Former Alabama baseball players prep for the 2023 MLB season

Michael DeVito, Contributing Writer

With players all over the country reporting to spring training for the upcoming 2023 MLB season, former Alabama players will be preparing for their upcoming seasons representing various major league teams and MLB organization affiliates. Below are five former Crimson Tide players to keep an eye on, who look to make big impacts on their teams this season.  

David Robertson 

Birmingham, Alabama, native and New York Mets closing pitcher David Robertson is reporting for his 15th spring training after being drafted by the New York Yankees in the 17th round in the 2006 Draft. Robertson, now 37 years old, enters after a World Series appearance with the Philadelphia Phillies and is looking to be a stud in the back of the Mets bullpen.  

When he signed with the Mets, Roberston announced his excitement on Twitter. 

 “Thrilled to be a part of this SQUAD!,” he tweeted. 

The 2009 World Series champion last pitched for the Crimson Tide in the 2006 season as a closer while, during his freshman and sophomore seasons, he posted an ERA of 2.96 in 61 total games.  

Spencer Turnbull 

The Detroit Tigers starting pitcher returns to the Tigers for his fourth season in the major leagues. A product of the 2014 draft and second-round pick, Turnball has spent all his major and minor league career so far in the Detroit Tigers organization. Turnbull is coming off a decent 2022 season and is looking to make that jump and be a staple in  rebuilding the Tigers’ organization.  

I definitely feel it. I think the fans can feel it too. … I feel like the future is coming faster than people expected,” Turnbull said when asked about the future of the Tigers franchise. 

Turnbull posted a 3.54 ERA in his Crimson Tide career and appeared in 40 games over his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. 

Matt Foster 

A member of the Chicago White Sox, Valley, Alabama, native Matt Foster is one of the younger Alabama alumni in the majors, having made his debut in 2020. Being taken in the 20th round with the 596th overall pick in the 2016 draft, it has been one impressive ride for Foster to make it to the major leagues.  

After spending 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons in the minor leagues, he made his debut on Aug. 1, 2020, against the Kansas City Royals in an 11-5 White Sox win. Spending just one season in Tuscaloosa with the Crimson Tide, Foster appeared in 25 games with an ERA of 2.92. After his lone season with Alabama, he declared for the MLB draft.  

“It’s been great. … I love what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Foster said of his career in a New York Post interview.  

Tommy Hunter 

New York Mets relief pitcher and teammate of Robertson, Tommy Hunter heads into the spring entering his 15th year in the major leagues. This will be the third time in Robertson’s and Hunter’s career that they will find themselves on the same team (Alabama 2006, Philadelphia Phillies 2019, New York Mets 2023). The former 54th overall pick’s role has varied throughout his MLB tenure.  

As for the Mets, he has found himself in a spot starter and long-man role out of the bullpen. Having bounced around the league and splitting time in the major and minor leagues, Hunter is looking at a make-or-break 2023 season being 36 years old. 

In his Alabama career Hunter posted an ERA of 3.57, appearing in 46 games during his freshman and sophomore seasons. 

Jimmy Nelson 

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jimmy Nelson is one of many Alabama pitchers currently in the major leagues. Nelson will be entering his seventh season in the majors at 33 years old. Nelson was drafted in the 2010 draft as the 64th overall pick by the Milwaukee Brewers. After spending the 2019 season in the minor leagues and missing the 2020 season, Nelson is looking to make a very star-loaded Dodger team and show his value during the spring.  

“I can do anything, I’ll do any role they want me to do, I don’t think it will be an issue. I just want to pitch,” Nelson said during a Dodgers press conference. 

Spending his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons with the Crimson Tide, he managed a rather high ERA of 4.61 while appearing in 58 games. 

From World Series champions to All-Stars, the Alabama Crimson Tide baseball program has always been able to produce talent at the major league level, and that has proved true once again as the 2023 season rapidly approaches. 

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]