The Chicago Cubs took a raw but toolsy high school outfielder in the second round of the MLB draft…
Nelson, Rutledge Among Draftees
Nelson was the 64th overall pick taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round. It was the second time the Niceville, Fla., native has had his named called in the MLB Draft. He was selected in the 39th round by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2007 draft.
Rutledge was the 107th pick of the draft, selected in the third round by the Colorado Rockies. The three-time All-SEC shortstop was drafted for the first time in his career today.
In all, Alabama had eight players taken in Tuesday's draft, including three signees. In addition to Nelson and Rutledge, junior second baseman Ross Wilson was selected in the 10th round (308th pick) by the Chicago White Sox. Senior third baseman Jake Smith was a 15th round pick (471 overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies. Sophomore right-hander Tyler White was a 20th round pick (613th selection) by the Detroit Tigers.
The Crimson Tide had three signees taken in the first five rounds, including shortstop Matt Lipka, Reggie Golden and John McGuarian. Lipka, a product of McKinney (Texas) High School was the 35th overall pick in the draft by the Atlanta Braves. Golden, an outfielder from Wetumpka (Ala.) High School, was taken in the second round (65th pick) by the Chicago Cubs. McGuarian, a standout right-hander at Pensacola Catholic High School, was taken in the fifth round (157th pick) by the Cincinnati Reds.
"We are very excited and pleased for all of players and signees taken in the Major League Draft today," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We had six players, three on our current team and three signees, taken in the first 10 rounds. That says a lot about kind of players they are. We are very excited for Nelson and Rutledge, who were both taken in the top three rounds. I know it was a big day for them."
Alabama had five current players taken in the MLB Draft, marking the third time in five years UA had five or more players taken in the draft. The Crimson Tide had a school-record nine players drafted in 1986. The 1996 team had eight players drafted. Alabama has had at least one player drafted for 32 consecutive years, dating back to 1979.
Nelson is 8-3 with a 3.92 ERA in 17 games this season. He had worked 103 1/3 innings and allowed 51 runs on 101 hits with 94 strikeouts and 28 walks. He also logged three complete games against Mississippi, Tennessee and Auburn.
"It is an honor for me to be drafted this high by a good club and a good organization," Nelson said. "I am looking forward to it and I am real optimistic about the situation and I am pretty happy. But I have some business to finish here first."
"I think I can bring a consistent reliable start. I think I am somebody that can pitch a lot of innings and compete and win at the professional level. I feel like I've got good enough stuff to win at every level. I like competing against other people."
Rutledge is the Tide's second-leading hitter with a .365 (104-for-285) average with 10 home runs and 69 RBI as one of the SEC's premier shortstops. He leads the team in hits (104), RBI (69) and multi-hit games (35). He will take a 26-game road hitting streak into the NCAA Super Regional this weekend at Clemson.
The Cullman, Ala., native is the second Tide player in as many years to be taken by the Rockies in the first four rounds. Kent Matthes, the 2009 SEC Player of the Year, was a fourth-round pick by Colorado last year.
"It would definitely be great to play with Kent Matthes again," Rutledge said. "I am very excited. I am trying to let it sink in a little bit. It is kind of surreal. I am very excited to be drafted by the Rockies and things have worked out well.
"It caught me off guard a little bit. I had spoken with 10-12 teams by about 9 (o'clock) and they were all giving me a range where I might fall in the draft. The Rockies were one of those teams and they seemed interested. I was watching the draft on the computer and my name just popped up and that caught me a little off guard. It was nice to see, though."
Wilson is hitting .274 (60-for-219) this season with eight home runs and 44 RBI. He is the Crimson Tide's leading hitter in the postseason and has he raised his season average 32 points in the last nine games. During the postseason, he is batting .448 (13-for-29) with nine runs scored, one home run and six RBI. He is a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen bases. Wilson was drafted for the second time in his career on Tuesday. He was taken in the 35th round by the San Diego Padres in 2007.
Smith hit .261 (62-for-238) with 13 home runs and 55 RBI in 62 games this season. He hit 12 of his 13 home runs after April 11. He was named to the NCAA Atlanta All-Regional team after he hit .381 (8-for-21) with two home runs and a team-best eight RBI in five games.
"It is just a dream come true," Smith said. "This is something that I have worked hard for and dreamed about for a long, long time. Today those dreams came true.
"The main goal was to win the regional and keep my career at Alabama going. Today, I fulfilled a life-long dream and playing pro baseball. It has been a great two days and I am looking forward to this weekend and the chance to go to Omaha."
White was 3-3 with a 5.93 ERA in 21 appearances this season. He recorded 32 strikeouts in 30 innings. White tossed one scoreless inning against No. 8 Georgia Tech in the 2010 Atlanta Regional this past weekend.
Also, Alabama senior defensive back Justin Woodall was taken in the 26th round (791st pick) by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The 2010 MLB Draft will conclude with rounds 31-50 on Wednesday from New York.