Sometimes it’s good to know what’s going on in the minds of the guys across the field. So from time to time, AUPPL will lend the floor to his week’s opponents to get an insider’s look at the next Auburn opponent. Here’s Marcus from FAUOwlAccess.com for our final visit this week:
1. What should Auburn fans know about FAU Baseball?
Auburn fans may already have a healthy respect for FAU. The Owls defeated the Tigers in the opening game of the Tuscaloosa Regional in 2002 and went on to beat Alabala to advance to the Super Regionals that season. That was the high point for this up and coming program from the Sun Belt.
2. Who are some players to look for?
Fans will really like watching sophomore catcher Mike Albaladejo, who led the team with a .343 batting average. Albaladejo is not your typical catcher. He stands just 5-foot-7 and doesn’t really hit for power, but plays the game hard. Auburn may draw freshman pitcher Kevin Alexander in this weekend’s series. Alexander had a strong outing in his debut.
3. Historically, who are some famous players Auburn fans would know about?
FAU has only been Division I since the early 1990s, and only a few players have made it to the majors including Carmen Cali (St. Louis, Minnesota) and Jeff Fiorentino (Oakland, Baltimore)
4. What's the outlook for the team this year?
FAU isn’t picked very high in the Sun Belt pre-season poll, but its pitching may surprise some people. The Owls may be a year or two away from competing for the Sun Belt title or sniffing for an at-large bid.
5. What do you think the strengths and weaknesses for the team?
The strength is solid group of newcomers such as outfielder Andy Mee, first baseman Dan Scheffler and pitcher Taylor Everist who were successful in the junior college ranks. Those players were solis last weekend as FAU won 2-of-3 from Cincinnati. If they make a smooth transition to Division I, the Owls will be in good shape. Last year’s weakness has already reared its ugly head this season. FAU struggles to come up with big hits to keep big innings going. FAU desperately needs more consistent hitting.
6. What qualifies a successful season at FAU?
When FAU was in the Atlantic Sun Conference, it went to Regionals six times from 1999-2005. The fans were spoiled with that success and anything other making a regional appearance is considered falling short.
6. Why that change from the Blue Wave?
Only the baseball team referred to itself as the Blue Wave, but it was unique and brought recognition to the school. However, the powers that be made a decision a few years back that all teams must be called the Owls when FAU hired a firm to help with a new logo and create a brand identity. Many long-time fans however, still call the baseball team the “Blue Wave.”
7. It seems like every school in Florida is good. How does FAU compete with in-state schools.
There is plenty of competition for sure in the state. But FAU is still able to recruit top-notch players because there are so many good prospects at the high school level. FAU coach John McCormack was the recruiting coordinator for FAU as an assistant and knows the high school and the junior college landcape well.
9. Has joining the Sun Belt help or hurt FAU baseball.
FAU hasn’t made a regional appearance since 2005 when it was in the Atlantic Sun, so the transition period to the Sun Belt hasn’t been easy. However, moving up to a better conference is forcing the school to upgrade its facilities and the baseball program as a whole. In the long run, moving up to the Sun Belt will probably help the program.