Summer baseball is one of the best things for college baseball. It's a chance (unique to the sport) that allows further development and refinement in anticipation for the extended layover that is the fall semester.
Summer ball for Auburn is a chance for Auburn fans to better evaluate the returning players and get a slight idea of what the Tigers could expect in 2014.
Here's the list for this summer, straight from AuburnTigers.com:
|Cape Cod League|
|Trey Cochran-Gill||Brewster Whitecaps|
|Jordan Ebert||Brewster Whitecaps|
|Sam Gillikin||Falmouth Commodores|
|Daniel Koger||Falmouth Commodores|
|Rocky McCord||Hyannis Harbor Hawks|
|Dillon Ortman||Wareham Gatemen|
|Justin Camp||Harrisonburg Turks|
|Terrance Dedrick||Waynesboro Generals|
|Logan Traylor||Charles Town Cannons|
|Perfect Game League|
|Dylan Smith||Amsterdam Mohawks|
|Trey Wingenter||Amsterdam Mohawks|
|J.D. Crowe||Green Bay Bullfrogs|
|Florida Collegiate League|
|Rock Rucker||Sanford River Rats|
One name missing from that list, but honestly should be included is Jay Gonzalez. Gonzo, the former Auburn OF who was recently drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 39th Round of the MLB Draft, is currently playing for the Utica Brewers in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
Could Gonzo return to Auburn? I'm sure the door is open. The outfield next year would be a bit crowded with Sam Gillikin, Hunter Kelley, and Jackson Burgreen all slated to return. However, Gonzo (as shown in 2012) is a sparkplug and a heck of a player. He wouldn't be doing anything other than improving his potential draft stock in the 2014 MLB Draft. Again, another positive for his return.
Most of the leagues have already started, but the big boy (the Cape Cod League) begins play today. Auburn fans should pay attention to the summer leagues, especially if a guy is having a great season.
In the Valley League, RHP Logan Traylor has struggled in his two appearances so far, sporting an 0-1 record and 11.57 ERA in 2 1/3 IP. Justin Camp, however, is having a great year for the Harrisonburg Turks. Camp (a potential Auburn weekend starter) opened up summer play with a complete-game shutout against the Bourne Braves. Camp went the full nine, allowing just one hit and three walks, while striking out eight. He followed that up with another win against the Waynesboro Generals finishing with a line of 6 2/3 IP/3 H/3 BB/9 K. He is sitting pretty at a 0.54 ERA and 20 Ks.
The only other player in the Valley League is Terrance Dedrick. Big TD has yet to pitch for Waynesboro but he recorded his first at-bat of the season Tuesday night in the 7-2 Win.
Trey Wingenter and Dylan Smith are both teammates on the Amsterdam Mohawks of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Although both guys are listed on the team's roster, neither player has recorded a stat line in the Mohawks' first three games of the season. Gonzalez has already been playing for Utica and is sporting a tidy .375 average with two runs scored and two stolen bases.
The lone player in the Northwoods league, J.D. Crowe, has played in 12 games for the Green Bay Bullfrogs. He's batting .143 but only has three strikeouts in 35 at-bats. He's collected four RBIs and five walks on the young season.
Rock Rucker is the only player in the Florida League from Auburn. Rucker has yet to make an appearance on the mound, but in two games (five at-bats) for the Sanford River Rats, Rucker has a triple, run scored and an OPS of .975.
It goes without saying that any extra experience or practice that current Auburn players can get, especially since the Tigers lack a head coach, is going to be beneficial. Sometimes, guys leave summer ball and develop pitches they've never mastered, or in a hitter's case, work on and refine their swing.
The argument that pitching in the summer leagues is detrimental is highly debatable. This, ultimately, is the best thing for a player both from an Auburn and a professional standpoint. Guys will have more than enough time to rest their arms in the fall.
Summer ball provides a nice chance for Auburn baseball fans to keep up with some of their favorite players. With a summer filled with Braves (or Royals, or Barons, or other teams) baseball, College World Series baseball (not involving Auburn) and anticipation for fall football, it's good to remember that college baseball is really turning into a year-round sport.