Brandon Webb; Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr
The Winter Meetings are just a week away, meaning the MLB Hot Stove League is warming up in time for the annual main event of the offseason. Kentucky players haven’t been immune to the increase in rumors, so check out those stories and more in some Monday links:
- Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse reports the Chicago Cubs are “seriously considering” adding former UK right-handed pitcher and Ashland native Brandon Webb.
- Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago notes Webb is one of several rehabbing pitchers the Cubs have interest in.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweets the Colorado Rockies are also interested in Webb.
- Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports the Washington Nationals remain strong contenders to land Webb and plan to talk to his agent during the Winter Meetings.
- Peter Gammons of MLB.com writes, reflecting a common viewpoint, former UK left-handed pitcher Scott Downs stands to benefit after Joaquin Benoit received his huge deal from the Tigers.
As you try to recover from your post-Thanksgiving Day binge eating we’ll move on in the early signing period breakdown series with Murray State University. The Breds signed eight players during the early period including three Kentuckians. Check out some 2010 statistics and honors below with each player and a news-release quote from each player’s high school or junior college coach:
INF Corey Bays — Henry Clay High School
- 2010 Stats: .455 BA, 15 2Bs, 21 RBI, 37 R, 15 SB
- Jordan Terrence: “Corey is one of the best hitters I have ever coached and he will be a great addition to Murray State He has the ability to play multiple positions at the college level, but his bat is what will stand out. He is one of the best hitters in Lexington and I look for him to lead our team in nearly every offensive category this season.”
INF Luke Daugherty — Apollo High School
- 2010 Stats: .353 BA, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 9 2Bs
- Bob Mantooth: “Luke has been an outstanding player for us here at Apollo. He was our designated hitter as a freshman and has played third base and hit in the middle of the lineup ever since. His leadership ability has been as important to us as his talent and skill.”
RHP Scott Spears — Cleveland St. CC (Somerset, Ky)
- 2010 Stats: 5-0, 3.64 ERA, 31 SO, 22.1 IP
- Mike Policastro: “We are happy that Scott will have the opportunity to pitch at Murray State next season. He is a very hard worker who is capable of pitching in any role. Scott is an aggressive pitcher who competes every time he takes the mound. He won five games for us out of the bullpen last season and we expect him to anchor our rotation this spring.”
RHP Alex Gordon — Wabash Valley JC
- 2010 Stats: 8-2, 3.41 ERA, 74.1 IP
- Rob Fournier: “Alex is the heart and soul of our pitching staff. He dominates the strike zone, and will be relied on to lead our staff again. He is a pleasure to coach.”
C Rick Linton — Muncie, Ind.
- 2010 Stats: .415 BA, 9 2Bs, 2 HR, 17 RBI
- Rob Fisher: “He is a great kid who has invested a lot of time and hard work to get to this point. It is not unusual to see him by himself in the batting tunnel doing tee work on any given evening. I am proud of him and the effort he has made to become a better player, but I am more proud of the fact that he is a very good student and a kid I never had to worry about as far as making wrong choices.”
OF Taylor Matthews — Memphis, Tenn.
- 2010 Stats: .312 BA, 8 2Bs, 36 RBI, 17 SB
- Buster Kelso: “Taylor has developed into one of our most dependable players. He is solid in all areas defensively and, offensively, he is unselfish and hits the ball well to all fields. He is an excellent student, as well as a fine citizen.”
RHP Daniel Robinson — Sterling, Ill.
- 2010 Stats: 3-4, 2.71 ERA, 1 Sv, 41.1 IP
- Ben Diggle: “I have no doubt Dan’s best years on the mound are in front of him. He is just beginning the transition from two-way player at the high school level to a true pitcher. I have no doubt that Dan will continue to work hard and that, combined with the coaching he will receive at MSU, will help him develop into a very good college pitcher.”
INF Noah Zipko — Wabash Valley JC
- 2010 Stats: .359 BA, 2 2Bs, 13 RBI (Formerly played at Campbellsville University)
- Rob Fournier: “Noah will be counted on as a leader of our team. He is a great all-around player and our team feeds off his energy. We are looking for big production from him this season. He is the type of player that a coach wishes he had for the next four years.”
You can read the full Murray St. news release here.
In the latest early signing class breakdown we’ll look at Western Kentucky University. The Hilltoppers signed five players during the early period. Check out some 2010 stats from each player below with a news release quote from WKU coach Chris Finwood.
RHP/INF/OF Matt Spalding — St. Xavier High School
- 2010 Honors: No. 1 prospect in state according to Perfect Game
- Finwood: “Matt is a true two-way player. He can really swing the bat and projects as a very productive hitter in college. He can play outfield and infield as well. Matt is also an exceptional talent on the mound and has been clocked as high as 94-95 this fall. He is an outstanding student as well.”
LHP Ian Tompkins — St. Xavier High School
- 2010 Honors: All-State in 2010
- Finwood: “Finding a quality high school lefty was a big priority for us this fall and Ian has been a bit of a late bloomer but by the middle of the summer, everyone was on him. We got on Ian early and stayed the course and we are excited to add him to our pitching staff.”
OF Ryan Fucci — Tates Creek High School
- 2010 Honors: All-City in baseball, All-State in basketball
- Finwood: “Ryan is a tremendous athlete and one of the better basketball players in the state as well as an outstanding baseball player. Ryan projects as a centerfielder and once he commits himself to playing baseball full time, he will become a pretty good professional prospect as well.”
RHP Jerad Eickhoff — Olney Central CC
- 2010 Honors: 46th Round pick of Cubs
- Finwood: “Jerad is a big strong hard throwing righty who is playing for former Hilltopper great Casey Hamilton at Olney. Jared was drafted by the Chicago Cubs last year in the 46th round. Jerad is a great student and should vie for a rotation spot right away.”
SS Steve Hodgins — Wabash Valley CC
- 2010 Honors: JC team finished season ranked No. 5 in country
- Finwood: “Steve is an energy type player who really can play shortstop and has a quality left-handed bat. He is the son of a major league scout and has grown up around the game. Steve handles the bat well, can bunt and run and is very solid on defense. He was exactly what we were looking for to solidify our middle infield situation for next year.”
You can read the full WKU news release here.
Scott Downs; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Baseball news hasn’t stopped for the holiday week, so check out a quick rundown of recent Kentucky baseball stories:
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors reports the Toronto Blue Jays offered arbitration to Louisville native and former UK left-handed pitcher Scott Downs, a type A free agent. If Downs signs with another team the Blue Jays will receive a compensation draft pick. The Twins did not offer arbitration to former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch, a type B free agent.
- Bill Mitchel of Baseball America rates one-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis and Louisville Bats catcher Devin Mesoraco among the top prospects in the Arizona Fall League.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere the No. 8 prospect, Kipnis the No. 17 prospect and Mesoraco the No. 18 prospect in the AFL.
- Revere recently sat down for a question-and-answer session with Josh Jackson of MLB.com.
- Nick Evans of the Louisville Bats media relations department notes both 2010 MVPs, Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton, spent time with the Bats.
Ben Revere; Photo by Pat Neshek
The Arizona Fall League season came to an end over the weekend, meaning several Kentucky players saw the official end of their 2010 seasons. Check out a quick rundown of Kentucky AFL stats below:
- OF Ben Revere (Lexington Catholic) — .295/.358/.330, 20 R, 12 SB, 9 RBI
- 2B Jason Kipnis (UK) — .295/.337/.628, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 13 R
- RHP Josh Lueke (NKU) — 0-1, 0.79 ERA, 2 SV, 12 SO/3 BB, 11.1 IP
- 3B Zack Cox (PRP) — .262/.333/.446, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 8 R
- RHP B. J. Rosenberg (UofL) — 0-1, 8.53 ERA, 10 SO/8 BB, 12.2 IP
- RHP Henry Mabee (Morehead St.) — 0-0, 6.92 ERA, 5 SO/9 BB, 13 IP
- RHP Michael Broadway (Paducah) — 0-1, 10.13 ERA, 5 SO/1 BB, 5.1 IP
- OF Dave Sappelt (Louisville Bats) — .291/.316/.319, 10 RBI, 9 R
- C Devin Mesoraco (Louisville Bats) — .242/.250/.455, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 7 R
- LHP Philippe Valiquette (Louisville Bats) — 0-1, 14.14 ERA, 5 SO/5 BB, 7 IP
Revere led the AFL with 12 stolen bases.
More Kentucky early signing period classes are coming in with Eastern Kentucky University signing six players, including two Kentucky natives. Check out some statistics from each signee with a new release quote from EKU head coach Jason Stein.
RHP Cody Creamer — John Hardin High School
- 2010 Stats: 7-5, 1.95 ERA, 84 SO, 74.2 IP
- Stein: “Cody is a big, strong right-handed pitcher with a high ceiling. He is a strike-thrower, and he should compete for a starting job early in his career as well.”
RHP Cameron Langfels — Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
- 2010 Stats: 4-2, 3.20 ERA, 25 IP
- Stein: “Cameron is a right-handed pitcher with a very high ceiling. His size, loose arm and worth ethic make it so that he will also compete for a starting gig. His baseball pedigree is also very impressive as he is the cousin of Jayson Langfels, who was an All-American here at EKU.”
LHP Nick Bozman — Huntsville, Ohio
- Pitched limited innings in high school
- Stein: “Nick is a lefty with a lot of potential, whose loose arm and size projects him to throw even harder in the future. He throws three pitches for strikes and he should in the mix to compete for a starting role early.”
RHP Andrew Wilson — Heartland Community College
- 2010 Stats: 3-0, 1.69 ERA, 19 SO, 16 IP
- Stein: “Andrew is one of the most polished JUCO pitchers we saw this fall. He showed the ability to throw four pitches for strikes and that ability will lead him to immediately compete for a weekend spot.”
INF/OF Shaun Ball — Walters St. Community College
- 2010 Stats: .379 BA, 59 R, 16 2bs, 6 HR
- Stein: “Shaun comes to us after playing two years at Walters State Community College, which is a powerhouse baseball program at the JUCO level. He is a very versatile athlete who can play the outfield or the infield. He runs well, and his left-handed bat will help us at the top of our lineup.”
OF — Demetrius Moorer — Homestead, Fla.
- 2010 Stats: .400 BA, 23 R, .503 OBP
- Stein: “Demetrius is a talented outfielder who can play all three spots. His best tool is his speed, and because he can handle the bat and has a great feel for the short game, we feel he could be at the top of our lineup someday.”
You can read the full EKU news release here.
Colleges around the state are beginning to release their 2010 early signing classes with Morehead State University the first Kentucky school to do so. The Eagles signed four Kentucky high school players in the six-man early signing period class. Check Morehead’s early signing list below with a news release quote from coach Jay Sorg:
INF Taylor Sears — Somerset High School
- 2010 Stats: .411, 32 RBI, 32 SBs
- Sorg: “There are not enough great things I can say about Taylor. He is a very high character person and a great athlete. Defensively he will specialize in the middle infield but is versatile enough to play all around the diamond.”
RHP Aaron Goe — Grant County High School
- 2010 Stats: 2.04 ERA, 59 SO, 55 IP
- Sorg: “He features a fastball that can reach into the low 90s and a big breaking ball. Aaron has an extreme amount of upside and certainly projects as a starter. Aaron is a strong student-athlete who we believe will be recognized both on the field and in the classroom during his time at Morehead State University.”
RHP Craig Pearcy — Dupont Manual High School
- Career HS Stats: 15-5, 1.96 ERA, 119 SO, 118 IP
- Sorg: “He fills up the strike-zone with three pitches. Mechanically he is very sound with a loose arm. We project him to be a starter, but he is a versatile pitcher and can fill a lot of roles. Craig is a high makeup guy and a good student. He will be very successful in our program.”
RHP Blake Smith — LaFayette High School
- 2010 Stats: 3-2, 1.63 ERA, 3 CG
- Sorg: “We are excited to sign Blake. He has an electric fast arm that allows him to run his fastball into the lower 90s. He fills up the strike zone with all his pitches. His breaking ball is sharp and he can play right now. He is a young senior and we see a tremendous upside as he continues to grow into his body. We know he has been well coached in both high school and summer ball. He should be ready to go for us in the fall.”
RHP Matt Duncan — Southeastern Iowa Junior College
- Career JC Stats: 3-2, 30 SO, 11 SV, 21.2 IP
- Sorg: “Matt has a very strong lower half and an explosive delivery which allows him to run his fastball into the low to mid 90s. I really like bullpen roles and as a true closer he gives next year’s club the opportunity to have a different 7th, 8th, and 9th inning pitcher.”
3B Kane Sweeney — Belleville, Ind.
- 2010 Stats: 16 HR and 64 RBI between HS season and summer ball
- Sorg: “Kane is a big, strong, physical left-handed hitter with quick hands. We project him to be a middle of the order hitter for our club with high power and RBI production.”
You can read the Morehead St. news releases here, here and here.
Jason Kipnis; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- Ben Badler of Baseball America ranks one-time UK outfielder, turned second baseman Jason Kipnis the No. 3 prospect in the Indians’ system. Kipnis transfered to Arizona State after his redshirt-freshman season at UK. (subscription required)
- Matt Eddy of BA breaks down the trade that sent former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson to the Athletics, writing Magnuson’s “career prospects perked up after a full-time move to the bullpen in 2009, culminating in a fine 2010 season in Double-A that featured six times as many strikeouts (63) as walks (10).”
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com also profiles Magunson, noting the A’s will have to add him to the MLB 40-man roster or risk losing him in the December Rule 5 draft.
- Baseball America has released its top 100 high school prospects list for the 2011 draft, which includes one University of Louisville signee: right-handed pitcher Nick Burdi of Illinois. BA ranked Burdi at No. 26 on the list.
- Larry Larue of The New Tribune in Tacoma has an update on former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton, who has until the June 2011 draft to sign with the Mariners. Seattle director of amateur scouting Tom McNamara told Larue negotiations remain at the status quo with the two sides continuing to talk and neither wanting to discuss the situation in public.
- Mayo reports PRP alum Zack Cox, the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2010 first-round pick, was nominated for the Arizona Fall League’s Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. Former Lexington Legends infielder Koby Clemens and 2010 Louisville Bats infielder Kris Negron were also nominated for the award.
- Cox launched his second home run of the AFL season for the Surprise Rafters on Wednesday and drove in four runs. Cox’s home run came of former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Henry Mabee.
- Kipnis was 2-5 with a double and run scored for the Peoria Javelinas of the AFL.
The Kentucky hot stove league kicked into full drive on Wednesday with a bevy of breaking news, most of which came via Twitter. Here’s a quick rundown of the pertinent news:
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors reports former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson has been traded to the Oakland Athletics as part of the Rajai Davis deal.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets former Kentucky Wesleyan right-handed pitcher Cory Wade, who excelled during 2008 with the Dodgers, has signed a minor-league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.
- Eddy also reports via Twitter that former UK right-handed pitcher Zach Dials has signed a minor-league contract with the Florida Marlins.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports the Dodgers, Pirates, Twins and Rangers have all expressed interest in former UK right-handed pitcher and Ashland native Brandon Webb. Crasnick notes the Nationals, Reds and Cardinals may also be interested.
Dan Uggla; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Marlins have traded second baseman Dan Uggla, born in Louisville, to the Atlanta Braves for infielder Omar Infante and left-handed pitcher Mike Dunn. Uggla, who reportedly turned down a four-year extension offer from the Marlins earlier this offseason, batted .287 with 33 home runs and 105 RBI in 2010. Each of those statistics represented a career high for the University of Memphis alum. Uggla ranks four among MLB players born in Kentucky with 154 career home runs and has slugged at least 30 home runs in four of five MLB seasons.
On the same day the Marlins traded one player with Kentucky connections the team acquired another in Lexington Legends Hall of Famer John Buck. The 2010 All-Star catcher for the Blue Jays signed a three-year contract worth $18 million with the Marlins, Ken Rosenthal and John Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com report. During the Legends’ inaugural season in 2001, Buck batted .275 with 22 home runs and 73 RBI in 122 games. (Read more)