Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics
Tennessee baseball star Chase Burns plans to enter the transfer portal after two seasons in Knoxville. Tennessee coach Tony Vitello discussed Burns’ departure with John Wilkerson and Vince Ferrara on Sports Talk 99.1.
“That one you ask about is a good case of, that is pretty straightforward,” Vitello said. “We’ve known that he would be gone for a while but the good case to be careful about what you read on Twitter. Cause like I said that one has been pretty straightforward.”
After Burns spent the first season and a half of his collegiate career as a weekend starter, Vitello and company bumped Burns to the bullpen at the midway point in SEC play.
The move changed Tennessee’s season for the better. Burns allowed 23 runs in 17.1 innings pitched in his first four SEC starts of the season before making the move to the bullpen. In six relief outings in the regular season, Burns was improved allowing just five earned runs in 9.1 innings pitched.
But Burns truly caught fire in the NCAA Tournament where he proved enormous for Tennessee in four appearances. The instate native allowed just one run while striking out 22 in 16.1 innings pitched.
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“This season went in a lot of different ways and as coaches we have to do what we think is best for the whole group and find a way and try to win games and in the end I think that worked fairly well but for his case he’s going to take his effort somewhere else and it’s been a deal where he’s done more for a lot for the program, not just last year and of course this year too,” Vitello said.
Burns’ loss is a big one for Tennessee but the Vols aren’t short on quality arms. Chase Dollander, Andrew Lindsey and Seth Halvorsen are likely off to professional baseball while Camden Sewell is out of eligibility.
Still, the Vols return weekend starter Drew Beam, veterans Kirby Connell and Zander Sechrist as well as talented young pitchers AJ Russell, Aaron Combs and Wyatt Evans. Tennessee already added Jacksonville State right-hander AJ Causey from the transfer portal and will continue to be active in the portal.
Burns will have suitors across the country. The question for Tennessee is whether Burns stays in the SEC or departs to a different conference.
“In the course of this year he became the No. 1 popular pitcher, maybe in the country, but definitely in his class,” Vitello said. “He’s probably ranked No. 1 as a pitcher in his class at this point but it’s a different day and age so he’ll take those efforts on somewhere else and we wish him the best.”
Stay up to date with all Tennessee baseball transfer news with RTI’s live transfer tracker here.