Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics
The 2023 MLB Draft begins Sunday, July 9 and runs through Tuesday, July 11. While it isn’t poised to be as busy a draft as it was last year, the Vols will have a number of players drafted with some other big questions for incoming players.
The first two rounds of the draft will take place Sunday night, rounds three through 10 will take place Monday and rounds 11 through 20 will wrap up the draft Tuesday.
Let’s dive into everything a Tennessee baseball fan should know entering the 2023 MLB Draft.
More From RTI: Tennessee Baseball Transfer Portal Tracker
The Big Question
The most important question for Tennessee entering the MLB Draft is whether Wofford transfer Ryan Galanie will sign with a major league team or make it to Knoxville for his redshirt senior season.
Galanie — who hit .383 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs last season — projects as a day two draft pick and will have an opportunity to start his professional career now.
The reigning SoCon Player of the Year told RTI that it was his dream to play professional baseball but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will jump at professional baseball this year.
“If I feel like I’m being taken advantage of I don’t plan on signing because all I want is fair value and I’ve been told I have the possibility to be a money saver guy on the second day,” Galanie said. “That’s kind of what I’m expecting but if I feel like it’s gone from money saver to taking advantage of me I don’t want to be a part of that. I want to be looking forward to going somewhere like Tennessee.”
Galanie would start — though which spot is up in the air — at Tennessee next season if he makes it to campus, so his MLB Draft fate is of great importance to Tony Vitello and his staff.
This one is nearly a toss up and could go either way. I’d lean towards Galanie signing professionally as the slightly more likely outcome but time will tell.
Where Tennessee Players Could Get Drafted
Projected Day One Selections
Chase Dollander is poised to be Tennessee’s fourth first round draft pick of the Tony Vitello era. LHP Garrett Crochet went in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft before outfielders Drew Gilbert and Jordan Beck went in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft.
The right-handed pitcher entered the 2023 season projected to be a top three draft pick, but after a topsy turvy junior season (7-6, 4.75 ERA) Dollander projects to go somewhere between No. 8 and No. 15 in the draft. MLB ranks Dollander as the No. 9 prospect in this year’s draft.
If Dollander goes in the top 10 picks he will he the highest drafted Vol baseball player of the Vitello era.
Shortstop Maui Ahuna ranks as the No. 48 overall prospect in the 2023 MLB Draft and projects as a second round pick though he could fall into the third round and an early day two selection.
The Kansas transfer hit .312 with eight home runs, a team-high 20 doubles and 42 RBIs for Tennessee last season. Ahuna’s strong defensive ability does a lot to bolster his draft stock.
Projected Day Two Selections
Monday projects to be a busy day for Tennessee baseball. In addition to Galanie, the Vols will likely have three more players selected.
Jared Dickey (No. 115 prospect) and Andrew Lindsey (No. 172 prospect) will both hear their names called early on day two of the draft.
Dickey hit .328 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs as a redshirt sophomore last season, proving to be one of the SEC’s best contact hitters and the Vols’ most consistent bat.
Lindsey went from coaching 14U baseball to being an All-American in one season. After taking a year off from baseball, Lindsey transferred to Tennessee from Charlotte ahead of the 2023 season and ended up changing the Vols’ season.
Vitello inserted the right-handed pitcher into Tennessee’s weekend rotation midway through SEC play and Lindsey delivered ending the season with a 3-4 record, 2.90 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.
Right-handed pitcher Seth Halvorsen likely won’t go as high as Lindsey or Dickey but should hear his name called on Monday.
It will be the third time Halvorsen has been taken in the MLB Draft. Halvorsen was selected out of high school and again in the 2021 MLB Draft after transferring from Missouri to Tennessee. Injuries sidelined Halvorsen for all of 2022 before he posted a 3.81 ERA in 52 innings in 2023.
Projected Day Three Selections
Zane Denton is the one current Tennessee player that there’s been buzz around possibly returning for another season but that seems increasingly unlikely the closer we get to the draft.
The third baseman hit .269 with 16 home runs in his lone season at Tennessee and will likely be selected in the back half of the draft. Denton hit clutch three-run home runs against Clemson and Southern Miss in the NCAA Tournament.
Griffin Merritt is out of eligibility after playing his fifth season at Tennessee and is a fringe MLB Draft prospect.
Relief pitcher Hollis Fanning could go late in the draft after entering the transfer portal earlier this offseason.
Incoming Freshman To Watch In The Draft
Vitello, associate head coach Josh Elander and the rest of Tennessee’s coaching staff once again put together a strong signing class and could lose signees to professional baseball.
Four Tennessee signees rank as top 25o draft prospects according to MLB.
Instate infielder Carson Rucker — the younger brother of former Tennessee star Jake Rucker — ranks No. 132 in the draft class while fellow infielder Dean Curley ranks No. 244. Rucker is a mid-state native while Curley is from California but both prep shortstops could push for early playing time in Knoxville.
Left-handed pitcher Matthew Dallas from Briarcrest Christian in Memphis is the No. 202 draft prospect and would push for early innings in Knoxville. Arizona right-handed pitcher Derek Schaefer is the No. 249 draft prospect.
Texas left-handed pitcher Brayden Sharp and junior college infielder Bradke Lohry also could possibly be selected in the 2023 MLB Draft.