Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Now We Can Focus on the Fall

August 15th might not seem like a big day to many, but for College Baseball fans, it can be more nerve-racking than signing day. August 15th was the final day for MLB negotiations. The last chance for MLB clubs to sign their draft picks before either packing up shop and accepting compensatory picks next year, or scuttling late additions to low A, GCL/DSL, or Rookie Ball. For Auburn, it was patiently waiting on the status of 5 guys: Current RHP Derek Varnadore and signees Clay Holmes (Pirates), Rocky McCord (Twins), Colton Davis (Astros), and Ryan Tella (Twins). When the dust settled, Auburn was left with good news and bad news. Holmes was gone, signing for a record 9th round bonus of 1.2 Million but Varnadore was staying; giving Auburn at least some stability on the mound for next year.

It also starts the numbers game for the Auburn roster. The NCAA Limit is 35. Auburn is JUST at that limit, but of course that could all change. Here's the Roster from Last Year. It was set at 33 Players. Here's my Math:

33 Players - 9 Seniors = 24 Players

24 Players - 2 Draft Losses (Casey McElroy/ Dan Gamache) = 22

22 Players - 1 known transfer (Tyler Dial) = 21

21 Players + 14 Original Fall Signees = 35

35 Players + 2 Late Signees (Kent Rollins / Caleb Smith) = 37

37 Players - 1 MLB Draft Loss (Clay Homes) = 36

36 Players - 1 Signee (Grant Bush to JUCO) = 35

Now that puts Auburn right at the edge, but there's still room for some movement. If Justin Bryant gets granted a 6th year of eligibility that takes up a roster spot. Same deal goes any walk-on that may make the team. Currently, all the signees have turned up in the Auburn University people finder.

For Now? Auburn is set. Honestly, it's a team in a bit of flux and will have a completely new look for 2012. I'm excited about the new blood, some fresh faces. I want to see just how hungry these guys are. Hopefully, we'll have some answers on position battles after the Fall World Series. For Now? I'm just waiting until February.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Auburn, APR, & Needed Changes

Lost in the shuffle of conference realignment talk, horrifying injuries, and more bad news for the Buckeyes, a bit of news relating to Auburn baseball came out. Namely, the APR changes and the very tight rope the Tigers are currently balancing.

Personally, I’m all for APR changes, but College Baseball is a ridiculous place to try to Academic Progress Rate benchmarks. The game, as it is now, is not designed to be held to the same classroom standards as other sports. Now, I don’t mean that baseball players shouldn’t be allowed to not attend class and not make acceptable games. All I would argue is that Baseball is the one sport that shouldn’t penalize teams for players transferring or not graduating in a certain period of time. You’re already fighting the MLB to get these guys to your school and now you add one more reason to NOT go after the top game changing talent.

Here’s the official release from the NCAA:

The board voted to raise the Academic Progress Rate benchmark from 900 to 930 and supported a penalty structure that will require teams to earn at least a 930 four-year, rolling APR in order to participate in postseason competition.

These changes stemmed from the two-day presidential retreat which concluded Wednesday and focused on improving intercollegiate athletics in a variety of ways: academics, fiscal responsibility and integrity. The presidents also directed NCAA President Mark Emmert to assemble whatever groups are necessary to codify the recommendations in all three areas discussed at the retreat.

Whenever issues/changes come out like this, my first (and sometimes only) question is: How Does This Affect Auburn. Well, here it is:

If these penalties were instituted for the 2012 season, Auburn (with a 4 year Rolling Ave of 933.5) would be ok, but just barely.

The good news? The Tigers are ahead of the curve and trending in the right direction. With APRs of 924, 938, 932, and most recently 940. If next year just stays level then it would erase that blemish of a 924 mark in 06-07.

There’s no reason it shouldn’t increase. Auburn didn’t lose many players early (just Gamache & McElroy for now) and will (hopefully) end up with only 2 transfers. That’s a small rollover of only 4 players.

Will it affect ANYONE in the SEC?

LSU 933
Miss St 971.75
Bama 942.75
Ark 943.5
UF 975.25
UGA 938
UK 959.5
UM 962
USC 937.25
UT 912.75
Vandy 988

Only Tennessee and LSU are even close to Auburn. The only difference? Both Tennessee and LSU have faced NCAA Penalties

So that’s where it stands. Auburn is close, but not in trouble yet. Still, it’s something the administration needs to keep a watchful eye on. I’d hate the Tigers to be the first SEC baseball to not make the NCAA Tournament because of APR.

Be sure to leave your comments, send me a mention on Twitter (@AUPPL) or, as always, email me (PlainsmanParkingLot@Gmail.com)


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Go West Young Men

I love twitter. I really do. It’s the best way I can interact with readers of the blog and get information I otherwise wouldn’t come across. Sometimes it leads to nuggets like this.

After a couple of emails back and forth with the Wildcat ticket office, I got a bit of confirmation. A word of warning though, this is not official because everything is still about half a year away, but the University of Arizona has Auburn tentatively scheduled to go to Tucson on February 24th-26th. Granted this could fall through but here’s hoping it sticks. Then the only question that remains is: Just where in Tucson will the Tigers play?

The Arizona Wildcats are looking to move some or their entire slate of games for the 2012 season to Hi-Corbett Field in Tuscon.

The Wildcats have played their home games on campus at Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium since 1967 where they drew about 1k fans per game during the 2011 season.


After spending a number of months evaluating the possibility we have not made any final decisions, however we still believe that baseball at Hi-Corbett is worth seriously considering. We will do our best to provide more information as we continue with our exploration of this possibility.

Playing in what essentially is a minor league stadium at Hi Corbett makes the deal even sweeter, in my opinion.

The Wildcats will have a stout club in 2012. Coming off a 39-21 season in 2011, an NCAA Regional appearance (and one win away from a Super Regional), and featuring a couple of Cape Cod All-Stars in All Pac 10 OF Joey Rickard and Pitcher Konner Wade.

It might be worth making the trip to the high desert for that one. Be sure to leave your comments, send me a mention on Twitter (@AUPPL) or, as always, email me (PlainsmanParkingLot@Gmail.com)


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.

Be sure to leave your comments, send me a mention on Twitter (@AUPPL) or, as always, email me (PlainsmanParkingLot@Gmail.com)


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