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June 7, 2012

Wrapping up the MLB Draft

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The 2012 Major League Baseball Draft wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon. In total, six Auburn signees and four current or former players were drafted.

Signees David Dahl, Oak Mountain H.S. (Ala.), and Addison Russell, Pace H.S. (Fla.), were taken No. 10 and 11 overall on Monday. Dahl by the Colorado Rockies and Russell by the Oakland Athletics. Both were first-round projections and both are likely to sign professional contracts. Dahl's signing bonus is around $2.7 mil., while Russell's is around $2.625 mil.

A third AU signee, left-handed pitcher Colin Rodgers from Parkview Baptist (La.), was drafted ahead of schedule in the 3rd round, No. 100 overall by the Kansas City Royals. Rodgers told AuburnSports.com that he reached a tentative agreement, but had yet to make a final decision on his future. Rodgers made that decision Wednesday evening, as he officially signed with the Royals. Rodgers was 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA as a senior.

Three straight current or former players were drafted next.

Senior pitcher Derek Varnadore was drafted 9th round, No. 307 overall by the New York Yankees. A senior who spent two years at Auburn, Varnadore was 4-7 with a 4.93 ERA in 19 appearances in 2012, making 11 starts. In a team-high 87 2/3 innings, the right-hander led the team in strike outs (63) while holding opponents to a .272 batting average. This is the second time Varnadore has been drafted in his career as he was a 17th-round pick of the Florida Marlins in 2011.

Draft-eligible sophomore, outfielder Ryan Tella, was taken in the 11th round, No. 358 overall by the San Francisco Giants. This is the second time Tella has been drafted as he was a 34th-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 2011 MLB Draft. A draft-eligible sophomore that transferred to Auburn from Ohlone Junior College, Tella was named Second Team All-SEC this season after leading Auburn and finishing fourth in the SEC at the end of the regular season with a .360 batting average. The Fremont, Calif., native also ranked among the conference leaders in slugging percentage (.508, 11th), on base percentage (.448, sixth), hits (85, fourth), triples (four, tied-fifth), total bases (120, seventh), walks (35, tied-eighth) and stolen bases (18, tied-third).

Senior pitcher Slade Smith was drafted in the 17th round, No. 544 overall. A right-hander from Fort Payne, Smith was 4-5 with a 4.78 ERA in 2012 working mainly out of the Auburn bullpen. In 28 appearances he logged 64 innings and finished second on the team with four saves. A junior, he has a career mark of 10-7 in 64 appearances (15 starts) with a 5.11 ERA. He has struck out 112 while walking 54. This is the first time Smith has been drafted.

A fourth Auburn signee, right-handed pitcher Damek Tomscha from Iowa Western Community College, was drafted in the 19th round, No. 584 overall. Tomscha was the No. 18 ranked JUCO prospect by Perfect Game USA entering the spring. Tomscha was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 36th round in 2011, and by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 50th round in 2010. He hit .377 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI's as a freshman. Tomscha was the 2010 Gatorade, Louisville Slugger, and Coaches' Iowa Player of the Year.

Senior outfielder/infielder Creede Simpson was next off the board, taken in the 25th round, No. 762 overall by the Baltimore Orioles. As a senior, Simpson hit .315 with 18 doubles and three home runs, driving in 40 RBI and scoring 42 runs. He also stole 25 bases (in 34 attempts), second-most in the SEC at the end of the regular season. This season he moved to second base, where he started all 59 games, after spending his first two year at Auburn as an outfielder. This is the second time Simpson has been drafted as he was a 45th-round pick of the New York Yankees in the 2008 MLB Draft.

Auburn had two final signees drafted late on Wednesday afternoon. Sam Gillikin, from Hoover H.S. (Ala.) was taken in the 33rd round by the Atlanta Braves. As first reported by AuburnSports.com earlier in the day Wednesday, Gillikin turned down a second round offer from the Chicago Cubs and will report to Auburn. The selection by the Braves was a "gesture" by the organization, as Gillikin grew up a Braves fan. The second was right-handed pitcher Trey Wingenter, from Bob Jones H.S. (Ala.), who was drafted in the 36th round, No. 1,091 overall by the Seattle Mariners. Wingenter also confirmed to AuburnSports.com on Wednesday he has no plans to sign and will report to Auburn at the end of June. Wingenter finished his senior season 9-0 with 116 strikeouts and a 0.47 ERA.

Assessment: It's a formality that the Tigers will lose their two prized signees in Dahl and Russell, and they have already lost Rodgers. But Auburn coach John Pawlowski is still bringing in a talented and diverse class. In addition to Gillikin, Wingenter, and Tomscha, Auburn is welcoming standouts like pitcher/outfielder Rock Rucker, who hit .393 with 9 homeruns and was 7-0 with 0.76 ERA as a senior; a career .400 hitter and 2011 Louisville Slugger All-American in infielder/outfielder Jordan Ebert; hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Matt Schultz who represented Team America in Italy last year; and big 6-foot-3 infielder Dylan Smith who recorded 14 homeruns and 57 RBI's as a junior, to name a few.

For more on Auburn's signing class and coach Pawlowski's thoughts on each prospect, go HERE.



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