Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Features AU Football, Baseball, Basketball & Softball

Talking about a variety of sports in this edition of the Friday Auburn Mailbag.

Keegan Thompson (above) was impressive in his 2017 pitching debut.

auburnNc89: Any new names out there for off the field analyst positions? would Gus like to have them in place before the start of spring practice?

Obviously some of the names are beginning to shake out with Brian Blackmon coming onboard this week along with Cole Weeks from Southern Miss in a graduate assistant role. I expect T’Sharvan Bell to join the defense in some capacity as well, likely before spring practice begins. Charles Moore from Tarleton State has been added as a defensive graduate assistant. He was a really good player and one of the top scholar athletes in the country. There will probably be a couple of other guys added, probably early in the spring. Those roles are much more important as they get into the summer when they begin serious prep work for next season.


greg1716: Do any of our staffs (particularly baseball/basketball/softball) utilize any type of analytics and if so how do we incorporate into either breaking down game action or for strategy purposes

Basketball has used analytics since Bruce Pearl arrived. It’s something Todd Golden was really big on and they’ve continued to use those numbers. Baseball has added the Trackman technology that is available to them for use in practices and games. It will track pitch speed, spin rate, launch distance in front of the mound, exit speed off the bat, distance, launch angle, etc. It gives them a good feel for bat speed of guys, if they’re off on a release point, etc. The numbers are available to pro scouts as well, which could be a huge recruiting tool moving forward because it’s what all MLB teams use.


Sherpa88: Hey man. I always look forward to your pre-season reports on Auburn baseball. Could you grade the Pitching staff for me? Not necessarily on a 20-80 scale but maybe, along the lines of best stuff. Middle relievers and Closers included. Thanks. 

1) Best Fastball--No question that goes to Casey Mize. The sophomore is touching the mid-90’s this season and is headed towards being a very high draft pick after next season.

2) Best Curveball--I would go with Keegan Thompson as he begins to get back to using the pitch again. It’s definitely a plus pitch and makes his fastball even more effective.

3) Best Slider--For me it’s Cole Lipscomb. If he has command of the slider it makes him a very dangerous pitcher because it opens up both sides of the plate for him.

4) Best Change--I would probably go with Keegan again with the change. He’s a three-pitch guy and all of them are good.

5) Best Control--I would say Casey Mize at the moment considering he’s walked just 18 batters in 74 career innings. That’s a pretty strong number for a true sophomore.

6) Best Combo--Keegan’s ability to throw three pitches for strikes gives him the best ability to back pitches up with effectiveness.

7) Best "Out Pitch"--Right now it may be Lipscomb’s slider. He’s yet to allow a hit this season in two appearances out of the bullpen. If he continues to pitch with confidence and executes his off speed that’s a big plus for the Tigers.


aupops: Jason, since Sean W. is gonna be at best(we think) a small part of spring training, are you concerned that he might not get a true opportunity to be the 2017 QB starter?

My believe is that they won't name a starter until probably a week or two into preseason practices, which should give Sean an opportunity to show what he can do in a scrimmage situation. There's no reason to rush it in the spring. There is plenty of time to gel as an offense with a few weeks of fall practice. I believe he’ll have an opportunity to make a run for the job.


m5guy: With many of the same softball players returning this year and the batting average last year being among tops in the nation what do attribute the lack of offense this year to? Things did seem to improve at the end of last weekend.  I know Rhodes & Carosone were great contributors but the bats seem quiet so far. With the pitching we have if the bats "wake-up" we should be hard to beat.

Every year is different so sometimes it takes a little while to find the right combination for a lineup. I don’t think there’s any question that Kasey Cooper has been pressing a little bit to try to carry the load. That’s not surprising considering you lost three of the top hitters in school history from last year’s team in All-Americans Emily Carosone, Tiffany Howard and Jade Rhodes. That’s a lot of production to replace off one team. The offense will pick it up because there’s no way Cooper bats under .200 for a season. Once she gets into a groove it will pick everyone else up. If Kendall Veach and Courtney Shea can continue to provide power then teams will be forced to give the top of the order better pitches to hit.

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