April 10, 2009
Opening day in the minor leagues featured five former Auburn baseball players assigned to Triple-A teams, four on Double-A teams and five players on Single-A rosters. Of the five Triple-A players, three of them are also on 40-man Major League Rosters.
Tug Hulett, Steven Register and Clete Thomas are all on 40-man MLB rosters. Hulett is in his first year in the Kansas City Royals organization after signing with them this past offseason following his 2009 MLB debut with the Seattle Mariners. He has started the season with the Triple-A Omaha Royals. Register is on the 40-man roster of the Colorado Rockies after making his debut with the big club in the summer of 2008 and he begins 2009 with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox while Thomas, who also made his big league debut last season for the Tigers, starts the year with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.
Other former Tigers in Triple-A include Chris Bootcheck with the Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh) and Justin Christian with the Norfolk Tides (Baltimore).
Of the four players currently assigned to Double-A teams, two of them were playing in Plainsman Park in 2007 as Brett Butts is with the Mississippi Braves (Atlanta) and Josh Donaldson is with the Midland RockHounds (Oakland). The others in Double-A are John Madden with the Binghamton Mets (New York-NL) and Levale Speigner with the Jacksonville Suns (Florida). Speigner has pitched in 26 big league games over the span of two seasons, debuting with the Washington Nationals in 2007.
The Single-A season also began this week with five former players on rosters. Mike Bianucci is with the Hickory Crawdads (Texas) and he will face Russell Dixon's Lexington Legends (Houston) as both are part of the South Atlantic League. Matt Hall begins the minor league season with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay) of the Florida State League and Bryan Woodall is with the South Bend Silver Hawks (Arizona) of the Midwest League. Josh Sullivan is with the Modesto Nuts (Colorado) but begins the season on the 7-Day DL.
The low-A seasons do not begin until mid-June and there figures to be more former Tigers playing in those leagues as well.
Chris Bootcheck - Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh)
Justin Christian - Norfolk Tides (Baltimore)
*Tug Hulett - Omaha Royals (Kansas City)
*Steven Register - Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Colorado)
*Clete Thomas - Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit)
Brett Butts - Mississippi Braves (Atlanta)
Josh Donaldson - Midland Rockhounds (Oakland)
John Madden - Binghamton Mets (New York - NL)
Levale Speigner - Jacksonville Suns (Florida)
Mike Bianucci - Hickory Crawdads (Texas)
Russell Dixon - Lexington Legends (Houston)
Matt Hall - Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay)
Josh Sullivan - Modesto Nuts (Colorado)
Bryan Woodall - South Bend Silver Hawks (Arizona)
*- on MLB 40-man roster
Italics - disabled list