Decatur, Ala.--The Class 6A Hitter of the Year in 2016, but also one of the top junior pitchers in the country, former Alabama baseball commitment Tanner Burns didn’t waste any time finding a new home as he chose the Auburn Tigers on Friday.
With a coaching change in Tuscaloosa opening the door for him to look elsewhere, Burns said making a visit to Auburn and sitting down with Coach Butch Thompson, Brad Bohannon and the rest of the staff made it an easy choice for him.
“When I found out Coach (Mitch) Gaspard resigned from Alabama it kind of hurt me because I was really close to him,” Burns said. “Coach Thompson is really good friends with my dad and I just felt like right when I came on my visit on June 2nd that it was home. He’s a really good pitching coach and that’s what I am, I’m a pitcher.
“He produces people in the big leagues and that’s everybody’s goal. He’s down to earth. He’s the best pitching coach in the country. I want to be around him and Auburn. Coach Bohannon, I love him. Me and him have gotten closer over the week. I just felt like it was the right choice to commit to Auburn. I feel like it’s the right decision and I feel so much better now that it’s over.”
Known for not only having very productive staffs on the collegiate level, but sending pitchers in bunches to professional baseball, Thompson’s ability to coach pitchers is something that definitely stood out to Burns.
“It spoke a lot to me,” he said of Thompson’s history of producing draft picks. “Just the way he coaches the kids, he has so much knowledge about pitching it’s insane. I want to learn a lot and that’s one reason to go to Auburn, to learn from him, learn from the best.”
Burns becomes the latest in a line of talented 2017 commitments from north Alabama for the Tigers, joining Judd Ward and Cody Greenhill from Russellville and Carter Bowen from Cullman. Already familiar with all of the other guys headed to the Plains, Burns said that’s exciting to think about all of them joining forces in a couple of years.
“Judd, Cody and I actually took a picture today at the Perfect Game National Showcase,” Burns said. “They are good players and good players produce wins, and wins go to Omaha. We’ve got good players coming in. Everybody is close that I know. They are three really good players that I know.”
A talented pitcher, Burns was 5-2 on the mound last season with two saves and a 1.11 ERA while adding 86 strikeouts and just 14 walks. Swinging a hot bat as well, he hit .472 with 13 home runs and 60 RBI as a junior.
Those numbers make him a definite two-way threat on the next level for the Tigers. That’s something Thompson is looking for to help build his program and that’s good news for Burns.
“Coach Bohannon said I’m going to be able to swing the bat, too, at Auburn,” Burns said. “That’s awesome. That’s something I have been blessed to have the opportunity to do, hit and pitch at Auburn.”
Now with his decision behind him, Burns said he’s excited about his future at Auburn and he can’t wait to be a Tiger.
“I’m ready to go to some football games and go to basketball games,” Burns said. “I’m ready to see what Auburn baseball does this year with the pitchers they’ve got coming in.”