Big Day For Auburn In MLB Draft

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn baseball program pumped out six more draft picks on Friday's second day of the amateur baseball draft, running its total to 34 straight years that Auburn has had at least one player drafted.

Players drafted in Friday's 2008 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft were Mike Bianucci (Texas Rangers) and Evan Crawford (Toronto Blue Jays) in the eighth round, Matt Hall (Tampa Bay Rays) in the 10th round, Luke Greinke (New York Yankees) in the 12th round, Bryan Woodall (Arizona Diamondbacks) in the 21st round and Taylor Thompson (Chicago White Sox) in the 25th round.

Auburn also had several signees drafted including second round selection Tyler Stovall from Hokes Bluff. Faith Academy (Mobile) pitcher Steven Upchurch was selected in the 12th round by the Chicago White Sox. Pell City pitcher Adam Purdy was taken in the 34th round by Minnesota. Dexter Price was taken in the 43rd round by the Milwaukee Brewers. The 6-6 pitcher is from Air Academy High in Colorado and is originally from Birmingham.

Bianucci, from Fairfax, Va., led Auburn with 13 home runs while hitting .320 in 2008. Auburn's everyday right fielder in 2008, he finished the year with a team-best .635 slugging percentage and .438 on base percentage, stroking a team-leading 19 doubles and adding two triples, drawing a team-high 37 doubles and 10 hit by pitches. In three seasons at Auburn, the right handed hitter smacked 35 home runs, which ties him for fifth all-time in the Auburn career record books. In 2008, he hit safely in 42 of the 56 games he played and never went hitless in more than two straight games, doing that just twice. He was a 23rd-round selection of the Los Angeles Angels in the 2007 draft before returning to school for his junior season.

"I heard things all day yesterday as early as the second round until the end of the sixth round closed out, teams asked me if I would sign here or sign there. I didn't go where I wanted to go, but it is what it is and I am happy to play," Bianucci said.

Evan Crawford had a solid junior year out of the bullpen for the Tigers.

Crawford, a native of Prattville, was drafted for the first time in his career after leading Auburn with a 2.42 ERA in 29 appearances out of the bullpen this season. A hard-throwing lefty, he had a record of 3-0 this season, striking out 42, which was tops among all AU relievers, and a .244 opponent batting average. In his three-year career, he is 13-14 with a 4.44 ERA.

"It was a load off my back and probably one of the best feelings I have ever had since I have been playing," Crawford said.

Hall, who transferred to Auburn from Arizona State prior to the 2008 season, had one of the finest defensive seasons in Auburn history, starting 55 games at shortstop and fielding at a .980 clip in 252 chances, helping to turn 34 double plays on the season. In 197 at bats, the right-handed hitting junior from Scottsdale, Ariz., hit .279 with 10 doubles, two triples and four home runs, driving in 27 runs. At one point this season, he went on a 17-game hitting streak in which he hit .460 with nine multi-hit games. This is the second time that Hall has been drafted as he was previously a eight-round pick (253rd overall) of the Los Angeles Angels in the 2005 draft.

"Going into the draft, I didn't put any expectations on it, I just went into it with the best mindset I could and be positive about the whole thing," Hall said. "Tampa is a great organization."

Greinke, who was named Baseball America's Player of the Summer last year and was a Freshman All-America after the 2006 season, was a two-way player for Auburn, hitting .257 while also sporting a 4.64 ERA in 14 appearances (nine starts). In 54.1 innings, the right hander fanned 41 while in the batters box he had three doubles and two home runs in limited at bats. This is the first time the Orlando, Fla., native has been drafted in his career.

"It means a lot to be picked by the Yankees because I know they take care of their guys and they have great tradition there," Greinke said. "I have talked to them a lot and went to a couple of workouts for them and was always treated right, so I was happy to be picked up by them."

Woodall, from Phenix City, spent his junior year as Auburn's closer and had one of the most successful seasons out of the pen in Auburn history, collecting 11 saves with a 3.83 ERA in 31 appearances. His 11 saves ranks fourth all-time in a single-season. He also had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7.0, fanning 42 while walking just six in 40.0 innings. The right hander has not been drafted previously.

"I talked to Arizona quite a bit throughout the year, so I was pretty excited when they drafted me," Woodall said. "I was just excited to be drafted by an organization by Arizona which will give me a chance to play Major League Baseball. It is something I have always wanted to do."

Thompson, a draft-eligible sophomore because of his June 18, 1987 birthday, went 3-6 wutg a 6.28 ERA in 61.2 innings. A hard-throwing righty from Montgomery, he struckout 51 in 21 appearances (six starts). His finest outing of the season came at Ole Miss on May 10 when he threw a complete game, four-hitter, striking out six in an 11-1 Auburn victory. This is the first time he has been drafted.

Auburn has now had at least one player selected in the draft in each of the past 34 drafts, dating to the 1975 season. It is tied with Arkansas for the second-longest streak in the SEC behind Georgia's 36-year run. Auburn has also produced six-or-more draft picks in three of the past four years, talling 21 picks since 2005.


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