Altus, Okla.--Coach Butch Thompson and the Auburn Tigers are looking for immediate help at the plate for 2017 and this week they got a commitment from a player who may be the answer to their problems.
A 5-10, 195-pounder with the skills to play third base, second base and even catcher, Joshua Anthony from Western Oklahoma State College put up monster numbers in his first year in junior college and has continued that as a sophomore.
Playing in 64 games last season as his team advanced to the junior college world series, Anthony batted .425 with 20 home runs, 71 runs batted in, scored 79 runs while adding 18 stolen bases. Those types of numbers put him in the Top 10 nationally among junior college players in a number of different categories and set him up for a hot start in 2016. In just 21 games this year he is hitting .493 with eight home runs, seven doubles, 34 runs batted in and 16 walks. When you throw in his 19-21 total in stolen bases you have a player that can do it all.
Building a bond with Thompson and assistants Brad Bohannon and Doug Sisson and believing in what they are building with the Tigers, Anthony said for him the choice was an easy one when it came to his future and that was in the SEC and close to home.
“First of all, Auburn is in the SEC and I’ve always had a dream of playing D1 baseball in the SEC,” Anthony tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. “I looked at this as an opportunity to make a dream come true. Auburn has a very dominant program and I along with my coaches felt like I would be a best fit for Auburn.
“That was very important for me,” he added of Auburn’s coaching staff. “I know they’ll push me to get to not only where I want to be, but to help where the team needs me as well. When Auburn came to me I didn’t have the opportunities I was looking for, but when that happened it was like ‘oh, this dream may actually come true.’ Me and Coach Bohannon started talking more and I started realizing that this was for me.”
A good player out of Hardaway High, Anthony said for him getting away from home at the junior college level has helped him to mature both as a player and a student. Now he’s ready to be back close to his friends and family to play, something he’ll have an opportunity to do at Auburn.
“That’s very special for me,” Anthony said. “I’m at a junior college in Oklahoma and there’s not many of my relatives and family and friends that can really watch me play. Now that I’m heading back home and now that I’ve honed my skills it will be a blessing just for them to watch me play.”
With a large group of veterans expected to be gone after this season and with a serious need at third base even now as the Tigers look for someone to take over that role, Anthony said the opportunity waiting for him on the Plains is one he’s very excited about.
“That’s a blessing,” Anthony said. “There’s not many places where I would have the chance to come in and take over right away. God has blessed me with this opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it.”
With the numbers that he’s putting up in junior college, Anthony could be a serious threat to get drafted once his sophomore season is done. That’s something he said would be nice, but at the moment he’s focused on getting to Auburn because he knows if he can prove it in the SEC then it would only increase his stock moving forward.
“I want to play SEC ball because the competition in the country doesn’t get better than what the SEC has,” Anthony said. “If I go in and put up solid numbers in the SEC then that will potentially cause me to gain more confidence in pro ball if I make it there.”