It’s time for the annual preseason BluGrass Baseball awards in advance of Opening Day tomorrow. We’ll begin with freshman of the year, but look for pitcher of the year and player of the year later today.
Freshman of the year: Corey Littrell — University of Kentucky
Freshman of the year is always the most difficult award to pick considering the playing time of freshmen is so up in the air early in the season. Last year’s postseason winner, Justin Amlung, wasn’t even on the radar for the award before the season began. However, the preseason freshman of the year award should go to a player that is likely to see significant playing time and has the talent to back up that selection. UK freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell begins the season as the Cats’ primary midweek starter, meaning he should be in line for big starts against in-state rivals like UofL and WKU. UK head coach Gary Henderson was also quick to note the added flexibility Littrell brings the Cats as a left-handed reliever on the weekend.
Littrell was selected in the 43rd round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Washington Nationals and was considered the top high school draft prospect in the state last season. After going 8-3 with a 1.90 ERA at Trinity High School his senior season, Littrell was named the Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the year by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association. He struck out 101 batters in 77 and one-third innings as a senior and walked just 21. If any of UK’s weekend starters are struck by injury or poor performance, Littrell stands to be the first pitcher called upon to fill one of those spots.