The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Press Conference Notes: Corbin speaks to media three weeks before opening day

Three weeks before the VandyBoys open their 2023 season in Arlington, Tim Corbin, Enrique Bradfield Jr. and Nick Maldonado spoke to media Friday to preview the upcoming spring.
Vanderbilt Athletics
The VandyBoys warm up before their Friday practice. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

On a sunny Friday afternoon exactly three weeks before the VandyBoys’ season opener in Arlington, Texas, head coach Tim Corbin held a press conference to discuss his team’s preparation for the upcoming season.

The VandyBoys are coming off a 39-23 season in which they were eliminated in the NCAA Regionals by Oregon State.

“We don’t talk about that a lot,” Corbin said of last season’s disappointing ending. “But I’m sure it sits in their stomach. I think any time you finish a season not necessarily where you want to be, it leaves a lingering scar or an effect on how you want to go about the next season.”

This year, the Commodores are D1 Baseball’s preseason No. 10 team in the country, and ranked No. 6 by Baseball America. While these rankings are lower than Vanderbilt has been over the last couple years, preseason baseball rankings are notoriously unreliable predictors. Nevertheless, expectations are high for the VandyBoys as official practices begin.

One of the top areas to watch for this spring is the strength of the Commodores’ pitching staff. Sophomore lefty Carter Holton leads a stacked rotation, but the exact four-man rotation is yet to be finalized.

“If we’re comparing more depth than last year, and what that depth means once they get out there and start throwing the ball, we’ll see,” Corbin said of the pitching depth. “But I like the experience. There are some guys that have logged some important innings and have proven to be beneficial for our team. So the fact that they’re back and have been in those roles before, there’s some comfort to that.”

Corbin declined to say who exactly would break into that rotation.

“I’ve got an idea. There’s probably four or five kids there that are probably in that mix,” Corbin said. “I think the next three weeks will have a lot to do with it too, because this is the first time we’re really scrimmaging since November.”

Nick Maldonado will also be part of this year’s pitching staff. The senior was sidelined for much of 2022, but will be back to full health for the start of the season.

“I feel great right now,” Maldonado said. “We have a lot of experience this year. We have a lot of seniors which is pretty rare, but it makes a team special.”

On the other side of the ball, fans of the VandyBoys may feel concerned about the offense and their ability to hit for power, especially compared to the rest of the SEC. Dominic Keegan and Spencer Jones were the only two Commodores last year to hit double-digit home runs, and both were picked in last summer’s MLB Draft. 

“I think power is one of those things that happens,” Corbin said. “I don’t think you can get into a training regimen and just start trying to lift the ball. I think it’s about getting to the ball and getting to the middle of the ball and doing that consistently. As these kids get stronger and as they learn timing and to hit the ball over the plate and balance, power seems to come.”

The 2023 lineup will be headlined by an outfield including Bradfield and incoming Duke transfer R.J. Schreck, a graduate student. Bradfield will continue in his normal role this season as the prototypical center fielder and leadoff hitter with speed on the bases. Bradfield has already accumulated 93 stolen bases in his two first seasons and is aiming to keep improving this year.

“I’m always working,” Bradfield said. “Every day is new progress and a new challenge, so I think there are improvements.”

Bradfield was also asked whether he likes the new rules in Major League Baseball this year, which aim to promote base-stealing by limiting pickoff attempts and increasing the size of the bases.

“I’ll see when I get there,” he replied.

The infield is less settled, but sophomore Davis Diaz and senior Parker Noland will likely be in the mix for consistent starts.

“Right now, it’s just trying to put the best infield out there that fits us best,” Corbin said. “Whether that’s [Jonathan] Vastine or Diaz at shortstop, or where’s Noland: third or first? I don’t quite know that yet. But what I like about them is their ability just to go over there and just do it and keep playing as if that’s their natural position.”

The Commodores will be packed into an SEC that’s as strong as ever, with nine teams in D1’s preseason top 25 and seven in the top 10. Corbin attributed much of that strength to the rise of the transfer portal, which he dubbed “free agency.”

“You have more good players who are wandering about over to this conference. I think that it’s probably going to be as good as it’s ever been,” Corbin said. “When you bring Oklahoma and Texas to the party [in 2025], that’s pretty solid stuff.”

The VandyBoys will kick off their 2023 season at the College Baseball Showdown at GlobeLife Field in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 17 against TCU.

Leave a comment
About the Contributor
Frankie Sheehy, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Frankie Sheehy ('24) wrote for The Hustler Sports section and graduated from the College of Arts and Science with majors in economics and law, history and society. He was also the president of the Vanderbilt Chess Club and a superfan of the Chicago White Sox. You can reach him at [email protected].
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments