East Robertson has built a baseball pipeline to Vanderbilt over the last 15 years, and that group got it newest member on Friday.
Junior right-handed pitcher Peyton Smith announced his commitment to the Commodores, joining former East Robertson pitchers Blake Owen, Will Clinard and Luke Murphy as the fourth Indian to join Tim Corbin’s powerhouse on West End.
“It feels great to continue that legacy,” Smith said. “East Robertson has produced some high-caliber players. And Coach (Tim) Corbin, Coach (Scott) Brown and Coach (Mike) Baxter have built a program with consistency over the years.”
The 6-foot-3 Smith is fresh off a masterful sophomore campaign that earned him Robertson County Most Valuable Player honors from The Connection. He was also named to the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association All-State Class A team in July.
He held a 0.83 ERA in 67.1 innings pitched and struck out 116 batters while walking just 18. He also hit .359 and slugged three homers and 22 RBI at the plate.
Smith was recruited by North Carolina, Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, West Virginia and Xavier, but he was sold on Vanderbilt after a campus visit. Joining the Commodores allows Smith to stay close to home.
“I went to Vanderbilt and loved it there,” he said. “I think that’s the best place for me. It’s close to home, so I can be closer to my family and everything.”
Vanderbilt’s interest in East Robertson pitchers started with Corbin’s first season at the helm in 2003 – the same year Owen began his college career. He later transferred to Belmont and eventually spent three seasons in the Baltimore Orioles organization.
Clinard graduated from East Robertson in 2009 and played for Vanderbilt from 2010-12. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 19th round of the 2012 MLB Draft and climbed as high as Double-A in 2013.
Murphy graduated from East Robertson last year and was a member of Vanderbilt’s national title team this summer. However, he redshirted to recover from Tommy John surgery.
Smith is expected to join that Vanderbilt group in two years. But if he keeps improving ahead of the 2021 MLB Draft, he may have a tough decision to make: Vanderbilt or professional baseball.
“I want to go to college,” he said. “But it just depends on where you get drafted and the money you’ll get (offered). There’s a lot of things that happen with that process. It’s a lot to take in.”
For now, Smith is focused on increasing his velocity and becoming a better pitcher. His fastball typically sits in the upper 80s and low 90s. That speed should increase as Smith continues to add to his 195-pound frame.
But his ability to locate the fastball and mix his four pitches are what makes him so effective, according to East Robertson coach Derek Wix.
“He can locate all his pitches when he wants to and where he wants to,” Wix said. “His pitchability is above average for his age level. When you combine that with his speed, it’s pretty tough (to hit).”