Category

Auburn University News

Is Auburn Baseball’s Road to Omaha Becoming More Clear?

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

auburnWhen the Auburn Tiger baseball team took the field against George Washington to begin the season, what were most fans expectations? Make the SEC tournament? Finish with a .500 record? Just improve from last year? Well the Tigers are absolutely shattering those expectations as they are currently top ten in the nation and sporting a 30-13 record and a 12-6 record in conference play. Also, in the most recent poll by Baseball America, Auburn was ranked number five nationally while USA Today has the Tigers ranked ninth. Who would have seen Auburn, a team that has not made the College World Series since 1997 and has not won the SEC tournament since 1989, in the top ten nationally and the best team in the SEC by late April? Nobody.

 

Auburn started to turn some heads by sweeping a well-respected Florida team to open conference play back in mid-March, then took two out of three from Georgia in their first conference road trip of the season. What transpired on Sunday will become a major turning point for the Auburn Baseball team- a series win against the previously best ranked SEC team, Arkansas. The series win pulled Auburn into a tie for second in the SEC with Arkansas and Kentucky, just one game behind Mississippi State. Not only did the Tigers win two games in the series, the Auburn offence put up 15 runs in a 15-2 rout Friday night, then put up 11 runs in an 11-6 victory Sunday night. It’s obvious that Auburn’s offence, which does not have any elite prospects of any kind yet, is clicking on all cylinders. Junior third baseman Josh Anthony has emerged as the leader of the Tigers at the plate, as he tallied nine hits and seven RBI in the series against the Razorbacks.sec

 

On the mound, Auburn’s one-two punch of redshirt junior Keegan Thompson and sophomore Casey Mize has been unbeatable for the Tigers. Thompson, who redshirted last year due to injury, is sporting a 1.48 ERA and a 5-1 record through nine starts. Casey Mize solidified his spot in the rotation this year and has been very effective through nine starts this season, as he holds a 1.23 ERA and a 6-1 record.

 

Now Auburn heads into perhaps their toughest test of the season this weekend, a three game road trip against Mississippi State, who holds the best record in the SEC. The way the Tigers have been playing against in-conference rivals, it’s sure to be a great game. Game one is Friday night at 6:30 on SEC Network +, Game two will be Saturday night at 7:00 on SEC Network, and game three will be at 12:30 also on SEC Network.

 

Now only one question remains, can this be the Auburn baseball team that can break the twenty-year Omaha drought? If you ask the latest Baseball America poll, the answer is yes.

A-Day Takeaways

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

A-Day ended in a 37-13 victory for the blue team over the white team in a game that showcased the talents of players on Auburn’s roster and raised some questions heading into the summer and fall. Here are three A-Day takeaways.  

1.       Jarrett Stidham is talented.

Heading into the spring there was a distinct buzz around Jarrett Stidham’s arrival on the plains. His performance at A-Day will do nothing to stop the Auburn faithful’s expectations from increasing even more heading into the fall. While I’m not ready to buy into Stidham completely as Jeremy Johnson flashbacks creep into my mind, there is one thing that the spring game showed for sure: Stidham is talented.

The first thing that I noticed when watching Stidham was his throwing mechanics. He steps into his throws and hits his receivers in stride with accuracy. Not to mention, he showcased his ability to complete passes downfield as his longest throw was a 50 yard reception for Nate Craig-Myers. Furthermore, he has great pocket awareness meaning he knows when to step up into the pocket and make a throw, and he knows when it is time to tuck it and run. There is a major difference between A-Day and a live regular season game, but one can count on that Stidham has the talent to perform at a high level.

2.       Where are the tight ends?

Over the past few seasons the tight end in Auburn’s offensive scheme has devolved into an absence of the actual position in the game plan. With the arrival of Chip Lindsey, Auburn fans were wondering if this meant that tight ends would make a reappearance in the offense. A-Day did not show us that would be the case.

First, look at the production that the “tight ends” had in today’s scrimmage. Jalen Harris caught two passes for 19 yards and Sal Cannella caught one pass for 15 yards. Neither player had a significant impact on the game. Canella was lined up in the slot as a receiver many times throughout the game which leads me to believe that his production will come from that part of the field and not at a true tight end position. The slot was utilized a lot in the game which could prove to be the substitute for tight end. After all, several players on Auburn’s roster have slot receiver skill sets. One has to keep in mind that John Samuel Shenker has yet to arrive on campus, and he will bring the skill set of a true tight end. Although we didn’t see much from the tight ends today, I do believe they will become a part of the offense in the future. It just will take some time for the position to be brought into the system.

3.       John Franklin III’s transition to wide receiver won’t be easy.

It didn’t work out for John Franklin III at quarterback so he decided to make the transition to wide receiver this spring. That transition does not look like it will be easy.

He didn’t look comfortable at the position and that was shown with the first two passes thrown to him early in the game. The first pass thrown to him resulted in an incompletion after he was hit from behind and the ball bounced in the air for a near interception. The second was bobbled by Franklin III and then caught which only resulted in a two yard gain. His final stat line for the day was two receptions for 12 yards. Considering his transition to wide receiver has been talked about positively, his performance was underwhelming.

My other concern in regards to him playing wide receiver is that there is stout competition at the slot position. The competition includes the likes of Will Hastings who burst on to the scene today with seven receptions for 75 yards. Hastings showed that he has developed a relationship with Stidham in the passing game as eight of Stidham’s 20 passing attempts were thrown to Hastings. What does that mean for Franklin III? He is going to have a hard time showing the coaches that he can produce on the same level as Hastings. There are also other players, like Eli Stove, that showed last season that they can play in the slot, and they are actually wide receivers. The fact that Franklin III isn’t a true wide receiver is going to hurt him in the competition. At the moment, the only way I see Franklin III being able to contribute is out of special packages, and we don’t know how much Chip Lindsey likes to utilize those at the moment.  

Former SEC Players in Major League Baseball

By | Auburn University News | No Comments
donaldson

Donaldson, the 2015 American League MVP, played for the tigers from 2005-2006

With the 2017 Major League Baseball season kicking off Monday, check out the full list of former SEC players that will be taking the field today:

Auburn University

Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays 3B

Grant Dayton, Los Angeles Dodgers RP

 

 

University of Alabama

David Robertson, Chicago White Sox CP

donaldson

Robertson, a 2011 All-Star and a Birmingham native, pitched for the Crimson Tide from 2005-2006.

Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers C

Tommy Hunter, Tampa Bay Rays RP

Wade LaBlanc, Pittsburgh Pirates RP

Adam Morgan, Philadelphia Phillies RP

Josh Rutledge, Boston Red Sox 3B

 

University of Arkansas

Dallas Keuchel, SP, Houston Astros

Drew Smyly, SP, Seattle Mariners

Logan Forsythe, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays

donaldson

Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner, pitched for the razorbacks from 2007-2009

James McCann, C, Detroit Tigers

Andrew Beninetidi, Boston Red Sox 3B

Mike Bolsinger, Toronto Blue Jays RP

Brett Eibner, Los Angeles Dodgers CF

Craig Gentry, Baltimore Orioles LF

Blake Parker, Los Angles Angels of Anaheim RP

Matt Reynolds, New York Mets SS

Andy Wilkins, Milwaukee Brewers 1B

 

University of Florida

Anthony DeSclafani, Cincinnati Reds SP

donaldson

DeSclafani, the Reds Opening Day starter, pitched for the gators from 2009-2011

Darren O’Day, Baltimore Orioles RP

Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners C

Kevin Chapman, Atlanta Braves RP

Matt den Dekker, Miami Marlins CF

Cole Figueroa, Miami Marlins 2B

Ryan Raburn, Cincinnati Reds LF

Preston Tucker, Houston Astros LF

 

University of Georgia

donaldson

Wood, a second round draft pick in the 2012 MLB draft, pitched for the bulldogs from 2010-2012

Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers SP

Gordon Beckham, Seattle Mariners SS

Josh Fields, Los Angeles Dodgers RP

Justin Grimm, Chicago Cubs RP

 

University of Kentucky

Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians 2B (transferred)

Joe Blanton, Los Angeles Dodgers RP

donaldson

Kipnis, a two time all-star, played for the Wildcats from 2006-2007 before transferring to Arizona State

Collin Cowgill San Diego Padres OF

Andrew Albers, Atlanta Braves RP

Trevor Gott, Washington Nationals RP

Luke Maile, Tampa Bay Rays C

Alex Meyer, Los Angeles Angels of Anehiem SP

James Paxton, Seattle Mariners SP

A.J. Reed, Houston Astros 1B

Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins RP

Chris Rusin, Colorado Rockies RP

 

Louisiana State University

DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies 2B

donaldson

LeMahieu, the 2016 National League batting champion, played for the tigers from 2008-2009

Aaron Hill, San Francisco Giants 3B

Alex Bregman, Houston Astros 3B

Louis Coleman, Cincinnati Reds RP

Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles SP

Nick Goody, Cleveland Indians RP

Will Harris, Houston Astros RP

JaCoby Jones, Detroit Tigers 3B

Mikie Mahtook, Detroit Tigers LF

Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies SP

Anthony Ranaudo, Chicago White Sox SP

Ryan Schimpf, San Diego Padres 2B

Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals SP (transferred)

 

Mississippi State University

donaldson

Frazier played for the bulldogs from 2011-2013

Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates LF

Chad Girodo, Toronto Blue Jays RP

Kendall Graveman, Oakland Athletics SP

Jonathan Holder, New York Yankees RP

Mitch Moreland, Boston Red Sox 1B

Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres RF

Chris Stratton, San Francisco Giants

 

University of Mississippi

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Pomeranz, a 2016 all-star, pitched for the Rebels from 2008-2009 (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Drew Pomeranz, SP, Boston Red Sox

Chris Coghlan, Toronto Blue Jays LF

Zach Cozart, Cincinnati Reds SS

David Goforth, Milwaukee Brewers RP

Mike Mayers, St. Louis Cardinals RP

Alex Presley, Detroit Tigers LF

Seth Smith, Baltimore Orioles RF

 

University of Missouri

donaldson

Scherzer, a two time Cy Young Award winner, pitched for the tigers from 2004-2006

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals SP

Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers 2B

Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins SP

Brett Nicholas, Texas Rangers C

Nick Tepesch, Minnesota Twins SP

Rob Zastryzny, Chicago Cubs RP

 

University of South Carolina

Jackie Bradley Jr, CF, Boston Red Sox

donaldson

Bradley, a 2016 all-star, played for the gamecocks from 2009-2010

Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays 1B

Sam Dyson, Texas Rangers RP

Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland Indians RF

Heath Hembree, Boston Red Sox RP

Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals 2B

Steve Pearce, Toronto Blue Jays 1B

Michael Roth, San Francisco Giants RP

 

University of Tennessee

donaldson

Dickey, the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner, pitched for the Volunteers from 1994-1996

R.A. Dickey, Atlanta Braves SP

Chase Headley, New York Yankees 3B

Matt Duffy, San Fransisco Giants 3B

Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians C

Julio Borbon, Free Agent CF

Zach Godley, Arizona Diamondbacks SP

Luke Hochevar, Free Agent RP

Andrew Toles, Los Angeles Dodgers LF

 

Vanderbilt University

David Price, Boston Red Sox SP

donaldson

Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, pitched for the Commodores from 2005-2007

Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves SS

Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics SP

Ryan Flaherty, Baltimore Orioles C

Curt Casali, Tampa Bay Rays C

Carson Fulmer, Chicago White Sox RP

Caleb Cotham, Free Agent RP

Tony Kemp, Houston Astros LF

Drew VerHagen, Detroit Tigers RP

 

Texas A&M University

Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals RP

Justin Ruggiano, San Francisco Giants CF

Cliff Pennington, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2B

Logan Kensing, Free Agent RP

Daniel Mengden, Oakland Athletics SP

Tyler Naquin, Cleveland Indians CF

Ross Stripling

Alex Wilson

 

 

Two Former Auburn Tigers Get Ready to Take the Diamond on Opening Day

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

donaldson

Major League Baseball’s official “Opening Day” is set for this Monday, April 3rd, and two former members of the Auburn University baseball program are getting ready to take the diamond. The most popular former Auburn Tiger is the Toronto Blue Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson. The 2015 American League MVP played for Auburn from 2005 to 2006, posting a .276 batting average, 10 home runs, and 42 RBIs in his final year at Auburn before being drafted in 2007.

 

Donaldson has recently been battling a calf injury, but says that he has fully recovered, as was able to participate in the final few weeks of spring training games. Although he wasn’t able to enjoy a full spring training season with the rest of the team, Donaldson is still confident that he is prepared for the regular season, “I’ve hit some balls pretty decent in camp, I haven’t had much to show for it, but honestly I wouldn’t have cared if I had hit in the entire Spring Training. As long as I’m seeing the ball well, that matters right now.” Donaldson said to reporters earlier this week. The hero in Toronto known as “The Bringer of Rain” hit .284 last year with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs.

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Grant Dayton throws to the plate against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

A lesser known former Auburn Tiger in the big leagues is Grant Dayton, a left handed reliever for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dayton, a native of Huntsville, Alabama, left Auburn after his redshirt sophomore year in 2009 to enter the 2010 MLB draft. Dayton was drafted in the 11th round by the Florida Marlins, then traded to the Dodgers organization in July of 2015. Dayton was called up to the majors on July 22 of last year to make his major league debut. Dayton appeared in 25 games for the Dodgers last season, posting a 0-1 record and a 2.05 ERA and will begin his 2017 campaign on the Dodgers’ Major League roster. 

 

The 2017 Major League Baseball season begins Sunday as the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals at 6:00 CT on ESPN 106.7. Then on Monday, Major League Baseball’s official “Opening Day”, the Cleveland Indians take on the Texas Rangers at 5:30 CT on ESPN 106.7. Both of those games may also be streamed online at espnau.com or on the ESPN 106.7 app.

Auburn Baseball Takes Down Alabama in the Capital City Classic

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

Auburn didn’t hit the ball particularly hard at Montgomery’s Riverwalk Stadium last night Josh Anthony hit two groundball singles, one of which didn’t leave the infield. Will Holland reached on a bunt. Daniel Robert looped a ball into left-center field. In fact, the Tiger offense actually finished last night’s game with more walks drawn (five) than hits (four). But in a 4-3 win over rival Alabama in the ninth-annual Capital City Classic — its eighth in the series — No. 17 Auburn played small ball to near perfection in front of a Riverwalk Stadium-record crowd of more than 7,600.

 

The Tigers’ got their first hit after Crimson Tide starter Garret Rukes had opened the game with two perfect innings. Blake Logan followed with a walk, and Alabama third baseman Connor Short, formerly of Auburn, committed a throwing error on Holland’s bunt single that allowed Anthony to score the game’s 1st run from second base. Three batters later, Robert drove both Logan and Holland home with his bloop single to put the Tigers ahead 3-0. But Alabama clawed its way back, scoring one run in the third, fourth & fifth innings to tie the game at three. Tigers starter Christian Camacho, allowed two runs on four hits & a walk while striking out three over 3.1 innings. In the very next inning, Robert walked, stole second when Alabama failed to cover the second-base, moved to third on a Connor Davis flyout and scored on Anthony’s go-ahead infield single to shortstop.

 

The win pushes Auburn’s record to 21-6 overall.

 

Originally posted on newstalkwani.com by Bob Wooddy

Did the Florida Coach push Auburn’s Haley Fagan?

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

Rightfully so, this video has created a buzz among the Auburn fan base.

Who do you think is at fault? Tweet us @lunchbreakespn or @thedriveespnau.

Or give us a call during our shows!

*UPDATE*

Coach Walton’s statement:

“I apologize to Haley, I just wanted to congratulate Auburn on the win – it was a good series. My intent was to give a high-five to each opposing player as we do after every game. Apparently, her hand wasn’t up as I said ‘good game’ and I touched her shoulder. I should have paid closer attention and did not intend to upset her. I regret that this has taken attention away from the effort and sportsmanship both teams displayed all weekend.”

Auburn defensive end Marlon Davidson thinks he can run down a leopard…

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

After Auburn’s practice Tuesday, defensive end Marlon Davidson made an interesting comment.

“I’ve got the mind that I can run down anybody,” Davidson said. “Even, like, a leopard. I probably can’t, but that’s my mindset.”

That is not a bad mindset for a defender to possess and Davidson will be asked to set the defensive edge and run down many talented, fast running backs and quarterbacks this season.

As for chasing down a leopard, probably not.

Leopards are able to reach speeds of 36 miles per hour. Olympic gold medal sprinter Usain Bolt has been clocked close to 28 miles per hour. The near 300-pound Davidson’s best chance of running down a leopard is making sure the cat never gets started.

Davidson had an outstanding freshman season and is expected to be a leader along the defensive front in 2017. But asked about being a starter last season, he said it never felt routine.

“It never did,” Davidson said. “I never felt like I made it.”

Regardless of what Davidson felt, his performance says otherwise. He had 37 tackles as a freshman and registered 2.5 sacks lining up on the opposite side of Carl Lawson.

Davidson also shared a positive perspective about Byron Cowart’s move to defensive tackle. Cowart who according to ESPN was the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in 2015, has never clicked at the defensive end position. So despite his relatively diminutive size for the position, 250 pounds, Auburn is giving him a look at defensive tackle.

**This was originally posted at Gridiron Now.** 

Has Auburn Basketball Improved Under Bruce Pearl?

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

pearlAuburn, Ala. – Following Auburn’s first-round SEC Tournament defeat to Missouri, Auburn’s postseason hopes appear to be dashed. With Auburn’s postseason drought on the verge of being extended to eight years, Tiger fans are wondering if Auburn Basketball has improved under Bruce Pearl.

It is no secret that Tony Barbee left the Auburn program in a bad place, but how far has Auburn come since his departure? When just comparing the records of Barbee and Pearl, Auburn has taken small steps in the right direction.

Both head coaches posted a win percentage lower than 50 percent. Barbee finished his time at Auburn with a 49-75 record and a .40 win percentage, while Pearl has accumulated a 44-54 record and a .45 win percentage.

Furthermore, Pearl has led Auburn to a winning season, their first since 2008-09, something Barbee failed to do in his time at Auburn. The Tigers seem to be on track to do even better next season.

In his first season on the plains, Pearl recorded a 15-20 record in 2014-15 and followed it up with an 11-20 season in 2015-16. Although there was a drop in overall wins, Auburn did win one more conference game in 2015-16 than the year before, including a victory over the Kentucky Wildcats.

Then there was this season. Auburn posted an 18-14 record with a 7-11 record in conference play. Considering that this is Auburn’s first winning season in seven years, it sounds like Auburn is developing. Right?

The metric statistics suggest that this year’s Auburn squad is better than the two before it. This season, the Tigers posted their highest points per possession under Pearl with a 1.035. That is slightly above average for college basketball teams.

Auburn also posted their best opponent points per possession stat under Pearl this season with a 1.024. That is slightly below average for college basketball teams.

When you subtract opponent points per possession from points per possession, a statistic called efficiency margin (EM) is derived. This is an indicator of how good a college basketball team is. Auburn finished this season with their best efficiency margin under Pearl with a .011. To put that in perspective, at this point in time North Carolina has a .16 and that is one of the best EMs in the nation. A .011 suggests that Auburn is an average basketball team.

The year before Auburn had a -.10 EM making them a poor basketball team in the eyes of metrics. For Auburn to make a .111 jump in EM over one season, that is a major sign of improvement.

Auburn is in an unprecedented point for recruiting as well. Auburn signed their first five-star recruit in program history when they landed Mustapha Heron. They followed that up with the signings of Austin Wiley, Chuma Okeke and Davion Mitchell, all of which are high profile recruits.

With the amount of talent and core of this year’s team returning coupled with the arrival of Mitchell and Okeke, all indications point toward next season being even better for the Tigers.

The season ended bitter sweet. Auburn might have ended the year by losing to the worst team in the conference in the first round of the SEC Tournament, but hope can be seen through the smoke of the dumpster fire that was the Auburn program at the end of this year.

Back away from the cliff Tiger fans. Auburn is taking steps in the right direction. Baby steps, but steps nonetheless.