Avila in 2013
|Detroit Tigers – No. 13|
Born: January 29, 1987|
|Bats: Left||Throws: Right|
|August 6, 2009 for the Detroit Tigers|
|Career statistics |
(through 2013 season)
|Runs batted in||222|
|Career highlights and awards|
Alexander Thomas Avila (born January 29, 1987) is an American professional baseball catcher with the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball. He is 5' 11" tall and weighs 210 pounds. Avila was born in Hialeah, Florida.
Early baseball career
Avila played prep baseball at Archbishop McCarthy High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 34th round of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft, but chose to attend the University of Alabama where he was an All-SEC selection. Following his junior year in which he hit .343 with 17 home runs and 62 RBI, he was then drafted by the Tigers in the fifth round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft.
Avila also played in the Cape Cod League following his sophomore year in 2007.
On August 6, 2009, Avila made his major league debut for the Tigers against the Baltimore Orioles where he had two hits, scoring a run and also batting one in. He started the following night, August 7, and in his first at bat of the game he hit his first career home run off pitcher Anthony Swarzak. He finished the 2009 season playing in just 29 games, with a .279 batting average, 5 home runs, and 14 runs batted in.
Avila entered the 2010 season as a member of the Tigers major league roster, and shared playing time with starting catcher Gerald Laird. Baseball America ranked Avila as the sixth best prospect in the Detroit Tigers organization entering the 2010 season. Avila was the catcher for Armando Galarraga's near-perfect game on June 2, 2010. In part-time duty, he finished the season with a .228 average and 7 home runs in 294 at-bats, while throwing out 32% of potential base-stealers.
Avila was named the Tigers starting catcher for the 2011 season, and showed considerable improvement. On July 3, 2011, he was selected to his first all-star team as the starting catcher for the American League, beating out New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin who had led through the majority of the voting. Alex also caught Justin Verlander's no hitter on May 7, 2011 against the Toronto Blue Jays His season stats included a .295 batting average, with 19 home runs, and 82 runs batted in.
Avila won the 2011 Silver Slugger Award for the American League as a catcher making him the 10th Detroit Tigers catcher to win the award and first since Ivan Rodriguez in the 2004 Detroit Tigers season.
Avila followed his career-high 2011 season with one marked by inconsistency, particularly at the plate. Nagging injuries undercut his offensive performance while catching the fourth most games in the American League. His offensive numbers dropped across the board, as he finished with a .243 batting average, 9 home runs and 48 RBI. Avila was first in the American League in runners caught stealing, but he also led the AL in passed balls.
Avila had a horrible first half at the plate, and spent some time on the disabled list in June. He had no hits and a walk in four plate appearances as the designated hitter in the first game of his rehab assignment with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens on June 23, 2013. Through the end of June, Avila was batting just .172. He fared much better in the second half, hitting .281 over the season's final three months, including batting .343 in September (23-for-67). He would finish the regular season at .227, with 11 homers and 47 RBIs.
Avila hit the first grand slam of his career on July 30, 2013, against Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg. In an August 5 game against the Cleveland Indians, a team the Tigers battled for first place in the AL Central all year, Alex clubbed a game-winning 3-run homer in the top of the ninth inning off Indians closer Chris Perez. On September 15, Alex drove in all of the Tigers runs with two homers, including a go-ahead solo shot in the eighth inning, helping the Tigers to a crucial 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Avila is a second-generation Cuban American. His father is Al Avila, the assistant general manager and a vice president of the Detroit Tigers. Alex's godfather is former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who is a friend of Alex's father Al and grandfather Ralph.
When his father Al was named Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Tigers, Alex was a sophomore in high school. The family moved to the Metro Detroit area, and Alex attended De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren, Michigan for his junior year. Alex eventually moved back to Florida for his senior year of high school.
His cousin, Nick Avila, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 37th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. Nick currently pitches in the Tigers minor league system.
His younger brother, Alan Avila, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2008 in the 47th round, however chose to play baseball at Nova Southeastern University. He did not continue his playing career after college.
He is married to Kristina Perez, whom he met in high school. On April 7, 2013 Avila and his wife welcomed their first child, a daughter, Avery Noelle.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)