Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin likes to say his biggest recruits sometimes are the ones who choose to return to school.
If that’s so, Corbin and the Commodores received a huge lift last week when recently drafted outfielders Connor Harrell and Mike Yastrzemski turned down the pros and opted to come back for their senior seasons.
In addition, 11 incoming freshmen of the original 13-man signing class will arrive on campus next month. Supplemental first-round picks first baseman Matt Olson (Oakland) and right-handed pitcher Collin Wiles (Texas) were the only two of the seven commits drafted to sign professional deals.
Harrell, a 6-foot-3 center fielder, was taken in the 31st round by the Detroit Tigers. He returns after leading the team with seven home runs this spring. For Yastrzemski, the decision was a little harder.
The grandson of Hall of Famer and Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, Mike was planning on returning for his final season after Seattle drafted him in the 30th round. But reportedly the Mariners offered him a signing bonus of $300,000, which made the younger Yastrzemski think long and hard before deciding that getting his Vanderbilt degree was extremely important.
Among the notable freshman who turned down professional contracts is pitcher Walker Buehler. The hard-throwing right-hander from Lexington, Ky., was taken in the 14th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Carson Fulmer, another righty with a fastball that touches the mid-90s, said no thanks to the Boston Red Sox, who took him in the 15th round. Infielder Dansy Swanson passed on the Colorado Rockies, who drafted him in the 38th round.
Vanderbilt did lose four upperclassmen to professional contracts. Pitchers Sam Selman (Kansas City), Drew VerHagen (Detroit) and Will Clinard (Detroit), along with shortstop Anthony Gomez (Miami) all had one year of eligibility left.