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Alabama Baseball Team Of The Decade

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The Tide has had a tough go of it lately, but the decade was full of some very successful players. Six players from 2010-2019 have played in the Major Leagues, so far.

The University of Alabama has a long, storied history in baseball, but has struggled for about half of the last decade. The team that is third all time in wins among SEC baseball programs with 2641, behind only Texas A&M and Mississippi State, hasn’t reached the SEC Tournament since 2016 or the NCAA Tournament since 2014. Despite that there have been a number of very good players come through the program in the decade, with six reaching the major leagues. I am going to put out my all decade team, with a full roster. If you have different opinions, feel free to list them in the comments.

Any all time team for Bama baseball wouldn't be complete with out center fielder Taylor Dugas, and this happens to be the decade he played in. The center fielder played from 2009-2012. The school’s all time leader in hits, singles, doubles, and triples, as well as one of only two Gold Glove winners in school history would find a place on any all-time Bama team. Dugas was a consensus All American in 2010 when he hit .395 and his career average of .360 is seventh in school history. As stated his 334 hits, 67 doubles, and 18 triples are all school records. He is also second all time in at bats with 927, sixth in total bases with 479, second in walks with 151, fourth in intentional walks with six, fourth in hit by pitch with 39, ninth in sacrifice bunts with 18, and second in on base percentage at .463. Given that list of accomplishments, it is an easy selection to name Dugas the player of the decade for the Tide. Dugas spent two days in the Major Leagues with the Yankees, and now is coaching at Northwestern State in Louisiana.

The rest of team is led by shortstop Josh Rutledge, who spent five seasons in the major leagues with the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox. Rutledge played only one year in the decade since his career spanned 2008-2010, but was just too good not to have on the team. In 2010 Rutledge had 107 hits, second most in a single Bama season to Dave Magadan’s 114 in 1983. Rutledge was a three time All SEC performer in his three year career, and has done well for himself since. He is married to ESPN and SEC Network star Laura Rutledge.

Third base will be manned by Jake Smith, who played from 2007-2010. A power hitting, slick fielder that doubled at times as a closer is a valuable addition to the roster. Smith was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and spent parts of two years in the minor leagues, and is now a high school baseball coach in the Birmingham area. Smith’s best year at Bama was 2009 when he hit .359 with 18 home runs.

Second base is another player from that same team, Ross Wilson. Wilson was Rutledge’s double play partner for all three years, 2008-2010. A 10th round selection by the Chicago White Sox, Wilson reached AAA before calling it a career. He now is in real estate in the Birmingham area. Wilson tied an Alabama freshman record held by Jeremy Brown with 15 home runs in 2008.

My first baseman is four year starter Austen Smith, in a tough one over Clay Jones. Smith played from 2011-2014, while Jones was active in 2009-2010. Smith is the all time leader in put outs at Alabama, and had his best year as a senior, hitting .316 with six home runs and a .426 on base percentage. Smith is an insurance agent in the Pensacola, FL area.

My catcher is Brock Bennett, a defensive whiz with a rocket arm and a ton of foot speed. Bennett is the all time leader at Alabama in sacrifice bunts, and hit over .300 during his tenure. Bennett is the volunteer coach at Georgia now, previously holding the same position at Alabama.

The left fielder is Ben Moore, who played from 2012-2014. Moore mostly played right field, and caught some during his Tide career. The Cullman native was a freshman All American in 2012. Moore was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the eighth round, but after having some injury issues was released. After a year in Independent ball, the Los Angels Dodgers signed him, and he spent last season in AAA as a catcher for the organization.

In right field power hitting Chandler Taylor is the choice. Taylor hit 38 home runs in his three years at the Capstone, with a high of 16 in his sophomore year of 2017. Taylor was a 10th round pick of the Houston Astros, and is currently in their minor league system.

The choice at DH has many candidates, but my pick is Clay Jones. Jones was a stalwart at first base for the very good 2010 team, and hit 17 home runs that season. The Bibb County native was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, and played a couple of years before being forced to retire with injury.

Brett Booth is my other catcher, and he also played some third base (and a little OF) during his four year career. Booth spent time in the Astros minor league system. Wade Wass is a utility guy for catcher, DH, and even first base. Wass played in the minor leagues for the Angels for a few years. My utility infielders are Cobie Vance, Mikey White, and Kyle Overstreet. All three are working their way through the minor leagues currently . My backup outfielders are defensive specialist and speed merchant, Georgie Salem, along with Casey Hughston. Hughston played three years in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Salem is in medical sales in Birmingham.

My batting order would be as follows:

CF - Dugas

C - Bennett

SS - Rutledge

DH - Jones

3B - J Smith

1B - A Smith

LF - Moore

RF - Taylor

2B - Wilson

The pitching staff will consist of four guys currently in the major leagues, and a couple on the cusp of making it to the show. My choice for pitcher of the decade is Nathan “Peanut” Kilcrease. My starting rotation will consist of:

Jimmy Nelson, 2008-2010, a second round choice of the Milwaukee Brewers who was on his was way to being an absolute stud when he tore his shoulder up sliding. Nelson missed two full seasons, and made it back at the end of last season. His contract is up, and he is now a free agent heading into next season. The big, 6’6” righty was a huge part of the 2010 that was one swing away from the College World Series. Nelson won nine games and struck out 98 in 2010 for the Tide.

Nathan “Peanut” Kilcrease, 2008-2011. The Alabama leader in career appearances with 88. A huge fan favorite, partly because of his 5’5” frame, and bulldog presence on the mound. Kilcreases name shows up all over the record book of Tide pitchers. Sixth in batters faced, seventh in innings pitched, fourth in wins, and seventh in strikeouts. Kilcrease spent three years in minor league ball, and now is a pitching coach.

Jake Walters, 2015-2018. Walters pitched on teams that didn't advance to post season play, but is also all over the record book. Tied for first in games started for a career with 52, fourth in batters faced, and third in strikeouts. Walters was a ninth round pick of the Florida Marlins and is currently working his way up the ladder toward the major leagues.

Adam Morgan, 2009-2011. My only lefty starter, Morgan was a third round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies, and is currently in his fourth year with big team. A move to the bullpen has proven to be beneficial to his career, and a lefty specialist can last for a long time in MLB.

Spencer Turnbull, 2012-2014. Big Red is a hard thrower, that also played on some teams that didn't have a ton of success. The Madison, MS native was a second round pick of the Detroit Tigers, and had a fine rookie season with the big club in 2019.

Bullpen:

Closer - Thomas Burrows. The all time leader in saves at Bama with 30, which he accumulated from 2014-2016. Mr automatic almost always brought home the win if he was given the ball with a lead. Burrows was a fourth round pick of the Seattle Mariners, before being traded to the Atlanta Braves. Burrows spent time in AAA and AA last season, and should be very close to a call up.

Set Up - Matt Foster. Foster only spent the 2016 season in Tuscaloosa after a great junior college career. Used as the bridge to Burrows, the duo was a lights out combination. Foster is with the Chicago White Sox, and very likely will reach the big leagues at some point in 2020.

Set Up/Long - LHP Taylor Guilbeau. Guilbeau was in Tuscaloosa from 2012-2015 and moved back and forth from reliever to starter before becoming the Friday night starter in his senior year. The Washington Nationals selected him in the 10th round, and he really got his feet under him once they moved him to the bullpen in 2018. A late season trade to the Seattle Mariners led to Guilbeau being called up to the Major Leagues where he showed a live arm, and should have more big league time coming.

All purpose - Jonathan Smart. The soft tossing lefty was a Swiss army knife in 2010-2011. Starting, closing, long relief, it didn't matter to the rubber armed Tuscaloosa native. In 2011 Smart led the team with 11 saves and a 2.50 ERA. He still resides in the Tuscaloosa area.

Long relief/spot starter - Justin Kamplain. The Jasper native pitched from 2012-2014 before being picked by the NY Yankees in the 18th round. Kamplain led the team in wins in 2014 with seven, and in strikeouts with 69. The left hander bounced up and down the Yankees system for five years, but didn't play organized ball in 2019.

Long Relief - Geoffrey Bramblett. Bramblett was active with the Tide from 2014-2016 before being drafted by the Kansas City Royals. The Hoover native was a bulldog on the mound for the Tide, and had an 18-9 record in his three years. Bramblett pitched in the Royals organization in 2016 and 2017 before being released. In 2018 he signed to play Independent ball, and had a monster 2019 season. The Arizona Diamondbacks though enough of him to sign him to a free agent contract. Bramblett was virtualy unhittable in 2019, and forged an ERA of under one run a game, at 0.50.

That gives me a full college roster of 27 players. There are several other deserving players that were under consideration. There is much to like about what Brad Bohannon is building, so here’s looking to a better decade during the 2020s.