Tide players selected in MLB draft

Last summer, Alabama catcher Jeremy Brown and pitcher Lance Cormier each had an important decision to make. They could either sign professional contracts with the teams that drafted them, or return to school to play their senior seasons. <br><br>They chose the latter.

On Tuesday, both players decided that the decision they made to come back might have been one of the best decisions they had ever made.

Brown didn't have to wait long to be selected, as the Oakland Athletics took him with the 35th pick in the first round. It was a vast improvement from last season, when the catcher was drafted in the 19th round by the Boston Red Sox.

When he was selected as a supplemental pick in the first round of the draft, Brown became only the third Tide athlete to be a Major League Baseball first-round pick.

"Looks like it ended up working out really well for me," Brown said. "I had moments this year that will last forever. I'm just thankful I stayed."

Brown hit .320 his senior season with 11 home runs and 64 runs batted in. He spent the first two years of his college career playing first base before moving to catcher last season.

"If I'm not a catcher, I might not even get drafted," Brown said.

"It's quite an honor for him," head coach Jim Wells said. "I'm just as excited about it as the players are. He made the right decision in staying."

"The best thing about him is that he knows how to play the game right," Cormier said, about Brown. "He has great baseball instincts."

Brown became only the third first round pick from the University of Alabama. Infielder Joe Vitiello was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1991 and pitcher Ken Stabler was drafted by the Houston Astros in 1966.

Cormier didn't have to wait much longer to hear his name called. The defending World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks selected the right-handed pitcher in the fourth round.

"It feels good," Cormier said. "It's a great organization. It's every kid's dream to end up in the professional ranks, and I'm ready to get it started."

Cormier will begin his pro career with the world champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

In his senior season, Cormier posted an 11-3 record with a 3.28 earned run average. Last season, the Houston Astros selected Cormier in the 10th round.

"It's the best decision I've ever made," Cormier said. "The team had a great year, and I bettered some of my career bests."

The New York Yankees selected Centerfielder Scott McClanahan in the 11th round. McClanahan went undrafted last season, but added some pop in his bat, as evidence by his 14 home runs and 62 runs batted in.

Only one Tide player was selected on the second day of the draft, as senior right-handed pitcher Shane Sanders went in the 49th round to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Sanders went 8-4 on the season with a 3.87 earned run average.

Three of Alabama's 2002 signees were also drafted. Catcher Brian McCann of Duluth, Ga., was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the second round. The Chicago Cubs drafted spring signee C.J. Medlin, also a catcher, in the 15th round. Pitcher Allen Ponder from Lee-Scott Academy in Auburn, was picked in the 50th and final round by the Baltimore Orioles.

Of the three draftees, only McCann is expected to sign a professional contract.

At one point in the season Sanders won five straight SEC games.

Two former Alabama players also received calls from major league teams. Ben King, who played as a freshman in 2000, was drafted in the 20th round by the New York Yankees. He transferred to Texas, but spent the 2002 season on the bench after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Yankees drafted the lefty as a pitcher.

Rock Mills, a catcher who spent 1999 and 2000 at Alabama before transferring to Pepperdine, was drafted in the 29th round by the Colorado Rockies.


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