Major League Baseball begins the 2013 season with four active players who were born in the Magic City, all American Leaguers:
Leading off for us, as he does for the Tampa Bay Rays, is Desmond Jennings, who was born October 30, 1986. The 6’ 2”, 200-LB center fielder attended Pinson Valley High School and then Itawamba Community College in Fulton, MS, where he played baseball as well as football and led all junior college wide receivers with 54 receptions. The Rays took him with their tenth round pick the 2006 amateur draft. A right-handed batter, Jennings was named Rays Minor League Player of the Year in 2009, and reached the majors on September 1, 2010. Last season, his first full year in the bigs, he racked up 13 home runs and 31 stolen bases.
Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians was born in Birmingham on April 10, 1986. The lanky 6’ 4’’ right-handed pitcher went to Coppell High School in Coppell, Texas, and Stetson University in Florida. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2007 amateur draft by the San Diego Padres, who in 2010 traded him to the Indians as part of the three-team deal that sent Jake Westbrook to the St, Louis Cardinals and Ryan Ludwick to the Padres. Kluber debuted the majors, with the Tribe, on September 1, 2011. Last season, he put up impressive numbers as a starter for Triple-A Colorado, and another 12 starts for the big club.
The most accomplished of the quartet is David Robertson, the 5’ 11” fireballing Yankees eighth-inning man. Born April 9, 1985 in Birmingham, “Robby” attended Paul W. Bryant High School in Tuscaloosa and then the University of Alabama. Drafted by the Yankees in the seventeenth round of the 2006 amateur draft, he reached the majors on June 29, 2008. In 2011, Robertson made the American League All-Star team. He is viewed as the likely successor to surefire Hall-of-Famer Mariano Rivera, who is retiring at the end of this season.
Joining Robertson in the Yankees bullpen is Adam Warren, who was born on August 25, 1987 in Birmingham. Warren attended New Bern High School in North Carolina and UNC-Chapel Hill. Chosen in the fourth of the 2009 amateur draft, the 6” 1”, 200-LB righty put up eye-popping stats as a starter in the low minor leagues in before being batted around last season on the triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders—still, he made it to the Bronx for a midseason cup of coffee. This year, Warren broke camp as this spring as the Yanks’ long man. In his first outing, he gave up one run on five base hits while striking out four in 5.1 innings of relief against the Red Sox.
Columnist Keith Thomson was a semi-pro baseball player in France. Now a Birminghamian, he writes about intelligence and other matters for The Huffington Post. His books include the New York Times Best-Selling Once a Spy.