Thursday, March 10, 2016

Eleven Alabama natives included in 2016 'Who's Who in Baseball'

One pre-season baseball publication that I enjoy picking up every year is “Who’s Who in Baseball,” which chronicles the official lifetime records of current Major League players. This year’s edition ($9.95) is the 101st edition of “Who’s Who in Baseball” since 1912 and includes the lifetime records of more than 765 players within its 360 pages.

Entries for each individual player lists their hometown, and I enjoy seeing just how many players from Alabama are currently active in the “Big Leagues.” I flipped through my copy of “Who’s Who” on Monday morning and counted 11 players who were born in Alabama.

The best known of these players is arguably 34-year-old Mobile native Jake Peavy, a right-handed pitcher for the reigning World Champion San Francisco Giants. Peavy starred at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile and has since played for the San Diego Padres, the Chicago White Sox, the Boston Red Sox and the Giants.

Alex Rios, a 35-year-old outfielder for the Kansas City Royals, was born in Coffee County, but he grew up in Puerto Rico. Rios has said in interviews that his parents left Coffee County when he was just a few months old. He was drafted in 1999 and has since played for the Toronto Blue Jays, the White Sox, the Rangers and the Royals.

Matt Cain, a 31-year-old pitcher for the Giants, was born in Dothan and lived for a time in Vincent before moving to Germantown, Tenn., where he was a star at Houston High School. He was drafted in 2002 and has played for the Giants since 2005.

David Robertson, a 29-year-old relief pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, was born in Birmingham, and he went on to play high school ball at Central-Tuscaloosa High School and Paul W. Bryant High School. Robertson went on to play at the University of Alabama and was drafted in 2006. He played for the New York Yankees through 2014, but was traded to the White Sox last season.

Desmond Jennings, a 29-year-old outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays is a native of Pinson, where he went to Pinson Valley High School. From there, he went to Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss., where he played baseball and football. He was drafted by the Rays in 2006 and, so far, he hasn’t played for any other team but the Rays.

“Who’s Who” says that Tommy Hunter, a 29-year-old pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, is a native of Tuscaloosa, but, according to most sources, he was born in Indianapolis, where he went to Cathedral High School. He went on to play for the University of Alabama and was drafted in 2007. Since then, he’s pitched for the Texas Rangers, the Orioles and the Cubs.

The 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber, a 29-year-old pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, was born in Birmingham, but he grew up in Texas. He played high school ball at Coppell High School in Coppell, Texas and played college ball at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. He was drafted out of college in 2007 and has played for the Indians since 2011.

Adam Warren, a 28-year-old pitcher for the Yankees, was also born in Birmingham, but he grew up in New Bern, N.C. He played high school ball at New Bern High School and college ball at the University of North Carolina. He was drafted in 2008 and has played for the Yankees since 2012.

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, 27, is a native of Huntsville, where he played at Lee High School. From there, he went on to pitch at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, and the Braves drafted him in 2008. Since then, he played for the Braves, the Padres and now the Red Sox.

All of the players mentioned above were in last year’s edition of “Who’s Who,” but this year’s edition includes two players who weren’t in last year’s book of Big Leaguers – Todd Cunningham and Kendall Chase Graveman.

Cunningham, a 26-year-old left fielder for the Los Angeles Angels, is a native of Jacksonville in Calhoun County. Cunningham attended Jacksonville High School, where he played baseball and football, and he went on to play baseball at Jacksonville State University. Cunningham was drafted by the Braves in 2008, and he remained in the Braves organization until last October when he joined the Angels.

Graveman, a 25-year-old pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, was born in Alexander City in Tallapoosa County. Graveman went on to play baseball at Benjamin Russell High School and Mississippi State. Graveman was drafted in 2012 and went on to play for the Toronto Blue Jays and the A’s. 

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