While the Cats missed out on the NCAA tournament they will compete with the University of Louisville for most players selected in the MLB draft over the next three days. Even without senior left-handed pitcher James Paxton, the University of Kentucky should enjoy another impressive draft. Check out some of the UK players with the most hope of hearing their names called below:
The sure thing
- Junior second baseman Chris Bisson is ranked No. 149 on Baseball America‘s top 200 draft prospects list and represents the best prospect among current Kentucky collegians. BA writes that Bisson is likely the best second baseman in the draft that is likely to stay at that position as a professional. After being hit by a pitch in the face early in the 2010 season, Bisson missed only a week but struggled for several weeks following the injury at the plate. Bisson’s intangibles are off the charts and he demonstrated plus speed leading the Southeastern Conference in 2010 and Cape Cod League in summer 2009 in stolen bases. Bisson profiles as a leadoff hitter as a professional and should go in the first five rounds.
Other prospects of note:
- Junior left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell struggled as a weekend starting pitcher for UK in 2010, but a late-season move to the pen will likely foreshadow his professional role. Darnell enjoyed mixed success as a reliever in 2009, so he has shown he can perform admirably in the role. A mid-season bout with shoulder tendonitis has to scare teams a little, but Baseball America projects Darnell will likely be drafted in the first ten rounds.
- Junior closer Matt Little burst onto the scene in 2010 after sitting out 2009 following his transfer from Louisberg Junior College and was nearly unhittable for much of the year. Little struggled late in the conference schedule, but still stands a good chance of being selected in the mid-rounds of the draft after striking out 52 batters in 42 innings. Little pitched in the prestigious Cape Cod League during summer 2009.
- Junior outfielder Lance Ray was among the SEC’s best hitters in the second half of 2010, slugging .720 in just 118 at-bats. He’ll need to find a full-time position to succeed in professional ball, but Ray could very well have slugged his way into a draft selection. He could boost his status even more by returning for his senior season and performing well for an entire year.
- Junior shortstop Taylor Black was the team’s best defender and even slugged 10 home runs. Black will likely return to UK for his senior year, but could be a valuable late-round pick for a professional team.
- Redshirt senior utility man Gunner Glad likely has a future as a professional after playing all over the diamond and leading the team with 12 home runs. Glad’s versatility will help him as a professional as he played first, second, third and outfield in 2010. Look for Gunner to come off the board after round 20.
- Redshirt senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer and redshirt senior outfielder Keenan Wiley have both experience mixed success at UK and should be late-round selections this week.
Other Eligible Juniors
- RHP Kyle Jackson
- INF Neiko Johnson
- LHP Mike Kaczmarek
- RHP Nick Kennedy
High School Signees
- Trinity LHP Corey Littrell is the best high school player in the state, but Baseball America reports he’s unlikely to forgo his commitment to UK.
- BA also ranks Tates Creek RHP Trevor Gott and LCA OF Lucas Witt among the top 25 Kentucky draft prospects.
- BA ranked Danville native RHP Blake Perry, who attends a prep school in Florida, as the No. 71 prospect in the Sunshine state. Perry has been rising up team’s draft boards with an impressive senior campaign where he hit 92 mph with his fastball and boasted a 76 mph curveball at a recent showcase.