- Brendan C. Hall, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wilmington High junior lefthander Jackson Gillis gave a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt University earlier tonight, he announced on his Twitter account.
— Jackson Gillis (@jacky_fastball) June 20, 2015
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Gillis is considered one of the top overall arms in New England for the 2016 MLB Draft class, with some even projecting him as a potential top five round pick. Gillis chose the Commodores over offers from Louisville, Arizona State, LSU, Wake Forest, Miami, Pitt and Boston College.
"Ultimately it came down to the coaches," Gillis told ESPNBoston.com tonight. "Coach [Tim] Corbin made me feel at home when I was down at Vanderbilt. No other school provides a better combination of academics, baseball and winning tradition. I see myself working hard to contribute to the program in any way possible."
Gillis has been one of the most captivating pitchers to watch the last two years across the Bay State. As a sophomore in 2014 he was named MVP of the Middlesex League and was a finalist for ESPNBoston.com's annual "Mr. Baseball" award, after going 7-2 with 102 strikeouts in 57.1 innings, holding opponents to a .117 batting average and throwing two no-hitters.
This spring, he had a little less luck as the Wildcats went 11-9, one of a rare group of pitchers to get hit with the loss in both a one-hitter and no-hitter, but still put up respectable numbers on the season (69 K's, 39.2 IP, 2.90 ERA, .155 BAA). Already showing an advanced curveball, Gillis topped out at 93 mph this spring on his fastball, regularly sitting anywhere from 89 to 91.
Gillis is the latest highly-sought after Bay State prospect to commit to Vandy, a long list includes standouts such as Tyler Beede (Auburn HS/Lawrence Academy), Rhett Wiseman (BB&N), Adam Ravenelle (Lincoln-Sudbury HS), Pat Delano (Braintree HS) and Ben Bowden (Lynn English HS). Last year's ESPNBoston Mr. Baseball, Isan Diaz, was committed to Vandy before being drafted 70th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Springfield Central High, signing for a reported $750,000.
Vandy's pipeline to the New England region, particularly Massachusetts, is well-documented. Head coach Tim Corbin originally hails from Wolfeboro, N.H., and has traditionally recruited this area hard in all of his coaching stops.
"Seeing all these guys from Mass. go to Vanderbilt is very reassuring to me," Gillis said. "It tells me that Vanderbilt is not only the best baseball school in the country, but a second home and very welcoming. The progress made by all of these Mass. natives also shows me how excellent Coach [Scott] Brown is as a pitching coach."
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