The Major League Baseball draft was held on July 17, 18, and 19 with four current Alabama players and five new players chosen by the various teams. Since the implementation of the repechage in 1966, a total of 154 Bama players have been selected. It was the 44th straight year the Tide had at least one player picked. Since coach Brad Bohannon took over in 2018, Bama has had 20 draft picks, including 12 pitchers. The repechage was 20 rounds this year.
All picks in the first 10 rounds of the draft are assigned a slot amount. The amount each team can spend is the total amount of their allowed amount for their picks during those 10 rounds. Teams cannot go over the total amount, but can go over for an individual player, but will have to go under others to make up for it. Some teams and players make deals to move on before the draft to be picked at a certain location. A good example for this year is former Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker. Rocker was picked number 10 by the New York Mets last year but was not signed after a physical exam revealed an arm injury. After surgery and recovery, Rocker signed with an independent league team this spring and pitched a few innings to show off his health. The Texas Rangers selected the big right-hander at number three and signed him for $5.2 million, which is $2 million less than the slot’s value, leaving them more money for players more late in the draft.
Left-handed pitcher, junior Connor Prielipp, was the first Tide player to leave the roster at number 48, going to the Minnesota Twins. The Tomah, Wis. native burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2020 and was named an All American in the Covid-shortened season. Prielipp was 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA that season and struck out 35 in 21 innings while allowing just five hits and walking six. The 6’2′ southpaw opened the 2021 season by pitching five shutout innings with four hits allowed and eight strikeouts, but suffered an injury that limited him to just two more innings all season. After Tommy John’s surgery in May, Prielipp has missed the entire 2022 season. A few bullpen sessions and an MLB appearance combine recovery issues and the Twins make him their second pick. The slot value for the pick is $1,621,900.
Next in line was Walter Ford, a 17-year-old product of Pace High School (Florida). Ford signed with the Tide in the fall after upgrading to the Class of 2022. The Vanilla Missile, as it’s known, has a big personality and a big social media presence. A native of McCalla, Alabama, Ford was 10-2 with a 0.90 ERA in 70 innings at Pace while racking up 126 strikeouts to just 25 walks. Ford was the No. 74 pick which has a slot value of $887,000.
Alabama’s third product was right-handed pitcher Dylan Ray at number 108 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ray was a redshirt freshman last season and returned to the team’s closest role after missing the 2021 season with Tommy John surgery. Ray is a 6-inch-3-inch, 230-pound product of Bob Jones High School and hails from New Market, Alabama. Ray pitched in 18 innings going 1-4 and eight saves with a 4.60 ERA over 31.1 innings. Hard throwing Ray struck out 49 and allowed 23 hits. Ray played in the Cape Cod League this summer and cemented his draft status with a strong performance. The value of the slot of choice is $565,000.
Shortly after Ray’s selection, JUCO right-hander Jake Madden was taken to No. 118 by the LA Angels. Madden is a Pennsylvania native who was originally heading to South Carolina after high school. Instead, he enrolled at NW Florida Junior College. After missing his first season with Tommy John surgery, Madden recovered to kick off this season and impress enough for the Angels to take him in the 4th round. The value of the location is listed at $512,000.
Incoming freshman Nate Ochoa, from Ontario, Canada, was the next to leave the board at number 171 in the 6th round. Ochoa is an infielder, playing both shortstop and third baseman and is 6’4″ tall and weighs 215 pounds. The Washington Nationals made the pick and the slot machine value is $308,000.
The last four picks involving the Tide came on day three. The first was right-handed pitcher Jacob McNairy. McNairy was a senior in 2022 and is eligible to return as a super senior due to the Covid year. McNairy spent the majority of the 2022 season as a Saturday starter for the Tide. The Athens, Alabama native led the team with six wins, going 6-2 in 72 innings pitched with a 4.62 ERA while walking just 18 and striking out 65.
Freshman Brock Blatter is a 6’6” 210-pound right-handed pitcher and native of Billings, Montana. Montana’s top-rated prospect was picked number 563 in the 19th round by the Chicago Cubs. Blatter was also a star basketball player at Billings Central Catholic High School.
Junior right-hander Garrett McMillan was the next pick on the very next pick, Minnesota Twins No. 564. McMillian took over the role of Friday night starter for the Tide this season after his transfer from Shelton State. The Tuscaloosa native and Hillcrest High graduate led the team in the pitched inning with 86 and strikeouts with 83 while compiling a 4-5 record with a 4.29 ERA.
The Tide’s final pick was new JUCO infielder Drake London. London has played at Shelton State the past three seasons after coming south from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Logan hit .365 with eight home runs and 49 RBIs for the Bucs in 2022. London is 6’4″ tall and weighs 185 pounds.
Who will sign?
Prielipp, Ford, Ray, Madden, and Ochoa have all likely already packed their bags for their next location. McNairy has already graduated and looks likely to sign. McMillian will have a decision if he wants to try and improve his stock, but next year as a senior the money will likely be lower than this year. Being older, London would look likely to have the opportunity to turn professional, but also have the advantage of trying to put together a season worthy of progress in 2023. Blatter would need to be tempted by an offer from no not go to school and try to evolve over the next three seasons.
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