Marcus Nidiffer, center; Photo: UK Athletics
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- Brian Foley of College Baseball Daily reports University of Louisville sophomore left-handed pitcher Keith Landers is out until midseason after undergoing a second surgery on his throwing arm during the fall.
- The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association has released its preseason poll with UofL at No. 22.
- The Lexington Legends annual caravan will begin Wednesday in Danville. The Caravan will also make stops in Cynthiana, Lexington, Somerset, Columbia and Jackson. Kentucky minor leaguers Marcus Nidiffer, Ben Revere, Chaz Roe, Jeremy Shelby and John Shelby III will attend the Lexington event on Thursday. Former Kentucky major leaguers Willie Blair, Andy Green, John Shelby Jr., Jeff Parrett and Josh Anderson will also appear at one of the caravan stops.
- Larry Stone of The Seattle Times catches up with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik about his negotiations with former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton. In summary, Zduriencik doesn’t sound very optimistic about Paxton signing before Spring Training.
- T. R. Sullivan of MLB.com recaps the Texas Rangers’ offseason, pointing to the team’s acquisition of Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb as one of the moves that will define the success of the offseason.
- In examining the Atlanta Braves’ offseason Steven Henson of Yahoo! Sports concludes second baseman Dan Uggla, who was born in Louisville, is the new face of the team.
- As noted by the Legends, Andy Green has retired and will serve as the hitting coach for the rookie-level Missoula Osprey in 2011.
- We’ve removed the Morehead State University lineup projection post after learning several of the choices were inaccurate. It appears Cody Gibson and Garrick Whittle are competing for a weekend rotation spot with Matthew Robertson being a midweek starting pitcher for the Eagles. Junior Matt Cartwright will likely replace Gibson as the Eagles closer. Senior Jeff Arnold may miss some time with an injury. Sophomore Austin Haney is the leading candidate to replace All-OVC shortstop Drew Lee, and freshman outfielder Duran Elmore appears unlikely to see early playing time. (I’ve decided to try the series again but remember the projections are just speculation on my part)
Luis Cruz; BluGrass Baseball photo
Kentucky highlights from the final day of regular season across MiLB:
- The Louisville Bats clinched their third consecutive International League West Division title with a 6-3 win over Indianapolis. Left fielder Todd Frazier and center fielder Dave Sappelt each homered for Louisville.
- Lexington Legends left-handed pitcher Luis Cruz was perfect through five innings and the Lexington bullpen held off a late rally to post a 6-5 win over Rome in its final game. Right fielder Renzo Tello was 3-3 with two doubles and three runs scored.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods finished the second half at 30-40 with a 7-1 win over Great Lakes in its final game. Left fielder Dustin Biell was 4-5 with a home run, double, RBI and two runs scored.
- Former UK infielder Andy Green homered for the second consecutive game and sixth time this season for AAA Buffalo.
- One-time UK outfielder Jason Kipnis was 3-5 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored.
- Former UofL infielder Chris Dominguez homered for the second consecutive game and 21st time this season for low A Augusta. Dominguez topped the 100-RBI plateau for the year.
- Former UofL infielder Logan Johnson was 4-4 with a double, home run, three RBI and three runs scored for high A Winston-Salem.
- Former EKU infielder Neil Sellers slugged his seventh home run of the season for AAA Lehigh Valley.
- Former NKU outfielder Jake Shaffer was 3-5 with three doubles, three RBI and a run scored for High Desert and finished the season with a .336 batting average, tops among Kentucky minor leaguers.
- Lafayette High School alum Chaz Roe earned his ninth win of the season after surrendering three runs in six innings for AAA Colorado Springs.
Logan Darnell; UK Athletics wallpaper
Highlights from Wednesday Kentucky MiLB action:
- The Louisville Bats tallied just four hits in a 2-1 loss to Charlotte. Left-handed pitcher Ben Jukich surrendered just one unearned run in five innings and struck out eight while walking four.
- Just one Lexington Legends pitcher didn’t surrender a run in a 9-5 loss to Rome. Right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya took the loss after surrendering six runs in four and two-third innings.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods tallied eight hits but couldn’t score a run in a 10-0 shutout loss to Quad Cities. Right-handed pitcher Kirby Yates suffered through his worse start of the season after surrendering eight runs in four and two-third innings for the Hot Rods.
- Former UofL left-handed pitcher and 2010 Cardinals draftee Dean Kiekhefer recorded two shutout innings for Quad Cities and struck out five Hot Rods.
- Former UofL left-handed pitcher Justin Marks took the loss for low A Cane County despite surrendering just two runs in seven innings. Marks struck out six and walked one.
- Former NKU outfielder Jake Shaffer was a single shy of the cycle for high A High Desert. Shaffer finished the game 3-4 with a double, triple, home run, three RBI and one run scored.
- Former UK infielder Andy Green was 3-4 with two doubles and two runs scored for AAA Buffalo.
- Former UK left-handed pitcher and 2010 Twins draftee Logan Darnell made his professional debut by retiring two of the three batters he faced for rookie-level Elizabethton.
- Former UofL outfielder and 2010 Rangers draftee Josh Richmond slugged his first professional home run for short-season Spokane.
- Former WKU infielder Terrence Dayleg was 3-4 with a double and two RBI for low A Greensboro.
- Former EKU infielder Neil Sellers was 2-2 with two walks and three runs scored for AAA Lehigh Valley.
- Lafayette High School alum Chaz Roe fell to 6-11 on the season after surrendering five runs in five innings for AAA Colorado Springs.
- Paducah native Daniel Webb fell to 0-3 for short-season Auburn after surrendering five runs in three innings in his seventh professional start.
Chris Dominguez; UofL Photo
Now that the college season and draft are officially out of the way, BluGrass Baseball will shift its focus to a greater emphasis on the Minor Leagues during the second half of the MiLB season. Each morning we’ll update you on what the three in-state teams did the day before and some highlights from other Kentuckians in the minors. Links below will take you to MiLB.com box scores.
- Recently signed outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. was 3-5 with his first home run to lead the Louisville Bats to a 7-2 win over the Toledo Mud Hens.
- Five different Bowling Green Hot Rods recorded two hits in the team’s 5-3 win over the Lansing Lugnuts. Right-handed pitcher Jason McEachern earned the win after holding the Lugnuts scoreless on four hits for six and one-third innings while striking out four and walking two.
- The Lexington Legends lost 4-3 to the Rome Braves despite a relatively solid pitching performance from Brad Dydalewicz, who surrendered four runs on seven hits in seven innings and struck out four while walking three.
- Former UK and Henry Clay High School standout Collin Cowgill launched his seventh home run of the season for the AA Mobile BayBears.
- Former UofL third baseman Chris Dominguez was 4-5 with a home run, double, stolen base, two RBI and three runs scored for the low A Augusta GreenJackets.
- Lafayette High School alum Chaz Roe continued his struggles for AAA Colorado Springs, allowing seven runs on nine hits in five and one-third innings to take his eighth loss of the season.
- UofL alum and Futures Game selection Trystan Magnuson continued his stellar pitching for the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats with two and one-third scoreless innings. Magnuson allowed just one hit, struck out four Reading Phillies and walked none.
- EKU alum Neil Sellers was 2-5 with a home run, double, two RBI and two runs scored in that same game for the Phillies.
- UofL alum and 2010 draftee Thomas Royse took the loss in his first professional decision after allowing five runs on five hits in three and one-third innings for the rookie-level Great Falls Voyagers.
- Campbellsville alum Richie Rowland was 2-4 with a double, two RBI and one run scored in that same game for the Missoula Osprey.
- UK alum Andy Green was 2-5 with a home run for the AAA Buffalo Bisons.
Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr
Earlier this month I posted a Spring Training position battle primer for Kentucky fans looking to keep track of their native sons hoping to make MLB rosters. These were the borderline major leaguers and players assured of making the roster but fighting for a bigger role, not established players. With one week left before Opening Day I thought I’d update each battle so you have a better idea of where the official Kentuckians in the majors count will stand in 2010. A special kudos goes to PLD alum and Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis who appears ready to start the season with the big league club after starting catcher Russell Martin suffered a groin injury.
Toronto Blue Jays: Closer
- University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is all but eliminated in the three-way closer race that will go to righties Jason Fraser or Kevin Gregg. Downs recently commented to a Toronto newspaper he prefers pitching in the eighth inning anyway.
San Francisco Giants: Fifth starter
- Louisville-native and Bellarmine alum Todd Wellemeyer has all but wrapped up the fifth starter position after star prospect Madison Bumgarner was sent to AAA this week. Wellemeyer is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA this spring.
Cleveland Indians: Left fielder
- Lexington-native Austin Kearns has likely lost the starting job to top prospects Michael Brantley and Matt Laporta, but should still stick with the Indians as a reserve. The team is very left-handed, so Kearns’ right-handed bat is needed for balance.
Seattle Mariners: Relief pitcher
- Louisville-native Shawn Kelley appears destined to make the team per this MLB.com blog post, but hasn’t had a great spring. Kelley has given up eight runs in 12 innings, but does have 14 strikeouts compared to just one walk.
New York Mets: Relief pitcher
- No one in the Mets bullpen has really stepped up this Spring so Louisville Male alum Sean Green remains firmly in the mix for an Opening Day spot despite a 6.75 ERA and eight walks compared to four strikeouts this spring.
Cincinnati Reds: Utility reserve
- Despite an early camp injury, non-roster invitee and St X alum Chris Burke is still hanging on to a big league Spring Training spot. Burke is batting just .188 in eight games, so he’ll have to sell the Reds on his defensive versatility to avoid spending 2010 in his hometown with the Bats. 2009 Louisville Bat Drew Sutton is still in the mix.
- Candidates: Burke, Sutton, Aaron Miles, Paul Janish
Hit the jump for the concluded competitions.
Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Spring Training games are officially underway, making today an excellent chance to examine what BluGrass Baseball players are battling for specific roles on major league squads and roster spots. I’ve outlined relevant battles I can think of below, but feel free to include any you would add in the comments section.
Toronto Blue Jays: Closer
- University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is in a three-way battle for the Blue Jays closer position. Toronto manager Cito Gaston has said he might use a closer-by-committee approach if none of the three candidates step up. Downs saved nine games in 13 opportunities last season.
- Other candidates: Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg
St. Louis Cardinals: Fifth Starter
- 2009 Louisville Bats starting pitcher Ben Jukich is in Cardinals camp as the team’s Rule 5 pick. Jukich must be on the 25-man roster all season for the Cardinals to avoid giving him back to the Reds, so he may be given added chance to make the team out of camp. If he doesn’t earn a starting spot he could be considered for a left-handed reliever spot.
- Other candidates: Rich Hill, Mitchell Boggs, Kyle McClellan
Los Angles Dodgers: Right-handed reliever
- Kentucky Wesleyan alum Cory Wade is looking to regain his spot in the Dodgers bullpen one year after shoulder pain led him back to AAA. Wade is in an open competition for a right-handed setup role after Ronald Belisario’s visa trouble getting into the country, but he would probably take a spot in middle relief if it means leaving the minors.
- Other Candidates: Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, Charlie Haeger
Hit the jump to see more spring position battles.
Dan Uggla; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
A few afternoon notes to pass along as some updates of some of the storylines we were following before the Holidays.
- Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports a source with the Marlins says the chances of Louisville-native Dan Uggla beginning 2010 with the Marlins are increasing daily.
- University of Kentucky alum Andy Green resigned a Minor League contract with the New York Mets.
- Hap Fry of the Fort Collins Coloradoan profiles Rocky Mountain High School’s baseball program which produced current UK infielder Andy Burns.
- Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports arbitration raises to players including UK alum Joe Blanton will affect what the Phillies can do in the remainder of the offseason.
- Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune (writing for Baseball America) had this to say about UK alum John Shelby in BA’s White Sox prospect chat: (subscription required)
- “Treybone is still on the organization’s radar because of his speed-power combination. But he’s definitely viewed more as a possible role player than a likely regular. He needs to get his batting average back up near .300 this year, and that will be a challenge.“
Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr
Two quick transactions from Kentucky minor leaguers to pass along; first the good news then the bad. C. Trent Rosecrans of CNATI.com reports Louisville-native Chris Burke has signed a minor-league contract with the Cincinnati Reds. Burke will compete for a major league utility spot with the Reds in Spring Training, and if he doesn’t make the team he’ll begin 2009 with his hometown Louisville Bats. “I think we see him as a potential candidate for the utility role on the major league club and if nothing else, he’ll play at Louisville, he’s from Louisville, it’s his hometown and he’s very excited about the possibility to play for either club,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty told Rosecrans. “He’s an experienced guy that might be able to help us.” (Read more)
In less positive news for Bluegrass fans, Lexington-native and University of Kentucky alum Andy Green was released by the New York Mets Thursday. The Mets made the procedural move to free up space on their 40-man roster. Green now becomes a free agent.