ESPN/USA Today has released their preseason top 25 poll for college baseball, and the University of Louisville ranks No. 20 on the list. UofL has already been picked as the preseason Big East favorites and ranked in the Baseball America top 25. The Cardinals will try to defend their 2009 Big East title this year after a 47-18 season.
The University of Kentucky and Western Kentucky University finished in the others receiving votes category. UK ranked 47th with 4 votes and WKU ranked 52nd with one vote.
UofL closer and member of the BluGrass BaseballAll-State teamGabriel Shaw was also named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association stopper of the year watch list. Shaw is one of 47 relievers honored on the initial watch list.
(Hat tip on both stories to The College Baseball Blog.)
One thing we can all be proud of as Kentucky sports fans is the state’s involvement in the relief efforts after the devastating earthquake in Haiti a few weeks ago. This morning we linked a report about the University of Louisville baseball team’s help and the University of Kentucky “Hoops for Haiti” telethon has received lots of national attention. Now the Lexington Legends are adding to the Bluegrass swell of support by donating funds from single-game, group and walk-up ticket sales for their April 18 game.
All funds will be donated to the UNICEF relief fund, and the team will also collect material goods at the gates on the day of the game. Central Kentucky baseball fans can send a message by selling out the game. “We’re always working very hard on supporting our local community, but we’re also very proud and happy when we can support communities outside Central Kentucky,” Legends General Manager Andy Shea said in a news release. “This is one of many ticket promotions and opportunities we will be doing to support the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.”
Baseball America‘s Prospect Handbook is the single most important book for coverage of minor league baseball released every year. BA ranks the top 30 prospects from each organization plus the top 100 prospects in the game in its pages every year. Starting last year they also added a No. 31 prospect supplement for each organization to those who order the book directly from them. Every year several scouting reports get cut from the final edition of the book due to talent added to an organization through trades or late judgment calls. BA releases these reports online in its annual 32nd team, and this year two Kentucky-related minor leaguers made the cut. (Enitre 32nd Team)
Adcock hasn’t lived up to his billing as a fifth-round draft pick out of Central Hardin yet as a professional. The Pirates acquired him from the Mariners at the trade deadline in the Jack Wilson deal, but his performance didn’t improve after the trade. Adcock was 8-9 with a 5.29 ERA and 86 strikeouts to go with 61 walks in 126 innings.
BA: “To find success against more advanced hitters, he’ll have to throw more strikes and locate his pitches better in the zone. Adcock needs to make a lot of strides if he’s going to cut it as a starter, and he may project better as a reliever. He likely will begin 2010 in Double-A.”
LHP David Duncan — Lexington Legends — Houston Astros
Duncan joined the Legends midseason after struggling to adjust to High A ball, but he quickly showed why the Astros think highly of him after the demotion. In 10 games with Lexington, Duncan was 4-4 with a 4.29 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. On the season he was 4-14 with a 5.73 ERA and 102 strikeouts to go with just 29 walks in 125.2 innings between three levels. (David also shares a birthday with a certain Kentucky baseball blogger).
BA: “Though he doesn’t miss many bats, he does do a good job of keeping the ball on the ground. Some scouts think he profiles better as a reliever than as a starter. He’ll return to Lancaster in 2010.”
BA is also having a day-long chat to celebrate the release of the handbook. You should stop by for some great info. Already the BA staff has revealed 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rod Keyong Kang will rank No. 31 in the Rays’ supplement.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has released his top 50 prospects list for all of major league baseball, and four players with Bluegrass ties made the cut. Eastern Kentucky University alum Christian Friedrich (No. 23) leads the Kentucky contingent and is followed by 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods shortstop Tim Beckham (No. 24) and 2009 Louisville Bats Yonder Alonso (No. 30) and Juan Francisco (No. 48).
Freidrich dominated the high A California League in 2009 while only giving up more than two runs in three of 24 starts. Mayo projects him to continue a fast rise through the minors to become an excellent No. 2 or 3 starting pitcher in the majors. Beckham had what some considered a down year in 2009, but Mayo writes he still has impressive raw tools and there is still plenty of time for him to develop into a standout major leaguer. Alonso and Francisco both earned late season promotions to Louisville last season and will likely start 2010 there. Mayo projects Alonso as a middle-of-the-order run producer with power and Francisco as a fearsome middle-of-the-order hitter as soon as he finds a defensive position. (Read more)
The most notable omissions with Kentucky ties are probably 2009 Lexington Legends ace Jordan Lyles and Hot Rods ace Matt Moore. Both pitchers excelled in full-season ball despite their young age and should rocket to the top half of this list with strong 2010 seasons.
Both Aaron Fitt of Baseball America and B. W. Jones of the Kentucky Kernel report that UK ace pitcher James Paxton has appealed the Circuit Court’s ruling in favor of UK to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Paxton’s attorney Rick Johnson had this to say in an email to the media:
Make no mistake about it: The Circuit Court found, based upon UK’s admissions, that James IS eligible to compete in intercollegiate athletics. However, that court erroneously found that, because the student code of conduct did not apply, James had no due process rights, and therefore that UK could withhold him from competition, in order to extort him to submit to an NCAA interview that it admits it cannot compel him to attend, without any consequence to itself . . . Implicit in all of this is that student-athletes are second-class citizens undeserving of the most basic civil rights.”
So now we know Paxton is appealing his case which may or may not result in a favorable ruling. The real question is what next for the Bat Cats? The situation is bad for all parties involved. Paxton should have had the right to negotiate with the Blue Jays through an agent, but the NCAA currently prohibits such action. UK can’t in good faith let Paxton risk the season for the rest of its team if they feel subsequent action from the NCAA would come from him playing.
At this point the Cats basically have to prepare as if Paxton isn’t going to play. As of now he is still practicing and working out with the team as if this will all go away when the season starts. Even if he wins this case the chances of a subsequent suit against the NCAA in the event of a likely suspension could be around the corner.
The chances of Paxton ever appearing in a UK game this season appear to be lessening with every legal advance. Maybe I’m wrong and he wins a quick appeal and the NCAA gives up its investigation, but don’t count on it.
The college season is just around the corner. With Opening Day just weeks away there’s no time like the present to unveil the BluGrass Baseball preseason All-State team. Players from Kentucky colleges were eligble.
C — Matt Rice — WKU
2009: .399, 10 HR, 72 RBI, 50 Runs
Rice was recently named a third-team preseason All-American by Ping! Baseball. In 2009, he teamed with Detroit Tigers draft pick Wade Gaynor to lead WKU to a Sun Belt Championship and NCAA appearance. During that season, Rice hit in a school-record 31 consecutive games from March 1 to April 17. With most of last year’s championship team in professional ball now, Rice will be counted on to carry the offensive load for WKU.
Honorable Mention: Marcus Nidiffer (UK) .312, 10 HR, 32 RBI
1B — Wes Cunningham — Murray State
2009: .411, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 51 Runs
Cunningham is probably the best hitter in the state you’ve never heard of, if not one of the best in the country. Ping! selected him for their under the radar All American team, and the slugging first baseman ranked as the No. 87 player in the country by The College Baseball Blog. Cunningham is a graduate of Eastern High School in Louisville and should be drafted this summer as a senior.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Clark (UofL) .350, 9 HR, 55 RBI
Bisson was recently named a third-team preseason All American by Ping! Baseball after leading UK in almost every major offensive category in 2009. Chris was selected to participate in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer where he led the league in stolen bases. Bisson will be counted on to anchor a young Wildcat lineup in 2010.
Honorable Mention: Adam Duvall (UofL) .328, 11 HR, 51 RBI
SS — Drew Lee — Morehead State
2009: .413, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 62 Runs, 1249 OPS
Montgomery County graduate Lee was named a second-team preseason Ping! All-American and a third-team preseason Louisville Slugger All-American. Lee was named all OVC in 2009 and was a semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award. Drew set the Morehead single-season record for hits with 86 in 2009. Lee will try and use a strong 2010 to earn a draft selection this summer as a senior.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Wright (UofL) .335, 5 HR, 66 RBI
3B — Jayson Langfels — EKU
2009: .441, 12 HR, 72 RBI, 45 Runs, 1284 OPS
Lafayette High School graduate Langfels is the only Colonel on the list after Ping! named him a third-team preseason All-American. Jayson led the state in batting average last season and could be positioned as an early draft pick with a strong 2010. Langfels was named a second-team postseason All-American by CollegeBaseballInsider.com following the 2009 season.
Honorable Mention: Andy Burns (UK) .287, 7 HR, 33 RBI
DH — Phil Wunderlich — UofL
2009: .367, 18 HR, 78 RBI, 56 Runs, 1113 OPS
Wunderlich was named a second-team All American by the National Baseball Writers Association following the 2009 season where he was also named to the first-team All Big East Tournament team, All-Regional first team and All Big East second team. Wunderlich will probably move to the field in 2010 after third baseman Chris Dominguez signed with the Giants, but as the best slugger in the state he’ll repeat his 2009 role as the All-State team DH.
Honorable Mention: Jason Laws (Murray) .373, 3 HR, 39 RBI
Wright came to UK as one of the least heralded freshman in the historic 2009 recruiting class, but he finished the year by outperforming most of his more highly touted classmates. By the end of 2009 Wright was entrenched as UK’s leadoff hitter, and he batted .381 in the team’s last 20 games. Wright batted .300 in 60 games in the Northwoods League this summer.
Hill was honored with a first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference performer in 2009 after his .344, 16 HR season. Daniel transferred to Murray State prior to last season after two seasons at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Hill was selected as National Hitter of the Week during the opening week of 2009 and tied the Murray State single-season record with 16 home runs.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Deed (Morehead) .366, 6 HR, 37 RBI
OF — J. D. Ashbrook — Morehead State
2009: .366, 14 HR, 36 RBI, 10 SB, 65 Runs
Ashbrook, a Harrison County graduate, was named second-team All-OVC in 2009. Outfield is the offensive weakness on the All-State team, but Ashbrook earns the nod as the third outfielder for his mix of batting average and power. Ashbrook’s Harrison County teams won four regional titles in his six season as a starter. Honorable mention Stewart Ijames would have been a shoe-in for one spot had he not missed all of last season with an injury.
Honorable Mention: Stewart Ijames (UofL) — DNP 2009
SP — Matt Ridings — WKU
2009: 8-2, 4.84, 93 SO, 102.1 IP, 29 BB
Ridings was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 25th round of the draft following the 2009 season after leading WKU in wins for the third consecutive year. Matt started a team-high 16 games and went at least seven innings seven times last season. Ridings earned a win against Missouri in the NCAA tournament and surrendered one run in seven innings in the regional finals.
Honorable Mention: Chris Craycraft (Murray) 10-3, 4.05 ERA, 80 SO, 100 IP
SP — Tony Zych — UofL
2009: 6-2, 3.25, 31 SO, 44.1 IP, 10 BB
Zych was unhittable as the Cardinals closer to start 2009, but he moved to the starting rotation to close the season. Tony won each of his three starts and was selected as a Freshman All American by Louisville Slugger and Ping! Baseball. Opposing batters hit just .235 against Zych in 2009.
Honorable Mention: Thomas Royse (UofL) 3-2, 3.48, 48 SO, 41.1 IP
SP — Alex Meyer — UK
2009: 1-4, 5.73, 80 SO, 59.2 IP, 45 BB
Starting pitching is this team’s weakness and the third spot should logically go to first-round pick James Paxton, but with his 2010 status up in the air I can’t justify putting him on this team. Meyer’s 2009 stats were not good, but he’s the single most talented pitcher in the state, and if he steps up in 2010 anywhere near his talent level he’ll end up on the postseason All-State team for certain.
Honorable Mention: James Paxton (UK) 5-3, 5.86 ERA, 115 SO, 78.1 IP
With Zych moving to the UofL starting rotation full time this season, Shaw will have the first shot at the Cardinals’ closer position. Shaw, a graduate of St. Mary’s in Paducah, had the fifth most appearances in one season in UofL history in 2009. He closed out the Cardinal’s NCAA regional win against Indiana.
Honorable Mention: Logan Darnell (UK) — 5-6, 4.50 ERA, 3 saves, 47 SO, 46 IP
Baseball America has released its preseason college top 25 ranking and one Kentucky team made the list. The University of Louisville checks in at No. 13 on the list, and BA grades them at a 65 on a 20-80 scale in hitting and power and a 60 in bullpen, experience/intangibles and “overall future potential.” The lowest grades for UofL were a 55 in speed, defense and starting pitching.
Texas ranked No. 1 on the list. Paducah-native Zack Cox and Arkansas ranked No. 17 on the list. (Read more, subscription required)