DANIEL ROBERT (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

X-Factors For Auburn Baseball Heading Into 2017 Season

A look at players the Auburn baseball Tigers need to produce during the 2017 season.

Daniel Robert (above) could be a key player for the Tigers.

With the losses of Anfernee Grier, Josh Palacios, Jordan Ebert and Niko Buentello from a year ago, a group that made up Auburn’s top four batting averages and produced 30 of the 37 total home runs, the Tigers will be counting on several key performers at the plate to help carry the load.

That’s where we begin our look at X-Factors for the Auburn baseball Tigers in 2017, beginning with junior college third baseman Joshua Anthony.

Built like a running back with plenty of power to back up his swing, Anthony put up huge numbers in his two seasons in junior college at Western Oklahoma and will now be called on to provide pop in Auburn’s lineup. While reaching his numbers of .444 with 25 home runs and 84 RBI isn’t likely, if he can give the Tigers power it would go a long way towards helping the offense get the job done.

Another junior college transfer, shortstop Luke Jarvis, is a new face in the lineup who will be called on to be a run producer for the Tigers. Perhaps the most consistent hitter in the preseason, Jarvis will hit early in the lineup and while he probably won’t be a double-digit home run guy, he has the pop to drive in runs when given the opportunity. Throw in his very solid glove at short and Jarvis should be a big addition in 2017.

LUKE JARVIS (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Luke Jarvis is expected to be a key part of the infield.

A player with the size and strength to be a real threat in the middle of the batting order, 6-5, 236 Daniel Robert will wear plenty of different hats for the Tigers. In addition to playing first base and even some right field, Robert has electric stuff on the mound and could wind up being one of Auburn’s key bullpen performers. A good year from Robert would probably mean a good year for the Tigers.

Coming back following a recovery year after Tommy John surgery, redshirt junior Keegan Thompson being back to form would be huge for a starting pitching rotation that is expected to be the strength of the team this year. Sophomore Casey Mize should give the Tigers a premier starter and if Thompson is his old self that’s going to give this team a solid chance to win two games every weekend.

Even with solid starting pitching, improved defense and getting some key hits, without depth in the bullpen it may not matter. To win in college baseball a team has got to have help up to 10-deep to efficiently get through a weekend series and midweek games for a season. That’s the issue for the Tigers this year and while there are several candidates, finding their roles and having them produce remains to be seen.

The good news is that senior Cole Lipscomb has pitched well in the preseason and could be a huge asset for the Tigers in a middle relief role. With 24 starts under his belt the last two seasons, Lipscomb’s ability to pitch multiple times during a weekend and give the team a spot start could make him one of the most valuable players on the team this year.