Joining fourth round picks OF Trent Mummey (No. 118 - Baltimore) and 1B Hunter Morris (No. 129 - Milwaukee) were LHP Cole Nelson (10th Rd. - No. 313 - Detroit), LHP Grant Dayton (11th Rd. - No. 347 - Florida), RHP Austin Hubbard (14th Rd. - No. 431 - Tampa), C Ryan Jenkins (17th - No. 509 - Kansas City), OF Brian Fletcher (18th Rd. - No. 549 - Kansas City), OF Kevin Patterson (23rd Rd. - No. 701 - Tampa) and RHP Bradley Hendrix (30th Rd. - No. 907 - Cincinnati).
In addition to the current Tigers, four signees were also drafted on the second day of the draft Tuesday. Junior college pitcher Andrew Morris (16th round), infielder Zach Alvord (18th), pitcher Brandon Allen (18th) and outfielder Jay Gonzalez (27th) were also selected.
For Hubbard and the rest of the players it's the culmination of a dream. A senior from Homewood, he was a four-year right-handed pitcher for Auburn, appearing in 70 games, 63 of them out of the bullpen. The team's closer for the past two seasons, he racked up 22 career saves, which is third all-time in Auburn history. As a senior captain he was 6-2 with 10 saves and a staff-best 2.44 ERA, striking out 60 in 48 innings of work with a .239 batting average against. He led the team with 26 appearances and picked up the final win of the 2010 season, throwing 4 2/3 innings in the dramatic 11-10 win over Clemson in the NCAA Regional. The selection of Hubbard is the first of his career.
Not really sure what to expect on draft day, Hubbard said to get over his nerves he decided to spend some time at the pool. When his name was called Hubbard said he was actually in the water, but quickly figured out something was up when he got back to his phone.
"I had like eight text messages at one time," Hubbard said. "All of them said congrats so I had a feeling someone had taken me but I had no idea who it was. I called my dad because I had a missed call from him. He told me that Tampa had taken me. This is a day you dream of your whole life as a baseball player. I have been blessed enough and God has put me in a position to continue my dreams. It's an amazing feeling.
"I wasn't really looking for anybody," he said about a certain team. "I was just waiting to see who would pick me. There wasn't anybody at the top of my list. I was surprised I guess, but I would have been surprised with anyone taking me. I'm just really fortunate and lucky that someone has given me the chance to continue to keep playing."
Nelson, a 6'7" left-handed pitcher from Edina, Minn., just completed his first year at Auburn after transferring from Des Moines Area Community College. In his only season at Auburn, he went 6-3 with a 5.64 ERA in 18 appearances (15 starts). In 68 2/3 innings, he struck out 67 while issuing 30 walks. In SEC-only games, Nelson held opponents to a .259 batting average, which was 11th in the league. His biggest outing of the season came in the SEC Tournament berth-clinching win over Tennessee, allowing just three hits in a complete game shutout.
This is the second straight year that Nelson has been drafted after previously being selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 45th round (No. 1,369) in the 2009 Draft. A 2010 Second Team All-SEC starting pitcher, Dayton (Huntsville, Ala.) finished the year as Auburn's leader in wins (eight) and strike outs (69), marking the third straight season that he was the staff strikeout leader. In a team-high 95 innings, he issued just 19 walks and held opponents to a .269 batting average. He tied for the SEC lead in league wins (seven) and his 3.92 ERA in SEC-only games was 10th in the league. In three seasons, the left-hander has a 17-11 career record with a 4.66 ERA, striking out 217 in 249 innings. The selection by Florida marked the first time in his career that Dayton was drafted.
A fifth-year senior and a team captain, Jenkins had his finest season in his last after missing the entire 2009 campaign with an injury, hitting a career-best .365 with 14 doubles, seven home runs and 38 RBI. The starting catcher in 45 games, he threw out 13 runners attempting stolen bases and also picked off two runners while only being charged with three passed balls. For his career the right-handed hitting backstop hit .304 with 23 doubles, a triple and nine home runs, driving in 66 RBI. This is the first time Jenkins has been drafted.
A 2010 First Team All-SEC outfielder, Fletcher has etched his name in the Auburn record books for his prolific home run hitting prowess. Hitting a career-best .357 this year, he hit 17 doubles and a career-high 22 home runs, which is tied for second all-time for a single-season at Auburn. With 49 career home runs, he is tied with Frank Thomas (1987-89) for third all-time in career home runs and his 98 career extra-base hits are fifth all-time. A career .330 hitter, he was previously drafted in the 39th round of the 2007 Draft by Houston.
A reserve infielder and outfielder who was used mostly as the team's designated hitter, the First Team All-SEC selection Patterson hit a career-best .315 with a career-high 16 home runs. In 124 at bats the left-handed hitter had 39 hits, 24 of which went for extra bases for a .782 slugging percentage. His 33 RBI this season was also a career high. In three seasons at Auburn he has 20 doubles, five triples and 27 home runs. He was previously drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 24th round of the 2007 Draft.
Hendrix, a right-handed reliever the past two years after being a midweek starter and a weekend reliever as a freshman, was 4-2 with a 5.35 ERA in 22 appearances this season. Throwing 33 2/3 innings, he struck out 28 and issued 14 walks. In three years at Auburn, he is 12-7, leading the team in wins in 2009 with seven, and has a 5.52 career ERA with one save in 130 1/3 innings. This is the first time Hendrix has been drafted.
Auburn has now had at least one player selected in the draft in each of the past 36 drafts, dating to the 1975 season. It is tied with Arkansas for the second-longest streak in the SEC behind Georgia's 38-year run.