Auburn Baseball Signs 14 For 2011

Auburn Baseball announced the signees for the 2011 class on Wednesday.

Auburn, Ala.--Building on the success of the 2010 SEC Western Division Championship and playing host to a NCAA Regional at Plainsman Park, coach John Pawlowski and the Auburn Tigers signed 14 players in the fall signing period for 2011-2012. Among them are 11 high school players and three players from junior college. Pawlowski said the group should fill some big needs for the Tigers in the years to come.

"We are very proud of this recruiting class and excited about the future of Auburn baseball," Pawlowski said. "Our coaching staff worked extremely hard in identifying and evaluating these student-athletes. We believe each member of this class fills a specific need for our program.

"This class is well-represented with great players from our state of Alabama and there is also a national flavor as we were able to sign some of the top players from talent-rich baseball states such as Florida, Texas, and California. We are committed to finding the best student-athletes for Auburn University and we believe this group lives up to those high standards."

Looking for help on the mound Auburn signed reliever Cameron Blinka from Alvin (Tex.) Community College and Lamar Consolidated High. A 6-0, 200 relief pitcher, Blinka had a 1.85 ERA and four saves in 24 appearances as a freshman. In high school he was 15-4 with a 2.57 ERA.

"Cameron is a veteran pitcher who has had success in pressure situations as the closer in a top junior college conference," Pawlowski said. "He showcased one of the best breaking balls that our staff saw during this recruiting cycle. He has proven that he wants to be on the mound when the game is on the line and he has a great track record of being a winner."

One of the top players in Alabama for 2011, 6-4, 190 LHP Grant Bush from Grissom High had a huge junior year for the Tigers earning the 2010 Huntsville Pitcher of the Year. He had a 1.29 ERA and nine saves in 38 innings as a junior and struck out 60 while walking only 10. He was named a Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American.

"Grant is a left-handed pitcher who has great arm strength and deception," Pawlowski said. "He has pitched in pressure situations at the highest level of high school baseball in Alabama. Our staff believes that he will continue to develop and become a big contributor for us on the mound."

Named an All-American by Perfect Game, Rawlings and USSSA, 6-2, 220 RHP Justin Camp from Austin High in Decatur is a physical presence on the mound that could be a big boost to Auburn's starting rotation down the road. As a junior he had a 3.13 ERA and struck out 107 in 60 innings on the mound. He has three career no-hitters in high school.

"Justin has been one of the top pitchers in the Southeast for the last couple of years," Pawlowski said. "We are proud that he will have a chance to represent our country on Team USA this summer. He is a power pitcher with exceptional command and outstanding off-speed pitches."

A fantastic athlete that excelled on the football field for Tallassee, Trey Cochran-Gill will bring his baseball talents to Auburn as he projects as either a pitcher or outfielder on the next level. A 5-10, 175-pounder, he has exceptional arm strength on the mound. As a junior he was 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA. Cochran-Gill also hit .400 with seven home runs and 46 RBI.

"Trey is a gifted athlete who caught our eye as a pitcher with great arm strength and the ability to throw strikes," Pawlowski said. "He is a fierce competitor on all playing fields and displays the characteristics that we believe will make him a great player in the SEC."

Trey Cochran-Gill

One of the tallest baseball signees in recent memory, 6-6, 210 Garrett Cooper from El Camino CC and Manhattan Beach, Ca., is a huge target at first base while also seeing some time on the mound. He hit .378 with four home runs and 38 RBI in his first season at El Camino after hitting .397 with four home runs as a senior in high school.

"Garrett will come to Auburn as a very polished hitter after two years in California junior college," Pawlowski said. "He hit for a very good average during his freshman year and we expect him to continue to develop his power. He is a great target at first base and has also had some success on the mound."

The catcher position is always an important one and one of the top players at his position in the South is J.D. Crowe from Oak Mountain. A 6-0, 195-pounder, Crowe was played in the Under Armour Game at Wrigley Field last year and should give the Tigers a solid player behind the plate when he arrives.

"J.D. is a fundamentally sound catcher with tremendous athleticism," Pawlowski said. "He features a very consistent left-handed swing and has excelled on the biggest stages. We are proud of J.D.'s selection to and his showing in the 2010 Under Armour All-American game."

Another standout on the football field after being named honorable mention All-State as a wide receiver, 6-3, 185 Colton Davis from Lake Wales (Fla.) High hit .350 as a junior and stole 33 bases while scoring 42 runs. Named his school's Defensive Player of the Year from his outfield position, Davis will be a third-generation Auburn student when he enrolls in school.

"Colton is a tremendous athlete who loves to compete," Pawlowski said. "He has had a terrific high school career on the baseball and football fields. His combination of speed and the knack for putting the ball in play with authority will help him to become an elite baseball player."

A physical power pitcher, 6-4, 225 RHP Clay Holmes from Slocumb was 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA as a junior with 126 strikeouts. For his career he is 21-8 with a 1.92 ERA. He has struck out 277 in 192 innings.

"Clay is an extremely physical right-handed pitcher who has the potential to be dominant," Pawlowski said. "He throws a heavy fastball and has advanced command of several off-speed pitches. He is a very well-rounded student-athlete who has achieved as much in the classroom as on the athletic fields."

Another 6-6 signee on the mound is left-hander Daniel Koger from Huntsville High. Lanky at just 170 pounds, Koger has played against some top quality competition as he is 16-7 with three saves and a 2.44 ERA in his high school career and he's also won four national championships as a member of the East Cobb Astros. He was a 2009 and 2010 All-City Pitcher as well as Huntsville High's Pitcher of the Year in both years.

"Daniel has been a very successful pitcher at the highest level of Alabama high school baseball as well as the highest level of travel baseball," Pawlowski said. "We are confident that Daniel will be a winner at Auburn because of his deception, strike-throwing ability and competitiveness."

Loading up on pitching Auburn signed 6-2, 175 Rocky McCord from Spanish Fort High. He was 10-2 last season with a 2.05 ERA in 68 innings as a junior and was the winning pitcher in the state championship game last year. He was named 2010 All-State as well as Spanish Fort's MVP Pitcher.

"Rocky has an outstanding feel for pitching and has a great track record for winning," Pawlowski said. "Most recently, he led Spanish Fort to a state championship in 2010. We are excited that Rocky has continued to improve every year and expect him to be a big part of Auburn baseball in the future."

Perhaps the top power hitter in Alabama, 6-4, 225 Craig Shirley from Northview High in Dothan hit .477 with 18 home runs, 72 RBI and 48 runs scored as a junior while also pitching as well. He was named A 6A All-State performer as well as the Dothan Eagle and Wiregrass Player of the Year. Shirley also earned Louisville Slugger All-American honors.

"Craig is a very physical power hitter who also has a strong throwing arm," Pawlowski said. "He was an offensive force in Alabama High School baseball last season and our staff believes that he can be equally as good on the mound in the future."

An Under Armour Preseason All-American, 5-10, 180 infielder Jarred Smith hit .427 with three home runs and 30 RBI as a junior. He was also 6-1 on the mound with an ERA of just 1.71 in 41 innings. Smith was named the top prospect at the Baseball Factory National Tryout.

"Jarred has played at the highest level of high school and travel baseball and has been extremely successful," Pawlowski said. "Jarred is a talented infielder who will help us win games defensively and with his bat. His baseball player instincts are impressive and he has also excelled on the mound."

Sitting out the 2010 season because of a medical redshirt, 6-0, 175 Ryan Tella will be a freshman at Ohlone (Ca.) College this season. The Freemont, Ca., native hit .500 as a senior in high school and was 8-0 with a 1.54 ERA on the mound. He was named the East Bay Player of the Year and Conference MVP.

"Ryan impressed our staff with his energy and athleticism this fall," Pawlowski said. "He is a speedster who has a knack for getting on base and making outstanding defensive plays in the outfield. He will gain some valuable experience by playing at Ohlone this spring."

The Class 4A Alabama Player of the Year and State Championship Series MVP after leading UMS-Wright to the title, 6-2, 190 Chase Williamson is the final signee for the Tigers announced on Wednesday. He was 12-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 81 innings as a junior. He struck out 98 on the mound and was just as powerful at the plate with eight home runs, 35 RBI and a batting average of .491.

"Chase was arguably the most valuable player to his team in all of Alabama high school for 2010," Pawlowski said. "He fielded, hit and pitched UMS-Wright to the state championship while picking up the 4A state Player of the Year award. He has all the intangibles of a winner and we are proud that he is a Tiger."

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories