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Tennessee Baseball brings in batter from Niagara
Tennessee Baseball brings in batter from Niagara

Former Niagara High School first baseman Eric Rataczak has joined the Tennessee Volunteers baseball team, he announced Monday.

Rataczak was the 2024 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year after posting a .396 batting average with 17 home runs and 71 RBIs. The left-handed first baseman has one year of eligibility remaining and is eligible to enter the MLB Draft, which begins Sunday. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Rataczak recently participated in the MLB Draft League.

Rataczak led the MAAC in batting average, RBIs and on-base percentage (.485). He set Niagara program records for home runs, RBIs, hits (88) and runs (59). He also had 31 walks with just 25 strikeouts in 222 at-bats.

Eric Rataczak moves to Niagara to join Tennessee baseball team

Rataczak is the third player to commit to Tennessee this offseason through the transfer portal. Former Kennesaw State pitcher Tanner Franklin was the first transfer to commit to UT. Former Louisville infielder Gavin Kilen followed when he committed on July 4.

Rataczak has had a unique path through college baseball, playing club baseball twice in San Diego and also playing at Wabash Valley Community College in Illinois and Arizona Western Community College in between.

Tennessee has received commitments from draft-eligible transfer players over the past two seasons. Reggie Crawford, who transferred both ways from UConn, was signed by the San Francisco Giants with the No. 30 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. Infielder Ryan Galanie, who transferred from Wofford, signed with the Chicago White Sox in 2023 after being selected in the 13th round.

Rataczak is a draft risk, but probably less than Crawford and Galanie.

Tennessee Baseball had great success in the transfer portal

Tennessee has participated in the College World Series in two consecutive seasons and has seen tremendous growth thanks to transfers.

BOOK: Celebrate Tennessee baseball’s epic CWS National Championship with our special new book

The Vols signed third baseman Billy Amick and his 23 home runs as their biggest offensive addition. Dalton Bargo and Cannon Peebles were also key signings who will be back on offense for the 2025 season. AJ Causey, Nate Snead and Chris Stamos played key roles on the pitching staff. Causey was one of two pitchers in the country to win 13 games.

In 2023, transfer Andrew Lindsey became Tennessee’s Friday night starter. Maui Ahuna, Zane Denton and Griffin Merritt were key players in the lineup. Denton’s three-run home run at Clemson was the biggest turning point of the season. The 2023 team also benefited from two transfers from 2022, pitchers Chase Dollander and Seth Halvorsen.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you like Mike’s reporting, consider a digital subscription that gives you access to all of the content

By Liam