Kind of slipping past everyone is the announcement of Auburn’s Fall Recruiting Class: The High School seniors and JUCOs who we’ll hope to see in Orange and Blue come next spring. As with any baseball recruiting class, Auburn is at the mercy of the MLB and any of these guys could be poached.
15 players. 10 Seniors and 5 JUCOs. Split about down the middle with 8 Pitchers and 7 Position players. 5 instate players and every guy is from the Southeast.
Brandon Allen, 6-6/190, RHP, R/R Milton HS/Milton, FL – Coach John Palowski must love him some tall lanky pitchers because Allen fits the mold of Stephen Kolscheeen and Cole Nelson, two brand new Tigers. In the Auburn write up, CJP praised Allen’s use of off-speed pitches, but his fastball isn’t too bad. Rumored to be in the low-90s already. One blog notes that his slider is his signature pitch (in the mid-80s) and that combined with his size, throwing style (downhill angle, think from 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock on a watch face) could be a lethal pitch. He’s a two sport star for his high school, playing both Basketball and Baseball. Allen is a stellar student (32 ACT, near 4.0 GPA) who’s first college offer came from Troy. His main areas for improvement are his stamina (his fastball was shown to decrease in velocity as he labors) and his weight (he needs to bulk up and at least one writer thinks he can hold up to 30 or 40 lbs more).
Will Irvin, 6-1, 205, RHP, R/R, Itawamba CC/Bolivar, TN (right)
A two way player at Bolivar and in JUCO, Irvin started getting attention while Auburn coaches were looking at current Tiger Justin Bryant:
Irvin went 10-1 on the hill last spring including winning the state championship contest and throwing a complete game nine inning outing and gave up just one run and hit the game winning grand slam against Pearl River as the Indians won the third and deciding game of the first round state playoff series. He started 12 of his 14 appearances, completed four of those starts and was involved in a combined shutout. Opponents hit just. 251 against the former Bolivar Central H.S. standout in 271 official at-bats and he struck out 44, walked 21 in 68 1/3 innings pitched.
Itawamba is known for producing talent, and Irvin looks like he could bolster the bullpen or just serve as an all around utility guy.
Will Kendall, 6-3, 185, LHP, S/L, Pope HS/Marietta, GA (left)
Tall and lean, Kendall uses a variety of pitches for varying effect. Not much to his fastball (mid 80s), but has a sharp bite to his Curve and is confident in his off-speed stuff, especially his changeup. Has pitched in tons of high pressure situations with amazing results, including some crucial playoff matchups for the Pope Greyhounds. He will need to tighten up some of his mechanics (including his release point) and learn to control his fastball a little better. Scouts have said the fastball tends to hang and wallow in the heart of the plate. Hopefully, CJP and his staff can use that to build a great midweek starter out of him. He still projects as an elite talent and solid D1 pitcher.
Andrew Morris, 6-3, 180, RHP, R/R, Gulf Coast CC/Prattville, AL
A Prattville guy gets a chance to come home. Morris is an absolute workhorse of a pitcher, pitching 6 complete games, 1 shutout, and 94 total innings. Oh, and he’s effective too, 107 strikeouts to just 42 walks. There is a possibility that (with a solid sophomore season) could bolt for the pros:
Morris had a throng of professional scouts at most of his starts. His draft position isn't likely going to be high enough for him to jump to the pro ranks. Many scouts believe he will be in an even better position with another strong season, which is partly why Morris said he will be back for his sophomore year with the Commodores.
Morris, a right-hander, was one of Auburn’s top priorities to sign…“Auburn set their sights on him right away,” Gulf Coast baseball coach Mike Kandler said. “He was high on their radar and he’ll be an immediate impact guy.”
Dillon Ortman, 6-3, 180, RHP, R/R, Grissom HS/Huntsville, AL (left)
One of the state’s top pitchers, playing for a powerhouse program in Grissom, Ortman looks like guy who could use a couple seasons in the program and then breakout for this Junior and Senior years. Ortman was also named the Huntsville area’s best pitcher. From CJP: "Dillon emerged as one of the top pitchers in our state last spring. He pitches at the highest level of baseball in Alabama. He has great sink on his fastball and knows how to spin a quality breaking ball. His change-up is also effective and he throws a bunch of strikes. We feel very good about Dillon's future on the mound."
Derek Varnadore, 6-4, 215, RHP, R/R, Chattahoochee Valley CC/Bishop, GA
The epitome of a bullpen fireman, Varnadore hails from tiny Bishop, GA (population 146) and caught some eyes at CVCC last spring. If you live in Montgomery or Columbus, it might be worth checking him out. DV should slot in at the Pirates 3rd Starter. At Auburn, he should be able to give another solid and reliable arm out of the bullpen.
Jay Wade, 6-0, 190, RHP, L/R, Bremen HS/Bremen, GA
Another pitcher, that Auburn may have gotten on early, and another that should pay off down the road. Wade’s fastball hits the low-90s already and transformed from a “thrower” to an actual “pitcher”. Hopefully he won’t be overworked his senior year (he will be the Ace for his school). He has a great mental makeup for a pitcher:
When Wade gets in those types of situations, he craves the ball.
“I’ve always been like that,” Wade said. “I trust my teammates. I just kind of have that mentality about myself, I guess. I want to be the one at the plate or the one on the mound or the one that makes the winning play. I’ve always been like that. Even in T-ball.”
Ethan Wallen, 6-1, 170, RHP, R/R, Northwest Shoals CC/Anderson, AL
Wallen is taking the long road to the Tigers. He’s been honing his game in Shoals and didn’t get a lot of looks out of Lauderdale County. He moved from the bullpen to a full time starter last year and it paid off:
"Being able to continue my career is a dream come true," said Wallen, who tops out at 90 mph. "The SEC is college baseball at it's highest level, so to be able to be a part of that is something very special. I am really looking forward to getting started."
Northwest-Shoals coach David Langston said Wallen possesses all of the tools it takes to become a successful player in such a demanding conference.
"Ethan is a very hard worker who loves the game," he said. "Right now he is a good pitcher with a good arm, but there is still room for him to grow. His ceiling is very high, and if he continues to work hard he will have the chance to be very successful."
With his signing behind him, Wallen is looking forward to beginning the next phase of his basbeall career.
"Auburn has been my dream school for as long as I can remember," he said. "I am so thankful for what coach Langston and the staff at Northwest-Shoals has done for me, and I am ready to see where it goes from here."