UofL is team on the rise; Kime, Littrell among top freshmen draft prospects; Rauch known for more than height

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Jon Rauch; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA lists the University of Louisville among his 25 teams outside of Perfect Game’s top 15 rankings to watch. (Subscription required)
  • Allan Simpson of Perfect Game ranks University of Kentucky left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell the NO. 51 freshman draft prospect in the country and UofL right-handed pitcher Dace Kime the NO. 67 freshman prospect. (subscription required)
  • Mark Zwolinski of The Toronto Star profiles Louisville native and former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch, who he writes “brings a towering presence” to the Blue Jays bullpen as the tallest player in MLB history.
  • Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports Colorado Rockies right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook, who was born in Fort Campbell, will not pitch in the Cactus League for at least several days after experiencing shoulder soreness early in camp.
  • Steve Kornacki of MLive.com reports former UK first baseman Ryan Strieby will get the start at first base in the Detroit Tigers exhibition opener Friday.

BluGrass Baseball Week Two Weekend Preview

College Baseball

It’s time for the weekend preview for Kentucky week two college baseball action. Check out some storylines to watch out for below:

Matchup of the weekendWestern Kentucky University vs. Coastal Carolina

The Hilltoppers head to South Carolina for the “Baseball at the Beach Tournament” hosted by Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are ranked in sever of the college baseball polls, including at No. 17 in the NCBWA top 30, and will present the toughest test for the Hilltoppers so far in the young season. The two teams matchup on Saturday with WKU freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman getting the start. Hageman earned the win in his collegiate debut on Sunday after surrendering two earned runs in five innings. Coastal Carolina is 3-1 on the season.

Player to watchStewart Ijames (UofL)

After being suspended for the University of Louisville‘s opening weekend series for a violation of team rules, redshirt junior outfielder Stewart Ijames will presumably make his season debut this weekend versus Toledo. Ijames, who returned to UofL after turning down the New York Yankees as the team’s 29th round pick in the 2010 draft, batted .324 with 14 home runs, 63 RBI and 47 runs scored last season. Ijames was selected to the 2011 preseason All-Big East Conference team. The Cards did not miss Ijames during the opening weekend, but he may try to make a statement after failing to show up for his absence in the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.

Ky. teams open home schedules

After all but one Kentucky school opened the season on the road the second weekend’s slate of games is full of home action. The University of Kentucky and Morehead State University made their home debuts during the week and play at home this weekend. The University of Louisville, Eastern Kentucky University and Murray State University each make their home debuts this weekend in series versus Toledo, Penn State and Bowling Green St. respectively. Kentucky teams are 4-1 at home on the young season.

Tournament Watch — WKU (Baseball at the Beach Tournament)

We already outlined WKU’s matchup with host Coastal Carolina in the “Baseball at the Beach Tournament,” but the Hilltoppers also face Kansas St. and Pacific this weekend. The Hilltoppers turn to sophomore left-handed pitcher Tanner Perkins in game one versus Kansas St. Friday. Kansas St. is 3-0 on the season. WKU hasn’t announced a starting pitcher for Sunday’s game versus Pacific, which is 0-3 on the season. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Haydel started for the Hilltoppers during the opening weekend but also pitched in relief in WKU’s midweek game.

Out-of-state Ky. collegians playing Ky. collegesRich Witten (Coastal Carolina), Patrick Maronde (Coastal Carolina), John Fidanza (Coastal Carolina)

WKU will face a trio of Kentucky high school alumni in its Saturday matchup versus Coastal Carolina. Danville High School alum Rich Witten is the everyday first baseman for Coastal Carolina and is 2-16 with three RBI and two runs scored in four games this season.  Lexington Catholic alum Patrick Maronde is a freshman right-handed reliever for the Chanticleers but hasn’t appeared in a game yet this season. Patrick is the younger brother of University of Florida junior right-handed pitcher Nick Maronde. Freshman catcher John Fidanza has started two of Coastal Carolina’s four games during the team’s opening series.

This post originally neglected to include John Fidanza among the Kentucky out-of-state collegians playing Kentucky schools this weekend.

UK leadoff man to miss 4-6 weeks with broken finger; Phillies GM: Blanton staying put; Strieby to see time early in spring

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Neiko Johnson; UK Athletics photo

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • The University of Kentucky announced before Wednesday’s game that redshirt senior outfielder and second baseman Neiko Johnson will miss four to six weeks with a broken finger. Johnson injured the finger in Tuesday’s game versus Morehead St. while sliding into second base.
  • Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports while the Cardinals may be in the market for a new staring pitcher, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. reaffirmed his previous position that former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton will be with the Phillies to begin the season and start on April 7.
  • In its latest NCAA tournament projections College Baseball Daily has the University of Louisville as a No. 1 seed and no other Kentucky teams in the field.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb felt normal after his second straight day of long-toss. Webb told Durrett “I think that’s big. I’m recovering and throwing long distances. The plan is to keep going that.”
  • Durrett notes the Rangers’ plan is for Webb to have two more days of strenuous long-toss on Thursday and Friday with a slight break on Saturday.
  • Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland told Dana Wakiji of Fox Sports Detroit that former UK first baseman Ryan Strieby stands to earn more playing time at first base early in Spring Training while Tigers all-star Miguel Cabrera is on leave following a DUI arrest.

Wednesday roundup: WKU, UK both win midweek matchups

College Baseball

Corey Littrell; UK photo by Chet White

Recaps from Wednesday Kentucky baseball action:

  • Normal Saturday starting pitcher Taylor Haydel and first Ryan Huck launched Western Kentucky University‘s first home run of the season in the Hilltoppers’ 6-3 win over Lipscomb. WKU scored two runs in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly from junior outfielder Jared Andreoli and a single from senior catcher Matt Rice to break open a 3-3 tie. Haydel, a sophomore right-handed pitcher, surrendered one hit in two scoreless innings while striking out one to earn the win. Huck, a sophomore first baseman, was 2-5 with a home run, one RBI and one run scored in the game, and senior infielder Casey Dykes was 3-4 with one run scored. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Rye Davis picked up his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning. (Box Score)
  • Freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell did not surrender a hit through the first six innings of his first collegiate start, and the avoided a late Eastern Michigan rally in a 5-2 win. Littrell picked up his first career win after surrendering two runs on two hits in six and one-third innings. He struck out three batters and walked two. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper, UK’s normal Friday night starting pitcher, earned the save with a perfect ninth inning. Senior shortstop Taylor Black was 2-2 with two doubles, one RBI and two runs scored in the game. Junior first baseman Braden Kapteyn and sophomore catcher Luke Maile each tallied two hits in four at-bats. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: Matt Rice (WKU)

  • Stats: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
  • Honorable Mention: Ryan Huck (WKU), Casey Dykes (WKU), Taylor Black (UK), Braden Kapteyn (UK), Luke Maile (UK)

Pitcher of the day: Corey Littrell (UK)

  • Stats: 6.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Phil Wetherell (WKU), Taylor Haydel (WKU), Rye Davis (WKU), Jordan Cooper (UK)

Aroldis Chapman leads Kentucky prospects on top 100 list

Minor League Baseball

Jordan Lyles; Photo: Lexington Legends

Baseball America has released its annual list of the top 100 prospects in Minor League Baseball.  The top 100 includes several players with Kentucky connections. I’ve listed them below but also check out the links to the full BA list and explanations of the rankings at the bottom of the post.

Baseball America Top 100 Prospects

  • LHP Aroldis Chapman — 2010 Louisville Bats — No. 7
  • LHP Matt Moore — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods — No. 15
  • RHP Jordan Lyles — 2009 Lexington Legends — No. 42
  • 2B Jason Kipnis — Former UK outfielder — No. 54
  • 3B Zack Cox — Pleasure Ridge Park HS — No. 63
  • 1B Yonder Alonso — 2010 Louisville Bats — No. 73

BA links

Murray St. falls to 0-4 with midweek loss; Webb has no pain after long-toss session; Edelen to start Wed. for WKU

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Recap of Tuesday collegiate baseball action and other notes from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Murray State University dropped to 0-4 on the season with an 8-4 loss to Arkansas St. despite five solid innings of work from junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Beers. The junior-college transfer rebounded from a poor performance in his first start last Friday to surrender just two hits in five scoreless innings while striking out eight and walking none. Junior second baseman Travis Isaak was 3-5 with one run scored. Freshman left-handed pitcher Kyle Cornett took the loss after surrendering four runs on two hits without recording an out. Junior first baseman Jacob Rhodes was 2-5 with three RBI. (Box Score)
  • You can read BluGrass Baseball‘s full recap of the University of Kentucky 12-3 win over Morehead State Universityhere.
  • Senior right-handed pitcher Brian Edelen will start for Western Kentucky University Wednesday in its game versus Lipscomb.
  • Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb had no ill-effects after a long-toss session Tuesday morning.

Tuesday player of the day: OF Chad Wright (UK)

  • Stats: 3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1  2B
  • Honorable Mention: Thomas McCarthy (UK), Matt Reida (UK), Nick Duff (Morehead St.), Travis Isaak (Murray St.), Jacob Rhodes (Murray St.)

Tuesday pitcher of the day: RHP Tyler Beers (Murray St.)

  • Stats: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Walter Wijas (UK) Matthew Robertson (Morehead St.)

UK blows out Morehead St. 12-3 in first in-state game of 2011

College Baseball

Chad Wright; Photo: UK Athletics

In the first intrastate matchup of the 2011 season the University of Kentucky had no trouble with the Morehead State University pitching staff in a 12-3 win. Six different UK batters tallied multiple hits in the game. UK junior outfielder Chad Wright was 3-4 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. UK Sophomore right-handed pitcher Walter Wijas was credited with the win after pitching three and two-third scoreless innings in relief. Wijas struck out three batters and walked two. UK freshman second baseman Matt Reida was 3-5 with one RBI and two runs scored in the game, and junior third baseman Thomas McCarthy was 3-5 with one RBI and two runs scored. UK freshman right-handed pitcher Jonathan Paquet surrendered two runs in three innings in his first collegiate start.

The Morehead St. pitching staff was able to work out of trouble early in the game, preventing UK from scoring a run after loading the bases in three consecutive innings, but a three-run seventh inning and four-run eighth inning from UK put the game out of reach. At the plate Morehead St. junior catcher Taylor Davis was 2-5 with one RBI. Junior outfielder Luke Bainer, sophomore shortstop Austin Haney and redshirt freshman outfielder Nick Duff each tallied two hits in the game. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cody Gibson was credited with the loss after surrendering four runs on seven hits in three innings. The Eagles used seven different pitchers in the game, including weekend starting pitchers Trey Smith and Josh Schneider. (Box Sc0re)

UofL moves up to No. 16 in NCBWA poll; Boras to advise Meyer; UofL commitment named HS All-American

College Baseball

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • The University of Louisville moved up to No. 16 in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top 25 poll.
  • Jim Callis of Baseball America reports University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer will be advised by super-agent Scott Boras during his negotiations with the MLB team that drafts him this summer. The last UK player to be advised by Boras was James Paxton, who was declared ineligible for his senior season after the NCAA ruled Boras negotiated with the Toronto Blue Jays on Paxton’s’ behalf instead of just advising him, a violation of NCAA rules.
  • Baseball America has named UofL commitment Nick Burdi, a right-handed pitcher from Illinois, a second-team preseason high school All-America.
  • Emily Patton of the College Heights Herald writes Western Kentucky University baseball returned at the right time for WKU athletics.
  • Brad Stephens of the College Heights Herald examines WKU’s offensive outburst during its first series.

BluGrass Baseball Pitching Leaderboard: February 22

College Baseball

In the second weekly leaderboard post we’ll look at the top pitching statistics from the first weekend of the season. To be eligible for the ERA and batting average against categories, pitchers must have at least one inning per team game.

ERA

  • Justin Amlung — UofL — 0.00 (7.2 IP)
  • Tanner Perkins — WKU — 0.00 (6 IP)
  • Stephen Hefler — EKU — 0.00 (6 IP)
  • Brian Edelen — WKU — 0.00 (3 IP)
  • Chad Green — UofL — 0.00 (3 IP)
  • Derek Self — UofL — 0.00 (3 IP)
  • Mike Nastold — UofL — 0.00 (3 IP)

Wins

  • Justin Amlung — UofL — 1
  • Chad Green — UofL — 1
  • Matt Koch — UofL — 1
  • Tanner Perkins — WKU — 1
  • Justin Hageman — WKU — 1
  • Rye Davis — WKU — 1

Strikeouts

  • Alex Meyer — UK — 13
  • Matt Koch — UofL — 8
  • Garrick Whittle — Morehead St. — 7
  • Taylor Rogers — UK — 7
  • 4 players tied at 5

Innings Pitched

  • Justin Amlung — UofL — 7.2
  • Alex Meyer — UK — 7
  • Tanner Perkins — WKU — 6
  • Stephen Hefler — EKU — 6
  • Taylor Rogers — UK — 6
  • Trey Smith — Morehead St. — 6

Saves

  • Tony Zych — UofL — 2
  • Gabriel Shaw — UofL — 1

Batting Average Against

  • Stephen Hefler — EKU — .056
  • Chad Green — UofL — .083
  • Tanner Perkins — WKU — .111
  • Derek Self — UofL — .111
  • Mike Nastold — UofL — .111

Appearances

  • Tony Zych — UofL — 2
  • Gabriel Shaw — UofL — 2
  • Lincoln Wagner — EKU — 2
  • Tyler Hieneman — Morehead St. — 2
  • Nick Kennedy — UK — 2

BluGrass Baseball Midweek Schedule: Feb. 22

College Baseball

BluGrass Baseball graphic

In our first midweek schedule of the season four of the six Kentucky Division I schools are in action. Check out the schedule below with probable starters where available.

Tuesday

  • University of Kentucky @ Morehead State University — 2 p.m. — RHP Jonathan Paquet vs. RHP Cody Gibson — Wazoo Sports (TV)
  • Murray State University @ Arkansas St. — 3 p.m. (CT) — RHP Tyler Beers

Wednesday

  • Western Kentucky University vs. Lipscomb — 3 p.m. (CT)
  • UK vs. Eastern Michigan — 4 p.m. — LHP Corey LittrellGametracker