0 total innings of work, he has struck out 165 and walked just 57. He has found success off the field as well, being named to both the SEC Community Service Team and Capital One Academic All-District Team earlier this spring.
A flamethrowing righthander, Ramsey was taken 600th overall in the 19th round by the Tampa Bay Rays. The Knoxville native currently ranks in a tie for fifth all-time in school history with Rich DeLucia (1983-86) with nine career saves after posting three in limited time in 2011.
In an injury-shortened junior campaign, Ramsey was 0-1 with a miniscule 0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings spanning eight appearances, including the first two starts of his collegiate career. He struck out 15 of the 37 batters he faced and allowed just two hits, holding opposing hitters to a .071 batting average.
Just 10 picks after Ramsey, Duffy was snatched up in the 20th round by the Houston Astros. A transfer from the University of Vermont where he was an All-American shortstop before the baseball program was cut, he made a seamless transition to third base for the Vols in 2010. In his two seasons in a UT uniform, the Milton, Mass., product started 107 games, hitting .308 with 32 doubles, 10 home runs and 80 RBIs.
As a senior, Duffy finished third on the squad with a .312 batting average, second with six home runs and led the Big Orange with 39 RBIs. On March 9, he became just the second player in UT history to hit for the cycle, doing so against New Orleans.
Norfork was the fourth Vol drafted on Tuesday, going in the 23rd round (697th overall) to the Washington Nationals. A native of Ripley, Tenn. he made his way to Knoxville as a junior in 2010 after starting his career at Jackson State Community College. He immediately grabbed hold of the starting second base position where he started 102 games in his two seasons at UT. Norfork finished with a career batting average of .299 with 115 hits, 22 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 62 RBIs. He also made his presence known on the basepaths with 43 stolen bases, including an SEC regular-season leading 29 in 2011.
Norfork saved his best for last, becoming one of the top middle infielders in the nation as a senior. He led the Big Orange last year with a .332 batting average and 68 hits and ranked second on the squad with 37 RBIs. He also hit safely in 39 of 54 games and topped the squad with 20 multiple-hit contests.
Thurber was drafted for the first time in his career, going in the 39th round (1182 overall) to his home state New York Mets. A power-hitting lefty, he hit .230 with a pair of home runs, 12 RBIs and five stolen bases in 36 games last season.
UT's starting right-fielder for most of the year, Thurber finished second on the squad with seven outfield assists despite playing through a wrist injury on his throwing arm that forced him to miss 14 contests at one point of the season. During his first three years at Rocky Top, Thurber launched 13 longballs, hitting at a .259 clip with 60 RBIs.