Photo by Chad Cushing/Kansas Athletics
Tony Vitello and his staff looked to the transfer portal to help shore up their roster after Tennessee baseball lost eight starters in the field and three key bullpen pieces to the MLB Draft.
Tennessee did a strong job in the portal, adding four division one players for the nation’s No. 2 transfer class according to D1Baseball.
Kansas shortstop Maui Ahuna is the headliner of the transfer class after hitting .396 with eight home runs, 28 extra-base hits and 48 RBIs. Despite the strong batting numbers, Ahuna’s greatest strength is his glove as the junior is one of the top defensive shortstops in the nation.
Ahuna is projected as a first round pick in the 2023 MLB Draft.
Cincinnati outfielder Griffin Merritt is the reigning AAC Player of the Year after hitting .315 with 17 doubles, 19 home runs and 53 RBIs a season ago. Merritt brings a strong bat to Knoxville and can play in either corner outfield spot.
Alabama third baseman Zane Denton returned to his home state to play one final college season before heading to professional baseball. The Brentwood, Tennessee native hit .263 in his junior season at Alabama, adding 13 home runs, 12 doubles and 48 RBIs.
More From RTI: Where Vols Rank on D1 Baseball Impact Transfers List
Charlotte right-handed pitcher Andrew Lindsey sat out the 2022 season while battling mental health issues before returning to baseball at Tennessee. Lindsey posted a 6-2 record and 4.89 ERA in his lone season at Charlotte.
Combine the four division one transfer with a strong junior college pitching corp including Bryce Jenkins and Jacob Biambi and you have the nation’s second best transfer class.
Tennessee is one of 12 SEC teams that landed in the top 25 of transfer classes, joining No. 1 LSU, No. 4 Mississippi State, No. 7 Florida, No. 9 Texas A&M, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 12 Ole Miss, No. 14 Kentucky, No. 16 South Carolina, No. 17 Missouri and No. 25 Alabama.
The Vols open their 2023 season on Feb. 17 at the Desert Invitational in Arizona. Tennessee plays Arizona, Grand Canyon and UC-San Diego in the event.