Auburn baseball season in review
AUBURN, Ala. – The season began with the first of many Casey Mize gems and ended with an extra-inning super regional thriller that captivated more than a million viewers.
In between, Butch Thompson’s third Auburn team blended new coaches and players, vastly outperforming its preseason SEC predicted finish to accomplish the program’s first super regional game victory.
When Mize struck out seven in six scoreless innings in a 6-0 season-opening win against Longwood on Feb. 16, it was a preview of coming attractions.
Three weeks later, Mize threw Auburn’s first no-hitter in 16 years, striking out 13 without issuing a walk in a 6-0 win over Northeastern on March 9.
Auburn would win again the following day, improving to 15-0, the second best start in program history. Mize won 10 games, striking out 156 while walking only 16. On June 4, surrounded by his teammates and family, he became Auburn’s first No. 1 overall selection in the MLB Draft.
Picked to finish sixth in the SEC West, the Tigers instead finished tied for third in their hyper-competitive division, overcoming a 4-8 start in league play to end at 15-15.
With 18 new players joining new assistant coaches Gabe Gross, Karl Nonemaker and Steve Smith, the Tigers went 43-23, Auburn’s most wins since 2010 and tied for the seventh most in program history.
Of the new faces, freshman sluggers Edouard Julien and Steven Williams teamed up for 29 home runs and 120 RBI. First-year pitchers Tanner Burns and Cody Greenhill also proved to be a terrific tandem, combining for clutch conference wins, including Auburn’s 3-2 victory over Florida in the Gainesville Super Regional.
After winning two games at the SEC Tournament, the Tigers swept through the Raleigh Regional by outscoring its opponents 40-12 and pounding 50 hits in three lopsided wins.
After making back-to-back regional appearances for the first time in 15 years, the Tigers advanced to a super regional for the first time since 1999, forcing a decisive third game against the No. 1 overall seed and coming within one run and three outs of Auburn’s first trip to the College World Series since 1997.
With the team’s success came a laundry list of individual accolades headlined by the second consensus and two-time All-American in program history and the most Freshman All-Americans the team has ever had, among much, much more.
The awards started to trickle in prior to the New Year for Mize and never seemed to stop as his five Preseason All-American nods were only the start. The Auburn ace turned in one of the best seasons on the mound in program history as his 156 strikeouts led the SEC and registered as the third most all-time. Along with the aforementioned no-hitter, he also matched the single-game strikeout record with 15 vs. Vanderbilt earlier this spring and turned in six games with 10 or more strikeouts.
Mize was ultimately named a consensus All-American, joining National Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas as the only other in program history. He also joined Gregg Olson as the Tigers’ only other two-time All-American after also earning the recognition a year ago.
Below is a list of the awards received by Mize throughout the 2018 season.
• SEC Pitcher of the Week: Mar. 12, Mar. 19, May 7
• National Pitcher of the Week: Mar. 13, May 8
• National Pitcher of the Month: NCBWA (March)
• Midseason Pitcher of the Year: D1 Baseball, Perfect Game/Rawlings
• First Team All-SEC
• Raleigh Regional All-Tournament Team
• ABCA First Team All-South Region
• NCBWA District 3 Player of the Year
• Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Trophy and Gold Glove Award finalist
• First Team All-American: ABCA, Baseball America, NCBWA, Perfect Game/Rawlings
• Second Team All-American: Collegiate Baseball, D1 Baseball
Auburn’s freshman quartet of Burns, Greenhill, Julien and Williams came in last summer as the headliners of the highest rated recruiting class in program history and exceeded almost all expectations in their first season on The Plains.
Julien led the SEC and broke Thomas’ freshman RBI record that had stood since 1987 by driving in 69 on the year, the most by an Auburn player since 2010, while Williams, his freshman roommate, drove in 51 runs. The duo also hit 17 and 12 home runs, respectively, marking the third and fourth most by an Auburn freshman in program history.
Burns and Greenhill were as good on the mound as Julien and Williams were at the plate. The in-state duo combined for 13 wins, a 2.73 ERA and 132 strikeouts. They pitched all 9.0 innings in five wins against conference foes down the stretch, including the aforementioned super regional win at Florida, and also tossed 8.1 innings in a conference win vs. Vanderbilt.
Burns, Greenhill, Julien and Williams were not only named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, but also earned multiple Freshman All-American honors. They represent the most Auburn freshmen to earn All-American honors in program history and are tied for the most in the country this season. The group also matched the 2008 team for the most freshmen to earn All-SEC recognition, twice as much as any other team in the conference this season.
A record seven Tigers, including Mize and the aforementioned freshmen, earned All-SEC honors as the league announced its postseason accolades in May. The seven players eclipsed the six recognized by the conference in 2010 and were tied with Arkansas for the most in the conference this season.
• Casey Mize: First Team – first Auburn pitcher to earn first-team honors since 2000
• Will Holland: Second Team – first Auburn shortstop to be honored since 2011
• Tanner Burns: Freshman Team
• Cody Greenhill: Freshman Team
• Edouard Julien: Freshman Team
• Steven Williams: Freshman Team
• Luke Jarvis: Defensive Team
Tigers in the MLB Draft
Headlined by Mize becoming the first No. 1 overall draft pick in program history and the fifth in the history of the SEC, a total of seven players were selected in the 2018 MLB Draft, and another was signed to a free agent contract. The seven Tigers taken in the draft were the most since 2010 and tied for the second most in program history.
• Casey Mize: First round, No. 1 overall, Detroit Tigers
• Davis Daniel: 11th round, No. 335 overall, Milwaukee Brewers
• Brendan Venter: 13th round, No. 382 overall, Atlanta Braves
• Andrew Mitchell: 14th round, No. 410 overall, New York Mets
• Calvin Coker: 15th round, No. 443 overall, Oakland Athletics
• Luke Jarvis: 25th round, No. 747 overall, Miami Marlins
• Brett Wright: 26th round, No. 776 overall, Toronto Blue Jays
• Jay Estes: Signed as free agent, Chicago White Sox