Position Battles: First Base
NOTE: This Post Originally Appeared on CollegeAndMagnolia.com
First Base is another position where Auburn has been spoiled over the past two seasons. With Kevin Patterson in 2011 and Hunter Morris in 2010, First Base has been manned by two competent and impressive field generals. Last year, KP manned the other corner an impressive 54 Times (with Wes Gilmer providing a spell only 4 times in 2011. So, much like 3rd Base, Auburn has a position where they can store a power bat.
What Auburn Needs at First:
Here's what I look for in a 1B. I want a guy with size. An impressive physical specimen, who can bring a consistent bat (and hopefully some pop). The range doesn't have to be world changing (hopefully the 2B can make up most of the difference to the right) I would hope
What if I told you Auburn had a guy who was bigger than Kevin Patterson and had a consistent bat and a solid (and error free) glove? That guy is Garrett Cooper. The transfer from Manhattan Beach, California stands an impressive 6'6" and 275. He comes with a ton of recognition and honor. Here's his bio blurb from Auburn Tigers.com
He didn't put up the best power numbers at El Camino. However, I think that's more a product of the league and not Cooper. The top HR Hitter in that division only had 8 Homeruns all year. Still, Cooper has a bat that produces and a glove that is solid. Something that would make a perfect 1B. Plus, Cooper is a Junior. Honestly, Auburn probably only has him for one season. It would be a shame to waste him.
The Dark Horse:
Patrick Savage has been biding his time at Auburn for a while. Illness limited his Freshman season and he couldn't really break the lineup behind Patterson last year. He's defensively subbed here and there over the past two seasons, but one thing is certain: He's got the frame and he's been the understudy to two of the best 1Bs in recent Auburn history.
The Wild Card:
Craig Shirley. He's talented and has power. The size (just 6'2) shouldn't be a factor. I haven't seen enough of Shirley in the Fall, but just from what I read of him his Senior Year? I was and remain impressed. He came highly recruited and remained committed to Auburn.
He could provide Auburn with a secret weapon and might find some work at DH. He can pitch some (and when Auburn recruited him, they mentioned they'd like him to continue to do so). However, he seems more comfortable and more adept at First Base.