Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers take on George Washington University in a four-game series this weekend at Plainsman Park, starting with the opener at 2 p.m. on Friday. With plenty of new faces for Coach Butch Thompson to work with, we take a look at what the Tigers could look like when they take the field this weekend.
Catcher: The loss of Kyler Deese (dismissed from the team) and an illness to senior Blake Logan put the pressure on juco transfer Mike Rojas and senior utility man Damon Haecker early in the preseason and in the end it may be good news for the Tigers because it forced both to get plenty of reps to prepare for the season. Logan saw his first scrimmage action last Sunday and is expected to play this weekend, which is good news for Auburn because of his experience and clutch bat.
First Base: Senior Daniel Robert returns for the Tigers as one of the most experienced players on the roster. Auburn's best defensive first baseman, Robert is expected to share time with true freshman Conor Davis at the position with junior college transfer Dylan Ingram also capable of helping there. Ingram will likely be in the lineup as Auburn's DH early in the year.
Second Base: Junior college transfer Jay Estes is firmly entrenched as the starter at second base for the Tigers and has been solid defensively since arriving on campus. Good with the bat, he's a possibility in the two-hole or potentially at the bottom of the lineup. Hacker is also still an option at second base as well.
Jay Estes is in his first season at Auburn.
Third Base: Auburn's most powerful hitter, Joshua Anthony has been a pleasant surprise defensively since getting to Auburn and should be a fixture in the middle of the order for the Tigers. Struggling early in the preseason with his hitting, he had a good weekend at the plate in Auburn's last full scrimmage. Behind him is true freshman Will Holland, who will back up both spots on the left side of the infield this season.
Shortstop: A transfer from Saddleback College in California, Luke Jarvis has been the most consistent hitter for the Tigers in the preseason and has shown a good glove as well. He is expecting to be hitting in the top half of the batting order for Auburn. Behind him Holland should get some playing time and is the future of the position.
Left Field: Back on the field after redshirting last season, Bo Decker has been solid in left field and should be a bat in the middle of the lineup as one of the veterans on the squad. Also capable of providing some time in either left or right is junior college transfer Bowen McGuffin, a lefty who could provide some pop at the plate.
Bo Decker is a senior for the Tigers.
Center Field: Junior college transfer Jonah Todd has been one of the big surprises for Auburn heading into the season. A very good defender with a short,compact stroke at the plate, Todd's consistency has been a strength and one of the reasons he's expected to play a major role this year. Also in the mix in center field are seniors J.J. Shaffer and Sam Gillikin.
Right Field: A speedster who can cover plenty of ground, redshirt freshman Jeremy Johnson made the move from center to right and has flourished in recent weeks. With a bat that is showing more pop, Johnson has the ability to give the Tigers speed in the lineup. Also capable of seeing time in right field are Robert, Gillikin and even McGuffin.
Starting Pitching: With four games this weekend to open the year, the Tigers have been preparing four starters to be ready for the season. Redshirt junior Keegan Thompson will get the call in Friday's season opener for Auburn with sophomore Casey Mize and senior Gabe Klobosits taking the mound in Saturday's doubleheader. On Sunday the ball will go to true freshman Davis Daniel for the noon start at Plainsman Park.
Keegan Thompson is back after missing the 2016 season while recovering from surgery.
Relief Pitching: The biggest question mark remaining for the Tigers is who will finish games this season? Heading into the season the first guy up may be junior college transfer Corey Herndon, a powerful right-hander. Another option is sophomore right-hander Daniel Sprinkle, another powerful pitcher that has shown improvement this preseason. Others expected to help out of the bullpen include senior Cole Lipscomb, junior Andrew Mitchell, junior college transfers Calvin Coker and Welby Malczewski along with true freshmen Ryan Watson and Trevor Hillhouse.