Staying in school pays off with improved draft position for VU's Hayes

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 9:16pm

Drew Hayes became the first Vanderbilt player taken in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft when the Cincinnati Reds took the senior pitcher in the 11th round (337th overall) on Tuesday, the second day of the three-day selection process.

It was an unusually long wait for the program, which has drawn consistent interest from the professional ranks in recent years. In the past three drafts, a total of eight Commodores were selected within the first 10 rounds. Half of those were first-round choices.

Two redshirt-sophomores, first baseman/outfielder Aaron Westlake and pitcher Taylor Hill, were the only other VU players taken through the first two days, which consisted of 30 rounds and 925 total choices. Westlake went to the Toronto Blue Jays 666th overall, and Hill was tabbed by the Cleveland Indians in the 30th round (900th overall).

Westlake led the SEC in batting average in 2009 at .377 and has a team-high 14 home runs in addition to a .308 average this season.

Hill moved into the starting rotation this year and has a 6-5 record with a 4.15 ERA through the NCAA regional. His 72 strikeouts are second on the team.

“I think in Westlake’s case, his signability is real low because he has two more years of eligibility and has a chance to develop into a much higher prospect,” coach Tim Corbin said. “His position (this year) seems more like (the Blue Jays) want to keep an eye on him this summer and if he puts up huge numbers (in the Cape Cod League) they might make him an offer. The same thing with Taylor Hill.”

Hayes’ selection represented a victory, of sorts, for the hard-throwing right-hander. He decided to return to school this year after the Seattle Mariners drafted him in 2009. The Mariners took him in the 22nd round (653rd overall), which means he improved his position in the draft by more than 300 places.

Hayes also was drafted four years ago when he came out of McKenzie High School. That year, Arizona used a 29th-round selection on him. He spent one year at Bethel College before he transferred to Vanderbilt.

“He came to us unlike a typical freshman,” Corbin said. “He’s benefited by another year in the SEC, and now he’s in a much better position to make an impact (with the Reds’ organization). We talked a lot about that after he was taken last year.”

Other players of local interest who were taken on Day Two of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft:

• Pitcher Logan Darnell, a graduate of Goodpasture and currently at starter at the University of Kentucky, was taken in the sixth round by Minnesota.

• Brentwood High School pitcher Robbie Ray was the first pick of the 12th round (356th overall) by the Washington Nationals.

• Lipscomb pitcher Josh Smith, who developed into a Friday night starter as a senior, went to the Cincinnati Reds in the 21st round.

• Middle Tennessee State, which had a first-round selection in outfielder Bryce Brentz on Monday (36th overall by Boston), had five more players taken on the second day.

Infielder Alex McClure, who also played at Austin Peay and Vanderbilt during his college career, was picked by Kansas City in the 11th round (329th overall), third baseman Tyler Burnett was picked by Houston in the 17th round (513th overall), second baseman Justin Miller went to Washington in the 18th round (536th overall), first baseman Blake McDade was tabbed by Colorado in the 20th round (620th overall) and Colorado took pitcher Kenneth Roberts in the 25th round (770th overall).