June 5, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama junior catcher Alex Avila was taken in the fifth round by the Detroit Tigers of the 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Thursday at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Avila was the only current Alabama player taken on the first day of the draft.
Avila, a 2008 First-Team All-SEC selection, was drafted by the team that he watched closely the last few years as his father, Al, is the Tigers' Assistant General Manager and Vice President. Avila was also drafted by the Tigers following his senior year in high school.
"It's pretty exciting," Avila said from his home in Florida. "I had a feeling I would get drafted and I knew (Detroit) liked me. I think they were looking at third through sixth rounds. I think they were a little surprised I was still available in the fifth round.
"I've been watching the draft all day with family and friends. We are all excited about Detroit. When my name came up in that slot, everyone here went nuts. It's a good feeling and all the hard work has paid off a little bit."
Avila said even though he was familiar with the Tigers organization and their minor leagues system, he would still have to work hard everyday, if he chooses to sign.
"I think it makes it a lot easier for me," Avila added. "In a sense it's something I am very familiar with. Then again, I still have to go out and perform on the field, whether it's the Tigers or anyone else.
Avila said he received congratulatory calls from his father and Detroit's Scouting Director David Chadd earlier today. He was excited to learn that 2007 Cape Cod League teammate and Vanderbilt pitcher, Brett Jacobson, was taken in the third round by Detroit on Thursday. Avila and Jacobson were teammates for the Harwich Mariners last summer.
Former Alabama shortstop Cale Iorg was a sixth round pick by the Tigers last season and is playing with the Lakeland (Fla.) Flying Tigers in the Florida State League. Avila said he met Iorg last summer and the two became friends and have kept in touch during this season.
"He has already sent me a text message," Avila quipped.
The draft continues on Friday, June 6 beginning at 10:30 a.m. (CDT).