Auburn head baseball coach Butch Thompson is looking forward to the MLB Draft, hopeful that Auburn will continue into its 46th year of producing a draft pick.
Auburn has had 22 picks in the MLB Draft since 2016, including the first overall of pick Casey Mize in 2018. This year’s draft will consist of just five rounds rather than the usual 40.
“What I would say about this 2020 draft is that it’s unique, unlike, and it seems like there are more unknowns with this draft than any I’ve been privy to,” Thompson said. “Next year, I’ll be entering my 20th year in the Southeastern Conference, and this will be the most unique draft I’ve been a part of.”
With the 2020 MLB season still in the air, this leaves clubs with several different options of how they will determine their picks. Despite that unknown, Thompson is confident in junior pitcher Tanner Burns. Auburn is expecting Burns to be the third player taken in the first-round Since Thompson took over as head coach.
Burns had a 3.01 ERA his freshman year along with 77 strikeouts, which is the most by an Auburn freshman since 2008. In his sophomore year, he led the way with 15 starts and a 2.82 ERA. Burns struck out 101 batters over 79 innings, joining Mize as just the second pitcher to strikeout over 100 batters since 2000. His junior season was cut short, but in four starts, he produced a 2.42 ERA.
“[Burns] is a proven guy that’s been good for a long, long, long time,” Thompson said. “He’s always been good. He’s a guy that’s the best player in the state coming through high school. He’s the guy that’s come to us and became a freshman All-American. He’s a guy that’s not done yet. He’s a developing pitcher.”
Additionally, spring-sport athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA due to COVID-19 cutting the season short. Auburn has five current seniors, and it was said that two or three might stay on the roster next season.
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On Monday, the coaching staff mentioned that something different from this draft was that it was likely to be less chaotic. With just five rounds, it’s more likely to get signees straight away. Once the draft happens, the staff is prepared to know what the roster will look like.
“I think some of it is they’re not going to have some of the information they need until after the draft,” said assistant coach Karl Nonemaker. “A lot of those recruiting conversations can’t be had until after the draft. I think some of the players will be looking at ‘What is the opportunity?’ There’s so much up in the air.”
Thompson mentioned how he loved the idea of getting some of these seniors back and how it’s so tough to watch some of his players go, but he’s hoping that over the next week, everything becomes clear on how the upcoming season will go.
“My thoughts, my prayers are just for every one of these players going through this, this week,” Thompson said. “I want what’s best for Auburn baseball, but I’m just hoping some things start to become clear. That all of these guys end up where they’re supposed to be and can make a decision, live with it, be excited about it and go attack it.”
The MLB Draft will consist of five rounds with a total of 160 picks starting Wednesday, June 10, at 6 p.m. CT.
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