Going into Monday's MLB Signing Day, Auburn fans knew 4 things:
- 3 Guys Remained on the Board: Andrew Morris (Brewers), Zach Alvord (Braves), and Jay Gonzalez (Red Sox)
- All Three Guys had enrolled at Auburn (according the University "People Finder")***
- 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)
- 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.