Columbus, Ga.--Losing junior hitters Anfernee Grier, Josh Palacios and Niko Buentello to this year’s draft, the Auburn Tigers were looking for help in this year’s signing class and on Wednesday that help came in the form of junior college slugger Joshua Anthony turning down the Atlanta Braves with the plans to enroll in school this fall.
Drafted in the 16th round by the Braves out of Western Oklahoma State College, Anthony confirmed to Inside The Auburn Tigers his decision to keep his commitment to play baseball for the Tigers. That gives Coach Butch Thompson and assistants Brad Bohannon and Doug Sisson the bat they were hoping to build around in the 2017 season.
It was a decision met with excitement from his future coaches, Anthony said, but he admits it didn't come easy.
"It was tough," Anthony said. "The whole process was tough. How I made my decision, I weighed my options and I put the pros and cons with both of my options and ultimately through the whole process I found out that Auburn was going to be the best route for me to go for the long run.
"It's a relief," he added of his decision. "Because of the situation I was in, no matter what decision I made was going to be a win for me. But, because I chose the "better" option for me I'm proud of my decision."
With the ability to play baseball in the Southeastern Conference and perhaps improve his draft stock next season, Anthony said that definitely played a part in his decision to head to Auburn because he believes in his ability as a player.
"Even though next year's draft is not guaranteed, I have so much confidence in my play and potential that I'll open a lot of eyes."
One of the top junior college bats in the nation, Anthony had an impressive sophomore year in every category offensively. Batting .444, Anthony mashed 25 home runs with 84 RBI, scored 112 runs, and stole 49 bases. He also added 17 doubles and walked 54 times.
Those numbers came after a monster freshman year when he hit .425 with 20 home runs, 71 RBI, 79 runs scored and 18 stolen bases.
Anthony is expected to get his first look at third base for the Tigers, but could also be a corner outfielder with Auburn losing Grier, Palacios, Jordan Ebert and Jackson Burgreen off the 2016 team.
"That's great," Anthony said of his opportunity. "That puts me in a position to have to excel. I always like a challenge, I don't want anything to come easy to me. The SEC is no joke, the best baseball conference in all of America. With them putting me in this spot I look at it as the opportunity to achieve greatness."