Nine Questions: #7 The Wildcards
College baseball depends on transfers and newcomers to help pump new blood into the system. Not surprisingly, Auburn will have to rely on some new faces to fill some crucial roles on the side and here's your first chance to meet them.
- Role: The Clutch Hit Machine
- Let this be your first introduction to Cullen Wacker, before his legend grows at Auburn. The Mobile by way of Texas JUCO transfer is already a local legend at McGill-Toolen (with an impressive facebook page as well). His all conference year at Northeast Texas included 58 rbis and 24 stolen bases. I'd check out some of the pretty solid Press-Register articles on him. Wacker could become a go-to guy off the bench with runners on and solid contact is needed. Hey, the last Auburn player to come to Auburn from a Texas JUCO worked out pretty well didn't he? Oh, and let's not forget that Wacker was a pretty solid 6A QB for McGill:
- Role: The Speedster
- Williams kind of slipped under the radar when he signed with Auburn. The true freshman from The Lovett School in Georgia turned down some football offers to join the Tigers baseball team. Williams averaged 22 stolen bases a year over his high school career and his 4.45 40 time is nothing to sneeze at. I'd expect Williams to fill in the Justin Fradejas role as a much needed pinch runner now that Freddie is taking over a full time role in the outfield.
- Role: The Fireballer
- Varnadore is a talented pitcher. That's something that can't be argued. What's still to be decided is just how good he is. The rotation is a bit crowded for Varnadore to crack immediately. However, with a mid-90s fastball and some solid backup pitches in the arsenal, Varnadore will be a tremendous asset out of the bullpen. How many teams can just throw out a JUCO ace right out of the 'pen and let opposing teams deal with it. He's got a physical 6'4 frame and his 94 Ks in 80 2/3 innings shows he has some solid material to work with. If the Justin Bryant experiment at closer falters then Varnadore could step right in.
Other Wildcards of note:
- Tyler Dial- Should fill in a mid-week utility guy to get some needed experience and playing time for his future role as a starter. Like Varnadore, an already crowded situation would probably hinder an everyday role.
- Brooks Beisner- Good enough that Kendall Rogers thought he could be the opening day DH. Beisner is the big stick off the bench and hopefully the new bats won't affect his power swing.
- Ethan Wallen- Another darkhorse for the closer role.