By: Josh Jessee
Junior Staff Writer
The All Vol Call in Show
Baseball season is quickly approaching and Tennessee fans have a lot to be excited about heading into the 2024 season. Head Coach Tony Vitello will be entering his seventh season at the helm of the baseball program, with what is arguably one of his most talented teams to date. After last year's roller coaster of a season that ultimately ended in an Omaha heartbreak, Tennessee looks to write a much different story this year. Vitello will use the results of last season to serve as fuel for the fire, propelling the team into the upcoming season with a renewed determination to secure their place among the nation's elite.
The dreams of championships began in Knoxville when the Volunteers retained a core group of star players from the previous season. Christian Moore, Drew Beam, Zane Denton, and Blake Burke, proven leaders and standout performers, return to the diamond in 2024 with a wealth of experience and a shared mission to lead their team to glory. Burke's raw strength and power with a bat in his hand makes him one of the most exciting first basemen in all of college baseball hitting 16 home runs last season. Pair that with the play making abilities of both Moore and Denton on the defensive side of the ball, as well as their ability to make clutch plays with a bat in their hands. Those traits make a solid foundation for the upcoming season. Fans can also look for Beam to transition in as the Vols new Ace on the pitching mound. Last season Beam held a 9-4 record and 3.63 ERA. Beam has plenty of arm talent and has continued to improve each season since arriving on Rocky Top.
The transfer portal was very kind to Tennessee this past off season as well. In addition to the veteran talent that is returning, The Vols also have star studded talent by way of the transfer portal. Three names Tennessee fans should learn before the season gets underway are Cannon Peebles, Billy Amick, and Nate Sneed. Peebles joins the Vols by way of N.C. Sate, where as a Freshman All-American he posted a .352 batting average, 12 home runs, and 50 RBI’s. Catcher was an area of need for the volunteers entering 2024 and Peebles is definitely the type of player The Vols needed. Losing Chase Burns to the transfer portal appeared to be a major blow to Tennessee’s pitching rotation, but the addition of Snead quickly lightened the blow. The Wichita State transfer is a high-90s fastball thrower with a 3.16 ERA. Finally what is arguably the biggest portal grab in baseball was when the Vols were able to secure Amick from Clemson. As a sophomore last season Amick posted a .413 batting average, totaling 13 home runs and 63 RBIs. Vitello beat out a ton of competition to be able to land the All-ACC infielder.
While the return of seasoned veterans and huge transfer portal targets are crucial for success, the Vols are committed to cultivating the skills of emerging players. Vitello makes this evident in making recruiting a top priority of his program. Tennessee will see a large presence of highly touted sophomores take the field this season. Including Dylan Dreiling who looks to secure the starting left field position after an impressive Freshman season. Right Handed Pitcher AJ Russell, who was very impressive for the Vols out of the bullpen, will make a case to crack the starting rotation in 2024. Redshirt Sophomore Kavares Tears will bring his big bat to the plate for Tennessee this season as well. Tears will have an opportunity to take the right field spot, but could also end up as the Vols designated hitter. Vitello will also bring in freshmen from one of the nations top recruiting classes. A class that is full of talent that will look to push for playing time while developing under this coaching staff.
Under the leadership of Vitello the Vols have become a formidable force in college baseball. Vitello's ability to inspire and strategize, coupled with his keen eye for talent, has elevated Tennessee's program. As the team embarks on the 2024 season, the potential for success under Vitello's guidance is palpable. The combination of experienced stars along with new acquisitions will allow the Vols to maximize their offensive production. Pitching Coach Frank Anderson has a reloaded stable of arm talent, which has a nice mix of talent levels that should be ready to go come February. As the season inches closer it is safe to say that Vol fans, players, and coaches all have their eyes set on a trip to Omaha. Vitello and staff have had a tremendous off season, piecing together a team that should punch Tennessee’s Ticket to the College World Series and bring tons of excitement to Knoxville this season.