Auburn alumni preparing for 2018 baseball season in spring training

Friday, March 9, 2018

Auburn alumni preparing for 2018 baseball season in spring training

Garrett Cooper and Josh Donaldson are in spring training warming up their bats for the 2018 MLB season, and Trey Wingenter is pitching this month for his first spot on a big-league roster.

They're the three former Auburn players in Major League camps this spring. Another Auburn alumnus, Grant Dayton, would be, too, but he's recovering after having Tommy John surgery.

A rundown on the four former Auburn players with the start of the Major League season approaching on March 29:

Garrett Cooper: The first baseman's 2017 included stops at four levels, his Major League debut and two trades. After hitting .359 with 18 home runs, 84 RBIs and a .634 slugging percentage in 83 games in the minors, Cooper hit .326 in 13 games with the New York Yankees. Cooper started the 2017 season in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. This year, he's at spring training with the Miami Marlins, where the right-handed hitter is slated for platoon duty at first base and possibly some work in the outfield corners.

Grant Dayton: On his last warmup pitch during a rehab assignment at Triple-A Tulsa for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the former Bob Jones standout suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm and will start the season on the 60-day disabled list after having Tommy John surgery. He's on the Atlanta Braves' disabled list after being claimed off waivers in November. Dayton played a key role in the Dodgers' bullpen down the stretch after making his MLB debut in 2016. In 2017, he appeared in 29 games and posted a 4.94 ERA while being bothered by a stiff neck before hurting his arm in August, and he could miss the entire 2018 season.

Josh Donaldson: Injuries in the first half of the season had the former Faith Academy standout at home for the 2017 All-Star break after three straight seasons on the American League squad. But Donaldson was back in form for the final two months of the season, hitting 22 home runs with 47 RBIs, .302 batting average and .698 slugging percentage in 50 games in August and September. In January, the Toronto Blue Jays avoided salary arbitration with the third baseman by signing Donaldson to a $23 million contract for the 2017 season.

Trey Wingenter: The former Bob Jones standout pitched so well in the bullpen of the Double-A San Antonio Missions that he earned an invitation to the San Diego Padres' big-league camp in spring training this year. In 49 appearances in 2017, the right-hander posted a 3.02 ERA with 20 saves. In 47.2 innings, he struck out 64 while giving up 33 hits and 19 walks.

They aren't the only former Auburn players in professional baseball this season, though. They may be a little further from the big leagues, but several other ex-Tigers are at minor-league spring training waiting for assignment to Major League affiliates when the seasons start for 16 minor leagues.

Auburn's minor-league players include:

Ben Braymer: In his second pro season, the right-hander made 13 starts -- six for the Low-A Auburn Doubledays and seven for the Single-A Hagerstown Suns -- in the Washington Nationals' organization. Braymer posted a 5-2 record with a 3.99 ERA in 2017. In 65.1 innings, he struck out 76 and walked 21.

Justin Camp: The former Austin standout pitched at three levels of the Kansas City Royals' organization, including a game at Triple-A. The right-hander was too much for Single-A batters as he posted an 0.34 ERA and gave up 11 hits and six walks while striking out 32 in 26.2 innings for the Lexington Legends. Overall, in 23 relief appearances in 2017, Camp posted a 2.72 ERA in his second pro season.

Trey Cochran-Gill: The former Tallassee standout is seeking to comeback from an injury that limited him to one game during the 2017 season in the Oakland Athletics' organization. He made 42 relief appearances for the Double-A Midland Rockhounds in 2016.

J.D. Crowe: The former Oak Mountain standout played for Auburn in 2013 before transferring to Francis Marion. Crowe started his pro career last year after the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the 23rd round. In 33 games with the Low-
A State College Spikes, Crowe hit .273.

Dan Gamache: Gamache spent most of his seventh pro season in Double-A, but he split it between the Minnesota Twins' affiliate in Chattanooga and the Washington Nationals' affiliate in Harrisburg. He re-signed with the Nationals for 2018. For the first time, Gamache played more at first base than any other position, although he also saw action at second and third in 2017. In 113 games, he hit .266.

Jay Gonzalez: The outfielder changed organizations in December when the Arizona Diamondbacks selected him in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Gonzalez split his fourth pro season between the High-A Frederick Keys and the Double-A Bowie Baysox in the Baltimore Orioles' organization. For the 2017 season, he hit .273 with a .380 on-base average and 31 stolen bases.

Anfernee Grier: The former Russell County standout and first-round draft pick spent his second pro season in Single-A in 2017. For the Kane County Cougars, the center fielder hit .251 and stole 30 bases in 123 games.

Gabe Klobosits: A 36th-round draft pick of the Washington Nationals last year, the 6-foot-7 right-hander pitched at three levels in the minors in his first pro season. Klobosits made 20 relief appearances, with 15 coming for the Low-A Auburn Doubledays. He posted a 1.76 ERA and six saves. In 30.2 innings, he struck out 34 and did not give up a home run.

Joshua Palacios: The center fielder spent his second pro season with the Toronto Blue Jays' Single-A affiliate. Around two stints on the disabled list, Palacios played 91 games for the Lansing Lugnuts. He hit .280, scored 65 runs, stole 12 bases and posted a .360 on-base average in 2017.

Keegan Thompson: After joining the Chicago Cubs' organization as a third-round draft choice last year, the former Cullman standout pitched in seven games for the Low-A Eugene Emeralds. In 19 innings, he posted a 2.37 ERA, struck out 23 and walked four. While he made only one start last season, the Cubs plan to develop Thompson as a starter.

Jonah Todd: The former Oak Grove standout started his pro career last year after the Los Angeles Angels drafted him in the sixth round. He played in the outfield for the Rookie-level Orem Owlz and the Single-A Burlington Bees. In 69 games, he hit .275 with a .373 on-base average.

Damek Tomscha: Tomscha split his fourth season in the Philadelphia Phillies' organization between the High-A Clearwater Threshers and the Double-A Reading Fighting Phils and between first base and third base. Tomscha batted .307 with 11 home runs in 109 games.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

from Auburn Sports Impact

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