Lexington Legends ace Jordan Lyles checked in at number four on this week’s installment of the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet, and Bowling Green pitcher Matt Moore was listed at number nine.
The Hot Sheet ranks the best performances of the week from Baseball America’s top prospects. Lyles broke through the rankings by pitching seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and one walk on the week. He’s allowed three or fewer runs in 15 of 17 starts this season.
Moore was almost as impressive this week with a 1-0 record after allowing one run in 13 2/3 innings while striking out 15 and walking just two. Moore has used improved control over his last seven starts to assist his dominance of the South Atlantic League.
With the MLB All-Star Game scheduled for next week, one of the minor league’s shining events the Futures Game is Sunday. Look for a Kentucky Futures Game preview later today, but for now here are some morning links to hold you over:
- UK junior infielder Neiko Johnson has been named a NYCBL All-Star according to UK Athletics. Johnson appears to be performing his way into the shortstop battle for next season. UK Athletics also summarizes the other Cats’ performances in summer leagues.
- Futures Game representative Chris Heisey was the hero for Louisville last night with a 3-6, 1 home run, 4 RBI performance in the Bats’ 5-3 12-inning victory at Toledo.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods lost 9-5 to the Charleston RiverDogs.
- David Duncan earned the win in his Lexington Legends debut, a 9-5 victory over Savannah.
- Former Cat Scott Green picked up his seventh save for High A Lakeland Thursday.
Baseball America released its mid-season top-25 prospects list Thursday. The list is an updated version of the top 100 BA selected in the off-season. The list is a “subscriber-only” feature so I don’t want to steal too much of their thunder, but here is a look at the players with Kentucky connections on the list.
20 — Tim Beckham SS — Bowling Green Hot Rods
- Beckham was the number one overall pick in the 2008 draft and is performing admirably in his first full-season of professional baseball, so his appearance in no surprise.
No other player with Bluegrass connections cracked the top 25, but several Kentucky players were included in the “others receiving votes category.” These players are listed in alphabetical order and include former EKU pitcher Christian Friedrich, Lexington Legends pitcher Jordan Lyles and former Lexington Catholic outfielder Ben Revere.
Houston Astros’ catching prospect Jason Castro checked in at 19 on the list, but skipped Lexington during his ascent through the minor leagues. The Astros’ number-one pick in the 2008 draft began his career at Tri-City and was promoted to High A Lancaster to start the 2009 season.
UPDATE: Baseball America has posted a free version of the list sans analysis of each player.
Each of the Bluegrass state’s three minor league teams won Wednesday following strong pitching performances. Here are the recaps from those games and any other BluGrass Baseball news to get you through a cloudy Thursday morning:
- The Hot Rods defeated the Charleston RiverDogs 6-2 on “Bark at the Ballpark” night.
- The Legends rode two early homer runs from Brian Pellegrini and Steve Brown to a 7-3 win over Savannah.
- Lexington also completed several roster moves. Infielder Ronald Ramirez was promoted to High A Lancaster, and infielder Chris Jackson returned to Lexington from Lancaster. Left-handed pitcher David Duncan was promoted from short-season Tri-City to Lexington, and right-handed pitcher Jose Trinidad was added to the 7-day disabled list with right shoulder injury.
- The Courier Journal recaps the Bats’ 4-2 victory over Max Klinger’s favorite team, the Toledo Mud Hens.
- You can replay the live chat with UK Head Coach Gary Henderson and RHP Alex Meyer at “Cat Scratches.” The chat didn’t contain much breaking news, but Henderson did list candidates for the shortstop job and said the two weekend rotation slots next to Meyer were wide open. My favorite answers was Meyer’s response that teammate Marcus Nidiffer was the toughest batter he faced this season. Nice to see Meyer has mastered being politically correct.
- Speaking of the open UK shortstop job…former shortstop Chris Wade made his professional debut yesterday for the rookie GCL Marlins. I’ve added Wade to the KY Minor Leaguers page.
- This is a few days old, but Richard Justice at the Houston Chronicle has an excellent column about former Legend Hunter Pence’s all-star selection.
- Former Legend and American League all-star Ben Zobrist was the hero in Tampa Bay’s 10-9 walk-off victory over Toronto Wednesday.
Just a few afternoon notes to pass along:
- Louisville junior pitcher Justin Marks signed a professional contract to play baseball with the Oakland Athletics. Marks was named a third-team All-American by Baseball America and signed for a $375,300 signing bonus according to the Web site. Marks was the A’s third round pick, but second pick overall.
- Former UK catcher Sean Coughlin will participate in the AA Southern League home run derby on July 12.
- The Reds added former UK pitcher Greg Dombrowski to the 60-day DL.
- The Rockies placed former EKU pitcher Christian Friedrich on the 7-day DL.
- Lexington Legends’ pitcher Jordan Lyles garnered a tweet from BA writer Ben Badler this morning for his 10-strike out performance last night. Badler said Lyle’s was “bumgarner-ing” his way through the SAL in honor of Giants’ top prospect Madison Bumgarner.
Before we get to this morning’s links I’d just like to pass on congratulations to Lexington Legends outfielder Brian Pellegrini for becoming the franchise’s all-time home run leader with 33 long balls. Pellegrini hit 21 home runs in his first season in Lexington in 2008 and has added 12 home runs since returning to Lexington in 2009 after starting the season with High A Lancaster. The “Big Pelli” broke the record on June 15 with his first home run in a two-homer game against Asheville. Tommy Whiteman previously held the record with 28 career home runs. While working the media relations department for the Legends last summer I found Pellegrini to be a refreshing change from the usual minor leaguer. Brian embraced Lexington and didn’t just view it as a minor step on the way to millions.
Now for the links:
I’m going to try and make this a weekly or semi-weekly post with the intention of letting you know where members of each of the state’s three minor league teams rank statistically in both their respective league and organizations. Stats are current as of July 7, 2009.
Louisville Bats (AAA Cincinnati Reds)
Baseball America’s mid-season all-star Chris Heisy paces the Bats’ offense by ranking first in batting average in the Reds’ farm system. Heisy has posted a .341 average between Louisville and Carolina. He also is tied for farm system lead in home runs (14) and is second in RBI (47). Louisville outfielder Norris Hopper ranks ninth in batting average (.280) in the farm system and Kevin Barker is part of the four-way tie for the farm system lead in home runs (14). Outfielder Drew Stubbs ranks tenth in batting average (.279) and first in stolen bases (32). The Bats rank second in team batting average (.257), runs scored (361), hits (710) and stolen bases (79) in the organization.
Pitcher Zachary Stewart ranks fourth in the Reds’ farm system in ERA (1.17), Matt Moloney ranks fifth (2.28) and Homer Bailey ranks seventh (2.71). The Bats have the market cornered on wins in the organization: Bailey leads the farm system with eight wins, and Sam LeCure and Justin Lehr rank third and fourth with seven and six wins respectively. Louisville closer Josh Roenicke leads the farm system with 11 saves. Bailey (82), LeCure (79) and Moloney (71) rank third, fourth and fifth in strikeouts.
Barker’s 14 home runs rank second in the International League, and Stubbs is tied for the league lead in stolen bases with 32. Despite a big-league promotion Matt Moloney ranks fourth in the IL in ERA (2.28); Homer Bailey ranks eighth (2.71). Justin Lehr leads the IL in wins (11) and Bailey ranks second (8). Bailey is tied for fourth in the league in strikeouts (82).
Hit the jump to see the stats update for Bowling Green and Lexington.
John Mollicone, catcher for the Bowling Green Hot Rods, became the first player in franchise history to be named South Atlantic League player of the week.
Mollicone earned the award after batting .500 with 5 home runs and 10 RBI between June 29 and July 5. On Tuesday Mollicone became the first Hot Rod to record a mult-home run game with two home runs against the Rome Braves.
The UK Bat Cats have lost another important cog in their 2010 roster. Two-year starting shortstop Chris Wade has signed a contract to play professional baseball with the Florida Marlins according to Eric Lindsey at the UK Athletics blog “Cat Scratches.”
Wade was the Marlins’ 11th round pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Players Draft. He batted .313 with six home runs and 42 RBI for UK in 2009. He was named a freshman All-American in 2008 and was All-SEC in 2009. He was UK’s first All-SEC shortstop since 1961.
Wade becomes the second underclassman to leave UK after being drafted this year. RHP Clint Tilford signed with the Colorado Rockies after being selected in the 31st round of the draft. UK has also lost one signee to the draft (Keith Butler, 24th round Cardinals) and expects to lose junior pitcher James Paxton who was selected in the first supplemental round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Senior pitcher Chris Rusin signed with the Chicago Cubs as their fourth round pick.
Rising sophomore Andy Burns is the obvious choice to succeed Wade at shortstop for the Cats, but will have to improve on his 13 errors from 2009 to handle the position full time.
If you’re looking for Kentucky natives on the MLB All-Star Game rosters revealed Sunday, you will be looking for a long time. The National League and American League rosters are devoid of any Bluegrass natives or alumni of Bluegrass colleges.
The state’s only hope for an All-Star rests with Arizona Diamondback’s third baseman Mark Reynolds, a Pikeville, Ky., native. Reynolds is one of five candidates for the final spot on the National League roster. Even Reynolds’ ties to the Bluegrass are debatable as he was born in Pikeville, but attended Fort Colonial High School in Virginia Beach, Va., and the University of Virginia. Reynolds has batted .269 on the season with 24 home runs and 61 RBI.
The only Kentucky ties already named to the All-Star game come from a couple of former Lexington Legends. National League outfield reserve Hunter Pence played for Lexington in 2005 and holds the franchise records for single-season home runs, batting average and slugging percentage.
The American League also boasts a former Legend in Tampa Bay shortstop Ben Zobrist. Zobrist also spent part of 2005 in Lexington where he batted .304 in 68 games.
Here are the duo’s numbers from Lexington in 2005:
Pence —80 games, .338 AVG, 59 Runs, 25 Home Runs, 60 RBI
Zobrist — 68 games, .304 AVG, 45 Runs, 2 Home Runs, 32 RBI