The Lee baseball season is only three weeks away and coach Mark Brew has added three transfers to his program. Two are expected to step in and help immediately, while the other will be added to the red-shirt list. Aaron Everett was one of the top hurlers for coach Todd Raleigh at UT-Knoxville last season. His 2008 season ended with an arm-injury while pitching against the University of Florida. The native of Loudon, Tenn., is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander. He played for coach Bill Thompson at Loudon High and was a two-time all-state. During his senior season he was 13-1 with a 1.27 earned run average. During three seasons for the Vols, he was 8-1 with three saves and an ERA 2.82. He holds the UT record for eight-consecutive game appearances.
From the Chattanooga area, Tanner Moore is a 6-foot, 200 pound versatile player, who bats left and throws right and will be battling for playing time in the Lee infield. A two-time all-state player for Coach Chris Richardson at McCallie High School, Moore attended East Tennessee State University his freshman year and played for Coach Tony Skole. He started all 43 games as a freshman and hit .288 with three homers and 22 RBI. He also was second on the team hitting .338 in Atlantic Sun Conference action. In 2008 at Tennessee, he played for coach Raleigh and appeared in 50 games, starting in 14. He posted a .218 average with three doubles and seven RBI.
If looks are any indicator of talent, Brew has a big-time player with the signing of Junior Rodriguez. He's a transfer from Palm Beach Community College. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, the right-handed hitter can be used at third base or behind the plate. He graduated from Coral Gables High School in Miami and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 46th round of the 2006 MLB draft. At Palm Beach, he played for coach Alex Morales and was first-team all-conference in 2007 home runs and hitting .365 with 31 RBI. He was all-conference again in 2008, batting.385 with eight homers and 51 RBI.
Brandon Cunniff joined the Flames during the fall semester. From Corona, Calif., the right-handed hurler graduated from Norco High School. He played at Riverside Community College in California as a freshman. He transferred to New Mexico Junior College for his sophomore season. Originally and infielder, Cunniff was converted to a full-time pitcher at New Mexico and recorded 7-3 mark with a 3.74 ERA. He registered 77 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched.
Thoughts from the Sports Editor:
Again, coach Mark Brew has exemplified professional discernment in his four selections, keeping in mind his team's needs after falling to Lewis-Clark State in last year's NAIA World Series. Despite a 63-10 record, Brew focused his attention on big time performers who could deliver in the clutch consistently. The addition of Everett will deepen the pitching rotation, and with his knack for endurance, the ex-UTK star could prove useful in case the injury bug strikes.
Easing the transition for Everett will be his former UTK teammate, Tanner Moore. Moore may be the most well-rounded pick up by Crew in the offseason and will be huge in the long run for the Flames.
In the final two losses against Lewis-Clark State, the heart of Lee's lineup failed to squeeze out clutch hits. The acquisition of Junior Rodriguez should help fill in any power gaps in the middle of Brew's order.
Finally, Brandon Cunniff will bring relief firepower to an already solid bullpen, as he averaged over a strikeout per inning at New Mexico Junior College. Given the strength and recognition of NM's program, Cunniff could be the sleeper of all the additions to Brew's crew.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009