ALABAMA IN PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL
Alabama baseball is steeped in tradition with 25 conference championships, 23 NCAA Regional appearances, 14 SEC Championships, seven SEC Tournament titles and five College World Series appearances.
The Crimson Tide program has also developed a number of players to play at the next level, with 142 MLB draft picks since its inception in 1966. Dating back to 1912, Alabama has had 65 former players reach the big leagues. With one player drafted from the 2014 squad, Alabama has had at least one player selected in every Major League Draft since 1979, a streak of 36 years.
Alabama currently has five former players that have seen action in the big leagues during the 2014 season and head to spring training with the major league club.
The current list of Major League players includes:
Alex Avila (C, Detroit Tigers)
Tommy Hunter (RHP, Baltimore Orioles)
David Robertson (RHP, Chicago White Sox)
Josh Rutledge (INF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
Jimmy Nelson (RHP, Milwaukee Brewers)
THE MLB DRAFT:
Alabama has had 146 players selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft since its inception in 1966. With four selections in the 2014 MLB draft, the Crimson Tide has had at least one player taken in the draft for 36 straight years, dating back to 1979. Overall, Alabama has had at least one player drafted in 43 of the 49 previous MLB drafts.
Over the past six years, the Crimson Tide has had 26 players drafted. Spencer Turnbull was the first of four players drafted in 2014, when the Detroit Tigers selected him in the second round with the 63rd overall pick. Seven players from the 2010 squad were selected, including pitcher Jimmy Nelson, first baseman Clay Jones, second baseman Ross Wilson, shortstop Josh Rutledge, third baseman/pitcher Jake Smith, pitcher Jason Townsend and pitcher Tyler White. Six players were drafted in 2009, including catcher Vin DiFazio (Texas), pitcher Austin Evans (Cleveland), pitcher Del Howell (Milwaukee), pitcher Austin Hyatt (Philadelphia), outfielder Kent Matthes (Colorado) and infielder Brandon May (Chicago Cubs).
The seven draft picks in 2010 marked the third most in school history, while the six selections in 2009 were the fourth-most in school history. Alabama had a school-record nine players drafted in 1986 and added eight draft picks in 1996. The 1983 Alabama team had six players drafted, including 1983 College Baseball Player of the Year David Magadan (2nd Round - New York Mets).
Over the past 15 years (dating back to 2000), Alabama has had 61 players drafted, including first round selections Jeremy Brown (2002), Taylor Tankersley (2004) and Tommy Hunter (2007). Of those 61 players, 28 have been pitchers, which include current MLB players David Robertson (2006) and Hunter and Wade LeBlanc (2006). Alex Avila, currently a catcher for the Detroit, was drafted by the Tigers in the fifth round, following the 2008 season. Josh Rutledge, a third round pick in 2010, made his Major League debut for the Colorado Rockies in July of 2012.
Alabama is also well-represented throughout Minor League Baseball, with 12 former players playing at all three levels of the minors. The Crimson Tide has one AAA players, two AA players and nine A players.
Current Alabama Minor League Roster
||Quad City River Bandits
||Staten Island Yankees
||Redding Fightin Phills
||GCL Red Sox
||Lakeland Flying Tigers
2014 MLB Draft Picks
||Boston Red Sox
||New York Yankees
FIRST ROUND PICKS:
Alabama has had four first-round draft picks in its illustrious baseball history. The list includes Joe Vitiello (Kansas City, 1991), Jeremy Brown (Oakland, 2002), Taylor Tankersley (Florida, 2004) and Tommy Hunter (Texas, 2006). Vitiello was the seventh overall pick in the 1991 draft by the Kansas City Royals and remains as the highest drafted UA player in history. Jeremy Brown was selected 35th overall by the Oakland A's in 2002, Taylor Tankersley was the 27th overall selection in the 2004 draft by the Florida Marlins and Tommy Hunter was the 54th overall pick by the Texas Rangers in 2007.
Alabama won the 2006 SEC Championship with a 20-10 conference record. The Crimson Tide's 24th conference championship featured five players whom have already made their Major League Baseball debuts. The list includes catcher Alex Avila (Detroit, 2009), third baseman Matt Downs (San Francisco, 2009), pitcher Tommy Hunter (Texas, 2008), pitcher Wade LeBlanc (San Diego, 2008) and pitcher David Robertson (NY Yankees, 2008).
WORLD SERIES WINNERS:
Joe Sewell and David Robertson are the only former Alabama players to play on World Series championship team. Sewell was a two-time World Series winner with the Cleveland Indians (1920) and New York Yankees (1932). He played in the famous 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, where Babe Ruth's famous "called home run" took place. Chicago's left fielder was Alabama native and alum Riggs Stephenson, a teammate of Sewell with the Crimson Tide from 1918-20. Robertson was a member of the 2009 World Series winner with the New York Yankees. Robertson was a relief pitcher on the 2009 Yankees championship squad.
Three former Alabama players have also managed in the big leagues, including Andy Cohen, Luke Sewell and Butch Hobson. Cohen's tenure was brief as he managed the Philadelphia Phillies for one game in 1960, winning his only game. Sewell won more than 600 games in 10 years with the St. Louis Browns and led the team to their only World Series championship in 1942. Hobson managed the Red Sox for three seasons from 1992-94.