#40 Auburn Baseball 2014 Preview

Auburn Tigers

Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #10 SEC
#40 Auburn Baseball 2014 Preview
Auburn Team Page


Sunny Galloway takes over an Auburn program that finished 33-23 last season and narrowly missed making an NCAA Regional.  It was the fourth time in the last five years that Auburn missed the tournament.  The Tigers were a disappointing 13-17 in SEC play and will look to improve that this season.  Galloway had a tremendous amount of success at Oklahoma, going 346-181-1 in eight seasons and made the NCAA tournament the last six seasons.  He brings in a recruiting class that ranked 13th in the country by Baseball America, and the new players will look to push the Tigers over the top.

2013: 33-23, 13-17
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Sunny Galloway

Field Players:
The Tigers lose their top two hitters from last season, but return a lot of production off last year’s squad.  Jordan Ebert is back for his sophomore season after hitting .303 with 4 home runs and 22 RBI’s as a freshman.  Senior Ryan Tella is also back and will look to regain the form he had his sophomore season.  Tella hit .258 with 3 home runs and 37 RBI’s last year to go along with a team-high 14 stolen bases.  Those numbers are down from his sophomore season where he hit .360 with 5 home runs, 34 RBI’s, 41 runs score and lead the team in hits.  He will start in center field for the third straight season.   This year’s team is senior laden, as five other seniors are back after starting at least 30 games a year ago.  Blake Austin will be back behind the plate after hitting .290 with 23 RBI’s and Dan Glevenyak will be back at short after hitting .230 with 21 RBI’s.  Damek Tomscha will return to third base after he led the team with 7 home runs last year to go along with a .274 batting average and 26 RBI’s.  Infielder Pat Savage and outfielder Hunter Kelley also return after starting 34 and 30 games respectively last season.  Savage hit .290, which is tied with Austin for the second-highest returning batting average.  Jackson Burgreen will return to the outfield in his sophomore campaign after starting 29 games and hitting .225.  Terrance Dedrick is a wild card among the field players.  Listed as a RHP/OF, Dedrick didn’t play in the field last season, but did hit .387 with 7 RBI’s this fall.  Freshman outfielders Anfernee Grier and JJ Shafer and infielder Keegan Thompson also join the team and will look to make an immediate impact.

Michael O’Neal is back and will anchor the starting pitching rotation.  The senior went 8-4 in 14 starts last year with a 2.73 ERA.  He is the only returning player to start more than eight games.  Justin Camp is also back for the Tigers after going 5-1 with a 2.44 ERA out of the bullpen a year ago.  Joining him will be Trey Cochran-Gill and Terrance Dedrick.  Cochrag-Gill was 1-1 with a 3.02 ERA out of the bullpen last year, while Dedrick was the team closer, going 4-2 with a 3.63 ERA and 10 saves.  Batters only hit .216 against him.  The Tigers return some other pitchers that will look to join O’Neal in the starting rotation.  Daniel Koger started eight games last season going 0-3 with a 5.01 ERA.  Rocky McCord started six, going 2-1 with a 3.96 era, while Dillon Ortmann was 2-1 with a 4.88 era in four starts.  Ortmann followed that up with a 1.71 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings this fall.  Reid Carter, Chase Williamson, and Trey Wingenter will add depth to the bullpen.  All three had an ERA under 4 last year and Carter held batters to a .211 batting average in 22.2 innings.  Junior College transfers Robby Clements and Jacob Milliman will also be looked at after posting ERA’s of 1.50 and 1.83 respectively in fall ball.  Highly recruited freshmen Kevin Davis and Thompson could add more pitching help.

Who to Watch:
Keegan Thompson could post big numbers in his freshman season after dominating fall ball.  A pitcher and infielder, Thompson had a 2.25 ERA in four starts on the mound and hit .317 with 8 RBI’s at the plate.  One of the prized recruits in the 2013 class, he will be valuable in both positions, but could serve most useful on the mound.  With a lot of uncertainty in the starting rotation, Thompson could become a fixture for the Tigers.  A number of other incoming freshmen could also be impact players, such as Anfrernee Grier, who was a 37th round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers last June.

Final Projection:
Auburn has struggled in the tough SEC in recent years.  The new coaching staff has a veteran group that could very well change that.  Last year, one thing Auburn did well was win at home, going 21-12.  They were also 20-6 in non-conference games.  This year, Auburn has 35 home games and only 7 of the Tigers 25 non-conference games are against teams that were in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.  The schedule is in Auburn’s favor.  If Ryan Tella can return to the form he had his sophomore season and a couple of players emerge to solidify a starting rotation, expect Auburn to find their way back to an NCAA Regional.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Ryan Tella, OF, 216
Hits: Jordan Ebert, IF/OF, 61
Home Runs: Damek Tomscha, IF, 7
RBIs: Ryan Tella, OF, 37
Runs: Jordan Ebert, IF/OF, 61
Stolen Bases: Ryan Tella, OF, 14

Wins: Michael O’Neal, P, 8
Innings Pitched: Michael O’Neal, P, 89.0
Strikeouts: Michael O’Neal, P, 36
Saves: Terrance Dedrick, P/OF, 10


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