Astros' Kemp grieves with Vanderbilt

Death of pitcher Donny Everett, 19, stuns Houston outfielder

HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder and Vanderbilt University graduate Tony Kemp said his stomach dropped when he heard the news that Vanderbilt pitcher Donny Everett died Thursday night in a drowning accident at a Tennessee lake.

Kemp, who played at Vanderbilt from 2011-13, said Friday he met Everett briefly this past offseason and knew he was a highly touted player coming out of high school. Kemp said the news of Everett's passing reached him on a group text message with some former Commodores baseball players.

"Right when I heard the news, it was one of those things when you can just feel your stomach immediately sink," Kemp said. "You really can't just question why things happen like that. You have to have faith and trust in the Lord and the good man upstairs that he's going to take care of everything. I just send my prayers and blessings to the family. They will get through this."

Everett was ranked as MLBPipeline's No. 23 prospect entering the 2015 Draft, but he fell to the Brewers in the 29th round because of his commitment to Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Everett was 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12 innings for the Commodores after sitting out the first half of the season with an injury.

Vanderbilt elected to play its scheduled NCAA Tournament opener on Friday night against Xavier after coach Tim Corbin met with players and coaches late Thursday night.

"The Vanderbilt community is really strong," Kemp said. "I think they're going to rally around Everett's passing, and I think their family is really going to be touched by everything they do for him."

Kemp earned his degree in communications from Vanderbilt last year, two years after he was drafted.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.