Alabama Baseball’s Vance, Manning, Avant Selected in 2018 MLB Draft on Wednesday
Alabama baseball had three players from the 2017-18 roster selected on Wednesday to close out the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Junior infielders Cobie Vance (Oakland A’s, 18th round, 533 overall) and Jett Manning (San Francisco Giants, 20th round, 586 overall) began the day with senior infielder Chandler Avant rounding out the trio of picks (New York Mets, 30th round, 890 overall). Vance and Manning were each chosen as shortstops while Avant was drafted as a second baseman.
The five total selections in the 2018 draft increased the Crimson Tide’s all-time draft pick total to 153 players since the event began in 1966. Alabama has now had at least one player selected in 40 consecutive years dating back to 1979 and 47 of the 53 MLB drafts overall. More recently, the Tide has seen 45 players selected in the last nine years and 80 total across the last 19 drafts dating back to 2000.
Also taken on Wednesday were five Crimson Tide signees. Going first was infielder Bryan Lavastida to the Cleveland Indians in the 15th round. A trio of pitchers followed, with Dylan Smith selected by the San Diego Padres (18th), Tyler Ras by the Chicago Cubs (33rd) and Will Freeman (36th), also to the Padres. Catcher Brett Auerbach rounded out the signees drafted, going to the Colorado Rockies (40th). The group joins fellow commit Patrick “P.J.” Hilson, who was selected in round six by the Giants yesterday afternoon.
All undergraduate players are eligible to return to the University to continue their careers at Alabama if they elect to not sign a professional contract.
COBIE VANCE (18TH ROUND | 533 OVERALL | OAKLAND A’S)
Vance has proven to be one of the most reliable Alabama infielders during his three seasons in Tuscaloosa. The Fayetteville, N.C., native started all 168 games of his Alabama career and was the only member of the 2018 team to start in all 56 contests. He has collected 185 hits over his three years at UA, ranking in the top two for hits on the team in each season.
Putting together his best season in 2018, Vance paced the Crimson Tide in hits (66), runs (43) and total bases (97) – eclipsing his previous career highs in each of those categories. He finished second on this year’s team in home runs with six, four of which came across his final 12 games. Vance led Alabama in hits during conference play with 38, while finishing atop the Tide in offensive ranks in SEC play for average (.297), runs (20) and total bases (57). He put together a big second half of the season, carrying a .302 (35-116) average over the final 28 contests, recording seven doubles, a triple and five home runs while surpassing his first half RBI total with 16 to close out his junior campaign.
A sure-handed fielder, Vance led the SEC in double plays turned his sophomore year with 40 during the regular season and finished tied for 10th in Alabama annals for double plays turned with 89 across three seasons.
Vance was also honored as the Crimson Tide’s representative on the SEC Community Service Team in 2018 to recognize his standout volunteer efforts during his time at the Capstone.
JETT MANNING (20TH ROUND | 586 OVERALL | SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS)
The Crimson Tide’s primary shortstop in 2018, Manning started all 53 games he saw action in during the 2018 season. He ranked fourth on the team in hits with 45 and finished with a .251 average. Manning tied for fourth in multi-hit games with 10 and collected a pair of five-game hitting streaks throughout his lone season at Alabama.
Manning spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Frederick (Md.) Community College where he compiled 131 hits and 77 RBI across two seasons with the Cougars.
CHANDLER AVANT (30TH ROUND | 890 OVERALL | NEW YORK METS)
In 2018, Avant totaled a team-high 22 multi-hit efforts and a team-leading 12 multi-RBI performances while pacing UA in RBI with 38 and ranking second in runs scored with 37. He reached base safely in 47 of 55 games in his senior season, including reaching safely in the first 23 games of the 2018 slate.
After suffering a season-ending injury his sophomore year, Avant returned for his junior campaign to start all 54 games and close out the season with a .286 (66-231) average. The junior shortstop teamed up with sophomore second baseman Cobie Vance to turn 31 double plays, a total that tied for 10th in the conference during the regular season, while recording a league-leading 190 assists at short. He wrapped up the regular season tied for 11th in the SEC in doubles with 15, while leading the team in that category. Avant led the Crimson Tide in hits with 60 and recorded at least one hit in all but 11 games on the season.
Avant put together an impressive performance as a sophomore before suffering a season-ending injury midway through the schedule. He improved upon a freshman campaign that saw him start 57 of 59 games and be one of the key contributors for the Crimson Tide on both sides of the ball.
In his time at the Capstone, Avant has collected 230 hits and 100 RBI while adding 128 runs scored. Avant wrapped up his career ranked eighth all-time in doubles with 53 across his four seasons. A reliable fielder, the four-year starter finished his time at Alabama ranked seventh in career assists at 500 and tied for 10th in double plays turned with 89.