The Tennessee Volunteers baseball team set a new school record on Monday with five Vols being drafted in the first 10 rounds of the 2021 MLB Draft.
The mark tops the previous record of four, which was achieved in 2019, 2005 and 2001.
The Toronto Blue Jays drafted pitcher Chad Dallas with pick 121 in the fourth round. The junior righty was the Vols’ Friday night starter, compiling an 11-2 record with a 4.19 ERA, 112 strikeouts and 20 walks in 103 innings. He held batters to a .241 average and led UT in wins and strikeouts. Slot value: $437,700.
“I would not bet against this guy being a starter," MLB.com draft analyst Jim Callis said of Dallas. "He is going to tell you he is going to make sure he is a starter.”
Shortstop Liam Spence was taken by the Chicago Cubs with pick 154 in Round 5. The senior hit leadoff for the team, batting .336 with five home runs, 36 RBIs and 63 runs scored. Spence led the SEC with a .472 on-base percentage and 54 walks. He reached base in 50 straight games and was second on the team with 82 hits. Slot value: $343,400.
The San Diego Padres picked second baseman Max Ferguson with pick 160 in Round 5. He hit .253 and set new career highs with 12 home runs, 45 RBIs and 46 runs scored. Slot value: $324,100.
Catcher Connor Pavolony was selected with pick 197 in Round 7 by the Baltimore Orioles. He hit .260 with seven home runs, 26 RBIs, 40 hits and 29 runs scored — all career highs. Pavolony also threw out nine base runners in 2021. Slot value: $237,000.
The Minnesota Twins took third baseman Jake Rucker with pick 219 in Round 7. The Greenbrier native and Pope John Paul II alum led the Vols in hits (90) and doubles (21) and ranked second on the team in runs scored (48), third in RBIs (55) and batting average (.330), and sixth in home runs (nine). Rucker hit from the No. 3 spot in the lineup and ranked seventh in the NCAA in hits and was a third team All-American. Slot value: $198,500.
“[Rucker] has been a very consistent performer for the Volunteers," Callis said. "There are some scouts that think he will be the best position player off that club.”
Beech High School ace and Vols signee Chase Burns was not selected on Day 2 after he reportedly said he wouldn’t sign with any team and instead head to Knoxville to play for Tony Vitello next year.
“Excited to put that orange on,” he tweeted on Monday.
Tennessee also had several high school signees drafted — including shortstop Brady House, taken No. 11 overall by the Washington Nationals, shortstop Ryan Spikes, taken by the Tampa Bay Rays in Round 3, and second baseman Dayton Dooney, selected by the Kansas City Royals in Round 6.
All three will most likely sign their MLB deals and not enroll at Knoxville. Drafted players have until Aug. 1 to reach a deal with their respective pro organizations. If no deal is reached, they will return to their schools for the following season.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_