Vanderbilt reliever Reed Hayes is going to start saving money by closing the ‘Dores on his college baseball career.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior was drafted in the 13th round by the Baltimore Orioles last week, and signed his official contract Monday. The former Science Hill three-sport standout is projected to begin his professional career with the New York-Penn League’s Aberdeen IronBirds after an acclimation period in Sarasota, Florida.
“It’s just been a dream of mine since when I was a child,” Hayes said Monday night. “And now that I’ve been able to accomplish it, it feels great. … I feel like I’ve had a lot of great feelings in my life. I don’t know if it would be the best, but it’s definitely a great accomplishment.”
Hayes’ deal, well into six figures, includes money to complete his education at Vanderbilt, where the former Walters State player led the team with seven saves and hit .276 with 36 RBIs and 30 runs while helping Vanderbilt advance to the super regional before losing to top-ranked Oregon State.
Bypassing his senior season at Vanderbilt was a bittersweet, if not difficult, decision.
“It is (bittersweet),” said Hayes, whose fastball has reached 98 mph. “They said that they would support whatever I did.”
Along with the Vanderbilt coaching staff, Hayes was quick to credit family (parents Richard and Ivy and sister Hannah) for the support that helped him reach his goal. He also thanked Science Hill assistant football coach Benny Tolley and local businessmen Tim Copenhaver (Champion Chevrolet) and Paul Hoilman (RBI Tri-Cities) for allowing him to use their respective indoor facilities.
Among Hayes’ favorite college moments are a strong start for Walters State at Chipola and recording a save in a Commodores win against the Tennessee Volunteers. He said he allowed one hit – a bunt single – in probably six innings against Chipola.
“And they were really good,” he said. “They ended up winning it all this year (the JUCO World Series).”
Vanderbilt was a series away from the College World Series this year after beating Clemson two out of three to claim the Clemson regional. But Oregon State was too much for the ‘Dores in the Sweet 16.
“I’d like to see an SEC team (Florida, LSU or Texas A&M) or Oregon State win it, because Oregon State put us out,” Hayes said. “They’re on fire right now.”
Hayes wasn’t surprised he was able to contribute on the mound and at the plate at the SEC level.
“I guess I just reached expectations,” he said.
Along with saying good-bye to Vanderbilt, Hayes is bidding farewell to batting. Many were intrigued by his potential as a position player and hitter.
“But I enjoy pitching,” Hayes said. “It was gonna be fun either way.”
Hayes named the fellow Science Hill alums he’s proud to join by playing at the professional level – Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris, Will Craig (Pittsburgh’s Bradenton Marauders), Will Carter (New York Yankees’ Trenton Thunder) and Matt Pope (San Francisco’s Salem-Keizer Volcanoes).
He’s happy to enhance the Hilltoppers’ tradition. And he dreams of one day joining Norris at the MLB level.
“Obviously, that’s definitely the goal,” Hayes said. “That’s why I’m here. But I’m just gonna stay focused on each day and keep working on my craft and developing it so that hopefully it’ll be accomplished one day.”