The season is over, but a lot of work remains for Auburn’s baseball coaches
AUBURN, Alabama — With Auburn’s loss to Arkansas to end the 2022 College World Series season, coach Butch Thompson and his team are officially in for what is one of the toughest jobs ever. toughest in college sports.
While there are tough situations for football coaches and basketball coaches, and every sport in between, there’s arguably nothing harder than trying to figure out how to get a new roster for integrate into scholarships 11.7.
It’s always been hard work, but now it’s harder than ever with the Major League Baseball draft moved to the third week of July. This gives coaches even less time to figure out what happens if a player or signer is drafted higher (or lower) than expected. It could mean losing a player or two you didn’t expect to lose, but it could also mean a player wants to go back to school for another season.
Sounds good at first glance, but if all goes well and all your signers go to school, there’s no money left for a returning senior who wants one more season.
Throwing another wrench into the problem is that most of Auburn’s signings showed up at campus Sunday to start summer school and start training with the Tigers. This happens even though there is a chance that a few of them will get drafted and end up turning pro within a month.
Receiver Ike Irish, pitchers Hayden Murphy and Zach Crotchfelt and outfielder Chris Stanfield are the four players most likely to be affected by the draft. Of the four, only Crotchfelt is not already on campus, which creates potentially anxious moments when the draft takes place later in July.
In addition to signing class, players on Auburn’s current roster will also have many tough decisions to make when it comes to the draft. With Brooks Carlson’s eligibility over, his career is over. Carson Skipper and Sonny DiChiara are not expected to return seven years although they still have a year of eligibility left due to the Covid exception they have had good seasons which will likely result in a high enough draft to give a professional baseball tryout.
A pair of interesting names to watch are seniors Brody Moore and Kason Howell. Playing four years for the Tigers, the two also still have one season left to qualify due to the shortened 2020 season. Although Moore is not expected at this time, Howell is a player who could potentially return for another year. It may depend on what Stanfield does with the doubt that Auburn has enough money to bring in both players for the 2023 season.
Two juniors also expected to be drafted high enough are closer Blake Burkhalter and Mason Barnett. Based on some of the early draft boards, both pitchers should be drafted high enough to be done with their playing days at Auburn.
Another possibility is fellow junior Trace Bright. Like his classmates, Bright saw his freshman year cut short due to Covid and finally settled into a role for the 2022 season. With very little work left on his arm and plenty of gas still in the tank, he could be an intriguing prospect for Major League sides outside of the early rounds.
Like many of his teammates, where Bright is drafted and how much signing bonus he gets could be the deciding factor in whether or not he is back with Auburn for the 2023 season.
So do third baseman Blake Rambusch and catcher Nate LaRue. Although neither is supposed to be taken early, both have a very real chance of being selected in the middle rounds. It may depend on the team and the signing bonus for both.
A big bright spot for Auburn is that reliever Chase Isbell plans to return for a second season with the Tigers after his transfer from Samford. Coming back from partial Tommy John surgery, Isbell has allowed just one earned run in his last nine appearances with just six hits allowed in 13.1 innings.
Transfer launcher Tommy Sheehan could also be back for a sixth year after ending the 2022 season on a high like Isbell. Allowing just one earned run in his last seven outings, the southpaw has allowed seven hits in his last 15 innings with 12 strikeouts. While he should start his professional career, Sheehan has the option to return if he decides to do so. .
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