Jan. 29, 2013
Major League Baseball's Spring Training is right around the corner and eight former Auburn baseball players have received big league camp invites thus far. Four of the eight are currently on 40-man rosters while the other four have received Non-Roster Invites.
Evan Crawford will be in camp with the Toronto Blue Jays after making his debut with them last season. An eighth-round pick by Toronto in 2008, he appeared in 10 games in relief last year. A left-handed reliever for the Blue Jays, he logged eight innings and had a 6.75 ERA.
A member of the 2012 American League West Champion Oakland A's, Josh Donaldson is back for a third season in Oakland after being a first round pick of the Chicago Cubs in the 2007 draft. Originally drafted as a catcher out of Auburn, he moved to third base for the 2012 season, his original position at Auburn in 2005, and responded by hitting .241 in 75 games, collecting 16 doubles and nine home runs.
Tim Hudson joined the Atlanta Braves in 2005 after a six-year stay in the Oakland A's rotation. A sixth-round pick by the A's in 1997, Hudson is going into his ninth year in Atlanta, where he was a part of the 2005 NL East Division Champion and two Wild Card winners (2010 and 2012). A right-handed starter, he was 16-7 with a 3.62 ERA in 28 starts last season and in the process became the all-time winningest former Southeastern Conference pitcher with 197 wins. He goes into this season needing just three wins to hit 200, joining an elite club in MLB history which has just 111 all-time members.
David Ross goes to camp with the Boston Red Sox following a four-year run in Atlanta. An 11-year MLB veteran, he was a member of the Auburn baseball team in 1996-97 before transferring to Florida, where he was a seventh-round pick of the Dodgers in the 1998 draft. A free agent signee by the Red Sox this winter, he hit .256 for Atlanta last season. A catcher, this will be his second stint with Boston after signing a free agent contract in 2008 with them for a short stay late in the season.
Justin Christian is a non-roster invitee of the St. Louis Cardinals after signing as a free agent this past off season. An outfielder, he played with the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants last season, hitting .125 in 34 games. A three-year veteran who also played for the New York Yankees, he was a member of the 2001 Auburn baseball team.
Grant Dayton is going to spring training with the Miami Marlins after spending the 2010-12 seasons in its farm system, winning a SALLY League Championship in 2011. Used mostly as a reliever during his brief professional career, the left-handed pitcher has a career 2.43 ERA and is 12-8 with nine saves in 105 minor league appearances. He was an 11th-round pick of the Marlins following his stay at Auburn (2008-10).
The 2012 Southern League Player of the Year, Hunter Morris will be in camp with the Milwaukee Brewers as he battles for a roster spot at first base. A fourth-round pick out of Auburn in 2010 after winning SEC Player of the Year honors, he hit .303 for the Brewers Double-A team last season while also winning the minor league Gold Glove Award at first base. In three minor league seasons he is a career .280 hitter with 88 doubles, 16 triples and 57 home runs for a .499 slugging percentage.
Clete Thomas is a non-roster invitee of the Minnesota Twins after signing a free agent contract with the team that picked him up off waivers last season. An outfielder that was a sixth-round pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2005, he played in 15 MLB games last season, hitting .143 in 28 at bats. He has played in the big leagues in parts of three different seasons, debuting with Detroit in 2008.
Though he did not receive an invite to the Los Angeles Angels big league camp, Ty Kelley has been invited to a mini camp that runs concurrent with the big league camp. A right-handed pitcher that was a free agent signee following the 2010 season, he was named the 2012 Angels farm system Reliever of the Year by MiLB.com. Last season he went a combined 6-1 with 19 saves and a 1.66 ERA for two different Class-A teams in the Angels farm system. He will be available to the Angels for use in big league games despite not being in big league camp.
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