Breaking Down Auburn’s 2011 Baseball Class (Part 1)
I could sit here and say, “better late than never” when it comes to announcing this class, but I won’t. I’ve just slowly grabbed info and thoughts on these guys as it’s come available. I’ve waited on doing the breakdown until I got the official list from Auburn. Well, today, that list is here and it’s a solid class. One thing stands out and it’s a big sign for Pawlowski and the things he has planned for the future: this is a class loaded with Freshman. Simply put, Pawlowski is planning for the future and developing talent rather than just “renting” guys for one or two years. Of the 14 members of this class, only 2 are juniors. Meaning that, unless they get plucked by the draft, the remainder of these guys are here for the long haul. 3 Solid Years at the very least for Auburn. Let’s break them down.
Cameron Blinka (6’ 200/ RHP/ Alvin CC/ Rosenburg, TX)
An All Conference Selection at Alvin CC as a Freshman. Blinka looks like a middle reliever or setup guy who sported a 1.85 ERA with 22 ks in 24.1 IP. He served as a closer at Alvin and wants to fill that role for Auburn:
"They had a closer who was picked in the (MLB) draft, so they were looking for a closer," said Blinka. "The fact that they came to Texas to get me was exciting. My goal is to be their late-inning guy.
"It's a great opportunity and I'm excited. They're a good program."
Auburn spotted Blinka at an All-Star game and was impressed by his breaking stuff, including a solid curveball. He was invited to visit the Plains and immediately felt at home:
"The campus is very nice. It has an East Texas feel," said Blinka. "The campus had a great feel and the facilities were right in the middle of campus."
The best thing you can say about Blinka is that he’s a battler and doesn’t shy away from pressure. He relishes the closer role and feels most comfortable in the late innings.
Grant Bush (6-4/190/ LHP / Grissom HS/Huntsville, AL)
One of the names of MLB draft potential, Bush keeps a steady Huntsville pipeline open. He’ll either battle Blinka for the closer’s role immediately or settle into middle relief until his time comes. For any Huntsville area Auburn fans, I’d recommend checking Bush out. He plans on moving out of the pen and into the rotation for Grissom this season. If he flourishes in that role, and breaks out like he did his Junior year. Then Auburn may scrap plans for him as closer and work him into the midweek rotation. Last year for Grissom he provided a solid 1-2 punch for Grissom and current Auburn Tiger Dillon Ortman. He sported a 1.29 ERA with 9 saves. The killer stat line that probably has scouts drooling? 38 innings, 60 Ks and only 10 walks. Those are some ridiculous numbers. He also has some solid film from the Baseball Factory.
Here’s what Pawlowski had to say:
"Grant is a left-handed pitcher who has great arm strength and deception. He has pitched in pressure situations at the highest level of high school baseball in Alabama. Our staff believes that he will continue to develop and become a big contributor for us on the mound."
Justin Camp (6-2/220/ RHP / Austin HS/Decatur, AL)
Camp is a jewel in this class. He’s big, powerful, and already getting National Recognition. Baseball America had this scouting report on the Decatur native:
Camp has a thick, 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame. While his body is a little soft, he showed good body control and threw all his pitches for strikes. His fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range, touching 93 and he mixed in a sharp 79-81 mph curveball and an 81 mph changeup. He went right after hitters, mixed his pitches well and showed good poise on the mound. Camp is in the 2011 class and is verbally committed to Auburn.
Baseball Clearinghouse followed with this evaluation:
Justin is a thick bodied right hander out of Austin High School. He has a fast arm with a fastball that sits easy at 86-87 and will bump 90 occasionally. Arm strength and body are present, but he needs to learn to repeat his delivery and command his pitches better. His curve has a 11-5 tilt with nice action. With a little maturity, added mound presence and the right help polishing his mechanics he could become special.
Trey Cochran-Gill (5-10/175/ RHP/OF / Tallassee HS/Tallassee, AL)
TGC is already going to be one of my personal favorites. I can just feel it. A Stud HS QB, and a local legend. Trey has the work ethic and drive that any coach would love. He’s also super humble. The OA News has 2 Profiles on him and I recommend checking them out. Here’s a taste of one of them. After Tallassee set up this signing ceremony for their first player ever to sign D-1 Baseball out of High School, TGC’s reaction was mixed:
“He does not want the spotlight on him at all,” Gill said. “When we told him the school had gotten this ready, he did not want to do this. He said, ‘No Mama, I want to wait until the rest of my teammates sign at the end of the year.’
“He just does not want the attention on him at all.”
Cochran-Gill was first-team All-State last year for the Tigers, who got to the second round of the playoffs before being swept by Beauregard.
He hit .400 with seven home runs and 46 RBI as a junior last season, also going 6-2 on the mound with a 2.79 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings.
“On the field, off the field, he’s a class act,” Tallassee baseball coach Adam Clayton said. “Academics are outstanding. Athletically, he’s been a huge part of the baseball and football programs. He’ll be remembered a long time.
“He’ll probably go down as one of the best athletes to ever play here.”
He’s one guy I’ll be following closely in the Spring:
Cochran-Gill hit .400 with seven home runs and 46 RBI, also going 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA on the mound, in his junior year for the purple-and-gold Tigers.
Clayton said Auburn first started looking at Cochran-Gill as a pitcher -- he's been clocked at 92-93 miles per hour and is routinely in the 89-90 range -- but now the school is looking at him as a dual-role player.
A Stud in Auburn’s backyard. Lucky us.
It’s a long way from El Camino CC to Auburn, AL. Garrett Cooper is hoping that journey pays off.
I’m still doing some more research, but Cooper looks like a guy who can get on base and stay there. Thankfully for Auburn he’ll have a full season to get used the new bats while playing for the El Camino Waves. Due to the lack of info on him at this time, I’ll just let the official AU Release do the talking:
· Plays for Nate Fernley at El Camino CC
· Hit .378 with four home runs and 38 RBI in his first year at El Camino CC ... Also had a 1.000 fielding percentage at first base
· All-SouthCoast Conference (1B)
· 2010 SoCal All-Star Game
· Played at Loyola HS where he hit .397 with four home runs and 25 RBI as a senior
· Under Armour All-American
· All-Mission League
Coach Pawlowski on Cooper...
"Garrett will come to Auburn as a very polished hitter after two years in California junior college. He hit for a very good average during his freshman year and we expect him to continue to develop his power. He is a great target at first base and has also had some success on the mound."
That’s just 5 guys. There’s still 11 more to go. I’ll put of the rest of the profiles later in the week.