April 2, 2007
AUBURN, Ala. -
Seven former Auburn baseball players earned spots on the opening day 25-man rosters of seven different Major League Baseball teams for the 2007 season including Chris Bootcheck (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Gabe Gross (Milwaukee Brewers), Josh Hancock (St. Louis Cardinals), Tim Hudson (Atlanta Braves), David Ross (Cincinatti Reds), Levale Speigner (Washington Nationals) and Frank Thomas (Toronto Blue Jays).
Bootcheck lettered for the Tigers from 1998-2000 before being drafted 20th overall by the Anaheim Angels in 2000. He made his major league debut in 2003 and pitched four games for the Angels that season. Bootcheck spent the entire 2004 season in AAA-Salt Lake and shared his time between AAA and the majors for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. He appeared in seven games for the Angels last year.
Gross was the 15th overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2001 MLB draft after he lettered from 1999-2001 on The Plains. He debuted in the majors on Aug. 7, 2004, and had short stints in the major leagues in 2004 and 2005 before playing in 117 games for Milwaukee in 2006 where he hit .274 with nine homeruns and 38 RBI. He became the fifth player in franchise history to homer in his first at-bat with the club.
Hancock spent three years from 2002-04 with Boston, Philadelphia and Cincinnati before joining the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005. He appeared in 62 games for the Cardinals last year and was on the 25-man roster for the 2006 World Series Champions. Hancock helped lead Auburn to a 55-17 record and the College World Series in 1997 in his only season as a Tiger.
Hudson was drafted in the sixth round by Oakland in the 1997 MLB Draft after being named National and SEC Player of the Year following his senior season on The Plains. He has recorded eight consecutive 10-plus win seasons including a career-high 20 wins in 2000 with the A's. Hudson is in his third season with the Braves.
Ross is entering his second year with the Reds after stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002 and 2003. He appeared in 90 games last year for Cincinnati where he hit 21 homers and drove in 52 runs. Ross helped lead the Tigers to the 1997 College World Series with a memorable homerun against Florida State in the Tallahassee Regional.
Speigner earned a spot on the Washington Nationals' 25-man roster after an impressive spring where he worked a 13 inning stretch without allowing a run. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 14th round in 2003 and spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons at AAA-Rochester. Speigner lettered at Auburn from 2001-03.
Thomas enters his first season with the Blue Jays after playing 16 seasons with the Chicago White Sox and the 2006 season with the A's where he earned Comeback Player of the Year consideration, hitting 39 homers and driving in 114 runs in 137 games. In 17 seasons in the majors, Thomas has hit .305 and is just 13 homeruns shy of 500.