The 2018 Alabama baseball recruiting class will reach campus mostly intact. The deadline for MLB draft picks to sign professional contracts passed on Friday afternoon with only two Alabama signees choosing to go pro.
Outfielder PJ Hilson, the top draftee in Alabama’s class, signed with the San Francisco Giants after being chosen in the sixth round. Junior college catcher/infielder Bryan Lavastida was drafted in the 15th round by the Cleveland Indians and went pro. Both of those players signed shortly after the draft, leaving little drama at the deadline for Alabama.
“Even if a kid or a family, in their mind, has decided to come to school, sometimes things happen in the pro clubs and other kids affect the money that they have, and things can certainly change late,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “I went to bed last night feeling like I knew how it was going to pan out today. With that being said, I will sleep a little better tonight.”
The other four Alabama signees who were chosen in June’s MLB draft did not sign professional contracts. Pitchers Tyler Ras, Dylan Smith and Will Freeman were all drafted but did not sign. Junior college catcher/infielder Brett Auerbach was chosen in the 40th and final round of the draft by the Rockies, but did not sign.
Ras was ranked as the No. 197 overall player among MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects and was No. 167 in Baseball America’s top 200 prospects. He’s among the headliners in Alabama’s 2018 recruiting class, which includes 18 players. Alabama’s 2018 class is ranked 25th nationally and 11th in the SEC by PerfectGame.org, though that didn’t factor in players lost to the draft.
“There were a handful of others that easily could have been, should have been drafted but priced themselves out of the draft,” Bohannon said. “I think the two that were lingering were Will Freeman and Dylan Smith. There were certainly kids like Tyler Ras and Brett Auerbach that had nice offers to go play. Then some of the other kids like Drew Williamson easily could have been drafted in a decent spot. Jake Kelchner, some of those guys. Those decisions were kind of made earlier than the other boys.
“Those are the kind of kids that we’re supposed to be getting at Alabama. We’re supposed to fish in the deep water. If we’re not recruiting against professional baseball in July, then we’re not setting the bar high enough with what we have to offer.
All three Alabama underclassmen who were drafted chose to sign, forgoing their final year of college baseball. Outfielder Chandler Taylor signed with the Houston Astros, infielder Cobie Vance signed with the Oakland Athletics and infielder Jett Manning signed with the San Francisco Giants.