The minor league baseball season opened this week after being shut down last year due to COVID. Back playing again is Guntersville’s Clayton Daniel.
He was traded by the Chicago Cubs organization to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the 2021 season finds him with the AA-affiliate Tulsa Drillers in Oklahoma.
“Tulsa is a pretty nice city,” Clayton said at midweek. “I just got here 3 days ago, but it’s a nice area and a nice stadium. We play in the Texas League. It’s a good league to play in with a lot of nice stadiums.”
Clayton was a Guntersville High slugger who was on the Wildcats’ state championship team in 2012. He gave up the job of starting quarterback on the football team his senior year to focus solely on baseball. He was a star on the gridiron as well as the diamond, helping the football Wildcats to 20 wins in 3 seasons, including a 9-2 record his junior year.
After high school, Clayton was an All-Conference baseball player at Jacksonville State University, where he rewrote the hitting records not only for JSU but for the Ohio Valley Conference as well. He’s the career hits leader both for the college and the conference with 330.
He was drafted by the Cubs in 2018 and he played in Knoxville, South Bend and other places.
Clayton has been seeing time at 2nd base, shortstop and 3rd base with the Dodgers during spring training. He said he had a good spring training and that allowed him to start the season in AA Tulsa.
“I did not get to play last year due to COVID,” he said. “It had been close to 600 days since I’d played a game.”
He and his wife Katie live in the Big Cove area of Huntsville. Clayton worked out throughout the long layoff to stay in shape.
“There are a few other professional guys around, Brendan Donovan, Matt Sanders and Brewer Hicklen,” Clayton said. “They are position guys and we worked out together and hit together. We tried to stay in working shape.”
He said hitting and keeping the timing right was critical as you might imagine.
“Derrick Adams lives in Decatur and whenever he would throw, we would go and hit off him,” Clayton said. “We hit off machines a lot too. It was good that we had the necessities to keep working out.”
Clayton went through a month of spring training in Glendale, Arizona.
He said he feels blessed to still be playing.
Katie is a nurse. She works 3 days on and is off 4 days and she will be visiting him from time-to-time.
“She and her mom and 2 sisters came to Arizona a couple weeks ago,” Clayton said.