KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee outfielder Alerick Soularie’s dreams come true with one phone call, as the versatile player is projected to go in the second or third round in the 2020 MLB draft.
Soularie has played baseball since he was a very young kid and has thought about this moment his entire life.
“If it does happen it will be a dream come true,” says Soularie, “something I’ve been waiting for and something I’m excited about.”
While Soularie is excited, he remains level-headed; maintaining a clear mind and treating these next couple of days like any other.
Soularie entered this season as Preseason All-American slugging five homers in 60 at-bats and 17 total RBIs before COVID-19 stepped up to bat–striking out the season in March.
In 2019, Soularie batted .357 starting in 54 games. Finishing second on the team with 70 hits and led in runs with 52 total, helping the Vols to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. His dominant performance in 2019 earned him All-SEC First Team honors.
The season ending abruptly was tough on Soularie as he went into this one thinking it was his last, “I definitely get where they were coming from but it was definitely disappointing not being able to complete this season with the team,” said Soularie.
The dynamic player is hoping the abrupt ending will not hurt his draft stock. Coming off of an impressive year, Soularie felt he had more to prove this season. A strong and consistent player with the ability to play multiple field positions, the junior is hoping his versatility will stand out to teams.
“I think being versatile and being a utility on the field has moved me onto some teams’ radars ’cause I can play all over. I can play infield, outfield but hopefully they don’t need me to catch,” says Soularie even though he can as he played at catcher most of his life.
Though he has not physically seen his teammates since March, he stays in contact with Zach Daniels, Garrett Crochet and Jackson Leath who are also Vols on the draft board. Soularie says they look at each other like brothers, and have been supporting each other leading up to this moment.
“Whether Zach gets drafted first round, second round, whatever, I’m going to be there for him and support him through it all same,” notes Soularie, “Same with Croche and same with Jackson. I feel like we all have a really good connection as teammates and want to see each other succeed.”
Soularie also leans on Tony Vitello for support. The VFL says he talks with “Coach V” every three to four days, checking in with each other. Vitello recently made a Twitter account, pushing for Crochet and Soularie to get drafted, which was seen as an unexpected move on Vitello’s part for many but very much expected according to Soularie. “Coach V is one of the best coaches in the SEC, if not the country,” boasted Soularie.
Soularie has a good relationship with Vitello as he recruited him since he was a freshman in high school and says playing under Vitello was one of the best things about UT.
“I know I can get down on myself if something doesn’t go my way on the field and whenever stuff like that happens,” says the major league hopeful, “he was always there to pick me up like, ‘hey you’re a good player. Don’t worry about that, just move on and keep going’…. I definitely give my props to coach V.”
Soularie will be surrounded by family and friends at home in Houston Texas as he watches the draft, waiting for his name to be called.
The MLB draft, like the NFL draft, will be held virtually. There will only be five rounds this year compared to the typical 40 due to the financial impact of COVID-19. The first round will consist of 37 picks, with rounds two through five consisting of 123 total picks. Teams can sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents for a maximum of $20,000.
The first round starts tonight at 7 pm ET. Rounds 2-5 will be held on June 11, with round two starting at 5 pm ET.
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- Vols hoops’ season opener scheduled for Dec. 9 against UT Martin after canceling first 4 games due to COVID-19
- Vols need to find production on offense as No. 6 Florida is coming to town
- Coronavirus Tennessee: Vols have ‘about 16’ players in quarantine, two positive cases