AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) Young ball players around the world spend countless hours perfecting their craft, building their tape and studying the game in hopes of one day fulfilling the dream of reaching the big leagues. For former Auburn Tigers Ryan Bliss, Richard Fitts, Tyler Miller and Steven Williams, that day finally arrived in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Bliss was first off the board in Monday’s first-year player draft with his selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks at 42nd overall in the second round.
The shortstop became the fifth-highest position player to be drafted out of Auburn behind only Frank Thomas, Gabe Gross, Mark Belhorn and Anferenee Grier. One of just four All-Americans in program history, Bliss completed his career at Auburn having started in all but two games since his arrival on campus, a career .328 batting average, 176 hits, 121 runs, 32 doubles, four triples and 20 home runs to go along with a career .972 fielding percentage.
The next Tiger off the board was Fitts. The right-handed pitcher was selected by the New York Yankees at pick 183 in the sixth round.
Fitts’ selection marked the sixth time an Auburn pitcher had been selected in the first seven rounds dating back to 2017. He joins the likes of Keegan Thompson, Casey Mize, Davis Daniel, Tanner Burns and Bailey Horn in that department. The newly selected Yankee rounded out his time on the plains having played a key role in Auburn’s run to the College World Series in 2019 in which he earned a win in both the regional and super regional rounds. The junior saw limited action in 2021 due to a foot injury; however, the righty was able to battle back and post 41.0 innings across 13 appearances and eight starts.
The final Tiger selection on Monday, Miller heard his name called in the ninth round at pick 256 by the Boston Red Sox, ironically turning the former Auburn first baseman into an instant rival of former teammate Fitts.
A former 23rd round selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, Miller joined Butch Thompson’s squad as a transfer from East Mississippi Community college ahead of what should have been the 2020 campaign; however, made a name for himself in 2021. The first baseman led his team in home runs with 16, finished third in batting average at .313 and was second in runs, total bases and slugging percentage.
Williams rounded out Auburn’s draftees on Tuesday afternoon with his selection by the Washington Nationals in the 18th round at pick 533.
After his selection by the New York Yankees out of high school in the 2017 draft, Williams elected to turn down the MLB and improve his game at the collegiate level. The outfielder built his legacy in the orange and blue by first being selected as a 2018 freshman All-American; however, will forever be remembered by the Auburn faithful for his three-run walk off blast against Georgia Tech in the Atlanta regional.
Along with former Tiger selections, it is also worth noting that Auburn signees Calvin Ziegler (2nd round, New York Mets) and Riggs Threadgill (19th round, Washington Nationals) were also selected in this year's MLB Draft.