Whoever is the next baseball coach for the Crimson Tide will have some recruiting to do among the current players, as six juniors and three signees for the 2017 class were selected in the MLB draft, held over the last three days. Two thirds of the weekend rotation, Nick Eicholtz and Geoffrey Bramblett, as well as the back end of the bullpen, Matt Foster and Thomas Burrows were taken, as well as catcher Will Haynie and little used pitcher Colton Freeman. All six have one year of eligibility left. Two JUCO players, outfielder Zachary Clark and pitcher Garrett Suchey and outfielder Cal Jones, a high school senior, were also chosen.
THOMAS BURROWS (4th Round, 117)
Burrows, as expected, was the first Tider selected, going in the fourth round as the 117th pick overall to Seattle. The slot amount for that pick is $506,000, meaning the record setting reliever is about to start his professional career. The lefty from Florence set the career saves record at Alabama with 30 in his three years, and had a 7-6 won-lost record with a 2.20 ERA over 102 career innings. Despite missing a month this year with an oblique strain, Burrows managed a 2-1 record with 12 saves and a minuscule 0.95 ERA, striking out 41 batters in 28 innings. Burrows said he expects to sign in "three to four days" and most likely will head to Everett, WA for short season.
CAL JONES (6th Round, 193)
High school outfielder Cal Jones, from Dadeville, was taken in the sixth round by the Kansas City Royals. KC must feel pretty certain of being able to sign Jones by virtue of the spot he was picked. With the loss of center fielder Georgie Salem to graduation, Jones would be a big loss to the next coach. The slot amount for Jones is $243,000.
NICK EICHOLTZ (13th Round, 383)
Sunday starter Nick Eicholtz was the next Tide player off the board, going in the 13th round to the Miami Marlins as the 383 overall pick. After two injury plagued years the junior from Odessa, Florida had his best year in Crimson and finished second in the SEC in ERA at 2.30. Over his three years, Eicholtz has forged a 10-6 record and a 2.91 ERA. Eicholtz most likely will sign, but possibly could come back. He could get above slot , depending on how successful the Marlins are with signing their top 10 round picks. If he returns, the Tide starting rotation would be sterling. Eicholtz said that he "was disappointed in falling to the 13th," but " really likes the Marlins, and will wait a little while and see what happens."
WILL HAYNIE (16th Round, 470)
Junior catcher, and matinee idol, Will Haynie was the next pick, going in the 16th round to the Colorado Rockies. The Nashville native led the team in home runs this year with 10 and last year with eight. Over his three years he smashed 21 home runs and drove in 66, while throwing out 35% of would be base stealers. 6'5" catchers are a rarity but the defensive minded backstop has the tools to pull it off at the next level. Haynie has said, " I got what I wanted, I am signing for sure, and I am excited to get started."
ZACHARY CLARK (19th Round, 561)
Junior college outfielder Zachary Clark, out of Pearl River CC was a 19th round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers. Clark would have a very good chance of starting if he comes to 'Bama next year, and the team needs him with a shortage of outfielders in the roster.
MATT FOSTER (20th Round, 596)
Junior relief pitcher Matt Foster was the 20th round selection of the Chicago White Sox, number 596 overall. Foster is a JUCO transfer that has been in Tuscaloosa only one year. Foster had 5-2 record with two saves as the set up man for Burrows this year. The hard thrower could very well fill the closer role next season if he returns, and there probably is about a 50-50 chance of that happening.
COLTON FREEMAN (20th Round, 614)
Colton Freeman, a red shirt junior, left handed relief pitcher, was a surprise 20th round pick by the Chicago Cubs. Over his three years the Birmingham native only logged 16 innings, with a career high 9.2 this year. With a nasty curve ball Freeman stuck out 18 this season without allowing a run and only giving up four hits and three walks. Freeman already has his degree and stated that he is "excited to be a Cub" and is "ready to get started."
GARRETT SUCHEY (30th Round, 893)
Junior college right handed pitcher Garrett Suchey was picked in the 30th round to Miami. Suchey will have a decision to make, and would be eligible again next season if he does not sign this summer.
GEOFFREY BRAMBLETT (30th Round, 913)
Friday night starter and Hoover native, Geoffrey Bramblett, was a 30th round pick of the KC Royals on day three of the draft. In his three years, he has an 18-9 record with a 3.40 ERA, and was 5-4 with a 2.99 earned run average. Among the current players, Bramblett seems the likeliest Tide player to return, and would be the unquestioned ace of the staff if he does so.
THE NEXT COACH?
These young men face big decisions on their future, and knowing who their coach will be has to weigh on their minds. The top names on Bill Battle's mind seem to be Cliff Godwin of East Carolina, David Pierce of Tulane, and Mark Calvi of South Alabama. Other names being bandied about are former Bama great and Arizona Diamondbacks hitting coach Dave Magadan, former Auburn great and current Samford coach Casey Dunn, Tuscaloosa native and current Mississippi State coach John Cohen ( who just got swept out if the Super Regionals by Arizona), and Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heffner. With NCAA games still being played it may be a couple of weeks before a decision is made.
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