Top 2011 Ky. Collegians: No. 22 Brian Edelen

College Baseball

Brian Edelen; BluGrass Baseball photo

Inspired by College Baseball Daily‘s list of the top 100 college baseball players, BluGrass Baseball is counting down the top 25 returning Kentucky collegians in advance of the 2011 season. We continue the list today with a look at a 2010 midweek starter who will likely be counted on to carry his success to the weekend.

No. 22 — RHP Brian Edelen — Western Kentucky University

Hilltoppers’ redshirt senior right-handed starting pitcher Brian Edelen was 4-2 with a 3.78 ERA in 20 games, including 11 starts, for WKU in 2010. Edelen was the Hilltoppers primary midweek starter last season and also served as an important reliever during weekend series. In 52 and one-third innings pitched Edelen struck out 31 batters and walked 28. Opponents batted .278 against Edelen in 2010.

The Male High School alum sat out the 2009 season after transferring to WKU from Campbellsville University. In 10 games, including eight starts, for the New Market Rebels of the Valley League this summer, Edelen was 3-5 with a 7.53 ERA. The right-handed pitcher struck out 39 and walked 25 in 49 innings pitched during the summer season. Opponents batted .274 against him in Valley League play.

Offseason position battle: UofL outfielder

College Baseball

In the sixth University of Louisville post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant outfield position.

The departed — Texas Rangers draftee Josh Richmond, a 2010 junior, missed most of last season with a wrist injury but batted .262 with one home run, 10 RBI and 17 runs scored in 23 games for the Cards. Richmond, an outfielder who started in each of his 23 appearances, was the Rangers 12th round pick in the 2010 draft…Tampa Bay Rays draftee Phil Wunderlich, a 2010 junior, started five games in left field last season…First baseman and outfielder Mike Morrison, a 2010 sophomore, and outfielder Drew Fitzpatrick, a 2010 freshman, started 12 games in the outfield for the Cards last season but neither is listed on the 2011 UofL roster

Returning candidates — Outfield stalwarts senior Drew Haynes and redshirt junior Stewart Ijames return to UofL after starting 64 and 63 games respectively for the Cards in 2010. Haynes batted .291 with 15 stolen bases and served as the primary center fielder until Richmond returned from injury late in the season. Ijames, the 29th round pick of the New York Yankees, batted .324 with 14 home runs, 63 RBI and 64 runs scored in 2010…Sophomore utility man Kyle Grieshaber started 23 games in left field for the Cards in 2010 while serving as Richmond’s primary replacement during his injury. Grieshaber batted .239 with one home run, 15 RBI and 24 runs scored in 53 games last season, but he is the leading candidate for the vacant third base position, after starting each of the five Fall Pizza Bowl Series games there…Sophomore outfielder Jarred Clarkson started two games in left field in 2010 but was just 2-16 in 28 games for the Cards last year.

Newcomers to watch — Freshman Cody Edge started each of the five Pizza Bowl Series games in left field, going 4-12 with two runs scored, two RBI and a walk. Edge will also likely pitch for the Cards in 2011. The two-way player was a three-time all-state selection at Cherokee Washington High School in Iowa and batted .456 with nine home runs, 34 RBI and 32 runs scored as a senior…Freshman outfielder and left-handed pitcher Cole Sturgeon started each of the five Pizza Bowl Series games in centerfield and finished the series 7-17 with two runs scored, five RBI and two walks. Sturgeon was named first-team all state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association as a senior at Owensboro Catholic High School.

Wildcard — Freshman infielders Ryan Seiz and Adam Engel both have the ability to play outfield but started each Pizza Bowl Series game at third base and second base respectively. Each of those positions is likely to be manned by a veteran when the Cards begin the 2011 season so head coach Dan McDonnell could elect to player either newcomer in the outfield to get some playing time. The vacant outfield position will also be heavily effect by the corner infield battles as McDonnell is likely to make sure sophomores Grieshaber, Zak Wasserman and Cade Stallings are each in the lineup in some combination at first base, third base, outfield and designated hitter.

Lexington Hustlers unveil 2011 roster

College Baseball

Earlier this week we posted the list of Kentucky college baseball players who would participate in the 2011 Cape Cod League, but now we have some summer college baseball news from a little closer to home. The Lexington Hustlers of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League have unveiled its 2011 roster will a plethora of Kentucky natives making the cut. You can see the roster on the Hustler’s website here and check out the list with position, college and hometown below.

Pitchers

  • RHP Conner Asay — Fr. — Vicennes — Lexington, Ky. (Lafayette HS)
  • RHP Brandon Boling — S0. — Gardner-Webb — Lexington, Ky. (Bryan Station HS)
  • RHP Wade Bush — So. — Indiana St. — Terre Haute, Ind.
  • RHP Brent Cobb — Fr. — Eastern Kentucky University — Lexington, Ky. (Lafayette HS)
  • RHP Chase Greene — So. — EKU — Nicholasville, Ky. (West Jessamine HS)
  • RHP Matt Harris — Jr. — EKU — Lexington, Ky. (Henry Clay HS)
  • RHP Chad Martin — Jr. — Indiana — Lexington, Ky. (Paul Laurence Dunbar HS)
  • RHP Jason McGinnis — Jr. — Georgetown College — Barboursville, W. V.
  • RHP/OF Sam Kidd — So. — University of Kentucky — Hartford, Ky. (Ohio Co. HS)
  • LHP Nolan Fernandez — Fr. — Wabash Valley JC — Lexington, Ky.
  • LHP Tanner Perkins — So. — Western Kentucky University — Brodhead, Ky. (Rockcastle Co. HS)
  • LHP Noah Smallwood — Fr. — Morehead State University — Nicholasville, Ky. (West Jessamine HS)
  • LHP Phil Trowbridge — St. Joe’s (Ind.) — Mokena, Il..
  • LHP Josh Jillson — SO. — St. Catherine’s College — Wales Maine

Catchers

  • C Shane Crain — So. — Wabash Valley JC (UofL signee) — Lexington, Ky.
  • C Kyle Gibson — Fr. — University of Louisville — Henderson, Ky. (Henderson Co. HS)
  • C/OF Brandon Brian — So. — WKU — Louisville, Ky. (Trinity HS)

Infielders

  • SS Quintin Alexander — Fr. — St. Joe’s (Ind.) — Chicago, Ill.
  • SS Bud Morton — Fr. — Morehead St. — Nicholasville, Ky. (West Jessamine HS)
  • INF Colt Cattani — Jr. — Northern Kentucky University — West Chester, Ohio
  • INF Jonathan Craycraft — Jr. — Lipscomb — Lexington, Ky. (Henry Clay HS)
  • INF Luke Hawkins — So. — Campbellsville University — Lawrenceburg, Ky. (Anderson Co. HS)
  • INF Robert Lawrence — So. — Middle Tenn. — Madison, Tenn.
  • INF/RHP J. T. Riddle — Fr. — UK — Frankfort, Ky. (Western Hills HS)

Outfield

  • OF Ronald Cotton — Fr. — Cincinnati — Florence, Ky. (Boone Co. HS)
  • OF Dalton Henzman — So. — Middle Tenn. — Lexington, Ky. (LCA)
  • OF/INF Jordan Rorex — So. — Middle Tenn. — Clinton, Tenn.
  • OF Taylor Russell — Jr. — NKU — Loveland, Ohio
  • OF Tanner Smith — Fr. — WKU — London, Ky. (North Laurel HS)

Outfielder Ronald Cotton and infielder/right-handed pitcher J. T. Riddle were both 2010 draft picks.

Offseason position battle: Murray St. starting pitchers

College Baseball

In the fifth Murray State University post of the “offseason position battle series we will look at the vacant weekend starting pitching slots.

The departed — Right-handed pitcher Chris Craycraft, a 2010 senior, served as the Murray State ace for each of the last two seasons, being named second-team all-Ohio Valley Conference following the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Craycraft was 6-4 with a 5.05 ERA in 16 games, including 15 starts, for the Breds in 2010. The Lexington native struck out 72 batters and walked 35 in 92 and two-third innings pitched…Right-handed pitcher Alex Love, a 2010 senior, was 8-1 with a 5.63 ERA in 19 games, including eight starts, for the Breds last season. Love struck out 35 batters and walked 23 in 70 and one-third innings pitched…Right-handed pitchers Marc Harmon and Dan Huff, both 2010 seniors, combined to make 13 starts for Murray St. last season but neither finished the year with an ERA below 8.35.

Returning candidates — Senior left-handed pitcher Jake Donze made 16 starts for Murray St. in 2010 and finished the season at 6-6 with a 6.02 ERA. Donze struck out 71 batters and walked 56 in 83.2 innings pitched and enters 2011 as the Breds de facto ace…Sophomore right-handed pitchers Joe Major, Will Handlin, and Ben Lady each made one start for Murray St. in 2010. Major was the only returning Murray St. pitcher to finish 2010 with a sub-4.00 ERA, but he logged just 10 innings pitched on the season.

Newcomers to watch — Junior college transfer Bryan Babin pitched four shutout innings in the decisive game of the Murray St. Fall World Series. Babin, a junior left-handed pitcher, was 5-1 with a 3.46 ERA in 39 innings pitched as a sophomore at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College…Junior college transfer Luke Shuemaker, a junior left-handed pitcher, was 4-2 with a 5.15 ERA in 50 and two-third innings pitched for Rend Lake College in 2010…Junior college transfer Mark Roberts, a junior left-handed pitcher, was 5-3 with a 4.42 ERA in 55 innings pitched for Lincoln Trail College in 2010…Freshman left-handed pitchers Kyle Cornett and Brock Downey were both named first-team all-state as a seniors by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association…Freshman right-handed pitcher Cameron Finch was named first-team all state as a senior in Collierville, Tenn., and pitched eight complete games and two no-hitters in 2010.

Wildcard — The Breds have no shortage of starting pitcher candidates as head coach Rob McDonald brought in nine new pitchers to the 2011 pitching staff. Junior Tyler Beers, a junior college transfer, may be needed to man the vacant first base position for the Breds, but he also logged experience as a right-handed pitcher at Mineral Area college. Beers was 2-7 with a 6.12 ERA as a sophomore, but proved to be an innings eater after striking out 55 in 64 and two-third innings pitched.

Top 2011 Ky. Collegians: No. 23 Jason Crisper

College Baseball

Jason Crisper; NKU photo

Inspired by College Baseball Daily’s countdown of the top 100 college baseball players, BluGrass Baseball is counting down its own list of the top 25 Kentucky college baseball players in advance of the 2011 season. To be eligible, players must  attend a Kentucky college, have attended a Kentucky high school or have been born in the state. We move on to No. 23 today with a Division II all-American.

No 23 — OF Jason Crisper — Northern Kentucky University

On Friday Crisper was named a first-team Division II preseason all-American by Baseball America following a strong 2010 campaign that saw him bat .442 with four home runs, 47 RBI, 75 runs scored and 39 stolen bases in 43 attempts. The outfielder was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference player of the year following the 2010 season and was selected as a third-team Division II all-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

The Cincinnati native may be able to play his way into a late-round draft choice or at least a free-agent contract with a strong follow-up to his 2010 season. Crisper led the Norse last season in batting average, runs scored, doubles, triples, total bases and stolen bases. As a sophomore in 2009 Crisper batted .413 for the Norse, earning all-conference and all-region honors.

NKU OF named DII preseason all-Ameircan; Revere, Chapman among top MiLB prospects at their positions

College Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Ben Revere; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Northern Kentucky University senior outfielder Jason Crisper has been named a preseason NCAA DII all-American by Baseball America.
  • Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere the No. 9 outfield prospect in MiLB.
  • Mayo ranks 2010 Louisville Bats left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman the No. 1 left-handed pitching prospect in MiLB. Former Bowling Green Hot Rods left-handed pitcher Matt Moore checked in at No. 7 on the list.
  • May ranks 2009 Lexington Legends right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles the No. 10 right-handed pitching prospect in MiLB.
  • Mark Sheldon of MLB.com answers a few questions about 2010 Louisville Bats in his Reds mailbag, including Travis Wood, Juan Francisco and Chris Valaika.

Top 2011 Ky. Collegians: No. 24 Brandon Elliott

College Baseball

Brandon Elliott, Murray St. photo

Inspired by College Baseball Daily‘s countdown of the top 100 college baseball players, BluGrass Baseball is counting down the top 25 Kentucky college baseball players in advance of the 2011 season. We continue the list today with No. 24, a former freshman all-American.

No. 24 — SS Brandon Elliott — Murray State University

Elliott was named a freshman all-American following the 2010 season after batting .347 with one home run, 25 RBI and 41 runs scored. The shortstop is Murray St.’s top returning hitter. He started 43 games for the Breds as a freshman. Elliott’s lone home run in the 2010 season came in Murray St.’s final game in which he went 3-4 with a triple, home run and three RBI against Tennessee Tech in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament. Ping! Baseball named Elliott a third-team freshman all-American following the 2010 season. The Plymouth, Ind., native was second on the team with five triples last season. Elliott batted .351 with eight RBI and 19 runs scored in 20 conference games.

Offseason position battle: UK catcher

College Baseball

Marcus Nidiffer, center; Photo: UK Athletics

In the fifth University of Kentucky post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant catcher position.

The departed — Catcher Marcus Nidiffer, a 2010 senior, started 43 of UK’s 56 games in 2010, batting .320 with 10 home runs, 35 RBI, 32 runs scored and a .571 slugging percentage. In his final home at-bat Nidiffer launched a grand slam to send UK to a must-have victory over LSU. Nidiffer committed just two errors on the season, though opposing base runners were successful in 79.5 percent of stolen base attempts when he was catching. Nidiffer signed a free-agent contract with the Houston Astros after not being selected in the 2010 draft and was named an Astros organizational all-star after slugging 14 home runs in his first 69 professional games. Nidiffer will likely begin 2011 with the Lexington Legends.

Returning candidates — Sophomore Luke Maile looks to take Nidiffer’s spot not only as UK’s primary catcher but also as the team’s vocal leader. In 26 games as a freshman Maile was 7-35 with three home runs, six RBI and six runs scored. He threw out just two of the ten base runners who tried to steal against him last season. Maile was the 43rd round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2009…Junior catcher Michael Williams will likely split time with Maile at catcher and first base after batting .241 with four doubles, six RBI and three runs scored in 2010. Williams was named an all-star in the New England Collegiate Baseball League this summer and was ranked the No. 4 prospect in the league by Baseball America…Redshirt junior catcher T. J. Daugherty appeared in three games for UK in 2010.

Newcomers to watch — Maile and Williams all but have the top two catching positions on the UK depth chart locked up, but the Cats did add two new catchers to the roster this season. Freshman Steven Hoagland will likely serve as a bullpen catcher for the Cats, while freshman Thomas Bernal will be used primarily as an infielder. Bernal is listed as an infielder/catcher on the roster, giving UK head coach Gary Henderson some useful late-inning flexibility.

Wildcard — Freshman catcher Micheal Thomas redshirted during the 2010 season but started 21 games for the Lexington Hustlers this summer. Thomas struggled with the bat during his time with the Hustlers, going just 14-76, so his primary role for UK in 2011 will likely be a bullpen catcher and possible defensive replacement.

Whitaker Bank secures naming rights to Legends’ ballpark

Minor League Baseball

Applebee’s Park is no more as the Lexington Legends unveiled the new naming rights partner for their stadium: Whitaker Bank. The ten-year-old franchise will play its home games at Whitaker Bank Ballpark beginning this April. Terms of the agreement were not announced, but the team said at its Thursday news conference the partnership with the Kentucky-based bank was a ten-year deal with the option to renew afterward. In a nice touch for fans, all Whitaker Bank locations will sell discounted tickets to Legends home games. That discount, will also apply at the Legends’ box office for fans using a Whitaker Bank debit card, Mark Maloney and Scott Sloan of the Lexington Herald-Leader report.

The Legends announced in December Applebee’s had decided not to renew its ten-year naming rights agreement. The team began looking for a new naming rights sponsor toward the end of the 2010 season, and signed the agreement with Whitaker Bank in December. The terms of the deal could be altered for a number of reasons, including a possible jump to a AA classification or affiliation change to a closer franchise like the Cincinnati Reds, Maloney and Sloan report. (Read more)

Top 2011 Ky Collegians: No. 25 Tyler Fisher

College Baseball

Tyler Fisher; Georgetown College photo

Beginning today BluGrass Baseball will begin counting down the top 25 returning Kentucky college baseball players. The list will not include freshmen or junior college transfers. We’ll begin the list at No. 25 and reveal a new player each day finishing just before the start of the 2011 college baseball season. The rankings are based on a combination of college performance and professional promise. We’ll start with a little small-college love with our No. 25 player:

No. 25 — OF Tyler Fisher — Georgetown College

Fisher, a senior outfielder, was named the New York Collegiate Baseball League most valuable player this summer after batting .366 with five home runs, 25 RBI and 30 runs scored in 26 games for the Allegany County Nitros. Fisher finished the NYCBL season with a .577 slugging percentage and .436 on-base percentage. As a junior at Georgetown Fisher batted .350 with 10 home runs, 43 RBI, 58 runs scored and 14 stolen bases. Fisher boasted a .570 slugging percentage and .422 on-base percentage in 2010. If Fisher carries his promising summer into the 2011 season, he might be able to follow former Bellarmine infielder and 2010 Seattle Mariners draftee Patrick Brady as Kentucky small-college players selected in the MLB draft.