Avila with the Detroit Tigers
|Chicago White Sox|
January 29, 1987 |
|August 6, 2009, for the Detroit Tigers|
(through 2015 season)
|Runs batted in||282|
|Career highlights and awards|
Alexander Thomas "Alex" Avila (born January 29, 1987) is an American professional baseball catcher for the Chicago White Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has also played in MLB for the Detroit Tigers. He is 5' 11" tall and weighs 210 pounds.
Avila was the Tigers' starting catcher for the team's four straight American League Central Division titles, which included catching Cy Young Award seasons for starting pitchers Justin Verlander in 2011 and Max Scherzer in 2013.
Nicknamed "The Titanium Catcher" for the perception among many baseball fans that he was unusually likely to be hit by foul tips, Avila has a history of concussions and concussion-like symptoms. He spent time on the disabled list for a concussion in 2013 and missed games on at least two occasions in 2014 for concussion-like symptoms after taking blows to the head. His most recent reported concussion occurred in the clinching Game 3 of the 2014 American League Division Series when a tipped foul ball hit him in the mask, knocking him out of the game and ending his season three innings early.
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 the 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 in 2013, 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.
On January 31, 2014, Alex avoided arbitration with the Tigers by signing a one-year contract worth $4.15 million, with a club option for 2015.
Avila's hitting struggles continued into the 2014 season, as he batted a career-low .218 while matching his 2013 totals of 11 home runs and 47 RBIs. He also struck out a career-high 151 times. Defensively, the season was a success, as Alex was a finalist for the 2014 Gold Glove Award at catcher. Avila allowed only 3 passed balls in 122 games at catcher, versus 9 and 10 the previous two seasons, and he threw out potential base stealers at a 34% rate, the highest of his career.
On November 17, 2014, the Tigers exercised a $5.4 million contract option on Avila for the 2015 season, rather than buying out the contract for $200,000. Avila would have still been under team control and arbitration-eligible had the Tigers chosen to not exercise the option.
Chicago White Sox
Avila is a second-generation Cuban American. His father is Al Avila, the general manager and executive vice president of baseball operations of the Detroit Tigers. Avila'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 now a graduate of FIU College of Law.
He is married to Kristina Avila, formerly Kristina Perez, whom he met in high school. Their daughter, Avery Noelle, was born on April 7, 2013.
- "Tigers' Titanium Catcher to play it smart". Fox Sports. January 28, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- "Alex Avila and Catchers Who Get Hit in the Body". Fangraphs. October 18, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- "Alex Avila's season may be in jeopardy due to concussion-like symptoms". SB Nation. September 20, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- "Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila suffers another concussion, has no plans to hang up cleats". Booth Newspapers. October 5, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- "Alabama Baseball Bio". Rolltide.com. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- "Baltimore vs. Detroit – August 6, 2009". Mlb.mlb.com. August 6, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Avila claims first Silver Slugger Award MLB.com November 2, 2011
- "Tigers send Avila to Toledo for rehab stint". WXYZ. June 22, 2013. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
- GIF: Alex Avila's game-winning three run home run off Chris Perez Rogacki, Rob at blessyouboys.com on August 5, 2013.
- Alex Avila 3, Royals 2: Avila's two home runs give Tigers series win, dominant Max Scherzer falls short of 20th win Beaton, Al at blessyouboys.com on September 15, 2013.
- Tigers' deal with Avila clears arbitration slate MLB.com, January 31, 2014
- Axisa, Mike (October 23, 2014). "Rawlings announces 2014 Gold Glove finalists". cbssports.com. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
- Polishuk, Mark (November 17, 2014). "Tigers Exercise Option On Alex Avila". mlbtraderumors.com. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
- Van Schouwen, Daryl (November 25, 2015). "White Sox sign catcher Alex Avila for 1 year, $2.5M". Chicago Sun Times.
- Avila led the charge in MLB's Latin revolution - hispanichistory - ESPN
- Mccarron, Anthony (October 6, 2011). "A family affair with Tigers as Detroit assistant GM Al Avila sees son Alex Avila face Yanks in ALDS". Daily News (New York).
- Simon, Andrew (August 4, 2015). "Avila replaces Dombrowski as Tigers GM". MLB.com. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- Tommy Lasorda visits his godson, Alex Avila, in Tigers clubhouse | MLive.com
- Alex Avila makes immediate impact with Detroit Tigers[dead link]
- Catching up with all star Alex Avila North Carolina Register
- "RHP Nick Avila among Tigers' picks with family connections". The Detroit News. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Beck, Jason (April 7, 2013). "Avila's wife gives birth Sunday morning". MLB.com. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)