Signing with the Tigers were Blake Carver (Cleveland, Tenn.), Caleb Clay (Cullman, Ala.), David Cunningham (Roswell, Ga.), Austin Hubbard (Homewood, Ala.), Cory Rasmus (Phenix City, Ala.), Sean Ray (Virginia Beach, Va.), Joseph Sanders (Millbrook, Ala.), Dustin Spruill (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), Taylor Thompson (Montgomery, Ala.) and Ross Smith (Eastman, Ga.).
"First and foremost, I am very happy with how we recruited locally," Slater said. "I think we did a great job of recruiting in our own backyard as eight of the 10 signees are from Alabama and Georgia. I am very happy with the athleticism of this class. We have a number of multi-sport athletes and all have good arm strength and run well.
"The quality of this class is exhibited by the fact that seven of them are rated in the top-300 by Baseball America. (Assistant Coaches) Butch (Thompson) and Matt (Myers) did a great job of evaluating and developing relationships with these young men and their families."
Signees Joseph Sanders (left) and Cory Rasmus faced each other last season in the Class 5A Semi-Finals.
Carver heads to Auburn from Ken Campbell's program at Walters State Community College after spending the 2004 season as a redshirt at Georgia after undergoing arm surgery. A 6-0, 185 lbs. left-handed pitcher from Cleveland, Tenn., he played for George Koontz' Chattanooga Cyclones in the summer and earned all-state, all-district and all-city honors throughout his high school career. As a senior in high school he went 7-0 with a 0.90 ERA in 39.0 IP with 67 strikeouts. The son of Dean and Debbie Carver, he will enter Auburn as a sophomore.
"Two years ago Blake was one of the most highly recruited pitchers in the southeast as most of the teams in the SEC tried to sign him," Slater said. "I am very excited that he has chosen to be a part of our team at Auburn. He is a quality left-handed pitcher who can throw three pitches for strikes."
Clay joins the Tigers from Cullman High Schoo where he plays for Brian Bowen. A 6-2, 185 outfielder/right-handed pitcher, he earned honorable mention all-state accolades as a junior after hitting .388 with 32 RBI and 12 stolen bases while posting a .435 on-base percentage and a .529 slugging percentage.
A two-sport athlete at Cullman, he was a safety for the football team, earning the Cullman Times MVP nod as well as the Best Defensive Player Award for Cullman County in 2005. A captain of the football team, he is a Wendy's Heisman Scholar-Athlete Award nominee. He is the son of Keith and Richann Clay.
"Caleb is a very athletic outfielder and right-handed pitcher. He is a good runner and he swings the bat very well from the right side," Slater said. "Caleb attended our Elite Camp last summer and we think he can help us in the outfield and on the pitching staff."
A 6-0, 195 shortstop, Cunningham will join the Tigers from Roswell, Ga., and Mike Power's team at Roswell High School. An Atlanta Journal Constitution All-North Fulton County First Team selection in 2005, he hit .404 with six home runs, 21 RBI and a .683 slugging percentage. This past summer he led his team, the East Cobb Braves, to the NABF High School Division World Series Title.
He also participated in the Perfect Game National Showcase at Turner Field in Atlanta and the East Coast Professional Showcase in Wilmington, N.C. One of AU's seven signees to be rated in Baseball America's Top 300 Class of 2006, he is the son of Dave and Katie Cunningham.
"David came to our Christmas Camp a year ago and he really impressed me with his defensive and offensive skills. David is a very polished infielder who has been well trained by Coach Mike Power, who also coached former Tiger All-American Todd Faulkner," Slater said. "I am exited to have David as an Auburn Tiger."
Hubbard will stay in-state as he heads to the Tigers from Doug Gand's program at Homewood High School. A 6-1, 190 lbs. right-handed pitcher, he posted a 7-2 record with two saves and a school-record 99 strikeouts in 58.2 innings of work while also hitting .415 en route to being named a 2005 honorable mention all-state pitcher. He played in the North/South All-Star game and the ALBCA Super 100.
An East Coast Professional Showcase attendee, he too is a two-sport athlete in high school, playing quarterback for the undefeated and defending 5A state champion Homewood Patriots. On the gridiron he holds school records for single-season and career passing years, touchdowns and completions. He is the son of Shane and Elizabeth Hubbard.
"Austin is a very athletic right-handed pitcher, and one of the top quarterbacks in the state. I was impressed with his ability to pitch to both sides of the plate with his fastball and with his mound presence and composure," Slater said.
Austin Hubbard is one of the top two-sport players in Alabama this year.
A member of the 2005 Russell County National Championship Team as named by Baseball America and USA Today, Rasmus joins the Tigers after playing for his father, Tony Rasmus, at Russell County High School. A 6-2, 215 lbs. right-handed pitcher/infielder, he was a 2005 5A Alabama First-Team All-State pitcher and a 2005 Alabama Sports Writers Association Super 12 All-State pitcher after going 11-0 with 116 strikeouts and a 0.50 ERA in 70.0 innings of work.
At the plate he stroked a .426 average with 16 home runs, 46 RBI and 18 stolen bases. A 2005 AFLAC All-American and one of AU's seven signees to be rated in Baseball America's Top 300 Class of 2006, he will be the valedictorian of his graduating class. He is a son of Tony and Robin Rasmus.
"Cory has a power arm and a power bat and comes in as one of the top-rated players in the entire country," Slater said. "Not only is he an outstanding player coming in off of a National and 5A Championship, but he is also an outstanding student."
A 5-11, 170 lbs. left-handed pitcher from Virginia Beach, Va., Ray will join the Tigers after playing in St. Clair Jones' program at Kellam High School. A first-team all-district pitcher, he went 6-4 with a save, striking out 77 with a 1.21 ERA in 59 innings pitched.
This past summer he participated in the Perfect Game National Showcase at Turner Field and was one of 34 players chosen to try out for the Junior National Olympic Team in Joplin, Mo. The son of Bob and Kim Ray, he is one of AU's seven signees to be rated in Baseball America's Top 300 Class of 2006.
"Sean has great pitchability with an outstanding curve and a good change-up," Slater said. "I was very impressed watching him pitch on the national level. He threw extremely well at the national showcase and followed that up with three very good outings in Joplin and the Junior National trials. I am also excited to continue our ties in the state of Virginia."
Sanders heads to Auburn from Millbrook and Wayne Furlow's program at Stanhope-Elmore High School. A 6-1, 185 lbs. infielder, he was a 2005 5A first-team all-state selection at third base, an Alabama Sports Writers First-Team All-State selection and a Birmingham News First-Team All-State selection as he hit .472 with 15 doubles and seven home runs while driving in 44 RBI and stealing 20 bases.
One of AU's seven signees to be rated in Baseball America's Top 300 Class of 2006, he participated in the Perfect Game National Showcase at Turner Field and the East Coast Professional Showcase in Wilmington. A high school teammate of current Auburn freshman Ryan Jenkins, he is the son of Jack and Barb Sanders.
"Joseph is a very athletic infielder that swings the bat, throws and runs very well," Slater said. "Joseph is another former high school quarterback who has really impressed me with his baseball skills and the toughness he shows on the baseball field."
A 6-2, 185 lbs. outfielder from Dodge County High School in Eastman, Ga., where he plays for Ray Hardin, Smith hit .391 with 15 doubles and eight home runs while driving in 53 and was named to all-region and all-middle Georgia teams. One of AU's seven signees to be rated in the Baseball America Top 300 Class of 2006, he participated in the Perfect Game National Showcase at Turner Field this past summer as well as the East Coast Professional Showcase in Wilmington and the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif.
This summer he played for the Georgia Stars and hit .409 with 28 stolen bases. A four-sport athlete in football, basketball, baseball and track, he is the son of Roger and Carol Smith. His father, Roger, played baseball at Florida State and is currently a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals while his mother is a high school basketball coach.
"I have known Ross since he was a little kid and have watched him become a very heads-up and savvy baseball guy," Slater said. "He is one of the faster kids in this year's high school class and I am really impressed with how he plays the game."
Spruill heads across the state from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Paul Bryant High School where he is a 5-10, 190 lbs. catcher in John Cannon's program. The Most Outstanding Defensive Player for Paul Bryant in 2005, he was named the MVP of the Nike Wood Bat Championship Tournament in Lakeland, Fla.
Selected to play in the Perfect Game National Showcase at Turner Field, he is one of AU's seven signees to be rated in Baseball America's Top 300 Class of 2006 as he hit .340 with six home runs and 27 RBI in 2005. He is the son of Wesley and Donna Spruill.
"Dustin is a solid defensive catcher, switch-hitter that really impressed me with his ability to handle top-caliber pitchers at the national tournaments this summer. He also really swings the bat well from both sides of the plate," Slater said.
Thompson is a 6-5, 210 lbs. right-handed pitcher from Montgomery where he plays for Keith Lucky at St. James High School. An Alabama Sports Writers Association 4A All-State First-Team selection for 205, he was also selected to the Montgomery Advertiser's All-Metro First-Team as he went 6-3 with 73 strikeouts and a 1.10 ERA in 51 innings on the mound. He also hit .385 with six home runs and 26 RBI.
Another two-sport athlete, he was named to the Montgomery Advertiser's 2004 All-Metro team and the Capital City Conference First-Team as a wide receiver. One of AU's seven signees to be rated in Baseball America's Top 300 Class of 2006, he participated in the Perfect Game National Showcase at Turner Field and the East Coast Professional Showcase in Wilmington. He is the son of Tim and Cindy Thompson.
"Taylor is a big, athletic right-handed pitcher with a real good arm. He came to our Christmas Camp a year ago and impressed us with his athleticism and his arm strength. He had a very good spring and followed that with an outstanding summer against top national competition," Slater said.