The Tennessee baseball team warming up in the fall. Photo by RTI/Ric Butler.
Tennessee baseball’s season came to an end earlier this week at the College World Series. After making it to Omaha for the second time in three years, Tennessee now turns to the offseason as it looks to make another deep run next season.
The Vols will likely be active in the transfer portal again this season after adding Chase Dollander and Seth Halvorsen two seasons ago and Andrew Lindsey, Maui Ahuna, Zane Denton and Griffin Merritt a year ago.
Let’s take a look at positions Tennessee could add players at from the transfer portal.
More From RTI: Tennessee Baseball Transfer Portal Tracker
One of the most impressive parts about Tennessee’s elite pitching numbers from 2023 was that they did it while almost never using left-handed pitching. Kirby Connell and Zander Sechrist got opportunities in select situations but Tennessee never gave either a full inning in a high leverage spot.
Wyatt Evans would have played a major role if he was healthy but ended up redshirting after dealing with arm soreness the whole season.
Tennessee adds a handful of solid left handed prep arms that could push for a role, but the Vols will definitely look to add left-handed pitching out of the transfer portal.
A year after poaching Maui Ahuna out of the transfer portal from Kansas, Tennessee will look to add another shortstop this offseason.
Austen Jaslove and Jake Kendro are back and will compete for the starting job but the Vols will look to the transfer portal to add a proven college bat.
Tennessee is bringing in a handful of strong prep shortstops including Dean Curley, Blake Grimmer and Hunter High. But starting at shortstop in the freshman as an SEC is a very tough task.
This one is up in the air depending on Zane Denton’s offseason. The Brentwood native transferred to Tennessee from Alabama planning to play one more season and go pro but likely won’t be a high round selection in the MLB Draft.
It would be at least mildly surprising if Denton didn’t get selected in the 20-round draft but if he falls late enough, could Tennessee coax him into returning for another season?
If Denton goes pro, Tennessee almost certainly needs to add another body that can play third base. Kendro can play third and compete there as could Logan Chambers if he elects to return, but neither inspire enough confidence to be the only two players in the competition.
This is another one I would tread cautiously on. I think Cal Stark has a great chance to be Tennessee’s starting catcher again next season. The Knoxville native struggled offensively last season but worked competitive at-bats in the postseason and was fantastic defensively the final six weeks of the season.
Still, it would make sense for Tennessee to pursue catchers in the transfer portal even if it just ends up being someone to start one weekend game or as a true backup to Stark.
Finding catchers in the transfer portal has been a struggle for Tennessee in recent years. The Vols landed West Virginia’s Matt McCormick two years ago but he left the team early in the fall. Austin Peay catcher Jack Alexander committed to Tennessee last offseason but ended up signing an undrafted free agent deal with the Kansas City Royals and never made it to Knoxville.
This probably goes without saying but Tennessee will look to add the best available players regardless of position. This seems particularly true in the outfield where Tennessee has plenty of returning talent but would like to add as per usual.