Baseball: UT's Alerick Soularie vs UNC-Asheville

Tennessee’s Alerick Soularie (1) hits a second-inning home run against UNC-Asheville during the Vols’ 12-1 win Feb. 26 in Knoxville. UT entered the Feb. 26 game No. 3 in the nation for home runs and added three more in the midweek victory to raise its total to 16.

Two of Tennessee’s biggest sluggers are going pro.

Junior outfielders Alerick Soularie and Zach Daniels were both selected on the second and final day of the 2020 MLB Draft on Thursday.

The Minnesota Twins took Soularie off the board in the second round with the No. 59 overall pick and Daniels was drafted by the Houston Astros with the final pick of the fourth round (No. 131).

Soularie was viewed as one of the most polished collegiate hitters in the draft because of his “excellent feel for recognizing and barreling pitches, making consistent line-drive contact to all fields while controlling the strike zone,” according to his MLB Pipeline profile.

The Houston native slashed .402/.513/.745 with 10 homers and 23 steals at San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College in 2018 before finishing second in the SEC in on-base percentage (.466) and third in batting average (.357) and slugging percentage (.602) last season.

He logged two hits in his first 20 at-bats through UT’s first six games in 2020 but slashed .350/.458/.750 with five home runs and 14 RBIs over the final 11 games of the truncated season.

Daniels was having a breakout season, slashing .357/.478/.750 with four home runs and a team-leading 18 RBIs after failing to bat better than .200 in his first two seasons at UT.

Soularie and Daniels were selected a day after junior left-handed pitcher Garrett Crochet was taken by the Chicago White Sox with the No. 11 overall pick. It is the first time Tennessee has had three players drafted in the first four rounds since 2007.

It is safe to assume nearly every player selected will sign given team’s unwillingness to waste one of the few picks afforded to them in a shortened draft because of COVID-19.

It is also possible that Tennessee losses a few other contributors via free agency.

As part of the agreement between the MLB and MLBPA, clubs can sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents with a maximum signing bonus of $20,000.

Follow @Troy_Provost on Twitter for more from sports reporter Troy Provost-Heron.

Sports Writer

Troy takes a lead on high school sports coverage and is the beat writer for UT men's basketball for The Daily Times. He's also a regular contributor for The Daily Times on The Sports Page radio show.

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