Kipnis cycle leads Columbus to IL title; Lueke, Rainiers clinch PCL title; Jones, Dash eliminated in finals loss

Minor League Baseball

Jason Kipnis; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball, including a cycle from one of Kentucky’s best minor league alumni:

  • One-time Kentucky outfielder Jason Kipnis, promoted to AAA Columbus for the International League finals, hit for the cycle to lead Columbus to a championship-clinching 13-2 win over Durham.
  • Former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke closed out AAA Tacoma’s Pacific Coast League championship clinching 10-6 win over Memphis with a scoreless inning.
  • Former NKU right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones took the loss despite surrendering just two runs in six innings in high A Winston-Salem’s 2-1 loss to Potomac. The Nationals clinched the Carolina League championship with the win.
  • Zachary Levine, writing for Baseball America, selected 2010 Lexington Legends outfielder J. D. Martinez the Astros’ best MiLB player. Levine named 2009 Legend Jordan Lyles the organization’s best pitcher and 2009 Legend Patrick Urckfitz “one to watch” in the system. (Subscription required)
  • Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere received his first MLB start for the Minnesota Twins Friday but went 0-3 with a walk in the leadoff spot.
  • Eric King of WLKY in Louisville reports former University of Louisville baseball player Isaiah Howes has been identified as the shooter that killed former UofL football player Daniel Covington. Police believe the shooting was in self-defense.

BluGrass Baseball All Ky. MiLB Team

Minor League Baseball

Colling Cowgill; Photo: UK Athletics

Earlier this week BluGrass Baseball unveiled its 2010 minor league hitter, pitcher and rookie of the year awards. Jake Shaffer, Nathan Adcock and Marcus Nidiffer weren’t the only Kentucky minor leaguers to excel in 2010, and with that in mind here are the standout Kentucky performers at each position:

Catcher: Richie Rowland (Missoula Osprey)

  • Former Campbellsville catcher and 2010 Diamondbacks NDFA Richie Rowland spent a lot of time at designated hitter for rookie-level Missoula, but Rowland stands out among players who caught this season. Rowland batted .291 with five home runs, 34 RBI and 19 runs scored in 67 games.

First baseman: Marcus Nidiffer (Tri-City Valley Cats)

  • Former UK catcher and 2010 Astros NDFA Marcus Nidiffer moved from behind the plate to first base as a professional and let his bat do the talking. Nidiffer slugged 14 home runs and batted .286 in 69 games en route to being named BluGrass Baseball rookie of the year. Nidiffer should open 2011 with the Lexington Legends.

Second baseman: Jason Kipnis (Akron Aeros)

  • One-time UK outfielder Jason Kipnis transferred to Arizona State, where he became a NCAA all-American, and has done nothing but hit since being drafted by the Indians. Kipnis, who moved to second base as a professional, batted .307 with 16 home runs, 74 RBI and 96 runs scored for AA Akron in 2010.

Third baseman: Chris Dominguez (Augusta GreenJackets)

  • Former UofL infielder and Giants prospect Chris Dominguez led all Kentucky minor leaguers with 21 home runs and 101 RBI in 2010. Dominguez batted .272 with 85 runs scored for low A Augusta and added 14 stolen bases for good measure.

Shortstop: Drew Lee (Bristol White Sox)

  • Former Morehead St. shortstop and 2010 White Sox draftee Drew Lee played primarily at second base during his first professional season, but shortstop remains the weakest position for Kentucky minor leaguers so he slots in here on the All MiLB team. Lee batted .282 with five home runs, 39 RBI and 32 runs scored in 62 games for rookie-level Bristol.

Outfielder: Jake Shaffer (High Desert Mavericks)

  • Former NKU outfielder and 2010 BluGrass Baseball hitter of the year Jake Shaffer led all Kentucky minor leaguers with a .336 batting average in 2010. Shaffer also slugged nine home runs and tallied 78 RBI. Shaffer also led Kentuckians in on-base and slugging percentage.

Outfielder: Ben Revere (New Britain Rock Cats)

  • Lexington Catholic alum and Twins farmhand Ben Revere battled through adversity in 2010 to post another solid season. Revere batted .305 with 44 runs scored and 36 stolen bases for AA New Britain. His season appeared to end early after being hit in the face by a pitch in August, but Revere returned to New Britain in late September and earned a surprise call-up to Minnesota.

Outfielder: Collin Cowgill (Mobile BayBears)

  • Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill was among the top five Kentucky minor leaguers in almost every major offensive category. Cowgill batted .285 with 16 home runs, 83 RBI and 89 runs scored for AA Mobile. Cowgill also stole 25 bases on the season.

Designated hitter: Wade Gaynor (West Michigan Whitecaps)

  • If not for Chris Dominguez’s power surge, former WKU infielder Wade Gaynor would be the third baseman on this team but instead he slots in as the designated hitter. Gaynor batted .286 with 10 home runs, 80 RBI and 91 runs scored for low A West Michigan and is in the running for Detroit Tigers MiLB player of the year.

Starting pitcher: Nathan Adcock (Bradenton Marauders)

  • North Hardin alum and BluGrass Baseball pitcher of the year Nathan Adcock stood out among Kentucky pitchers with an 11-7 record and 3.38 ERA in 2010. Adcock struck out 113 batters and walked just 28 in 141.1 innings pitched for high A Bradenton.

Relief pitcher: Josh Lueke (Tacoma Rainiers)

  • Former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke was traded to the Seattle Mariners organization midseason in the Cliff Lee trade and has elicited controversy in Seattle since due to his past legal trouble, but there is no denying his success on the mound in 2010. Lueke finished the season 5-1 with a 1.86 ERA and 17 saves in 50 games between four different teams. He struck out 94 batters and walked just 15 in 63 innings pitched.

Magnuson named to Team Canada roster; Del Rosario traded to Astros; Nidiffer, Valley Cats win NYPL title

Minor League Baseball

Trystan Magnuson; Photo by mwlguide via Flickr

MiLB playoff highlights and latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • John Manuel of Baseball America reports former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson was selected to the Team Canada roster for the 2010 Pan Am Qualifier in San Juan. Former Lexington Legend first baseman Jimmy Van Ostrand was also selected to the roster.
  • Former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer was 0-3, but Tri-City clinched the New York-Penn League championship with a 5-1 win over Brooklyn.
  • Over the weekend, LCA alum Robbie Ross took the loss after surrendering seven runs in three innings for AA Frisco as the team was eliminated from the Texas League playoffs.
  • Larry Stone of The Seattle Times reports former Mariners director of pro scouting Carmen Fusco was fire at least in part for his role in the controversial acquisition of former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke. The Mariners’ upper management claim they didn’t know of Lueke’s past legal trouble before acquiring the reliever.
  • The Houston Astros acquired Louisville Bats right-handed pitcher Enerio Del Rosario from the Cincinnati Reds for cash. Del Rosario was designated for assignment by the Reds Monday.

Kentucky Rookie MiLB Leaderboard

Minor League Baseball

Yesterday we looked at the hitting and pitching leaderboards for full-season Kentucky minor leaguers in advance of the BluGrass Baseball MiLB awards post. If you saw that post you already know former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer was named the rookie of the year, but looking at the statistical leaders among players that made their professional debuts in 2010 is still helpful.

Batting Average (2.7 PA/team game)

  • Phil Wunderlich (SS Hudson Valley) – .330
  • Andrew Clark (SS Spokane) – .295
  • Richie Rowland (R Missoula) – .291
  • Wes Cunningham (SS Eugene) – .290
  • Lance Ray (Low A Beloit) – .289

On-base Percentage

  • Wes Cunningham (SS Eugene) – .415
  • Andrew Clark (SS Spokane) – .401
  • Lance Ray (Low A Beloit) – .372
  • Marcus Nidiffer (SS Tri-City) – .372
  • Phil Wunderlich (SS Hudson Valley) – .372

Slugging Percentage

  • Marcus Nidiffer (SS Tri-City) – .535
  • Phil Wunderlich (SS Hudson Valley) — .478
  • Wes Cunningham (SS Eugene) – .449
  • Drew Lee (R Bristol) – .435
  • Lance Ray (Low A Beloit) – .417


  • Marcus Nidiffer (SS Tri-City) – 40
  • Wes Cunningham (SS Eugene) – 34
  • Andrew Clark (SS Spokane) – 32
  • Drew Lee (R Bristol) – 32
  • Phil Wunderlich (SS Hudson Valley) – 31


  • Marcus Nidiffer (SS Tri-City) – 14
  • Drew Lee (R Bristol) – 5
  • Richie Rowland (R Missoula) – 5
  • Adam Duvall (SS Salem-Keizer) – 4
  • Phil Wunderlich (SS Hudson Valley) – 4
  • Jayson Langfels (SS Tri-City) – 4


  • Andrew Clark (SS Spokane) – 41
  • Drew Lee (R Bristol) – 39
  • Marcus Nidiffer (SS Tri-City) – 36
  • Phil Wunderlich (SS Hudson Valley) – 36
  • Richie Rowland (R Missoula) – 34

Stolen Bases

  • Cameron Conner (R Idaho Falls) – 15
  • Marcus Nidiffer (SS Tri-City) – 9
  • Matt Payton (R GCL Phillies) – 9
  • Wes Cunningham (SS Eugene) – 7
  • Chris Bisson (SS Eugene) – 5
  • Drew Lee (R Bristol) – 5

Hit the jump to see the pitching leaders.

Adcock, Shaffer, Nidiffer win BluGrass Baseball MiLB awards

Minor League Baseball

Nathan Adcock; Photo by mwlguide via Flickr

The 2010 MiLB season is over for all but a handful of Kentucky minor leaguers still active in the playoffs, so it is time for the BluGrass Baseball 2010 MiLB awards.

Hitter of the year: OF Jake Shaffer (High A High Desert)

  • Former NKU outfielder and Walton native Jake Shaffer excelled during his first full professional season in 2009 but brought his game to a new level in 2010. Shaffer led all Kentucky minor leaguers in batting average (.336), on-base percentage (.388) and slugging percentage (.511). The left-handed batter spent all but three games of 2010 at High Desert and slugged nine home runs, drove in 78 runs and scored 58 times.
  • Honorable Mention: Former UK outfielder, turned second baseman, Jason Kipnis finished second to Shaffer in batting average (.307), on-base percentage (.386) and slugging percentage (.492) and led Kentucky minor leaguers with 96 runs scored…Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill slugged 16 home runs, drove in 83 runs and scored 89 times…Former UofL infielder Chris Dominguez led the state with 21 home runs and 101 RBI.

Pitcher of the year: RHP Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton)

  • Elizabethtown native Nathan Adcock has struggled since being drafted out of North Hardin High School in 2006, but came into his own this season. Adcock finished the season 11-7 with a 3.38 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 141 and one-third innings. The right-handed pitcher ranked among the top five Kentucky MiLB pitchers in ERA, strikeouts, batting average against, wins and innings pitched.
  • Honorable Mention: LCA alum Robbie Ross was 12-11 with a 3.58 ERA and 111 strikeouts…Former UK left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin was 6-4 with a 3.11 ERA in an injury-shortened season…One-time Madisonville resident Matt Klinker was 11-10 with a 3.79 ERA between AA Carolina and the Louisville Bats.

Rookie of the year: C/1B Marcus Nidiffer (Short-season Tri-City)

  • Former UK catcher and 2010 Astros non-drafted free agent Marcus Nidiffer spent his debut season proving he deserved to be selected in the 2010 draft. In 69 games between rookie Greeneville and short-season Tri-City, Nidiffer batted .286 with 14 home runs, 36 RBI and 40 runs scored. Nidiffer’s 14 home runs ranked fifth among all Kentucky MiLB players, including full-season ones.
  • Honorable Mention: Former UofL infielder Phil Wunderlich led Kentucky rookies with a .330 batting average…Former UK left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell was 2-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 11 games for rookie-level Elizabethton…Boyd County native Tyler Gatrell saved 13 games for the GCL Royals

Kentucky MiLB Pitching Leaderboard

Minor League Baseball

In the second leaderboard post we’ll look at the top statistical pitching performers from around Kentucky MiLB action. Remember comparisons across leagues are difficult, so this leaderboard should be considered a starting point for examining the best performances from Kentucky minor leaguers this season.


  • Chris Rusin (AA Tennessee) – 3.11
  • Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – 3.38
  • Robbie Ross (High A Bakersfield) – 3.58
  • Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – 3.79
  • Marty Popham (High A Kinston) – 4.05


  • Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – 138
  • Justin Marks (High A Stockton) – 136
  • Chaz Roe (AAA Colorado Springs) – 115
  • Marty Popham (High A Kinston) – 113
  • Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – 113

BA Against

  • Chris Rusin (AA Tennessee) – .240
  • Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – .243
  • Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – .255
  • Justin Marks (High A Stockton) – .258
  • Robbie Ross (High A Kinston) – .267


  • Robbie Ross (High A Bakersfield) – 12
  • Nathan Jones (High A Winston-Salem) – 11
  • Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – 11
  • Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – 11
  • Daniel Calhoun (Low A Quad Cities) – 10


  • Josh Lueke (AAA Tacoma) – 17
  • Tyler Gatrell (R GCL Royals) – 13 *
  • Steven Blevins (AA New Britain) – 10
  • Mike Perconte (High A Daytona) – 7
  • Three pitchers tied at 5

Innings Pitched

  • Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – 163.2
  • Chaz Roe (AAA Colorado Springs) – 158
  • Nathan Jones (High A Winston-Salem) – 152.1
  • Robbie Ross (AA Frisco) – 146
  • Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – 141.1

Kentucky MiLB Hitting Leaderboard

Minor League Baseball

During the college season BluGrass Baseball publishes a weekly leaderboard for all Kentucky collegians. Minor League Baseball is less conducive to such an arrangement because players are scattered across several leagues and ability levels, but I thought I’d publish the end of season statistical leaderboard in advance of the MiLB pitcher and player of the year awards coming out later this week. Remember stats from higher-level leagues are more impressive, but this is a good place to start in examining the best 2010 MiLB performances.

I’ll post a separate leaderboard for short-season players later this week in advance of the “Rookie of the Year” award.

Batting Average (2.7 PA/team game)

  • Jake Shaffer (High A High Desert) – .336
  • Jason Kipnis (AA Akron) –  .307
  • Ben Revere (AA New Britain) – .305
  • Wade Gaynor (Low A West Michigan) – .286
  • Collin Cowgill (AA Mobile) – .285

On-base Percentage

  • Jake Shaffer (High A High Desert) – .386
  • Jason Kipnis (AA Akron) – .386
  • Ben Revere (AA New Britain) – .371
  • Collin Cowgill (AA Mobile) – .360
  • Wade Gaynor (Low A West Michigan) – .354

Slugging Percentage

  • Jake Shaffer (High A High Desert) – .511
  • Jason Kipnis (AA Akron) – .492
  • Collin Cowgill (AA Mobile) – .464
  • Chris Dominguez (Low A Augusta) – .456
  • Seth Bynum (AAA Syracuse) — .436


  • Jason Kipnis (AA Akron) – 96
  • Wade Gaynor (Low A West Michigan) – 91
  • Collin Cowgill (AA Mobile) – 89
  • Chris Dominguez (Low A Augusta) – 85
  • Boomer Whiting (AAA Syracuse) – 66


  • Chris Dominguez (Low A Augusta) – 101
  • Collin Cowgill (AA Mobile) – 83
  • Wade Gaynor (Low A West Michigan) – 80
  • Jake Shaffer (High A High Desert) – 78
  • Jason Kipnis (AA Akron) – 74

Home Runs

  • Chris Dominguez (Low A Augusta) – 21
  • Chad Cregar (Low A Greensboro) – 17
  • Collin Cowgill (AA Mobile) – 16
  • Jason Kipnis (AA Akron) – 16
  • Marcus Nidiffer (SS Tri-City) — 14
  • Seth Bynum (AAA Syracuse) – 14

Stolen bases

  • Boomer Whiting (AAA Syracuse) – 48
  • Ben Revere (AA New Britain) – 36
  • Collin Cowgill (AA Mobile) – 25
  • John Shelby (AA Birmingham) – 15
  • Cameron Conner (R Idaho Falls) – 15 *

*  — Nidiffer and Conner played in short-season leagues.

Paxson excels in loss; Webb may go to instructional league

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Brandon Webb; Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr

With only a couple Kentucky minor leaguers still in action in the MiLB playoffs we’ll start incorporating their performances into the general links post. So check out some highlights from those games and other links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Former WKU right-handed pitcher J. B. Paxson pitched four and one-third scoreless innings for low A Great Lakes in the team’s  Midwest League playoff loss. Paxson struck out six and walked two.
  • Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal reports Louisville Bats manager Rick Sweet is uncertain if the Cincinnati Reds will ask him to manage the Bats again in 2011.
  • Steve Gilbert of reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb is open to pitching in the instructional league if he can’t return for the Diamondbacks this season.
  • For recaps of every Minor League playoff series, check this valuable post from J. J. Cooper of Baseball America.
  • John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, writing for BA, reports the Cincinnati Reds’ patience in Bats catcher Devin Mesoraco has paid off. (Subscription required)

End of season awards: Louisville Bats

Minor League Baseball

Wladimir Balentien; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Louisville Bats were eliminated from the International League playoffs by Durham Sunday, bringing the team’s 2010 season to an end. The Bats used a late-season rally to finish at 79-65 on the season and win the IL West Division. In the third end of season awards post we’ll look at the best 2010 performances from the Cincinnati Reds’ AAA affiliate.

Hitter of the month: OF Wladimir Balentien

  • Bats outfielder Wladimir Balentien was one of the few Louisville batters to spend the whole season with the team. Balentien batted .282 with 25 home runs 78 RBI and 71 runs scored. The outfielder also stole 12 bases in 13 tries, boasted a .337 on-base percentage and .536 slugging percentage.
  • Honorable Mention — Infielder Chris Valaika led the team with a .304 batting average…First baseman Yonder Alonso batted .296 with 12 home runs in 101 games after a May promotion from AA…Outfielder Todd Frazier, shortstop Zach Cozart and third baseman Juan Francisco each slugged at least 17 home runs.

Pitcher of the month: LHP Matt Maloney

  • Left-handed starting pitcher Matt Maloney made 23 starts for Louisville on the season and led the team with 10 wins, a 3.34 ERA and 134 and two-third innings pitched. Maloney struck out 104 batters and walked just 28 on the season.
  • Honorable Mention — Left-handed pitcher Travis Wood boasted a 3.06 ERA in 16 games…Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman won nine games, saved eight and led the team with 125 strikeouts in 39 games between the bullpen and starting rotation…Right-handed pitcher Ben Jukich won seven games and struck out 103 in 115 and one-third innings.

UK catcher, Hustlers OF named top summer prospects; Kipnis named MiLB all-star; Rays, Hot Rods extend contract

Minor League Baseball

Jason Kipnis; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Baseball America ranked University of Kentucky junior catcher Michael Williams the No. 4 prospect in the New England Collegiate League. (subscription required)
  • In its top 10 prospects list for the Great Lakes League, BA ranks Lexington native and Lexington Hustlers infielder Justin Riddell the No. 9 propsect in the league. (subscription required)
  • One-time UK infielder Jason Kipnis was named the second baseman on BA’s 2010 Minor League all-star team. Former Bowling Green Hot Rods left-handed pitcher Matt Moore was included on the first-team as a starting pitcher, and Louisville Bats catcher Devin Mesoraco was selected to the second team.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays announced they have extended their player development contract with the Bowling Green Hot Rods through the 2012 season.