The Alabama Crimson Tide has a rich history in Major League Baseball with 70 former players reaching the pinnacle of baseball over the years. The last player to be called up was outfielder Taylor Dugas on July 1, 2015. However, Dugas never got into a game and was sent back down three days later. Josh Rutledge, called up on July 13, 2012, is the last non pitcher player to receive playing time. Left handed pitcher Adam Morgan received the call on June 21, 2015.
There have been 19 former Tide players toiling in the lower divisions this summer in the hopes of being the next one to get the call to “the show.” Catcher Wade Wass retired in June of this year after being in AA with the Angels team in Mobile. Catcher Ben Moore and pitcher Colton Freeman are playing in the Independent League - non affiliated with any MLB team - in their hopes of the big time. There are five former Bama players in AA play at this writing, and those are the closest to promotion. Here is a quick run down of how the players are doing.
RHP Spencer Turnbull, 25 years old, played at Bama in 2012-2014 before being a second round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers. Turnbull signed for around $975,000. The big red head has suffered a couple of stints on the DL this year but has shown flashes of brilliance, including a complete game two hit shut out with 11 strikeouts and no walks in June. For the season in 19 starts he has pitched 94 innings, allowed 85 hits with 41 walks, 104 strikeouts and a 4-6 record with a 4.21 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. Turnbull appears to be on the cusp of a September call up to the big team.
RHP Matt Foster, 23 years old, played only one season in Tuscaloosa, 2016. A 20th round pick by the Chicago White Sox, Foster has blown through four promotions in a short period of time. Playing in Birmingham for the Barons, he has pitched in 40 games covering 55 innings, allowing 54 hits, 19 walks, 65 strikeout with a 2-5 record, 3.60 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and seven saves. Foster, a hard thrower in a sport that loves hard throwers, has a chance to move up in the next couple of seasons.
LHP Thomas Burrows, 23 years old, played at Bama 2014-2016 and is the schools all time leader in saves with 30. A fourth round pick of the Seattle Mariners, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2017, and has reached AA Mississippi this summer. In 59 innings the hard thrower has allowed 46 hits, 36 walks, and has struck out 75 in 38 games. Burrows has a 6-2 record with seven saves. Left handed strikeout pitchers will always have a place, and Burrows has a real chance of being a long time major league player.
C-INF Kyle Overstreet, 24 years old, played at Bama in 2013, 14, and 15. A gold glove winning second baseman at Alabama, Overstreet was drafted in the 14th round by San Diego has a catcher. Showing versatility, the Boaz native has played catcher, first base, second base, third base, and DH in his minor league time. Playing in San Antonio in AA, Overstreet has appeared in 112 games with 426 at bats, 113 hits, 22 doubles, eight home runs, 43 RBI and a .265 batting average. His ability to play many positions can definitely help him climb the ladder.
INF Mikey White, 24 years old, played at Bama 2013-2015, a second round pick by the Oakland A’s. Signed for around $950,000. White has spent the season in AA with the Midland RockHounds. A broken fibula cut his season short on June 20th. A shortstop for the Tide, White has played all four infield positions in his minor league career. Before going down White had played in 64 games with 225 at bats with 49 hits, six doubles, six home runs, 29 RBI and a .218 batting average. Teams are always looking for utility players that can play multiple spots, which should help White moving forward.
OF Casey Hughston, 24 years old, played 2014-15 at Bama. A third round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, signed for $750,000. Hughston has played 92 games with 294 at bats this season, collecting 59 hits, 10 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 28 RBI and a .201 batting average. Hughston has size, speed, is a good fielder with a plus arm, but has struggled with contact (114 strikeouts this year.)
LHP Taylor Guilbeau, 25 years old, played at Bama 2012-2015. Tenth round pick by the Washington Nationals. Playing in the Advanced A league for Potomac this year. Pitching out of the bullpen, the Zachary, Louisiana native has appeared in 25 games, pitching 30 innings, allowing 34 hits, 14 walks, and 29 strikeouts. Guilbeau has a 1-0 record and a 2.93 ERA with a WHIP of 1.57.
RHP Will Carter, 25 years old, played in Tuscaloosa only in 2015. Drafted in 14th round by the New York Yankees. Carter is with the AA affiliate of the Yankees this season, but has been on the DL since June 26th. The Tennessee native appeared in 12 games with 51 innings pitched, 54 hits allows, 39 walks, 34 strikeouts and a 0-3 record with a 5.65 ERA.
LHP Justin Kamplain, 25 years old. Played at Bama from 2012-2014. Was an 18th round draft pick by the New York Yankees. Playing in the Advanced A league for the Tampa Yankees, Kamplain has appeared in 29 games covering 57 innings pitched. The Jasper native has allows 62 hits with 26 walks and 60 strikeouts, a 2-2 record, a 5.31 ERA and a WHIP of 1.53.
RHP Ian Gardeck, 27 years old. Played at Bama in 2012 before being a 16th round pick by the San Fransisco Giants. Gardeck has had terrible injury luck , with two Tommy John surgeries and one hip surgery. He was poised to become a member of the Giants bullpen when he was placed on the teams 40 man roster in 2015, while striking out 104 batters in 86 innings. He then missed two and half seasons and has just recently started pitching again. He has pitched eight innings this year, allowing nine hits with four walks and six strikeouts and a 4.50 ERA. If Gardeck can get his 100 MPH fast ball back, he has a chance. Age and injury are against him right now.
RHP Garrett Suchey, 23 years old, played only in 2017 for Alabama and was a 26th round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals. In 17 games Such has a 1-1 record with one save and 1.13 ERA over 24 innings pitched, allowing 21 hits with two walks and 24 strikeouts and has an outstanding WHIP of 0.96.
INF Cobie Vance, 20 years old (turns 21 later this month), played in Tuscaloosa in 2016-2018 under three coaches in three years. An 18th round pick by the Oakland A’s, the fan favorite has played third base, second base, and shortstop for the Advanced A, Stockton team. Vance has appeared in 48 games with 140 at bats, 37 hits, three doubles, a triple, one home run, 14 runs driven in and a .264 batting average.
OF Chandler Taylor, 22 years old. Played at Bama from 2016-2018, also under three coaches in three years. Taylor was a 10th round pick of the Houston Astros and is playing in full season A ball for the Quad City River Bandits. The power hitting Montgomery native has 165 at bats in 49 games with 37 hits, including seven doubles, one triple and seven home runs, while driving in 19 runs. Taylor is hitting .224 with 36 walks and 68 strikeouts.
INF Chandler Avant, 23 years old, played from 2015-2018 in Tuscaloosa. A 30th round draft pick of the NY Mets, Avant is playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the NYP League ( Short Season A.) The Troy native has appeared in 33 games with 99 at bats with 24 hits, including four doubles with one home run and nine runs driven in, good for a .242 batting average.
SS Jett Manning, 21 years old, played only the 2018 season in Tuscaloosa after being a junior college transfer. Manning was a 20th round draft pick by the San Fransisco Giants. Playing for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Short A Season, Manning is hitting .257 over 32 at bats, with 10 hits and four runs driven in.
RHP Jake Walters, 22 years old, ninth round pick by the Florida Marlins. Walters has yet to pitch professionally while receiving treatment on an elbow injury. He was recently cleared to throw, and should see game action in the fall in the October Instructional league.
C Ben Moore, 25 years old. Played at Bama from 2012-2014 and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 8th round. The BoSox released Moore in 2016 and he has been playing Independent ball since. This summer Moore is with the Southern Illinois Miners in the Frontier league and has appeared in 37 games, hitting .287 in 115 at bats, with one home run and 10 runs driven in.
LHP Colton Freeman, 24 years old, at Bama from 2013-2016. Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 20th round. Released the same year, now playing for Gateway Grizzles in the Frontier League. Freeman has appeared in 29 games pitching 33 innings while allowing 20 hits with 34 walks and 43 strikeouts and a 4.54 ERA.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
In my opinion, Turnbull, Foster, and Burrows in some order will be the next Bama players to make the big time. Overstreet keeps on plugging and is a baseball gamer, so don't give up on him. White needs to get healthy and have a big season next year.
Making it to the Major Leagues is an exhausting grind, that very few players survive. The life of a minor league player is far from glamorous. with low pay, hard travel, bad food and little security. For the most part they make about $1,100 a month, only in season, and live six to eight in a house or apartment to try to make ends meet. At any minute they can be traded, demoted, promoted, or released.
Roll Tide Roll
Bama Baseball Fever, catch it.
Also, check out Former Tide players now in MLB.