Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Signing Day Dust Settles

Going into Monday's MLB Signing Day, Auburn fans knew 4 things:

  1. 3 Guys Remained on the Board: Andrew Morris (Brewers), Zach Alvord (Braves), and Jay Gonzalez (Red Sox)
  2. All Three Guys had enrolled at Auburn (according the University "People Finder")***
  3. All the players from this years team that had been drafted, had made a choice whether to stay (Kevin Patterson, Justin Fradejas, etc) or go (Brian Fletcher)
  4. There was one wild card in the mix. Tony Caldwell could potentially sign a free agent deal (similar to Ty Kelley) and even though he went undrafted could still wind up on an MLB Roster.

Well the deadline came and went and Auburn essentially held serve. They didn't lose any guys and now, finally, we can start piecing together the 2011 Team. The two biggest question marks were Andrew Morris, the JUCO Stud RHP from Prattville by way of Gulf Coast CC, and Zach Alvord , a highly drafted and highly rated 2B/SS that had deep Auburn ties but was being pulled by his hometown team.

Alvord (above) ultimately chose Auburn, and the Braves spin machine has started working:

According to a source close to the negotiations the Braves will not sign 18th-round selection Zach Alvord, and will instead reroute that money to a possible run at a waiver claim on Aramis Ramirez. The Braves had an agreement in place to sign Alvord, and have had an agreement for weeks since just after the draft.

While Alvord's bonus demands were high, they were not outrageous, and he had even agreed to a lower bonus in the form of a hometown discount in order to sign with Atlanta. He was asking for just under seven figures, a number that would have been less than first round money, but more than Matt Lipka received as a supplemental pick by Atlanta. The deal was simply being held until today due to its over-slot nature.

As a Braves (and Royals, but that's another story) fan, it's hard to see a guy like Alvord NOT sign with the Bravos. However, the Auburn fan in me will win out at the end of the day. Alvord will now be a Tiger for at least 3 years and should begin to contribute immediately. Still, this has to sting a bit for Atlanta. With Alvord NOT signing, the Braves have failed to sign a Georgia player in this draft. So a once fertile bed of talent (Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward, Jeff Francouer, etc) has gone untapped for a year by an organization that is essentially the South's team and has a fan base that stretches from South Virginia to the Florida panhandle and from the Carolinas to Mississippi. Alvord was the guy most Auburn fans wanted to know about (thanks Drew for the e-mail by the way) and a guy most fans are looking forward to seeing next season.

Morris is another story. I haven't heard much on the Brewers courtship of him, but he was as big as a much-need for Auburn as you could have on this board. With his pedigree, stats, and talent, Morris could easily become a weekend rotation guy. In fact, he should be. Auburn is essentially "renting" him for a year. He had nothing to lose by coming to the Plains and will, more than likely, be gone after the 2011 Draft.

As for Gonzalez, I never really had any doubt he would come to Auburn. In an earlier article I read on him, he was thrilled being the first in his family to go to college. He might have been drafted low, but he was also drafted by a team that burns money at the trading deadline (Boston).

As for the rest of the draft? I'd recommend checking out Brian Foley's wrap up at The College Baseball Blog. He boils down everything you would need to know; including how LSU took some hits, how the rich (Florida) got richer, and what Clemson and Kyle Parker do now:

Clemson QB/OF Kyle Parker was able to come to an agreement with the Colorado Rockies for 1.4 million dollars but will continue to quarterback the football team. According to a report by TCBB Assistant Editor Mark Rafferty back on July 21st (FULL ARTICLE), he was offered 2.4 million but would of had to quit football. He refused to do this so the best offer that the Rockies gave him with the injury concerns with playing college football was the 1.4 million. So Kyle Parker is stating that a college football season is worth a million dollars. Do you agree with this thinking?

As for Auburn? It's time to look on to 2011 and there are already guys like Alvord who committed to the Tigers, but could be lured by the MLB draft next year. That list will grow as the season progresses, but it already had one name it: Oak Mountain Catcher J.D. Crowe:

“Crowe has an advanced left-handed bat with power and bat speed,” read his profile on Baseball.uaallamerica.com. “He makes consistently hard contact with his clean, easy stroke. At 6-foot and 195 pounds, he has a strong, athletic frame behind the plate and displays plus arm strength with on-line carry on throws to second.”

***I know the "People Finder" is not a fool-proof way of telling if a student/player is coming to Auburn. However, it's about as good as we're going to get without being inside the program. Sure, a guy could enroll and then ultimately choose to go pro, but here's how I see it: It DOES show that a kid is enrolled and that (and the steps it takes to get enrolled, go through Camp War Eagle, get registered, etc) show he's at least LEANING toward Auburn. Will I take it as gospel that the guy is coming to Auburn? No. Will it make me lean one way or the other? Definitely.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Tony Caldwell’s Power Revealed


Thanks to Jim Caldwell for passing along these pictures of Tony Caldwell and the glorious power ‘stache. Jim writes:

The one with kids was at Fenway at CCBL ALL Star game!  About 20 fans had the stashes on!!  A lot of people calling Tony Mike Piazza!!

Thanks for the updates Jim. The stache is quite glorious.




Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Terry Bowden Recruiting Strategy



As soon as I heard this:

Florida State has dismissed junior receiver Jarmon Fortson from the football team, coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed on Sunday.

"He has been dismissed for a violation of team rules," Fisher said. "We wish him the best in everything he does. We love him."

I immediately tweeted this:


Then, straight from Florence, I read this:

UNA could be adding another transfer soon. Former Florida State wide receiver Jarmon Fortson, who was dismissed from the team earlier this week by Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher, reportedly has visited UNA. Bowden said he could not comment on Fortson’s status.


Was I psychic? Hardly. Am I an insider? Not at all. I just know what Terry Bowden is doing. I'm sure he has a google alert set up for his email so that whenever the words "highly-touted" and "kicked off the team" are put together, he gets a little notice. Is what he's doing questionable? Yes. It is wrong? Not really. Bowden is giving kids a second chance to play football and (hopefully) get an education. As soon as he came in to UNA, his roster began to be dotted with transfers who ran afoul of their previous schools. I'm not the only one who has noticed it:

Bowden has signed 25 Division I transfers to help make up for the loss of 15 starters from last season’s 12-2 team.

Defensive end Brandon Fanney was a starting linebacker for the University of Alabama in 2008, but he transferred after disagreements with the Crimson Tide coaching staff. Quinton Andrews, a three-year starter at defensive back for West Virginia, transferred to North Alabama after some contentious seasons in Morgantown. Harrison Beck, the starting quarterback, transferred from North Carolina State after he was nudged out as the starter.

Seven transfers are on the roster from Florida State alone, including Preston Parker, a leading receiver for the Seminoles in 2008. He was dismissed from Florida State after being arrested and charged with driving under the influence. That came after an arrest on drug and weapons charges prompted a two-game suspension to start the season.

“We didn’t invent the idea of kids transferring down to Division II from Division I,” Terry Bowden said. “Some of these kids have been run off by new coaches who think they recruited better players.”

So why even post this? What does this have to do with Auburn? Very little (until ex-Auburn players start moving to Florence). I just posted it because it interests me and ultimately, I don't want to see UNA suffer. I respect the tradition up there. However with notions of moving up to Division 1 Football, I just hope it's done with a correct plan in place. Just call me super cautious. I'm still burned from "The Bowden Way" from his time at Auburn. I just don't want to see another school suffer when Tater Tot heads to greener pastures.


So Who Are These Guys?


I've said it before. Baseball recruiting information is not the stream-lined web monster that College Football Recruiting is. Most times Auburn fans won't know who has committed until the Athletic Department sends out their official press release; or I could spend upwards of $450 for a scouting service like Perfect Game (which I'm not).  Until then, all we have are little nuggets from local newspapers. Such as this one from the Lakeland (FL) Ledger:

Colton Davis and Jarred Smith, both of whom will be seniors for the Highlanders this year, have committed to play baseball at Auburn University.

Davis, an outfielder who also has a football offer from Northern Illinois to play receiver, said he committed after a visit this summer. Auburn coaches called him after a game against Auburndale last spring, asked him to come visit and offered the scholarship when he arrived. He said he didn’t have any other baseball offers prior to the one from Auburn.

Smith, who plays infield, had been committed to Florida Southern but decommitted from the Mocs before deciding on Auburn not long after Davis.


Which then starts the "who are they" train in motion. So let's see what the old google machine turns up. First up is Colton Davis.

We know he was an all-area selection for Lake Wales as an OF. He's also a WR for the Lake Wales Highlanders, where he was a spring standout and an all-state Honorable Mention. He's listed at 6'2 and around the 180 range. During a recent Under Armour Football Combine he has an evaluation of 119 (and I have no clue if that is good or bad) but you can see his times in the link. He's right handed and a 3-Star from Prospect Wire. Unranked on Rivals Football. ESPN Football Recruiting gave him a 40 and listed his 40 time at 4.72. His Lake Wales baseball team was pretty good last year:

Lake Wales cruised to an 18-0 victory over Ridge Community in the nightcap.

Colton Davis' leadoff home run started a first-inning rally that gave the Highlanders (23-3) an early 5-0 lead. A fielding error put Jared Smith on base, and Justin Shafer drove him in with a triple. Matt Warren added a three-run homer.

The Highlanders put the game away with a 13-run second inning on just four hits. Ridge committed six errors and walked seven batters in the inning.

Jared Smith had two hits and scored three runs for Lake Wales.

We finally get a bit of actual baseball related scouting from Perfect Game USA:

Lake Wales has an interesting sophomore centerfielder in Colton Davis. He hits and throws right, and has a slope-shouldered 6-2, 175 frame reminiscent of a younger Chipper Jones. Davis is a plus runner right now with big strides and a future average arm. He struggled with his routes, especially when moved to right field later in the game; Davis misjudged a ball hit over his head. The bat-speed isn’t there yet, but Davis has a smooth swing and loose body, so I give the bat a chance….

That was as a Sophomore. Davis will be a senior this year (and hopefully at Auburn in the fall of 2011). Finally, we know he wears #9 (That's him sliding in the picture above).


What about Smith? Well we know that it's either Jarred with a single "r" or with two "r"'s. Both come up. He's a 2B/SS/P prospect. He pitched well enough in a HS Playoff game to help his team advance:

Smith, a junior right-hander, struggled in the first inning then cruised the rest of the way. He allowed just four hits, walked two batters, hit one and struck out 12.

In the bottom of the first, Smith hit Mitch Blackburn with one out then walked Kyle Ryan. Kyle Chastain, who went 3-for-3, singled home Blackburn. Smith, however, retired the next two batters to get out of trouble.

"He settled down," Lake Wales coach Jasone DeWitt said. "He had one bad inning. In the first inning, he left some pitches up and they took advantage. He made an adjustment with his delivery, competed, threw strikes and was able to get a W."

Smith then retired Auburndale 1-2-3 in three of the next four innings. The Bloodhounds' best scoring chance after the first came in the third when they had runners on second and third with two outs, but Smith struck out Keven Pulone to get out of the inning.

"He was able to get ahead," DeWitt said. "He was able to throw his offspeed pitches for strikes."

Prospect Wire lists him as a 4 Star Middle Infielder. He bat's left but throws right. He played in the Dixie Future Stars Tournament in 2009 with another familiar name, Trey Cochran-Gill. He was the top player at a Baseball Factory Tournament in May, also getting their Louisville Slugger Award. He's a member of the FTB Mizuno Traveling Team, which had this to say about him:

Jarred Smith commits to Auburn University!!! Jarred is the newest member of FTB Mizuno. He is a 6' INF from Lake Wales HS. He committed to Auburn just a few days after joining our family. Jarred is a versatile player who can play all 3 INF spots and is mid to upper 80s on the mound. Jarred will have a shot to play early because of his advanced approach at the dish. Jarred has the potential to be a top of the order hitter for the Tigers. Congrats to Jarred and his family on your college decision!

Other than that? Nothing. Ghost town. He's listed anywhere from 5-10 to 6' and around 140 lbs. Still, hopefully you know a little bit more about two (potentially) future Tigers.


When We Last Left Our Heroes...



Bit slow with the updates (and the updates are a bit slow) but here are some news and notes for Auburn Baseball and Auburn baseball related things:


  • Baseball Insider has a nice podcast interview with the former Auburn and Grissom Star



  • The Mahsher is having a good time playing for hometown crowds in Summer Ball.



  • The former National/Mariner/everything gets a nice Q&A in Tacoma.



  • Impressive work so far in his few games with the Burlington Royals:
    • How about Brian Fletcher's work through three games as a Royal. The Auburn product has gone 4-for-12 with two homers, four RBIs and three runs scored. Both of the righty's homers have been to the opposite field.
  • But with the good, comes some room for improvement:
    • The craziest aspect of the loss last night was Luis Piterson's attempt to steal home in the ninth inning during a tie game. The end result was a Brian Fletcher strike out, but had he not swung, Piterson probably would have been safe. "Let's go do something different here," Liriano told himself during that inning. "This pitcher is the right guy to try to steal home on, because he throws a lot of splits. That's a great time to try to steal home, and Fletcher swung at a split in the dirt. If he doesn't swing at that pitch, we win that game because Piterson stole home plate."


FROM THE AUfficial Site:



  • At least that's what Austin Hubbard (Hudson Valley) and Trent Mummey (Aberdeen) can say. They both were selected to the New York-Penn League All Star Game.



  • I found this little nugget from Bobby Bowden's ministry:
    • Bobby Bowden dreamed of the day he would hit a home run.
      Playing for Howard College — now Samford University — Bowden got it via inside the park against Auburn and as soon as he crossed home plate, it was taken away from him.
      Bowden was called out for not stepping on first base.
      Just as quick as he got it, it was gone. Such is life and Bowden’s message to the multitude of people that attended Central Baptist Church on Monday night to hear the legendary and retired Florida State football coach.


Oh, and the Peyton Manning picture is just there. Deal with it. I tried to google "Tony Caldwell Mustache" and that's what I got. I took it as a sign.


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