Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT/Submitted)-- The Tennessee baseball team added four junior college transfers to its 2013 signing class on Wednesday, including three right-handed pitchers and one of the nation’s top outfielders.
The Volunteers plucked a pair of pitchers off the West Coast in California junior college products Zac Grotz and Tei Vanderford out of the College of San Mateo and Glendale College, respectively, as well as Yavapai College (Ariz.) right-hander Peter Lenstrohm.
In addition to the three new arms, the Big Orange also signed Lexington, Ky., native Jonathan Youngblood, an outfielder out of Meridian Community College (Miss.) who has already been drafted twice in his career and entered the 2013 campaign ranked as one of the top-10 junior college prospects in the nation.
The four new signees push the 2013 signing class to a total of 14 players who will all join the Tennessee program this fall. Below are the four new signees:
ZAC GROTZ (RHP // Burlingame, Calif.)
An athletic right-handed pitcher, Grotz will arrive at Tennessee after pitching at the College of San Mateo and Cal State Monterey Bay the past two seasons. This past spring, he led the Bulldogs to a 32-12 record, going 7-3 with a 2.24 ERA in 12 appearances, including 10 starts on the mound. He led the team with 80.1 innings pitched, striking out 55 and walking only 19 en route to being named to the All-Coast Conference First Team. In 2012, Grotz appeared in 10 games for Monterey Bay, striking out 15 in 24.2 innings of work. His prep career was a successful one as he established himself as one of the premier pitchers in Northern California for Burlingame High School. After notching the save in the CIF Central Coast Section championship game in his junior season, he went on to post a 7-1 record with a 1.16 ERA as a senior. In 54 innings, he racked up 52 strikeouts and held opposing hitters to a .190 batting average which was good enough for All-San Mateo County First Team and Peninsula Athletic League Pitcher of the Year accolades.
Serrano on Grotz: “Zac is coming off a good year at the College of San Mateo and has the ability to be either a starter or closer for our program as he has a great arm and a very good split-finger fastball. We hope and expect him to help add depth and quality to our pitching staff next season.”
PETER LENSTROHM (RHP // Paradise Valley, Ariz.)
Lenstrohm has been a workhorse for Yavapai College the past two seasons, leading the Roughriders to the playoffs both years. This past spring, the Paradise Valley, Ariz., native fired a team-high 79.1 innings, posting a 5-2 record and a 2.72 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 13 appearances on the mound. In his freshman campaign, Lenstrohm went 8-1 with a 3.70 ERA, finishing second on the squad with 90.0 innings over 19 appearances during which he struck out 55 and walked just 28. As a senior at Chaparral High School in 2011, Lenstrohm was named the Firebirds’ pitcher of the year after tallying a 1.17 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 55 innings. For his efforts he earned first team all-region and second-team all-state honors.
Serrano on Lenstrohm: “Peter is a very polished right-handed pitcher with a great arm from Arizona. He has a history of winning a lot of games throughout his career and is someone who could come in and quickly establish him as a weekend starter for our program.”
TEI VANDERFORD (RHP // Glendale, Calif.)
A 6-2 righthander, Vanderford was 5-3 with a 1.65 ERA in 12 appearances, including nine starts at Glendale Community College this spring. He allowed just 44 hits in 54.2 innings of work while striking out 41 and walking only 16 as the Vaqueros finished 27-13 and won their third consecutive Western State Conference championship. Vanderford prepped at St. Francis High School where he was the team captain as a senior in 2012, posting a miniscule 1.65 ERA, .188 opponent batting average and striking out 23 batters in 34 innings. He started five games, two of which he completed. As a junior, he was 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA and 37 strikeouts on the mound. He also hit .343 with a pair of home runs and 23 RBIs while playing four different positions in the field en route to earning second-team all-area honors as a utility player.
Serrano on Vanderford: “Tei comes from one of the top junior colleges in California which has had a lot of success recently. He is a strike thrower with a good arm and is a fierce competitor. He will transfer in as a sophomore and could fill any number of roles for us next season, including possibly as a starter.”
JONATHAN YOUNGBLOOD (OF // Lexington, Ky.)
Twice drafted, Youngblood is a speedy centerfielder from Lexington, Ky., who has spent the past two seasons at Meridian Community College. Following his freshman campaign in Mississippi, he was a 15th-round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012. That came a year after he was drafted in the 30th round by the Atlanta Braves in 2011 after graduating from Lafayette High School in Lexington where he was a four-year letterwinner and two-time all-city and all-state selection. During his time with the Eagles, Youngblood had 99 hits in 99 games, hitting at a .288 clip with 72 runs scored, 10 doubles and 39 RBIs. He was also near-perfect on the basepaths, stealing 48 bases in 55 attempts. Last summer, Youngblood was ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Jayhawk League after playing for the Dodge City Athletics. Before the 2013 campaign, he was rated as the ninth-best junior college prospect in the nation by the same publication.
Serrano on Youngblood: “Jonathan is an experienced, slick-fielding outfielder who will come in with a chance to immediately establish himself as a key contributor in our program. He will bring much-needed speed to our lineup and has great baserunning instincts.”