June 6, 2007
Knoxville -- For the first time in the history of Tennessee baseball, three Volunteers were selected in the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft. The junior trio of J.P. Arencibia, Julio Borbon and James Adkins all heard their names called among the top-40 picks Thursday, giving UT an all-time total of 12 players who have been selected in the first round of the draft 14 different times (Sam Ewing and Luke Hochevar were each drafted in the first round in consecutive years).
Arencibia was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 21st overall pick Thursday. He had recently completed his junior season at UT and established himself as one of the top offensive producers in school history. He was the 10th Vol ever to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft.
"It's a dream come true," Arencibia said from his home in Miami, Fla., where he watched the draft with his family. "I'm speechless. I really want to thank all the Tennessee fans for all the support they've given me and our team. This would never have been possible without my experience at Tennessee."
Arencibia was a two-time All-America catcher for Tennessee and one of the top power hitters in program history. He hit .330 for his career, and he ranks third in UT history in total bases (381), fourth in RBIs (165), tied for fifth in home runs (33), tied for sixth in doubles (48) and seventh in hits (230).
For two consecutive summers in 2005 and 2006, Arencibia starred as one of the top hitters on the USA Baseball National Team. He was selected as the 2006 USA Baseball Athlete of the Year after he and Borbon led Team USA to gold at the FISU World Championships in Havana, Cuba. Arencibia hit .404 with Team USA in 2005 and batted .306 in 2006. He totaled 11 home runs in his two stints with the elite U.S. squad.
"J.P. has been a great ambassador for UT baseball these past three years," Tennessee assistant coach Mike Bell said. "We're glad to see his hard work and effort pay off, and we wish him luck in his professional career."
Arencibia is the seventh Tennessee player ever to be drafted by the Blue Jays.
Borbon was the second Vol drafted Thursday, as he was selected by the Texas Rangers in the Compensation-A round -- or supplemental first round (35th overall pick).
"It's so gratifying to look back on everything I've gone through at UT and know that it led to me becoming a first-round draft pick," Borbon said. "It's great when things work out the way you want them to work out. Going to an organization like the Rangers is a great honor, and hopefully I can become their leadoff centerfielder of the future. They said that's what their plan was for me, and that's an incredible compliment."
Borbon is a .355 career hitter and ranks third in UT history in triples (13) and ninth in hits (223). He followed up a Freshman All-America season in 2005 with back-to-back years earning second-team All-SEC honors. The left-handed centerfielder drove in 100 runs in his career while smacking seven home runs and recording 41 stolen bases.
In Southeastern Conference play, Borbon fashioned a career .322 batting average. He improved his draft stock with an outstanding wood-bat performance with the USA Baseball National Team last summer, during which he hit .364 with four home runs for the gold-medal-winning American squad. He is the third all-time Vol to be drafted by the Rangers.
"Julio exemplifies what a great attitude and work ethic can do for a young man," Bell said. "He improved continuously from at-bat to at-bat, inning to inning and game to game throughout his three seasons -- showing the value of college baseball and the development the college game enables."
The Los Angeles Dodgers made Adkins the third Vol to be drafted Thursday, taking the left-handed pitcher in the supplemental first round with the 39th overall pick.
In his three solid seasons on Rocky Top, Adkins became Tennessee's all-time strikeout king with 380 career Ks. That total places the Mt. Juliet, Tenn., native in ninth place on the SEC's career strikeouts list. Adkins ranks second in school history in games started (52), third in innings pitched (355.1) and tied for third in wins (25).
The left-hander with the devastating breaking ball fashioned a 3.50 career ERA, highlighted by a career-best season ERA of 2.80 this spring. Opponents hit just .232 against him in his career. He was named a Freshman All-America in 2005 and also was tabbed as the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Knoxville Regional after logging a career-high 15 strikeouts during a four-hit, complete-game win over Winthrop.
Adkins is the fourth Vol ever to be drafted by the Dodgers.
"On a personal level, I'm obviously very proud of James," Bell, UT's pitching coach, said. "He showed great leadership carrying our pitching staff these last two years. His warrior mentality on the mound left us many great memories and lots of strikeouts.
"We're all very excited for these three young men who have been a huge part of the program here at Tennessee. They've been instrumental to the team's success since their freshman season in 2005 when they helped to lift the program to the College World Series."
Since 2000, Tennessee has now produced a total of 34 MLB Draft picks. This marks the fourth draft in which UT has had multiple first-round selections (1971, 2001 and 2005).