Expected to be Auburn’s opening day center fielder, junior college transfer Ryan Tella was the California Junior College Player of the Year in 2011 at Ohlone College when he hit .430 with three home runs and had a .498 on-base percentage. The 6-0, 175-pounder was successful on 27-29 stolen bases and should be one of the fastest Tigers this season. He talks about getting ready for his first year at Auburn and much more in this question and answer session.
Q and A With Tella:
ITAT: Talk about the excitement of getting ready to play major college baseball:
Tella: “I have to say it’s just an honor. I’m just so ready to start Feb. 17th. It’s going to be great opening up with Missouri and playing in front of a big crowd. I’m ready to put it on the line for my coaches and teammates.”
ITAT: What was it about Auburn that appealed to you considering most guys don’t come across the country to play college sports?
Tella: “You’re right, a lot of people don’t cross the country to play. I wanted to see something different and play in one of the best conferences in the country. I wanted to play to the best of my ability and see the best competition I could.”
ITAT: Playing early was obviously one of the things you looked at when choosing Auburn. How exciting is it to know you’ll have a chance to make an impact early?
Tella: “That’s probably one of the biggest things for me is just to help Auburn baseball and help my teammates this year. We want to have a winning season and come together and play good baseball.”
ITAT: College baseball has always been known as an offensive game, but this year’s team is going to play a lot of small ball. That should really play into this team’s strengths don’t you think?
Tella: “It’s a lot of gap-to-gap and doubles and triples. We’ll have some long balls I think, but small ball and gap-to-gap is what we’re going after. I think that suits us very well. Now in college baseball with these bats, that’s what most teams are trying to do.”
ITAT: What has been the biggest adjustment for you in making the move?
Tella: “Making the move has meant better competition. I’m surrounded by better players with a lot of talent that are pushing me to get to my highest level. All that makes a good team. It’s going to turn out to be a good season.”
ITAT: For people that haven’t seen you play describe yourself.
Tella: “Offensively I think I’m able to see the ball well. I put the ball in play a lot. I think I’m a gap-to-gap hitter. I have some speed and we’re going to run a lot. I think he’s going to give us the opportunities to get on base and take the next bag to get into scoring position.”
ITAT: For someone that can run is that exciting knowing you’re going to be able to run and put pressure on the defense?
Tella: “That’s the best part of things and it’s exciting because if I take a bag there are so many options of where our hitters can put the ball in play to move me around the bags. If I take a bag it gives us a better opportunity to get into scoring position.”
Auburn opens the 2012 season this weekend as the Tigers take on Missouri in a three-game series at Plainsman Park. Game times for the weekend are 3 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.