This time last year, it felt like the entire Auburn Baseball Team was going to the majors. The end of the best baseball played on the Plains in 15 years saw eleven Auburn players taken in the Major League Draft. Another five recruits were drafted bringing the total to 16.
That number tied an SEC record as well as tied UCLA for the most players drafted from one team in 2010.
Consequently, Auburn’s 2011 season did not measure up to the 2010 Championship year. The missing players from last year’s roster played a major role in the Tiger’s finishing 29-29 on the season.
This year ten Auburn players were drafted including three juniors and four recruits.
This past week junior third baseman Dan Gamache was awarded a $125,000.00 bonus to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dan’s offensive punch will be missed in the lineup next year as he hit for a .337 average, with 16 home runs and 77 RBIs in his three years at Auburn
Gamache’s decision to follow his dream leaves the following Auburn players with a tough decision … play for Auburn or sign a major league contract:
* RHP Clay Holmes, (signee), Pittsburgh Pirates, 9th round
* SS Casey McElroy, San Diego Padres, 11th round
* RHP Derek Varnadore, Florida Marlins, 17th round
* OF Ryan Tella, (JUCO signee), Minnesota Twins, 34th round
* RHP Rocky McCord, (signee), Minnesota Twins, 39th round
* OF Colton Davis, (signee), Houston Astros, 50th round
Of particular concern for the Tigers would be the loss of McElroy. If Casey turns pro, he will be leaving big shoes to fill. He led the team in hitting last year (at .372) and was named first-team All-SEC; has a .330 career batting average, with 25 home runs, and131 RBIs.
Another big hit to the Tigers would be the possible departure of pitcher Derek Varnadore. He transferred in from Chattahoochee Valley Community College this year and quickly became “the Ace” of the pitching staff with a 3.68 ERA and a 6-3 record. He had 74 strikeouts in 88 innings.
Unfortunately Coach Pawlowski will have to wait till August 15th to have an idea which players he can count on for next year’s roster. The 15th is the deadline for underclassmen to ink a contract.
On a related note. It’s at this time every year that I get aggravated all over again with the NCAA’s different set of rules regarding the amateurism of college baseball athletes.
While no one can begrudge any player from pursuing a professional career, I will never understand why the NCAA allows baseball players to participate in the MLB Draft. Players even have the opportunity to talk with MLB Scouts about signing contracts.
But if a football player even so much as looks at an NFL agent he will lose his college eligibility. The disparity in treatment between baseball players and other athletes has never made any sense – on several levels.
Not the least of which is what it does to end a student athlete’s college education as well as the major roster management headaches it gives baseball coaches.
College baseball coaches are given the same mandate as their football counterparts – Win. The only difference is …
The NCAA ties one of the baseball coach’s hands behind his back.