Editors Note: Today we welcome J.D. Hogan to the line-up at Track’em Tigers. J.D. attends Auburn and will bring us the student angle from the Plains. In his first article, he looks at former Auburn baseball players in the big leagues.
By J.D. Hogan
Opening Day in Major League Baseball was this past week, which of course is one step closer to summer practice and, ultimately, the 2008 football season.
I know that for most SEC football fans, the MLB season is just the purgatory we have to endure before the real games begin. I happen to be a bit of a baseball aficionado, so I thought I would take a look at former Auburn players in the majors.
Chris Bootcheck, RP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Bootcheck broke into the big leagues in 2003 with the Angels, and saw limited duty until last season, when he pitched 77 1/3 innings and posted a 3-3 record and a 4.77 ERA. He began 2008 on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle, but is working his way through extended spring training, and will soon be facing minor league hitters.
Gabe Gross, OF, Milwaukee Brewers Former Auburn quarterback Gross broke into the big leagues in 2004 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He joined the Brewers in 2006, and has been a 4th outfielder/spot starter for most of his career. In five seasons, he has amassed a .245 batting average with 20 homeruns in 617 major league at bats. He also sports a .344 on-base percentage and has a .408 slugging percentage. He has seen action in four games so far in 2008.
Tim Hudson, SP, Atlanta Braves One of the dominant pitchers in the majors, Hudson is beginning his tenth season in the majors and his fourth with the nearby Atlanta Braves. He has been an all-star twice, and finished second in Cy Young award voting in 2000 with Oakland.
Over his career, he has a 136-70 record with an impressive 3.51 ERA. Hudson’s stats speak for themselves, but he has also proven to be a durable major league pitcher, finishing in the top ten in the league in innings pitched six times.
David Ross, C, Cincinnati Reds Ross got his shot in the show in 2002 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and is currently the number one catcher for the Reds. He started the 2008 season on the disabled list for an injured back, and is currently on a rehab assignment in the minors.
For his career, he has a .222 batting average with 57 homers, a .300 on-base percentage and a .447 slugging percentage.
Frank Thomas, DH, Toronto Blue Jays The longest-tenured Tiger in the majors, the Big Hurt is starting his 19th season in the major leagues. A future hall-of-famer, Thomas started out playing for the Chicago White Sox from 1990 to 2005, but has played for the Oakland Athletics in 2006 and the Blue Jays since.
He also started his career seeing a good amount of time playing first base, but has recently been primarily a designated hitter. Over his career, he has a robust .303 batting average and his 514 career homeruns ranks 18th all-time.
Clete Thomas, OF, Detroit Tigers Clete Thomas has been the story of the young season so far for former Auburn baseball players. He made his major league debut last Monday, picking up a double in his first at-bat, and has a .500 batting average so far.
The Tigers added him to the 25-man roster due to an injury to their everyday starting centerfielder, Curtis Granderson, but he has taken advantage of the opportunity. What makes the story even more unbelievable is the fact that before this season, his highest level of minor league baseball was double-A one season ago.
When Granderson comes off the disabled list, Thomas will likely be sent back down, but you have to imagine that the ride he has been on for the last week in incredible.
I also would like to give a quick remembrance of former Tiger Josh Hancock, the relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals who died in a car accident almost a year ago. Though the time has passed, the pain still stings. When celebrating the successes of other Tigers in the majors, I’d like to also remember Hancock.