Tennessee pitcher Chase Burns, who was dominant out of the bullpen in the Vols' run to the College World Series, has entered the transfer portal.
The move wasn't a surprise to Tennessee coach Tony Vitello, who told ESPN on Tuesday that Burns had made it known during the middle of the season that he planned to transfer.
"Considering all the circumstances involved, it's truly remarkable how much the program benefited from him and how much he benefited from us," Vitello said. "We were able to manage the situation, made a great run and got to the College World Series."
Vitello added that Burns leaves Tennessee's program "on top of the world."
"It's a different time now, and I think we all realize that," Vitello said. "But Chase moves on as the No. 1 prospect in the country in his class and one of the most popular players with the way he pitched for us in critical situations out of the bullpen."
With a fastball that topped the 100 mph mark during the postseason, Burns will have plenty of suitors. Sources told ESPN that TCU will be one of the top schools on his list and that he might look to leave the SEC.
Burns was DIBaseball.com's National Freshman of the Year in 2022 and was a first-team Preseason All-America selection in 2023. He spent his first season and a half as one of Tennessee's weekend starters but, after a rocky start to the 2023 season, was moved to the bullpen.
That move by Vitello and pitching coach Frank Anderson turned around Burns' season and helped turn around Tennessee's season.
"This season went in a lot of different ways, and as coaches, we have to do what we think is best for the whole group and find a way and try to win games, and in the end, I think that worked fairly well," Vitello told Sports Talk 99.1 FM in Knoxville regarding Burns' move to the bullpen.
Burns, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound right-hander, started the season 2-3 with a 6.10 ERA. He was moved to the bullpen after allowing seven runs in 3⅔ innings against Florida. But during the postseason, Burns reemerged as one of college baseball's superstars as a reliever. He shut down Clemson in an NCAA regional, Southern Miss in a super regional and then Stanford in the College World Series in Tennessee's only win in Omaha. Burns was 1-0 in the NCAA tournament with a save. He struck out 22 batters in 16 innings and allowed just eight hits and one run.
Once he was in the bullpen, Burns held five opponents scoreless. After his bullpen debut against Arkansas, a series in which Tennessee was swept, the Vols swept Vanderbilt the next weekend, with Burns playing a key role in the Game 1 win. He pitched three scoreless innings to earn the 4-3 win in 12 innings. The Vols went on to win seven straight SEC games and closed the regular season by winning 11 of their last 15 SEC games. That's after starting the season 5-10 in SEC play.
Vitello said Burns told him that he felt like he had plateaued at Tennessee and that it was in his best interests to move on.
"We wish him the best, and we'll move on, too," said Vitello, who just completed his sixth season as Tennessee's coach.
The Vols have been to the College World Series in two of the past three seasons under Vitello after making just four previous CWS appearances in school history. They've been to three straight Super Regionals and won the 2022 SEC regular-season and tournament championships for the first time since 1995.