Monthly Archives: June 2015

Simcox signs with Tigers

Tennessee coach Dave Serrano was hoping the best returning shortstop in the SEC in 2016 would be the one on his roster.

Instead, he has another hole to fill.

Tennessee junior shortstop and former Farragut High School star A.J. Simcox signed a professional contract with the Detroit Tigers, who took him in the 14th round of this year’s Major League Baseball draft, and will forego his senior season according to a post on the UT baseball program’s official Twitter account.

Terms of Simcox’s contract were not immediately available.

Simcox becomes the fourth Tennessee player taken in this year’s draft to sign a professional contract. He joins junior left fielder Christin Stewart (first round, Detroit Tigers), junior first baseman Andrew Lee (11th round, Washington Nationals), junior pitcher Drake Owenby (12th round, Milwaukee Brewers) and senior pitcher Bret Marks (15th round, New York Yankees).
Simcox hit .293 this past season with one home run, 27 RBIs and a team-best 15 stolen bases.

He tied for second on the team with 55 hits and ranked third on the squad with 29 runs. The strong-armed right-hander was considered the Vols’ best defensive player.

Simcox helped lead Farragut to state championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He was named a second-team high school All-American by Baseball America in 2012 and was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 32nd round of the draft that year.

Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said after Simcox was drafted that he was optimistic he would stay for his senior year. Serrano recently hired Simcox’s father Larry, who had worked as an assistant at Tennessee under Rod Delmonico, to be his hitting coach. Serrano said earlier this month he believed A.J. Simcox could’ve been “the best returning shortstop in college baseball.”

With Stewart, Lee and Simcox gone, sophomore second baseman Nick Senzel will be the only returning player who had more than 12 RBI in 2015.

Serrano on radio: I’ve never been hit this hard by a draft before

When Dave Serrano signed the 2015 recruiting class in November, he never imagined that at least a fourth of it would never make it to campus.

The Tennessee baseball coach said on Sports Talk with John Wilkerson and Jimmy Hyams on Tuesday that Long Beach, Calif., catcher Chris Betts still had a chance of coming to Tennessee even though he was drafted in the second round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. However, Serrano said he isn’t getting his hopes up. Tomball, Texas third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, Grainger infielder Trey Cabbage and Belmont, N.C. left-handed pitcher Garrett Davila have all signed professional contracts after being taken in the top four rounds.

Hayes signed for $1,855,000 and Cabbage and Davila both signed for over $600,000. Continue reading

Reports: Stewart, Lee, Owenby sign

Tennessee confirmed Tuesday a report from Jimmy Hyams on Monday that designated hitter/pitcher Andrew Lee signed with the Washington Nationals and left-handed pitcher Drake Owenby signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. MLB.com reported Tuesday that left fielder Christin Stewart signed with the Detroit Tigers for $1.79 million.

Stewart went to the Tigers in the compensation portion at the end of the first round. Lee was taken in the 11th round and Owenby was taken in the 12th.

Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who was taken in the first round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, also reportedly signed.

Stewart taken No. 34 overall by Tigers, recruit Hayes goes No. 32

Tennessee junior left fielder Christin Stewart became the first Tennessee player since 2009 to be selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, going No. 34 overall to the Detroit Tigers.

The last player to go in the first round was outfielder Kentrail Davis, who was taken No. 39 by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009. The last Tennessee player taken higher than Stewart was catcher J.P. Arencibia, who went No. 21 to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2007.

Stewart is a two-time first-team All SEC pick. He hit .311 this season with 15 home runs and 47 RBI, ranking fifth in the SEC with a .633 slugging percentage.

Tennessee signee Ke’Bryan Hayes, a third baseman from Concordia Lutheran High School in Texas, was taken No. 32 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Simcox hire represents philosophical shift for Serrano, Vols

Simcox

Larry Simcox said he wasn’t thinking about getting back into college coaching.

The former Tennessee assistant has remained in baseball since his former boss Rod Delmonico was fired in 2007, but he’s been more of an instructor than a coach. He’s handed 17 and under travel teams through the Diamond Baseball Simcox Academy, but most of the time, he’s been running individual and group training sessions, teaching the game’s fundamentals.

Dave Serrano, though, considered him the obvious choice for what will apparently be a philosophical shift in his program.

“Everyone knows here that we haven’t reached the level that we need to,” Serrano said. “My ultimate goal is to get this program to where it needs to be. Larry was for me, the perfect fit. I talked to some pretty qualified people out there, but it kept coming back with all the people that I talk to that I respect in this business whether they’re from the collegiate ranks or the professional ranks, the question kept coming back, ‘Why not Larry Simcox?’ It made it really easy for me, because that is what was on my mind. It’s just a good fit all around.”  Continue reading

Vols hire Simcox to as hitting, infield coach

From UT sports info:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Head Coach Dave Serrano announced the addition of Larry Simcox as new assistant coach of the Volunteer Baseball program on Monday.

With nearly 30 years of coaching experience, including 22 years as an assistant in the Southeastern Conference, Simcox brings a wealth of knowledge to the Tennessee program and a renowned track record of success. In his newly-appointed position, Simcox will hold the responsibility of hitting instructor, coaching Tennessee’s infielders and serving as third base coach for the Vols beginning next season. Continue reading

A slightly aged but still interesting radio discussion with Dave Serrano on offensive philosophy

Dave Serrano gave an interview to Jimmy Hyams and John Wilkerson Monday that I’ve only recently listened to in its entirety. Included in it was an interesting discussion on offensive philosophy and what Serrano is looking for in a hitting coach.

Serrano said Greg Bergeron’s resignation wasn’t “a parting on philosophical differences.” However, he said he would be looking with someone from the southeastern region this time instead of looking to the West Coast and his roots.

He also said that this team would be less small-ball oriented than it has been.

“After four years of being back in this league,” Serrano said, “I would like to kind of open it up. If that wording means something, it’s probably be a little more aggressive early in the game with swinging the bat. The bunt will still be part of our game, but may not be part of the game early in the game. I’m going to have more of a say so in the offense. I’m not going to run the offense. That’s not my strength. I’m going to have more of a say so. I think the person that’s going to run the offense is going to be in the dugout rather than the third-base box. … In this region, I think where we came from in the West Coast, more kids are used to the style that we had at both UC Irvine and at Cal State Fullerton so it’s easier to recruit those guys into that system. I think in this region, kids don’t play that style of baseball as much, so it’s more of a learning curve when they come in of learning that style. I’m going to try to adjust to what the SEC has done and what teams are successful and put a little bit of our flavor in it as well.”

That’s particularly interesting considering some of the information contained in this post. Tennessee utilized the sacrifice bunt more than any other team in the SEC this year, but wouldn’t have ranked very high in the Big West, where Serrano and Bergeron had most of their success. SEC teams tend to swing away more. There is some small ball involved, but significantly less bunting. Serrano won throughout his career with Bergeron’s “pressure offense” style, but his words above show that he recognizes that it’s difficult to go against the grain in whatever region of the country you’re playing in.

Serrano denies report that he has hired Larry Simcox

Tennessee coach Dave Serrano denied a report from the college baseball website d1baseball.com that he has hired Larry Simcox, a long-time Tennessee assistant and the father of UT shortstop A.J. Simcox, to be his hitting coach.

“It’s still all speculation,” Serrano told the News Sentinel via text message. “I should have a final announcement by Monday. Still going through the interview process.”

Simcox did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Simcox would appear to fill the parameters Serrano set for the job. Serrano said earlier this week on an appearance on Sports Talk on WNML that he was looking for a coach from the region who would be more aggressive swinging the bat early in games. Simcox, coached at Tennessee for 17 years and spent 22 years coaching in the SEC. He now runs the Diamond Baseball Simcox Academy in Knoxville.

Serrano has an opening because Greg Bergeron, who spent 11 years working for Serrano at UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and Tennessee, resigned last month after the Vols finished 24-26 overall and in 12th place in the SEC in 2015. The Vols hit just .262, 12th in the SEC, and finished last in the conference in runs scored with 229.

Three Vols, four UT recruits in Baseball America Top 500 draft prospects

Baseball America released its top 500 prospects for next week’s draft on Tuesday. Tennessee is represented by three current players and four signees.

Left fielder Christin Stewart leads the current players, ranked No. 84. Shortstop A.J. Simcox is rated No. 216 and first baseman/pitcher Andrew Lee is rated No. 356.

Chris Betts, a Tennessee signee, is rated No. 28. Third baseman KeBryan Hayes, a signee from Texas, is rated No. 57. Grainger shortstop and UT signee Trey Cabbage is No. 112 and pitcher Garrett Davilia from North Carolina is No. 175.