Former Tide Pitcher Hunter Called Up

The Alabama baseball program has another Major Leaguer. Former Tide All-America Tommy Hunter was called up the big leagues Thursday by the Texas Rangers, and will make his first start at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.



"This is very exciting," Tommy Hunter said. "I will go out and do my best and see what happens."

He becomes the 55th former Alabama player to reach the Major Leagues and the first to play for the Texas Rangers.

Hunter will start Friday's 7:05 p.m. CDT game against the Blue Jays, where he will be opposed by right-hander Shawn Marcum (17 GS, 5-5, 3.29 ERA). "We feel Tommy gives us the best chance to win Friday's game," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told MLB.com. "He's young, but he's mature, and has a feel beyond his experience level. He deserves this opportunity."

He is also the ninth Crimson Tide player under Coach Jim Wells to reach the Major Leagues, joining Tim Young (1998), Dustan Mohr (2001), Andy Phillips (2004), Paul Phillips (2004), Lance Cormier (2004), Taylor Tankersley (2006), Jeremy Brown (2006) and David Robertson (2008).

"I am very proud of Tommy and his success," Wells said. "He is a hard worker and that has paid off for him today as he prepares to make his debut with the Rangers. I wish him all the best."

Hunter, the 54th overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, has made a quick ascent to the Majors with his fastball and keen strikeout-to-walk ratio. In his brief professional career, Hunter is 13-11 with a 3.45 ERA in 32 games, including 22 starts. He has logged 161 2/3 innings and allowed 62 earned runs and 161 hits, with 108 strikeouts and 30 walks.

He pitched for the Rangers in 2007 in Spokane of the Northwest League, where he was rated as the organization's number seven prospect based on his quick success. He was 2-3 with a 2.53 ERA in 10 relief appearances in short season last year.

However, 2008 has been even better for Hunter. He has rapidly ascended to triple-A Oklahoma in just four months. Hunter has made a combined 21 starts so far this season. His season began in the California League where he pitched for Bakersfield. After nine starts he was promoted to the Texas League team in Fresno.

Hunter made eight more starts before being promoted the triple-A Oklahoma. Hunter has 22 combined starts with an 11-8 record and 3.56 ERA. The 95 strikeouts and only 29 walks have been a larger reason for his success.

Hunter is the second former Tide player to make his Major League debut this season, joining Robertson, who debuted with the New York Yankees on June 29 at Shea Stadium against the New York Mets. Hunter and Robertson were teammates at Alabama in 2006 helping the Crimson Tide to the SEC Championship and a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals.

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