TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama Crimson Tide has had at least one player selected in the Major League Draft for the past 36 years. This season former Tide players have taken advantage of their opportunities and found success in the big leagues.
With the Rockies’ promotion of second baseman Josh Rutledge (2008-10), the Crimson Tide currently has five former players in the Major Leagues. Rutledge was called up after hitting .360 in two seasons at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Rutledge has been viewed as a standout defensive player throughout his career and has provided a spark for the Rockies on defense.
Former Alabama catcher Alex Avila (2006-08), is now in his sixth season with the Detroit Tigers. After being sidelined with injuries at the end of 2013, Avila has already played more games this season than he did all of last year. A constant behind the plate for the Tigers, Avilla has helped guide the Tigers’ staff to 63 wins. Through 115 appearances for the Tigers, he has hit 10 homeruns. In August, he had 11 RBI in 22 games. His three homers in August were third best on the team, including homering in back-to-back games against Pittsburg on August 12 and 13.
Alabama pitchers have also had success in the big leagues. Tommy Hunter (2006-07) of the Baltimore Orioles, started 2014 as the team’s closer converting 11 of 16 save opportunities before suffering a left groin strain. He returned to a setup role after his stint on the disabled list and has been a crucial part of the Orioles success this year. Baltimore is 38-15 when Hunter pitches, and he has recorded 42 strikeouts over 55 innings. With the largest division lead in the Majors, Hunter and the Orioles are primed for the postseason.
David Robertson (2005-06) has been asked to fill the void left by legendary Yankee closer Mariano Rivera. Since taking over closing duties, Robertson has recorded 35 saves in 38 chances while striking out 84 batters in 55.1 innings pitched and helping the Yankees to a 45-9 record when he pitches. He added a World Series title to his resume in 2009, just three years after winning an SEC title with the Tide.
The Milwaukee Brewers promoted Jimmy Nelson (2008-10) in early July, and the young pitcher has found a home in their starting rotation. Nelson was called up once again this year after getting a call-up in September last season. He has struck out 52 batters in 63.2 innings, including a career-high seven strikeouts on August 26 in San Diego. Playing in the National League, Nelson recorded his first career hit on July 27 against the Mets.
Wade LeBlanc (2004-06) started the season with the Los Angeles Angels before heading to New York to play for the Yankees. However, the Yankees later lost him to a waiver claim, and the Angels have resigned him. LeBlanc has been used to replace the injured Garrett Richards as the AL West-leading Angels continue to fend off the Oakland Athletics in the West.
After winning an SEC championship with Alabama in 2006, Avila, Hunter, and LeBlanc are faced with the opportunity to join Robertson in winning a World Series with their respective teams.