17-year Major League veteran and former Tennessee All-American named director of player development

Jan. 27, 2017

 photo/content credit: utsports.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee baseball program and head coach Dave Serrano announced today that former Tennessee All-American and Major League Baseball veteran Todd Helton will join the baseball staff as director of player development.

In his new volunteer role with his alma mater, Helton will be responsible for maintaining alumni relations, assisting with on-campus recruiting, collaborating with UT’s coaching staff and helping Tennessee’s current players make informed decisions about pursuing professional baseball careers.

“It’s an honor to have one of Tennessee’s best players coming back to be with our program,” Serrano said. “Our players and coaching staff will benefit from having Todd Helton’s presence around the ball field.”

“After spending three years at Tennessee and 17 years in the Major Leagues with the Colorado Rockies, I really wanted to give back to this program any way that I can,” Helton said.

Helton spent 17 years with the Colorado Rockies organization and as the club’s longest-tenured player, he was a five-time All-Star, four-time Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award winner and three-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner.

At the time of his retirement in 2013, Helton held Rockies career records for games played (2,247), runs (1,401), hits (2,519), doubles (592), home runs (369), RBI (1,406), walks (1,335) and extra-base hits (998). He also ranked 16th all-time among Major League players in doubles (592), 19th in OPS (.953), 35th in walks (1,335) and 37th in extra-base hits (998).

On Aug. 7, 2014, Helton became the first player in Rockies history to have his jersey No. 17 retired at Coors Field.

In 1995, Helton was selected in the first round (eighth overall) of the First-Year Player Draft out of Tennessee and went on to make his Major League debut just two years later on Aug. 2, 1997. During his first professional season in 1996, he combined to hit .336 with 131 hits, nine homers and 64 RBIs over 114 games between Double A New Haven and Triple A Colorado Springs.

As a junior with the Tennessee Volunteers in 1995, Helton hit at a .407 clip while leading the league in home runs (20), RBIs (92), runs (86), doubles (27), hits (105), walks (61), slugging percentage (.775) and on-base percentage (.522). He also led the conference with a 1.66 ERA while compiling an 8-2 record with 12 saves.

The 1995 National Collegiate Player of the Year received the Dick Howser Award from USA Today/Baseball Weekly, Baseball America’s National Player of the Year Award, Collegiate Baseball’s Co-National Player of the Year and the Southeastern Conference’s Male Athlete of the Year Award that season. By doing so, he became just the second baseball player to receive the SEC award, while the two-time First Team All-American was also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award in 1995.

Helton was a consensus Freshman All-American, First Team All-SEC and Third Team All-American in 1993. The honors continued to roll in 1994 as he earned First Team All-America honors by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Second Team by Baseball America and Third Team by Collegiate Baseball.

The Tennessee native helped guide the Vols to three straight NCAA Regional appearances, including a third-place finish at the 1995 College World Series. He was twice named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and earned a complete-game pitching victory over Clemson in the first round of the College World Series. Helton holds numerous school hitting records and the SEC’s mark for consecutive scoreless innings pitched with 47.2 in 1994.

In addition to a baseball career with the Orange and White, he played football during the 1992, 1993 and 1994 seasons. He appeared in 13 games, making three career starts in the 1994 season against Georgia (W), Florida (L) and Mississippi State (L). He had his top passing game against UCLA in 1994, when he came off the bench to complete 14 of 28 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown. For his career, he completed 41 of 75 passes (54.7 percent) for 484 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.

Credit: utsports.com

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