In 2021, former Troup County HS (Ga.) star Ryan Bliss became just the fourth two-time All-American in Auburn’s baseball history. He did so one year after ranking second in the SEC with 29 hits in just 18 games. Bliss started every game of his true freshman season at Auburn, with a large majority of those starts coming at second base, the position he may eventually land at in the pros.
While the SEC’s coaches selected Bliss as a second-team All-SEC selection in 2021, he has a legitimate chance to become the third Auburn infielder to be drafted in the last three seasons, as Will Holland and Edouard Julien were selected in the fifth and 18th rounds, respectively, of the 2019 MLB Draft. Auburn also had a pitcher, Bailey Horn, taken in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB Draft.
Over the last two seasons, Bliss has developed into a dependable shortstop, posting a career .972 fielding percentage. Bliss’ quick hands, solid reactions and overall bat speed, however, contributed to a robust career .514 slugging percentage for the Tigers. Those totals included a career .328 batting average with 20 home runs and 99 RBIs.
In just three seasons, Lacy compiled an outstanding resume’ in College Station. He started the 2020 NCAA campaign with three wins in four starts (0.75 ERA) and finished his career with an impressive 2.32 earned run average. A lock to go in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft, the former Kerrville Tivy HS star (Tex.) was a 31st round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians in the 2017 MLB Draft. It should come as no surprise. His father, Phillip, was a standout tennis player at Sam Houston State and his grandfather, Dan Davison, was a halfback for Texas A&M. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-handed flame thrower could very well keep his nickname, “The Ace,” for years to come in the major leagues. In the process, he could become the Aggies second consecutive player to go in the first round of the draft (Braden Shewmake, Atlanta Braves, 1st Round, 21st overall, 2019 MLB Draft).
Smith -a former 2016 38th-round pick by the Detroit Tigers- lost most of his 2018 campaign due to a stress fracture. He came back in 2019 to lead LSU in stolen bases (20) and on-base percentage (.436%). Along the way, the Yankees 2019 second-round pick posted a .952 fielding percentage and .346 batting average (through 63 games). The team’s starting shortstop was a significant contributor at third base for the Tigers’ 2017 College World series squad.
The Miami Marlins selected the 2019 SEC Player of the Year JJ Bleday with the fourth overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft. Bleday currently leads the nation with 26 home runs in 2019 and sports a .327 career batting average through three seasons. The former San Diego Padres 39th round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft was a three-sport athlete at the prep level in golf, swimming and baseball. He projects as a corner outfielder in the Marlins organization.
Texas A&M’s Braden Shewmake has been a model of consistency during his three-year run in the SEC. The conference and National Freshman of the Year in 2017 batted .335 with 11 home runs and 68 RBI during that season alone. The former all-district quarterback at Wylie East High School (Tex.) was a three-sport standout (baseball, basketball, football) at the prep level. The 6’4, 190-pounder was selected 21st overall by the Atlanta Braves in the 2019 MLB Draft and will be expected to develop into the same steady player he proved to be at the SEC level.