Middleton's Roden drafted by Blue Jays

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Former Middleton High School standout Alan Roden was selected in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday. Photo courtesy of Mark Kuhlmann, Creighton Athletics.

The life-altering call came a few minutes before the actual announcement itself.

Alan Roden, arguably the greatest baseball player in Middleton history and a recent graduate of Creighton University, was in Massachusetts Monday watching the Major League Baseball draft unfold.

With the draft midway through the third round and at pick 91, Roden got a call from his advisor saying the Toronto Blue Jays would be taking him with the 98th overall selection.

“I was really excited,” said Roden, a 2018 MHS graduate. “But it was still a few picks away, so I was still pretty nervous.”

That uneasiness quickly turned to euphoria.

Toronto held true to its word and used its third-round pick on Roden. And in doing so, Roden made history in several places.

Roden became the highest player ever drafted from Middleton High School. He also became the first former Cardinal to be drafted since Andrew Friedberg was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 29th round in 2000.

Roden also became the highest player drafted at Creighton since Ed Servais became the Bluejays head coach in 2004. The last time a Creighton player was selected as high as the third round was in 1999 when the Chicago Cubs selected Ryan Gripp.

Roden, who was watching a livestream of the draft with his father, Eric, and girlfriend Maddie Larkin, quickly found himself on Cloud Nine. His mother — Matilde Urrutia — and a cast of thousands then blew up his phone on what became the most memorable day of Roden’s young life.

“It’s been pretty wild,” Roden said Monday night. “It hasn't sunk in yet how this might compare to other players in past.

“I’m really just extremely thankful for all the coaches and family that have been part of this and along for the journey. There’s been a lot of people that have played a part in this. It’s not just me, not even close. So, it’s a special moment for me and a lot of people.”

As recently as two years ago, only the most cockeyed optimist could have predicted Roden would achieve such a lofty draft status. Roden redshirted his first year at Creighton, then had just five at-bats during the 2020 Covid-shortened season.  

“I learned how to keep my foot on the gas pedal,” said Roden, who graduated with a Physics degree in May. “I learned a lot of valuable lessons to grind and work hard, have perspective and do things the right way.”

Roden came on like gangbusters his last two years at Creighton.

In 2021, Roden was named a First-Team Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball. That season, the sweet-swinging Roden batted .378 with nine home runs, 17 doubles and 47 RBI in just 143 at bats. Roden also led the Bluejays in hits (54), on-base percentage (.476) and slugging percentage (.685), and was named first-team all-Big East and the league’s Freshman of the Year.

Amazingly, Roden was even better this year when he was named the co-Big East Player of the Year.

Roden led Creighton with a .387 average, 75 hits and 25 doubles and finished the season reaching base in a remarkable 33 straight games. Roden also struck out just eight times in 194 plate appearances, making him the second-hardest player in the NCAA to strikeout (4.1%).

In 91 career games at Creighton, Roden posted a .383 batting average with 131 hits and 88 runs scored. He also had 42 doubles, 14 home runs and 94 RBI.

The 6-foot, 210-pound Roden was drafted as an outfielder. MLB draft picks have their salaries slotted, and the value assigned to the 98th overall pick is $623,200.

“Alan is a tremendous worker,” Servais said. “His preparation is right up there near the top of anybody we’ve had here. He’s got a good command of the strike zone. He’s everything you want in a hitter.”

Anyone that watched Roden’s brilliant career at Middleton would agree with that.

Roden was one of just two baseball players this century to earn a letter all four years at MHS and he received some form of all-Big Eight Conference honors all four seasons.

As a senior in 2018, Roden was named first-team all-state and was the runner-up for Big Eight Conference Player of the Year honors. That year, Roden batted .465, had an on-base percentage of .556, a slugging percentage of .721 and a remarkable OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1.276.

Roden had 28 RBI, 40 hits, 14 doubles and three triples as a senior. He also scored 31 runs, had 11 stolen bases and struck out just twice.

Roden also helped power Middleton to its first Big Eight Conference title since 2010. And after playing catcher his first three years at MHS, Roden moved to shortstop as a senior and had arguably his best season as a Cardinal.

“His athletic skills allowed him to play catcher and move to shortstop his senior year without question or hesitation,” former Middleton manager Tom Schmitt said. “He knew that his team needed him to do this to help give us the strongest lineup we could put on the field.”

As a junior in 2017, Roden was named first-team all-Big Eight after leading Middleton with a .459 batting average and ranking first in on-base percentage (.530), slugging percentage (.600) and OPS (1.130). Roden was first on the team in home runs (two), RBI (16) and hits (39), second in doubles (four) and third in runs scored (16).

Roden was named second-team all-Big Eight as a sophomore in 2016. That year, Roden batted .367, was second on the team in hits (29), led the Cardinals with 21 runs scored and had a .993 fielding percentage.

And as a freshman in 2015, Roden was named honorable-mention all-conference.

The Cardinals advanced to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament during Roden’s sophomore season. He was named the team’s Most Valuable Player by his teammates as a senior, junior and freshman.

He also earned Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association Academic All-State and All-District honors as a junior.

“He was a ‘5 tool’ baseball player,” Schmitt said. “Add in his intelligence, passion for baseball, instincts, work ethic and competitiveness and you understand how Alan accomplished all he did. A very coachable player that stepped right into the lineup as a freshman and performed as an All-State player for four great years.”

Roden will now report to Toronto’s Player Development Complex in Dunedin, Fla. The PDC is the training facility of the Blue Jays’ Major and Minor League operations, and sits approximately 10 minutes away from TD Ballpark, where the Blue Jays play their spring training games.

Time will tell where Roden is assigned from there, and what his path through the minors will look like.

Late Monday night, though, Roden wasn’t worried about that. Instead, he was reflecting how his remarkable journey had taken him from Middleton to Creighton and now Toronto — a path few would have predicted for this hometown hero.

“I developed as a player in Middleton and I owe a huge thanks to my coaches there,” Roden said. “But a huge part of the player I am now happened at Creighton.

“Personally for me, I learned myself as a player, learned my swing and that’s really helped me. If you get into the season, if you are able to know your own self and your own swing and your own game, you can make adjustments faster. Really, I’d say I just kept maturing as a player.”

Something he was rewarded for with the most memorable day of his life.


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