Coming off a historic season with a loaded roster in 2022, the Vols lost eight players from their starting lineup to the draft or graduation. Replacing eight guys from the everyday lineup is a very tough thing to do. However, Tony Vitello has shown that he doesn’t rebuild, he reloads.
The Vols offense will likely take a step back after such a historic run in 2022 but still expect to be dominant and one of the top offenses in the SEC. What really sets the Vols apart is the rotation. All three of the projected weekend starters were named to preseason All-American honors. Chase Dollander is projected as the top pitching prospect in the 2023 MLB draft. Chase Burns could be the top pitching prospect in the 2024 draft class. This rotation has the potential to be the best rotation college baseball has ever seen.
Tennessee has brought in a brilliant transfer class as well as a top freshman recruiting class to help replace and bolster the lineup after so many guys went pro. Here are some of the new names to watch in 2023:
SS Maui Ahuna - Transfer (Kansas)
Started 50 games as a freshman and 53 games as a sophomore
All Big-12 First Team
2022 stat line: .396/.479/.634 (80-for-202), 16 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 48 RBI, 42 R, 13 SB
3B Zane Denton - Transfer (Alabama)
Has started every game for Alabama over the last 2 seasons
2021 SEC Newcomer of the year
2021 SEC All Defensive Team
Career Stat line (129 games): .279/.363/.474 23 HR, 25 2B, 97 RBI, 80 R
OF/1B Griffin Merrit - Transfer (Cincinnati)
2022 AAC Player of the Year
Led the AAC with 19 Home Runs
Slashed .315/.383/.555 in 51 games for the Bearcats
The Vols had an historic season in 2022 from an offensive perspective, but in 2023 it’s the pitching that projects to have the historic season. If a team wants to make a run at Omaha and compete for a national championship they have to have the pitching. Look for the Vols to host another Super Regional and make a run in Omaha in 2023.