With just two days remaining until the start of the 2011 college baseball season it’s time to unveil the 2011 preseason BluGrass Baseball All-State team. Eligible players either play for a Kentucky college or attended a Kentucky high school. Check out the team below, with short bios on the first-team players. Remember, we’ll update this team at midseason and after the regular season is over.
C — Matt Rice — Western Kentucky University
- .369/.446/.585, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 51 R
- Rice was the first-team catcher on the 2010 BluGrass Baseball postseason All-State Team and returns to WKU after declining to sign with the New York Yankees as the team’s 50th round draft pick this summer. Rice may have been Mr. Irrelevant in the draft after being selected with the last pick, but he’s far from irrelevant in Kentucky college baseball as he should be in the running all season for the player of the year award. Rice was named All-Sun Belt Conference following the 2010 season, and recently was named the preseason Sun Belt player of the year by Baseball America.
- Second Team: J. J. Ethel (UofL) — .303/.384/.459, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 15 R
1B — Rich Witten — Coastal Carolina (Danville High School)
- 2010: .312/.393/.584, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 22 R
- After spending most of 2010 as a key reserve for the Chanticleers before moving into the starting lineup as the everyday first baseman in time for postseason play. Witten is expected to begin 2011 as the NCAA-regional hopeful’s first baseman and hopes to build on his strong postseason play. Witten was named to the Myrtle Beach All-Regional team after batting .278 with a double, home run and 6 RBI in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. As a junior at Danville High School Witten slugged 25 home runs, the second most in a single season in KHSAA history.
- Second Team: Zak Wasserman (UofL) — .324/.405/.419, 11 RBI, 9 R
2B — Ryan Wright — University of Louisville
- 2010: .366/.413/.638, 16 HR, 80 RBI, 61 R
- Junior infielder Ryan Wright has already been named a preseason all-American by three different outlets, including a second-team selection by Baseball America. Wright leads returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 RBI, runs scored and home runs and ranks second in 2010 batting average and slugging percentage. The second baseman spent the summer with Team USA, where he led everyday players with a .361 batting average and 18 runs scored. UofL head coach Dan McDonnell recently called Wright a “RBI mongrel,” noting the junior has 146 RBI in two seasons at UofL.
- Second Team: Travis Redmon (Morehead St.) — .333/.411/.497, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 42 R
3B — Andrew Deeds — Morehead State University
- 2010: .305/.356/.603, 13 HR, 39 RBI, 43 R
- Junior infielder Andrew Deeds leads a weak crop of Kentucky third baseman returning from the 2010 season. Deeds ranks third among returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 home runs and slugging percentage. The Trinity High School alum finished the 2010 season on a 12-game hitting streak and tallied 12 multi-hit games on the year. In the Eagles’ series against in-state rival EKU, Deeds was 7-15 with four home runs and six RBI.
- Second Team: Colton Moore (Murray St.) — .328/.383/.429, 1 HR, 39 RBI, 23 R
SS — Richie Rodriguez — Eastern Kentucky University
- 2010: .357/.405/.496, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 55 R, 21 SB
- Junior shortstop Richie Rodriguez led the Colonels in batting average, stolen bases and hits in 2010. He ranks second in 2010 stolen bases and third in 2010 batting average and runs scored among returning Kentucky collegians. The Miami, Fla., native was named a Louisville Slugger freshman all-American following the 2009 season. Rodriguez started every game in 2010 at shortstop and the leadoff slot in the lineup for EKU. He tallied 24 multi-hit games in 2010 including five four-hit games.
- Second team: Taylor Black (UK) — .270/.386/.489, 11 HR, 37 RBI, 44 R, 12 SB
OF — Stewart Ijames — University of Louisville
- 2010: .324/.406/.570, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 47 R
- Redshirt junior outfielder Stewart Ijames returns to Louisville after declining to sign with the New York Yankees as the team’s 29th round pick in the 2010 draft. Ijames was named second-team All-Big East and selected to the all-Big East Tournament Team following the 2010 season. He ranks third among returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 batting average and RBI and fifth in 2010 slugging percentage. Ijames was named a Ping! Baseball and Louisville Slugger freshman all-American in 2008 and missed the 2009 season with a shoulder injury.
- Second Team: Ryan Faidley (EKU) — .324/.420/.605, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 44 R
OF — Kes Carter — Western Kentucky University
- 2010: .341/.418/.484, 7 HR, 53 RBI, 40 R, 14 SB
- Junior outfielder Kes Carter was named first-team all-Sun Belt following the 2010 season and returns to WKU hoping to improve his draft status. Carter ranks fourth among returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 on-base percentage and fifth in 2010 RBI and stolen bases. The outfielder recorded a 15-game hitting streak last season between April 6 and 25 and committed just one error in 2010. Carter was selected in the 43rd round of the 2008 draft by the Florida Marlins following his senior season in high school.
- Second Team: Chad Wright (UK) — .316/.388/.413, 2 HR, 37 RBI, 36 R, 12 SB
OF — Jared Andreoli — Western Kentucky University
- 2010: .341/.415/.484, 5 HR, 49 RBI, 61 R, 14 SB
- Junior outfielder Jared Andreoli led the Hilltoppers with 32 multi-hit games in 2010 and tallied a 15-game hitting streak from March 12 to April 3. Among returning Kentucky collegians Andreoli ranks first in 2010 runs scored, fifth in stolen bases and fifth in on-base percentage. Andreoli ranked eight in runs scored in the Sun Belt Conference last season and fifth in triples. The outfielder leads returning Hilltoppers in total bases and tallied six sacrifice bunts last season.
- Second Team: Daniel Pugh — .335/.438/.447, 4 HR, 32 RBI, 45 R
DH — Taylor Davis — Morehead State University
- 2010: .350/.412/..596, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 40 R
- Junior catcher Taylor Davis was named preseason all-Ohio Valley Conference after his strong 2010 season. Davis ranks fourth among returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 batting average and RBI and fifth in 2010 home runs. The junior started 36 games at catcher, six at designated hitter and three at third base for the Eagles in 2010. Davis tallied a 13-game hitting streak, 19 multi-hit games and 13-multi-RBI games last season. The catcher has been selected to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League during the summer of 2011.
- Second team — Braden Kapteyn (UK) — .297/.403/.484, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 31 R
SP — Matt Koch — University of Louisville
- 2010: 3-0, 3.27 ERA, 31 SO/9BB, 44 IP
- Sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Koch did not qualify for the ERA title in 2010, but was outstanding after moving into the Cards’ weekend rotation during conference play. Koch appeared in 11 games for UofL in 2010, including six starts. He surrendered just one run in six innings in UofL’s win over Vanderbilt in the NCAA Regional, earning a spot on the all-regional team. Koch moved into the weekend rotation on April 30 against Rutgers and remained there for the rest of the season. He was the 37th round pick of the Boston Red Sox in the 2009 draft out of high school.
- Second Team: Anthony Bazzani (EKU) — 5-3, 5.47 ERA, 41 SO/30 BB, 77.1 IP
SP — Justin Amlung — University of Louisville
- 2010: 5-2, 4.27 ERA, 55 SO/14 BB, 65.1 IP
- Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung was named the 2010 freshman of the year and boasts the lowest qualifying 2010 ERA of any returning Kentucky pitcher. Amlung started 10 games for the Cards last season, beginning the year as a midweek starter before moving into the weekend rotation. He surrendered just three home runs in 65.1 innings pitched that season and begins the season as UofL’s Saturday starting pitcher.
- Second team: Jordan Cooper (UK) — 4-5, 5.71 ERA, 35 SO/27 BB, 58.1 IP
SP — Alex Meyer — University of Kentucky
- 2010: 5-3, 7.06 ERA, 63 SO/36 BB, 51 IP
- Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer has struggled in two season on campus, but he begins 2011 in the same place he has the last two years as arguably the state’s most talented player. Baseball America recently ranked Meyer the No. 34 prospect in the 2011 draft and selected him to its preseason All-Southeastern Conference team. Meyer is 6-7 with a 6.34 ERA and 143 strikeouts in his UK career but should be a first-round pick in 2011 with a strong season.
- Second Team: Jake Donze (Murray St.) 6-6, 6.02 ERA, 71 SO/56 BB, 83.2 IP
RP — Rye Davis — Western Kentucky University
- 2010: 3-4, 2.72 ERA, 9 saves, 63 SO/20 BB, 49.2 IP
- Relief pitcher might be the most hotly contested spot on the All-State team with redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Rye Davis and UofL top draft prospect Tony Zych. Davis was the 36th round pick of the Cleveland Indians during the summer of 2010 but returned to WKU in hopes of improving his draft status, that may have been hurt when he missed all of 2009 after being struck in the face by a line drive. Davis leads returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 appearances and ranks second in strikeouts and saves.
- Second Team: Tony Zych — 5-2, 5.13 ERA, 1 save, 50 SO/11 BB, 61.2 IP