AUBURN, Alabama—Heading into the 2022 college baseball season there aren’t many teams in the country that will have to replace more firepower than Coach Butch Thompson and the Auburn Tigers, and much of that comes on the infield. With All-American shortstop Ryan Bliss gone along with senior third baseman Rankin Woley and first baseman Tyler Miller, the Tigers have to replace 51 home runs, 137 RBI and 124 runs scored.
The good news is that seniors Brody Moore and Garrett Farquhar are back to lead the group. A contributor since his freshman season, Moore was the everyday second baseman in 2021 and hit .292 with a pair of home runs and 32 runs batted in. A strong defender, Moore is a player who will be in the lineup at either shortstop or second base this season.
“He’s in his fourth year in the program and he just has a great baseball IQ,” Auburn assistant Karl Nonemaker said of Moore. “He’s a really good ball player. He’s been in a lot of games. We saw Ryan play next to Will (Holland) for a year and Brody is a very capable shortstop. He has played the majority of time at second base the last couple of years, but will most likely slide over to short and will be that quarterback of the infield.”
Joining him in the middle are Farquhar and sophomore Cole Foster, who are both capable of playing both positions as well with Farquar also getting a look at third base. A former quarterback at Hoover High School, Farquhar hit .375 last season in just 32 at-bats while battling injuries. Batting .292 with just 24 at-bats last season, Foster showed some power potential with three doubles and has picked up his game beginning with a strong fall practice.
“Cole and Garrett are two guys that have been in the program and are two solid players,” Nonemaker said. “They are athletic guys we believe in.”
They will get plenty of help from a trio of newcomers. Expected to be in the leadoff role for the Tigers to open the year, junior college transfer Blake Rambusch could play third base and also see time in the outfield. Samford transfers Sonny DiChiari and Brooks Carlson bring valuable college experience and production at the plate as well.
Playing in two full seasons at Samford and a year shortened by Covid, DiChiara hit 41 home runs for the Bulldogs with 122 RBI. Hitting over .300 in all four years at Samford, Carlson batted .330 in SoCon play last year and had six home runs for the season.
“You start talking about production and transfers and it’s a little bit different,” Nonemaker said. “You are bringing in some guys that have a track record at the Division 1 level. With Brooks being a grad transfer, he’s played games at second base and he’s looked good there in practice.
“We’re always trying to create versatility for our team. He’s looking at a few different positions just like most guys on the team are.”
Throw in sophomore Cam Hill, who will see time at first base in addition to his role as a pitcher, and Auburn has plenty of options to work with this season. Last season Hill hit .270 with five home runs and showed the potential to be a power guy for the Tigers beginning this season.
“Cam Hill is just growing into his body,” Nonemaker said. “He is moving better than he ever has. He grew a lot between when he committed and when he got here. You can see he’s moving around well.
“Sonny is a guy that has played a ton of first base, too. We feel like we have some options. A lot of it will shake out. We trust all these guys. There’s no doubt there was a combination of production, experience and talent with the guys we lost. We’re hoping these guys can get better everyday and basically do what we think they can.”
Auburn will have its first intrasquad scrimmages of preseason beginning Friday afternoon at Plainsman Park.
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