All-American: Early honors for Methuen's Keegan on return to Vandy

·4 min read

Jan. 18—Dom Keegan's college baseball career, so far, can be summed up by one word.

Patience.

The Methuen resident waited his turn as a freshman, when he was a seldom-used reserve on Vanderbilt University's 2019 College World Series championship team. He kept his eye on the prize throughout 2020, first after a frightening health scare sidelined him through the year's early months and then after the COVID-19 pandemic cut short his sophomore season before it really began.

Even last year when he broke out as a junior, earning Second Team All-American honors while leading Vanderbilt to within a game of another College World Series title, Keegan did so playing first base and designated hitter instead of his natural position of catcher.

Now he's being patient one more time, forgoing an opportunity to sign a professional contract with the New York Yankees so that he can finish what he started at Vanderbilt.

Keegan was recently named a Preseason First Team All-American by Perfect Game, which also pegged Vanderbilt as the preseason No. 1 team in the country. The former Central Catholic great is expected to finally see extended action at catcher and will serve as a leader for a young Vanderbilt squad expected to contend for the title again.

"It was easier to put off professional baseball for a year than it was to say goodbye to Vanderbilt University," Keegan said. "I'm super excited to be back here and have another go at this thing."

Keegan is coming off an outstanding junior season in which he hit .345 with 15 home runs and 57 RBI, and he also posted a .427 on-base percentage and .638 slugging percentage. He initially started the year batting seventh but quickly earned a bump to the three spot, where he remained the rest of the year.

Following the season Keegan was drafted in the 19th round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Yankees, but he had already decided prior to the draft that he would return to Vanderbilt for another year.

"I felt like another year of growth, another year under coach Corbin and another year to compete in the SEC was what I needed for my personal development," Keegan said. "That's kind of what it came down to."

For Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin, Keegan's breakthrough has been rewarding to see. Originally from Wolfeboro, N.H., Corbin has strong ties to New England and originally recruited Keegan in large part because he and other trusted baseball people who knew Keegan believed the former Raider had what it took to thrive in a nationally competitive program like Vanderbilt.

"That's the thing about him, he's very serious about what he's doing," said Corbin, who has led Vanderbilt to two College World Series titles. "If he ever takes on a challenge he's all in, he's a kid that's all in to everything that he's doing."

Where in past years Keegan has either been battling for playing time or dealing with one health issue or another, Corbin said Keegan's patience is finally paying off and he'll now have a chance to really take ownership of the team. He said Keegan is entering the new season fully healthy and is currently doing a lot of his work behind the plate, though he is also cross-training at first base too.

If Keegan continues to thrive while proving he can play catcher at a high level, he will likely fly up the prospect rankings and could potentially become an early-round pick in next year's draft. He'll have no shortage of confidants when that time comes — several of his former Vanderbilt teammates plus former Central buddy Steve Hajjar are currently playing professional baseball — but in the meantime he's excited to finish his college career on his own terms.

"I'm happy with where I'm at, I'm proud of where I'm at, everybody has a different path and my path was to stay here and get the job done here," Keegan said. "That's what I'm excited to do and those guys know that as well and they've supported me one hundred percent."