The Boston Red Sox love them some Cullman Bearcats.
Exactly eight years to the day since Caleb Clay was selected by the ballclub, Ben Moore had his name called by Boston in the Major League Baseball amateur draft.
The former Cullman standout and current Alabama right fielder was taken off the board in the eighth round Friday. He was the 254th overall pick.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Moore told The Times. “I grew up a Red Sox fan, so getting drafted by my favorite team is just a blessing. I’m humbled by the whole experience. It’s been great.”
Moore will forego his senior season at Alabama in order to pursue his professional aspirations, a decision he didn’t take lightly. The recent All-SEC second-teamer called his time in Tuscaloosa an “unforgettable experience” and “the greatest three years of my life.”
“It’s just one of those deals where it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I feel at peace with it.”
Moore was drafted by none other than Danny Watkins, the same area scout who picked up Clay in 2006. Clay climbed all the way up to Triple-A with the Washington Nationals before signing with the Korea Baseball Organization’s Hanwha Eagles last December.
“I guess he just likes the way Cullman breeds their baseball players,” Moore said of Watkins.
As big of a moment as it was for Moore on a personal level, he wanted to send a special shoutout to his parents, Johnann and Stuart. He said the pair drove him to every travel ball tournament and practice since Day 1, not to mention the “loads of money” they dished out to help their son achieve his dream.
“I definitely wouldn’t be here without their contributions,” Moore said. “I’m so thankful for that.”
Moore, a member of the SEC’s 2012 All-Freshman Team, was a force at the plate and in the outfield for Alabama this spring.
He led the team and was third in the conference with nine home runs, adding 13 doubles, a triple, eight stolen bases — another Bama best — and a measly eight strikeouts. Defensively, Moore accumulated eight outfield assists, tied for seventh in the country. His career total of 15 is good for third on the Tide’s all-time list.
Before packing up and moving south, Moore said so long to the Bearcats by doing a number on their record books.
An insane 2011 season is responsible for his top spots in batting average (.506), home runs (22) and RBIs (84). Moore’s 86 hits are tied for first with Mississippi State’s Matthew Britton, and his 28 doubles were only recently bumped down to second by freshman phenom Owen Lovell.
Moore’s single-season marks in hits (T-first), RBIs (T-third), doubles (fourth) and runs (seventh) are still holding up among the state’s best.
“All the things that he’s done right in his athletic career, they paid off today,” Cullman coach Brent Patterson said. “He did so much while he was here, not just on the field but the way he handled himself and cared so much about our program.
“When he went off, he was constantly checking in with our players and with me. That’s so hard to do when you’re so busy with an SEC schedule and all. He’s been such a special guy for us.”
Patterson spoke to Moore after Alabama’s regional championship loss to Kennesaw State last week and said “it was just like I was talking to him in high school, how bad he wanted to win it.”
Much to Patterson’s pleasure, Friday’s followup convo was expected to take much more of a celebratory tone.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever known a better character guy, better effort guy, better team guy,” the coach said. “In all my year, I don’t know that I’ve ever been around somebody less selfish than him — and nothing changed.”
The amateur draft will wrap up Saturday with rounds 11-40. Chase Mallard, another Bearcat alum and the 2014 Conference USA Pitcher of the Year, is likely to be selected.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.