Six Vols Selected in 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft

Six Vols Selected in 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Image 1)

 The Tennessee Volunteers had six players selected by five different Major League organizations in the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

On Monday, Tennessee left fielder Christin Stewart was selected in the first round (34th overall) by the Detroit Tigers. Five Volunteers were later picked as part of Draft Day 3 on Wednesday, including Andrew Lee in the 11th round by the Washington Nationals, Drake Owenby in the 12th round by the Milwaukee Brewers, A.J. Simcox in the 14th round by Detroit, Bret Marks in the 15th round by the New York Yankees and Andy Cox in the 37th round by the Oakland Athletics.

Tennessee’s six draftees tied for the program’s third-most in a single draft and mark the most for UT since 2006, when the school witnessed seven players be selected in the MLB Draft. The Volunteers also had five, Top-15 round selections in the draft for the first time since 2005. 

With Stewart’s first-round selection on Monday, he became Tennessee’s fifth, first-round pick since 2007, as well as the Volunteers’ 16th overall first-round pick in school history.

Since the Major League Baseball Draft began in 1965, Tennessee has now had 98 players selected in the Top 20 rounds, including 51 players picked in Rounds 1-10. With this year’s selections, the Volunteers hold an all-time total of 124 players drafted out of Rocky Top.

Here’s a look at each of Tennessee’s 2015 Major League Draft selections:

Christin Stewart – Detroit Tigers (First Round, 34th Overall)

Tennessee outfielder Christin Stewart was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (34th overall pick) of the 2015 Major League Draft.

With his selection, Stewart is the first UT player to be drafted in the first round since Kentrail Davis was selected as the 39th overall pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009. Stewart also becomes the fifth, first-round draft pick since 2007 and the 16th first-rounder produced out of the University of Tennessee.

As a junior in 2015, he appeared in 50 games, hitting .311 with eight doubles, two triples, 15 homers, 47 RBI and 39 runs scored. He produced career-best numbers, leading Tennessee’s squad in homers, RBI and slugging percentage (.633). Entering the SEC Tournament in May, the junior led the conference in times hit by a pitch (15), while he also held the most walks by a Volunteer with 28.

Following the regular season, Stewart became the first Volunteer to be named a First Team All-SEC player in consecutive years (2014-15) since Tennessee Hall of Famer Chris Burke (2000-01) did so following his record-setting campaigns on Rocky Top.

Andrew Lee – Washington Nationals (11th Round, 344th Overall)

In the 11th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, the Washington Nationals selected Tennessee junior Andrew Lee as the 344th overall pick.

In his third season on Rocky Top in 2015, Lee contributed on both sides of the ball for the Volunteers as the team’s primary designated hitter and right-handed closer. At the plate, the Morristown native hit .306 with 10 doubles, two triples and nine home runs over 41 games, second-most on the squad behind fellow junior and Detroit Tigers’ first-round pick Christin Stewart. His 31 RBI and .590 slugging percentage also ranked second, as he became the sole member of the Volunteers to hit a grand slam home run in 2015.

On the mound, Lee maintained a 4-2 record with a 2.67 ERA over 21 relief appearances. He issued just five walks to his 32 strikeouts in 27.0 innings pitched and collected a team-high nine saves, putting him in third place on Tennessee’s all-time career saves list with 13.

During the summer of 2014, he led the Cape Cod League’s Brewster Whitecaps with a .333 average over 24 games.

In his sophomore season with the Vols, Lee made 23 appearances on the hill, going 4-4 with a 3.90 ERA and four saves through 57.2 innings in was his first campaign on the mound after recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2012.

As a freshman, he became the first freshman to hit in the cleanup spot for the Vols on Opening Day since 1990 vs. UNLV. He ended the season with a .187 average in 25 games, including 18 starts.

Lee owns a career 8-6 record with a 3.51 ERA in 44 appearances for the Big Orange, as well as a .262 average with 13 doubles, 10 homers and 40 RBI over 72 games as a position player.

Drake Owenby – Milwaukee Brewers (12th Round, 361st Overall)

Tennessee left-handed pitcher Drake Owenby was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 361st overall pick in the 12th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

In 2015, Owenby started in 12 of his 15 appearances for the Volunteers. He went 2-6 with a 4.83 ERA over 69.0 innings pitched and tallied 60 strikeouts, third-most among UT starters.

As a sophomore, Owenby made 21 appearances on the mound, going 2-3 with a 3.20 ERA and a team-leading five saves. During the summer of 2014, he also played with the Cape Cod Summer League Champion Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings during the playoff series.

As a freshman, the Powell, Tenn. native pitched in 16 games and held a 2-1 record with two saves. He led the pitching staff with a .204 opponent’s batting average.

A.J. Simcox – Detroit Tigers (14th Round, 430th Overall)

Tennessee shortstop A.J. Simcox was selected by the Detroit Tigers with the 430th overall pick in the 14th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Simcox appeared in 50 games during his junior season in 2015. He hit a career-best .293 with seven doubles, three triples, one homer, 27 RBI and 29 runs scored. After gaining momentum in the last half of the season, Simcox blasted his seventh double in a big series against Mississippi State, ultimately helping the Vols to their second-consecutive SEC Tournament appearance in May. Prior to the season, he was named a 2015 Preseason Top 50 Player by Baseball America and helped the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox to a Cape Cod Summer League Championship title.

As a sophomore in 2014, Simcox settled into the everyday role at shortstop for the Vols. He hit .270 amidst registering a season-long nine-game hit streak where he hit .410 from March 1-15 of that year. As a freshman, he appeared in 50 of 52 games, including 48 starts at shortstop, and led the team with 144 assists. His .327 batting average in SEC play was also tops among the Vols’ squad in 2013.

In his first three seasons on Rocky Top, the Farragut native started all 150 games, having never missed a game over his sophomore and junior campaigns. He owns a .282 career average with 12 doubles, 66 RBI and holds a spot in the Vol Baseball record books for most sacrifice bunts in a career with 34. As a shortstop, Simcox holds a .942 lifetime fielding percentage.

Simcox was previously drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 32nd round (987th overall) of the 2012 Major League Draft but did not sign.

Bret Marks – New York Yankees (15th Round, 453rd Overall)

Tennessee senior righthander Bret Marks was selected by the New York Yankees with the 453rd overall pick in the 15th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Marks spent two seasons (2014-15) on Rocky Top after transferring from Wallace State Community College, compiling a 7-6 record over 23 appearances (16 starts) and a career 3.46 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 91.0 innings pitched.

In his senior season, Marks led the Vols’ staff in innings pitched (77.0), strikeouts (89) and opposing batters average (.202), while his 2.92 ERA was the best among UT starters. In March, he was named SEC Pitcher of the Week after dealing 8.0-plus innings of one-hit baseball in the Vols’ opener of SEC play visiting the No. 3-ranked Florida Gators.

As a junior, he saw limited action with 10 appearances, including four starts with a 3-1 record over 14 innings and a 6.43 ERA. In the summer of 2014, he pitched in 12 games, including five starts, and was named an All-Star for the Anchorage Bucs of the Alaska Baseball League. His 1.89 ERA was fifth-best for ABL pitchers and he led the league with 49 strikeouts in 42.2 innings pitched.

Marks was previously drafted by the New York Yankees in the 22nd round (697th overall) in the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft.

Andy Cox – Oakland Athletics (37th Round, 1118th Overall)

Tennessee left-handed pitcher Andy Cox was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 37th round (1,118th overall) of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

In 2015, the left-handed junior appeared in 21 games (seven starts) for the Vols, going 3-3 with a 3.36 ERA, three saves and 63 strikeouts over 67.0 innings of work. After beginning the year as a member of the Vols’ bullpen, Cox started a career-high seven games for UT in the second half of the season.

As a sophomore in 2014, Cox finished the season with a 5-1 record and a 2.44 ERA, including a team-leading 70 strikeouts. In his freshman campaign, he tied for a team-high 21 appearances with a 2-2 record and 5.29 ERA.

Over 69 career appearances, including 19 starts, Cox owns a 10-6 record with a 3.47 ERA, six saves and 164 strikeouts in 192.0 innings pitched.

Cox’s career honors include being named a finalist to the 2014 Gregg Olson Award and 2014 NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award Lists.


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