Saturday was a big day in the Major League Baseball draft for Anniston Star-area players, with former Oxford High standout Tucker Simpson and Jacksonville State’s Griff Gordon being selected.
Simpson, one of the stars of Oxford’s 2012 Class 6A title team, was drafted in the 39th round by the Baltimore Orioles. He was the 1,171st pick overall.
Gordon, who just broke the JSU single-season record with 100 hits while leading the Gamecocks to an NCAA regional appearance in 2014, was taken in the 27th round, 812th overall, by the New York Yankees.
Saturday also saw two University of Alabama players taken: junior left-handed pitcher Justin Kamplain in the 18th round (542nd) by the Yankees; and senior first baseman Austen Smith in the 33rd round (977th) by the Miami Marlins.
This after junior righty Spencer Turnbill went in the second round (63rd) to the Detroit Tigers, and junior right fielder Ben Moore went in the eighth round (254th) to the Boston Red Sox.
Auburn junior right-hander Trey Cochran-Gill and senior third baseman Damek Tomscha went in back-to-back picks in the 17th round — Cochran-Gill to the Seattle Mariners (501st) and Tomscha to the Philadelphia Phillies. Junior righty Rocky McCord went in the 31st round (933rd) to the Kansas City Royals.
The draft, which started Thursday, concluded Saturday after 40 rounds and 1,215 picks.
For Simpson, a pitcher, the news signals the light of options at the end of a tough, two-year tunnel. He left Florida after his freshman season and transferred to Chipola Junior College, where he partially tore the MCL in his right (push-off) knee in his third start and took a medical hardship.
Simpson has the option to sign with the Orioles or continue his college career at Troy, where he has signed. He would be a redshirt sophomore next season.
Players have until July 18 to sign pro contracts.
“At this point, I don’t know,” he said. “It’s going to be a family decision.”
Simpson was a four-year starter at Oxford and a major player in the Yellow Jackets’ run to the 6A title in 2012. He threw a perfect game, no-hitter and one-hitter in the playoffs and was the MVP of the state-final series against Fairhope.
He originally committed to Georgia Tech but signed with Florida. Things didn’t work out in Gainesville, so he transferred to Chipola and had the injury.
Simpson said he would have been back from the injury within a couple of weeks, had he played another position or another sport. Being a baseball pitcher meant that he had to err more cautiously.
“It was my push-off foot, and the amount of torque I was putting on that knee every single time I threw a baseball as hard as I could, I ended up missing the rest of the season and took a medical hardship,” he said.
Because of bumps in the road, Simpson said he didn’t know what to expect in the draft. Regardless what happens next, he said he’s better for the experience.
“It’s been eventful; that’s for sure,” he said. “Nothing ever goes to script. You just kind of have to make your adjustments on the fly.
“The thing is, I’ve had some adversity, which is good for me. In high school, I never really had to face any adversity.”
Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.