By CHIP CIRILLO
Bryan Reynolds is playing center field for the Commodores this season, but the former Brentwood star can play six positions.
It’s hard to put a label on Bryan Reynolds other than versatile.
He’s playing center field this season, but the former Brentwood star can play six positions.
A switch hitter, he is an offensive force from both sides of the plate.
“He’s talented and he can do a lot of different things,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “Since his freshman year we’ve used him at different positions. We’ve played him in the infield, we’ve played him in the outfield.”
Reynolds, a preseason All-American and All-Southeastern Conference selection, has played all three outfield spots and first base. The junior has taken ground balls in practice at third base and second base.
“I love playing defense,” Reynolds said. “I love diving. Getting reads on the ball is my favorite part besides hitting.”
Reynolds, naturally a right-handed hitter, learned to switch hit practicing in batting cages with his dad.
“I was kind of messing around hitting lefty a little bit and then in high school I actually started doing it,”Reynolds said. “(My dad) thought it would be a good thing to do.”
He hasn’t made an error in the first 18 games and has been a solid outfielder known for making big plays throughout his career.
“He’s a guy who, defensively, whenever the ball is hit out in his direction you expect it to be caught,” Commodores shortstop Tyler Campbell said. “He can track down balls. He’s very fast. Good arm. And I think he does a great job working with those other outfielders as well to kind of communicate and help them out.”
Reynolds made a running catch against the wall against Louisville in the first round of the 2014 College World Series that was named one of ESPN Sports Center’s top plays of the day.
Vanderbilt pitcher Jordan Sheffield puts a lot of trust in Reynolds and the other outfielders to give him defensive support when he’s on the mound.
“Bryan Reynolds is a great outfielder,” Sheffield said. “We have three great outfielders and a great defense behind us. Just knowing that they’re out there shagging balls as hard as possible and laying out during (batting practice) – just seeing that as a pitcher is comforting, just knowing that if you throw a ball across the plate that your defense is going to make plays behind you and that they’re going to give it their all.”
Reynolds is one of 50 players on the watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the nation’s top amateur player.
Reynolds, who has 15 RBIs and two homers, is third on the team with a .317 batting average.
He helped second-ranked Vanderbilt (16-2) win a national championship as a freshman before taking second last year.
“That’s obviously the ultimate goal of a team’s season, but we’re not really looking ahead to that right now,” Reynolds said of winning another title. “We’re just kind of worrying about where we’re at right now and everything will work out.”
The Commodores are the nation’s only program to win 50-plus games in each of the past three seasons.
Reynolds is projected as a first-round selection in June’s major league draft. One of his former Brentwood teammates, Robbie Ray, pitches for Arizona.
“It’s awesome getting to see him pitch and knowing that I almost blew one of his games against Ravenwood,” Reynolds said. “He pitched six innings and we were up by, like, eight and I came in the last inning of my freshman year and gave up, like, seven.”
Corbin believes Reynolds has a bright future.
“He’s still growing as a player,” Corbin said. “He’s nowhere close to what he’ll become in five, six, seven years from now. He’s a heck of a player and he’s fun to watch.”
Reynolds’ sister, Amanda, is a free climber.
“She’s really into that kind of stuff,” Reynolds said. “Free climbing is no ropes climbing up the sides of mountains. She’s hoping to do the North Face (in Switzerland) one day.”
Career highs: Hits: 4 vs. Stanford, June, 6, 2014; RBIs: 4 vs. Georgia, April 25, 2014
Best Vanderbilt memory: “Winning national championship as a freshman.”
Best Brentwood memory: “Going to the state tournament my senior year.”