2010 TENNESSEE VOLS BASEBALL
The Tennessee Volunteers are coming off a season that, no matter how you try to break it down, has to be considered a fairly substantial disappointment given the talent that the team possessed entering the season, and some of the expectations that abounded. Indeed, some early season struggles that never went away put coach Todd Raleigh's job in jeopardy in only his second season. However, the team did close strong, and its late season performance was enough to give Raleigh a reprieve.
Over the course of the 2009 season, The Vols finished under .500 overall, even when factoring in a fairly underwhelming non-conference schedule. All told, the team went 26-29. In conference play, the team fared even worse, going 11-19 against SEC opponents. The Vols finished in last place in the SEC East Division. However, a sweep of Vanderbilt as the 2009 season closed gave a tantalizing glimpse into what might have been to Vols fans. Those same fans are hoping that it is also a look at what can be entering 2010.
Key Returning Players:
The Tennessee Volunteers do look poised to take steps in the right direction entering 2010, if for no other reason than because they have very few significant departures from the roster from last year's team. And among those returning, there is a lot of talent, some of which was still developing in 2009 and looks poised to get even better in 2010. Among the most exciting players returning to the Vols roster in 2010 is first baseman Cody Hawn. Hawn, considered by many to be the best pro prospect on the Vols roster, batted .364 in 2010 with 22 home runs and 81 runs batted in. He is also joined by catcher Blake Forsythe (.347 batting average, 15 home runs, 46 runs batted in) considers by many to be the best catcher in the SEC. Outfielders Josh Lyles and PJ Polk are also expected to be key contributors in 2010.
The mound is where most of the biggest problems existed in 2009, and this is a key area to watch early in the season, as a number of pitchers dripping with potential but lacking in performance to date are coming back for another season. Lefthander Bryan Morgado knows how to strike people out, at over a K per inning, but finished 2009 with an ERA of over 6. Similarly high ERAs were posted by fellow returning hurlers Stephen McCrary, Dylan Hochevar, and Will Locante. Righthander Matt Ramsey was one of the more consistent pitchers in 2010, but even his numbers (0-3, 4.45 ERA) could stand some improvement.
Key Departing Players:
As mentioned above, the Vols do not lose significant talent from last year's roster as the team enters 2010. Among the position players, the best player who will not be returning to this year's roster is versatile centerfielder Kentrail Davis. His .308 average, as well as his 8 home runs and 30 runs driven in, will be missed, but should be replaceable by the returning team. Also missed will be third baseman Cody Brown, and Tyler Horne.
Similarly, while a few pitchers did move on from last year's club, none were standout performaers, and all should be relatively easily replaceable. Southpaw Nick Hernandez showed flashes of dominance last year, but never really got it all together. Jeff Lockwood saw limited action, but for a stretch of the season, was the Vols most consistent arm.
Read all about Why Smokey is the Vols Mascot and Why Tennessee picked Orange and White as its color?
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