Seaver Sheets’ decision to verbally commit was based on why rather than what Auburn had to offer. Sheets, who is entering his junior year at Sterlington, revealed his plans for the next level Saturday afternoon on Twitter.
Besides competing in the powerful Southeastern Conference, Auburn is fresh off of its first College World Series appearance in 22 years. But that wasn’t what won Sheets over.
“One of the things the coaches told me was they liked my presence and demeanor on the field,” Sheets said. “They like me not only for my talent, but for the way I carry myself. They know what kind of player I am, and will put me in the best possible position to succeed.”
ULM, his parents (Ben and Julie Sheets) alma mater, and Auburn were the only schools to offer Sheets. Though he had more than enough time to consider other options, Sheets had the offer he wanted.
“Me and my dad talked about it,” said Sheets, whose father was a four-time All-Star pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. “Honestly, I didn’t expect to commit this early. I was thinking about maybe deciding in the fall. But Auburn is the place I wanted to go, so I decided to pull the trigger right then.”
While Sheets, who bats left and throws right, knows where he is going, he is unsure of which position he will play.
“It’s undetermined right now,” Sheets said. “Auburn recruited me as a baseball player. They like me on the infield and on the mound.”
Though Sheets pitched in only one high school game last season, he is part of the starting rotation for Sheets Baseball, his summer team.
As his name would indicate — he is named for Tom Seaver, his dad’s favorite pitcher —baseball has always been a part of Sheets’ life.
“Just being around it so much, I grew up loving it,” Sheets said.
Sheets established himself as a major college prospect last season, earning All-State honors while helping the Panthers to a 35-4 record, the Class 3A state championship and a No. 3 national ranking in the final MaxPreps small school poll. Sharing the experience with his father, an assistant coach for the Panthers, made the championship season even more special.
“My dad’s team, St. Amant, won the 5A state championship. when he was 16,” Sheets said. “For both of us to be part of state championship teams at 16 was really cool.”
After starting at third base as a freshman, Sheets slid over to shortstop when four-year starter Carson Clowers signed with Stephen F. Austin. Nothing short of sensational at shortstop, Sheets routinely ranged deep into the hole and turned what appeared to be certain hits into outs.
While his defense was never a concern, Sheets made a significant leap offensively. Batting from the No. 2 slot, he hit .369 with a pair of triples, eight doubles, 15 RBIs, 41 runs scored and seven stolen bases in eight tries. In 144 plate appearances, he drew 25 walks against 11 strikeouts and led the team with six sacrifice bunts.
Succeeding another four-year starter, Dalton Dopson, at third base as a freshman, Sheets fielded his position well but hit just .225.
“I knew I had it in me. My freshman year, I just couldn’t get it out of me,” Sheets said of his 2018 struggles with the bat. “Being the only freshman starter, I was nervous. The biggest difference last year was my confidence. I was more comfortable with it being my second year in the program.”
Sheets’ work ethic and improvement did not go undetected by his teammates.
“Seaver is always working on his game, whether it’s taking ground balls or getting extra cuts in the cage,” said Sterlington pitcher Trey Rugg, the Class 3A Player of the Year. “The jump he made from his freshman year to last year was unbelievable. He’s really good now, but if he continues to improve as much as he did last year, he’s going to be fun to watch.”
Far from satisfied, Sheets sees extensive room for continued development.
“I want to get better all-around. My speed, power, swing, arm strength — I want to keep improving on everything,” Sheets said.
Sheets doesn’t just say the right thing — he actually puts in the work. His approach to the game is precisely why the Tigers offered in the first place.