Bama In the MLB: Early Season Update
Some of our own Bama alumni have already made an impact on their respective MLB club in 2021. Just four weeks into the season, here's an update for some Alabama players to keep an eye out for in the big leagues.
Alex Avila - Catcher, Washington Nationals
After leaving the Diamondbacks in 2019, the decade-long MLB vet behind the plate - Alex Avila - landed himself a deal as a backup for the Minnesota Twins. The events surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 a few monts later would ultimatly create uncertainty, though the Florida-native did see some reduced playing time in 2020. Avila secured another contract as a backup with the Washington Nationals just before spring training started for 2021 and has appeared in three games behind Yan Gomes.
Matt Foster - RHP, Chicago White Sox
Since being drafted in 2016, it seems that Matt Foster's timeline for advancement has been at a warp-speed pace. The right-handed Valley, Alabama native made his first major league appearance for 'The Southsiders' in August of 2020 during the shortened season. As a rookie, Foster went 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA through 28.2 IP. He holds a short sample size for 2021 so far, but he's already accounted for 8 strikeouts in just 4.2 innings of relief work for the White Sox.
Wade LeBlanc - LHP, Baltimore Orioles
The seasoned vet - who's appeared with 8 separate clubs since being drafted in 2008 - got to start six games for the Baltimore Orioles during MLB's abbreviated "COVID season," despite being traditionally known as a solid 'short reliever.' Now moved back into his role in supporting the Oriole bullpen for 2021, Wade LeBlanc has managed to secure 5.0 innings of work while accounting for 4 strikeouts.
Jimmy Nelson - RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Now in his seventh season as a pro, Jimmy Nelson has moved away from his traditional starting position to the role as the reliable and trustworthy reliever. Nelson missed all of the 2020 season to a lower back injury which needed surgery, but was able to sign a minor league deal with the Dodgers by the end of the year. He made their 40-man roster after spring training and has accounted for 6.1 IP and 9 strikeouts with a 4.26 ERA for the reigning world champions in 2021.
Spencer Turnbull - RHP, Detroit Tigers
The Demopolis, Alabama native who first got his name called up September 2018 has been making some serious strides at the starting position for the Detroit Tigers. Turnbull, who's spent his entire career with the Tigers organization, had a reduced number of starts in 2020 due to the abbreviated season. He posted the best season ERA (3.97) of his short career and set himself up for success - provided the Tigers give him some run support. Turnbull's only start in 2021 came on Wednesday, April 21, where he went 5.0 innings with 6 strikeouts in a victory against the Pirates in Chicago.
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