November 10, 2006

Signing day special: Corbin does it again

Vanderbilt's baseball program has been built largely on head coach Tim Corbin's ability to sign some of the best high school recruits in the nation. This year certainly was no different, as he and his staff of Eric Bakich and Derek Johnson signed six of the most prized prep baseball recruits in this class.

With all six NCAA Letters of Intent signed and delivered, Corbin sat down with in his Commodore Clubhouse office to discuss his latest additions to the Vanderbilt baseball program.

• SEAN BIERMAN, LHP (Kinnelon, NJ)

TC: "Sean played for the Bayside Yankees, which are coached by Mark Casetta. We saw him earlier in the summer, and Eric, DJ and Blake got to see him extensively. He's a pitcher who throws anywhere from 86 to 88. He has a good breaking ball, and good pitchability. He's got a good breaking ball, too. He's a polished high school kid who has a chance to come in here and pitch very soon.

VS: Where'd you find Sean?

TC: Well, we have a great relationship with the Bayside Yankees. Pedro Alvarez played for Mark, David Macias, Cody Crowell, [dvb]Stephen Schwartz[/db], Jay Moreland, Nick Christiani, Ty Rhoden...I'm trying to think of all our roster. A good amount of our kids played for them.

VS: You must have a great relationship with him.

TC: Well, he's sent guys to Arizona State, Tulane, Wake Forest, all over the country. He's had good summer programs ever since I started coaching back in 1986.

MR: I know Sean is a very heavily recruited prospect. Who did you have to beat to sign him?

TC: It came down to Virginia. And it was a very nice pick-up for us, because he's a good little athlete. He plays soccer, and I think that was one we were very happy to get."

• CURTIS CASALI, C (New Canaan, CT)

TC: Curt is one of the more highly regarded catchers in the country. Eric spotted him right away and just did an unbelievable job recruiting him, from start to finish. Eric cultivated a relationship with him, and we went up against a lot of other schools to sign him.

MR: Like?

TC: Well, it ended up being us and Virginia again, but that was one that started out with about 50 schools, and dwindled down to about 20, and then dwindled down to five. I think North Carolina, Virginia, some other SEC schools, and us. It came down to Virginia and us.

He's a polished catcher, very strong. We watched him play football and he's a good football player as well. He was a quarterback, so he's a big, solid kid -- about 6'3", 220. He gives us a strong-bodied guy who is a polished catcher who can throw the ball well, too.

MR: Physically he sounds like more of a traditional catcher.

TC: Well, when I made calls back to Eric over the summer, Eric kept saying, We've gotta get Casali, we've gotta get Casali, we've gotta get Casali. He said he's just a strong, strong kid who can be a force relatively soon.

MR: How did Eric find him?

TC: He just saw him in tournaments. Eric made a special trip up to Connecticut during our season to see him alone, because he had heard so many good things about him.

MR: Will he catch for you?

TC: Well, it's tough to say, Mike. I think he's one of those guys we recruited to catch, but a lot of it depends on the development of (current roster catchers) Shea Robin, Andrew Giobbi and Jay Moreland. We brought him in here to catch, though, and he's got an opportunity to catch soon in the process.

• TAYLOR HILL, RHP (Mt. Juliet, TN)

MR: I know Taylor is a young man you've been looking at for some time, as he plays high school ball here in Nashville at a program you've recruited a lot. He also happens to be the only in-state recruit in this class.

TC: Right, he's our fourth player from Mt. Juliet High School.

MR: Taylor is already a very accomplished pitcher, isn't he?

TC: Yeah, he throws in the high 80s, he's got a good curve ball, he throws a slider and a change-up, so he's already got a good four-pitch mix. And, he's already improved his body since last year.

MR: Taylor was here for the entire Black and Gold Series.

TC: Yes, he's been over here quite a few times unofficially, as well as officially, to see some football games. We really think highly of him. I saw him a lot in the spring, and Eric and D.J. have gotten to watch him, too. So we've gotten a lot of looks at him. We were convinced he was the top pitcher in the state. I know there's a lot of good players out there and I certainly don't want to minimize anyone else out there, but we really thought he could help us.

MR: So did a lot of other programs.

TC: Yes. It came down to Georgia Tech and us. And Tennessee. We were fortunate to get him. The fact that we have such a good academic reputation, and the fact that we had three Mt. Juliet guys here, and he's nearby, his parents can come over and see him pitch.

I talked to Taylor last night and he was ecstatic, so it was good to hear that in his voice.

MR: Do people overplay the Mt. Juliet thing?

TC: Well, I don't know, Mike. Their coach, Mark Purvis, coaches like a college program. He's got a great reputation all over the state, and when he tells me a guy can play here you can put your stamp on it. He told me about Stephen Shao a while back, and he told me about Matt Shao, and he told me Caleb Cotham could play here. And he told me Taylor could definitely play here. We see those guys that he kind of puts his autograph on and we go after them.

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