No Joy in Mudville Today

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

It had been rumored for at least two weeks, but today Auburn fans got the official word: Shortstop Casey McElroy will be signing with the San Diego Padres:

Former Boone baseball infielder Casey McElroy has signed with the San Diego Padres as an eleventh-round draft pick out of Auburn.

McElroy, who played second base for Boone through 2005, had a big year for the War Eagles at shortstop – leading the SEC in base hits with 87 and finishing in the top 10 in the league in seven other offensive categories, including batting average (.370), RBI (53), home runs (9) and doubles (18).

He was expected to report to the Padres’ Class A club in Eugene, Ore., early this week.

So there’s no joy in Mudville today, but I’m sure a family in Orlando, FL is smiling brightly.

C-Mac’s departure brings up an interesting predicament for Auburn in 2012. There’s green, and there’s what Auburn will be dealing with in 2012. Auburn will return a total of 3 players who started a game in the Auburn infield, and two of those are at the same position (Catcher: Blake Austin/Caleb Bowen).

Originally, I thought the infield could consist of Zach Alvord (2B), Patrick Savage (1B), Tyler Dial (SS), and Mitchel Self (3B). Well, I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board on that one.

Now? I have no clue. Zach Alvord is the only returning player with any infield experience (outside of catcher). That opens the door for a couple of newcomers: Craig Shirley (Dothan), Jarred Smith (Lake Wales, FL) and Chase Williamson (UMS-Wright). Late addition Kent Rollins (South Gwinett, GA) has some shortstop experience as well.

Shirley played First Base in High School. Smith is a middle infielder with experience at both SS/2B and Chase Williamson’s experience is at shortstop, but most scouting services say his future is on the mound (he went 12-1/ 1.99 ERA in 2010). Really though, for Williamson, he’s going to play anywhere he need to be, even playing catcher during the 2011 when his UMS-Wright team was in a bind.

One darkhorse in the IF race could come from JUCO Signee Garrett Cooper. I’ve not seen anything official that he is on campus but his size (6’6/210) and power make him an ideal choice to replace Kevin Patterson at First Base.

Still, with the loss of Dial, that leaves only 4 players (Savage, Mike Reed, Mitchell Self, Alvord) who are listed as infielders on the Auburn roster. One things for certain, some of these freshman/newcomers are going to play.

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