Former Knight, Longwood Native Auer Ready for Big League Camp

Feb. 16, 2011

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By Brian Ormiston

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The middle of February marks the final days before Spring Training, and several former UCF baseball players are gearing up for their respective camps. One of those Knights is Tyson Auer, a native of Longwood who has gone from minor league free agent to a member of the Los Angeles Angels big league camp in rapid time.

Auer completed his UCF career in 2008 but was not selected in the MLB Draft. The outfielder latched on with the Angels as a free agent and was assigned to rookie ball with the Orem Owlz. After hitting .287 in the Pioneer League, Auer played the entire 2009 campaign with the Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels, going .277 with 43 stolen bases.

And then came 2010. Suiting up with the Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Auer punished opposing pitchers with a .332 average and 40 steals to be selected as a California Mid-Season All-Star. His next stop last summer was Double-A and the Arkansas Travelers, and he continued to shine with a .308 average and 13 stolen bases in 44 games. Since his production did not let up in Double-A, the Angels bumped him up to Triple-A for 14 games where he went .255 at the dish with three triples for the Salt Lake Bees.

All of that in just three seasons in minor league ball.

So what's next after Triple-A? Yeah, that awaits Auer in Spring Training as he is a non-roster invitee to the Angels' big league camp.

Auer's quick progress through the system has even surprised himself.

"I've been kind of surprised because going from High-A to Triple-A is a little rare," said the Lake Mary High School graduate. "But I knew I could do it. I still use the fact that I was a free agent out of UCF as a chip on my shoulder, which helps a lot. It was fun to be a free agent looking back at it. But I was surprised that I made Triple-A last year."

With so many promotions in three years, Auer admits those days have been some of the best of his career.

"When you get moved up that is always exciting," said Auer. "When you get called in to the manager's office and you get promoted, that is a great experience."

Although he is getting ready for another unique summer, Auer will likely spend more time in Triple-A before a possible debut in The Show.

"This year hopefully I will start in Triple-A again and then sometime next year I'll be able to get my foot in the door in the big leagues and become a fourth or fifth outfielder to start," said Auer. "Maybe I'll be able to come in late in games as a pinch-runner or start every fourth or fifth day. That's my goal for this year or next year. That's the role the Angels see me in, kind of like a Reggie Willits."

Auer is busy spending his final days before Spring Training working out at UCF and committing numerous hours in the Knights' batting cages. He will take off for Arizona Thursday.

"I fly out to Arizona on Thursday, and move into our condo or whatever we decide to get," described Auer. "Then Friday we have physicals and the first team practice is Saturday.

"My daily routine will be getting up at 8 a.m. and head to the field and eat breakfast at 8:30 a.m. We will have individual defense and I'll split up with the outfielders. After that we will work on bunting, running the bases, hitting and eventually playing a game at 1 p.m."

The Angels' first game in Tempe is Feb. 26 against the Dodgers.

Auer joins a long list of Knights spreading out across Florida and Arizona for Spring Training. Among those in big league camps are catcher Drew Butera who spent all of 2010 with the Minnesota Twins, and pitcher Matt Fox who is a non-roster invitee with the Boston Red Sox. Fox pitched for both the Twins and Red Sox last season.

Meanwhile, Auer, Fox, Shane Brown, Chris Duffy, Owen Dew, Mitch Herold, Austin Hudson and Tim Bascom have all been training this offseason at UCF as they get ready for another season of pro ball.

As UCF baseball alumni are preparing for an exciting summer, the current Knights will open up their 2011 season this weekend when they face Siena for a three-game series beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (407) 823-1000 or by visiting UCFAthletics.com.