Tennessee baseball found itself at No. 2 in D1Baseball’s top 25 rankings. The preseason rankings came out on Tuesday.
The SEC has eight teams in the top 25. Joining Tennessee is LSU at No. 1, Ole Miss at No. 4, Texas A&M at No. 5, Florida at No. 7, Arkansas at No. 8, Vanderbilt at No. 10, Alabama at No. 20 and South Carolina at No. 24.
Coming off a season where Tennessee baseball won a program-record 57 games, the Vols are in the conversation for a trip to Omaha in 2023. According to a vote ran by D1Baseball, 261 programs voted on who they thought would win the championship. Tennessee came in second behind LSU.
Despite the disappointing end to 2022, which saw the Vols get put out by Notre Dame in the Super Regionals, many expect Tennessee to find similar success in 2023.
Part of the excitement for Tennessee in 2023 comes from their transfer class. D1Baseball ranks the Vols’ incoming transfer class as No. 2 in the country.
10 players, including all eight starters in the field, were drafted following the 2022 campaign.
The Vols brought in Alabama third baseman Zane Denton, Cincinnati outfielder Griffin Merritt, and Charlotte reliever Andrew Lindsey via the transfer portal.
Tennessee’s highest-rated transfer is Kansas shortstop Maui Ahuna. Ahuna was named a Perfect Game preseason third-team All-American. He hit .396 in the big 12, finishing with eight home runs and 48 RBIs.
All four transfers will likely have an immediate impact for the Vols in 2023. Lindsey is expected to slide into the closer role for Tennessee while Ahuna seems to be the favorite to be the starting shortstop.
Tennessee also returns its whole starting rotation. Led by the 2022 Rawlings Pitching Coach of the Year Frank Anderson, Tennessee led the nation in ERA, WHIP, strikeout-to-walk-ratio, and walks allowed per nine innings.
It is widely expected that Anderson will have several pitchers go into the MLB draft, including Dollander most notably. Dollander is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB draft.
The Vols open the season on Feb. 17 when they travel to Scottsdale, Arizona to play in the MLB4 tournament. For the SEC schedule, Tennessee baseball will host Texas A&M, Florida, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Kentucky while traveling to Missouri, LSU, Arkansas, Georgia, and South Carolina.