The middle of the Tennessee batting order took an expected but substantial hit in the Major League Baseball draft with junior third baseman Nick Senzel going No. 2 overall and graduating senior Vincent Jackson going in the 14th round. Those two combined for 16 home runs, 116 RBI and 230 total bases in 2016.
The Vols maintained junior first baseman Jordan Rodgers (.282, four home runs, 56 RBIs), however, and they will add a powerful junior college outfielder.
Dominic Thornton, an outfielder from Howard College in Texas, has committed to the Vols for the 2017 season, he told the News Sentinel on Monday. He will visit Knoxville this week and expects to sign a letter of intent by the end of the week. He will have two years of eligibility remaining, but will be eligible for the draft after the 2017 season.
“When (assistant coach Aric) Thomas came and talked to me, it just felt like a fit,”Thornton said. He really made it feel like I was wanted. It just felt like a connection. It was kind of a weird thing. It worked out pretty cool.”
Thornton began his career at Kansas State in 2015 and finished his freshman year 6-for-35 (.171) with four RBI before transferring. This season he hit .414 with 18 home runs and 74 RBI and scored 82 runs. Thornton said that after that campaign he had interest from numerous Division I schools including Houston and Miami.
“I liked the thought of playing in the SEC,” Thornton said.
Thornton said he hopes to play right field, a position left vacant with the graduation of senior Chris Hall. He said he is signing late because he was eligible for the draft as a junior college player. He said several Major League teams showed interest, but were not willing to meet his signing bonus demands, which he would not divulge to the News Sentinel.
“We just didn’t come to an agreement on money,” Thornton said. “So that’s when I decided I should go to school.”