Yesterday we looked at the hitting and pitching leaderboards for full-season Kentucky minor leaguers in advance of the BluGrass Baseball MiLB awards post. If you saw that post you already know former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer was named the rookie of the year, but looking at the statistical leaders among players that made their professional debuts in 2010 is still helpful.
In the fourth August awards post we’ll look at the month’s best performances from alumni of Kentucky schools and those born in the state from around Minor League Baseball:
Hitter of the month: OF Jake Shaffer (High Desert Mavericks)
The former NKU outfielder has been among Kentucky’s best minor leaguers all season and August was no exception. Shaffer batted .356 with three home runs, 20 RBI and 16 runs scored for the month. The Walton native boasted a 1.038 OPS for the month.
Honorable Mention: Tyler Kuhn, Shawn Roof, Wade Gaynor, Wes Cunningham, Phil Wunderlich, Lance Ray, Keenan Wiley, John Shelby, Jason Kipnis
Pitcher of the month: LHP Logan Darnell (Elizabethton Twins)
The former UK left-handed pitcher struggled as a starter in college, but has been lights out since moving to the rotation for rookie-level Elizabethton. Darnell was 2-2 with a 1.33 ERA and 25 strikeouts compared to just five walks in 27 August innings. Darnell made five starts in the month and has a 1.44 ERA as a starter on the season.
One-time Madisonville resident Matt Klinker couldn’t earn a victory in his return to the Louisville Bats, who suffered a 6-2 loss to Indianapolis. Third baseman Juan Francisco and left fielder Todd Frazier each homered in the game.
The Lexington Legends surrendered over 10 runs in a game for the second time this month in a 13-1 loss to Kannapolis. Center fielder Grant Hogue was 2-3 for Lexington.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods opened their final homestand of the season with a 3-1 loss to Lake County. Center fielder Dustin Bell homered for Bowling Green.
PRP alum and 2010 Cardinals first-round pick Zack Cox made his professional debut with a 4-5 performance for the rookie-level GCL Cardinals.
One-time UK outfielder Jason Kipnis was 3-5 with a double and two runs scored for AA Akron.
Former UK outfielder and 2010 Braves NDFA Keenan Wiley was 4-5 with a double and run scored for rookie-level Danville.
Former WKU left-handed pitcher and 2010 Twins draftee Bart Carter earned his second win of the season with four scoreless innings of relief for the rookie-level GCL Twins.
Former Union College right-handed pitcher Marty Popham posted a quality start for high A Kinston but took a no decision after surrendering three runs in six innings.
Former Bellarmine infielder and 2010 Mariners draftee Patrick Brady slugged his first professional home run for the rookie-level AZL Mariners.
Hawesville native and 2010 Orioles draftee Michael Mosby was 3-4 for the rookie-level GCL Orioles.
The Louisville Bats recorded their seventh consecutive win with a 4-3 victory over Toledo. Left fielder Todd Frazier was 3-4 with a double, two RBI and one run scored, and left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth inning for his sixth save.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods opened their series at West Michigan with a 5-3 loss. Right fielder Brett Nommensen was 2-5 with a home run, RBI and two runs scored.
The Lexington Legends were off Wednesday.
Former UofL infielder an 2010 Rays draftee Phillip Wunderlich slugged his fourth home run of the season for short-season Hudson Valley.
Former WKU left-handed pitcher and 2010 Twins draftee Bart Carter earned his first career win for the rookie-level GCL Twins.
Lafayette High School alum Chaz Roe took a no decision for AAA Colorado Springs after surrendering three runs in four innings.
Most of the 2010 draftees who have already signed professional contracts have a few Minor League games under their belt by now so I thought I’d update you on their early performances. Check out the list below, organized by draft position, with Minor League team listed and Kentucky connection in parentheses:
RHP Thomas Royse (UofL) — Great Falls Voyagers — 0-0, 1 GS, 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO
2B Chris Bisson (UK) — Eugene Emeralds — Has not played
OF Lance Ray (UK) — Elizabethton Twins — 5-23 (.217), 2 RBI, 2 R
SS Jonathan Roof (Paducah) — AZL Rangers — Has not played
RHP Neil Holland (UofL) — Vermont Lake Monsters — 0-0, 2 G, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO
2B Adam Duvall (UofL) — Salem-Keizer Volcanoes — 2-11 (.182), 3 R
SS Drew Lee (Morehead St.) — Bristol White Sox — 8-23 (.348), 5 RBI, 3 R
1B Andrew Clark (UofL) — Spokane Indians — 11-28 (.393), 2 RBI, 3 R
3B Michael Mosby (Hawesville) — Bluefield Orioles — 4-10 (.400), 1 RBI, 3 R
RHP Patrick Cooper (Danville) — Not assigned to a team
University of Kentucky junior first baseman and outfielder Lance Ray has signed a professional contract with the Minnesota Twins as the team’s eighth-round pick. Ray was a little-used reserve for UK during the first half of the 2010 season, but after moving into the starting lineup full-time during conference play he quickly became the team’s best hitter. Ray finished the season batting .356 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI but didn’t qualify for the batting title with only 118 at-bats. If Ray had qualified for the title he also would have led the team in on-base percentage (.458) and slugging percentage (.720). Ray made his professional debut Tuesday for the rookie Elizabethton Twins, playing alongside former UK teammate Gunner Glad. Ray was 0-4 with a strikeout in his debut.
Now that the rookie leagues’ seasons are underway several other 2010 Kentucky draftees have received their first professional assignment. We listed several assignments earlier this week, but here are the latest we’ve seen listed by draft order.
Lance Ray — University of Kentucky — Rookie Elizabethton Twins
Michael Mosby — Hawesville, Ky., Wabash Valley JC — Bluefield Orioles
The draft is already underway, but we’ll continue our previews for schools with some players projected to go in later rounds. You can follow the Kentucky-related draft news all day from BluGrass Baseball via Twitter. Check out prospects from Western Kentucky University below:
One would think a catcher that has hit as well as Matt Rice has would be a top draft prospect, but a variety of factors have diminished his prospect status. First, he’s a little oversized for the position and doesn’t look pretty at times on defense. But perhaps even more relevant to his draft hopes is his status as a candidate to become WKU’s first Rhodes Scholar. Baseball America projected the potential honor would move Rice down teams boards as they are leery of the prospects of trying to sign him away from Rhodes. Still Rice should go off the board on day two.
Senior right-handed pitcher Matt Ridings, the Sun Belt pitcher of the year, was projected to be drafted in the first ten rounds before Tommy John surgery ended his season just before the Sun Belt Conference tournament. Still when asked by BluGrass Baseball, Jim Callis of Baseball America said of Ridings: “Area scouts love him. Someone will take a flier.” Ridings doesn’t have great stuff or eye-popping size, but he’s demonstrated an excellent feel for pitching through his WKU career.
Redshirt sophomore closer Rye Davis missed 2009 with an eye injury, but was unhittable during his return this season. Davis saved nine games and struck out 63 in 49.2 innings. Opponents batted just .249 against Davis, who even made a start during the Sun Belt tournament. As a draft-eligible sophomore Davis figures to go late in the draft to a team who hopes it can sign him away from returning to WKU for his junior season.
Senior hoping for chance
Senior second baseman Matt Payton batted .354 in 2010 with seven home runs and 55 RBI. Payton figures to be a late senior sign in the draft and will hope to impress a team enough to stick around during short-season ball.
Left-handed pitcher Bart Carter was ranked among the top 25 draft prospects in the state by Baseball America after experiencing mixed success in the WKU bullpen in 2010. Carter finished the year 3-1 with a 5.61 ERA, but could get a chance late in the draft as a lefty specialist.
Other eligible juniors
OF Matt Bracken
OF Chris Bullard
OF Monte Ketchum
RHP Scott Pederson
OF Kory Petri
RHP Brian Edelen
LHP Garrie Krueger
Other eligible seniors
RHP Shane Cameron
1B Jake Wells
High school signees
RHP Justin Hageman of Hopkinsville High School was listed by Baseball America as one of the state’s top 25 draft prospects and could be the best candidate of Kentucky high schoolers to sign.
While one of the Wednesday’s conference tournament games scheduled for Kentucky teams was postponed, the other two postseason eligible squads were in action. Read below for recaps and awards from those games:
No. 9 University of Louisville, the No. 1 seed in the Big East Conference tournament, came-from-behind to defeat eight-seed West Virginia 11-4 in the Cards’ opening game of the tournament. UofL trailed four to one entering the seventh inning, but scored four times in the seventh and six times in the eighth inning to blow the game open. Sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright was 2-5 with a home run, five RBI and two runs scored. Senior shortstop Adam Duvall and senior third baseman Phil Wunderlich also tallied two hits in the game. Sophomore right-handed reliever Tony Zych earned the win with one and one-third scoreless innings out of the Cards’ bullpen. (Box Score)
Eight-seed Western Kentucky University took the lead in extra innings, but one-seed Florida Atlantic launched a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to hand the Hilltoppers a 9-8 loss in their opening game of the Sun Belt Conference tournament. Sophomore shortstop Logan Robbins was 3-6 with a home run, four RBI and one run scored. Junior closer Rye Davis made his first start of the season and allowed five runs, two of which were earned, in four and one-third innings. Senior reliever Bart Carter took his first loss of the season. (Box Score)
The opening-round Ohio Valley Conference tournament game between Murray State University and Eastern Kentucky University was postponed untill 9 a.m. (CT) Thursday due to a power outage that prevented the lights from being turned on. The loser of today’s game will have to immediately turn around and face Southeast Missouri at 12:30 (CT).
Hitter of the day: 2B Ryan Wright (UofL)
Stats: 2-5, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, 1 2B
Honorable Mention: Logan Robbins (WKU), Jared Andreoli (WKU), Adam Duvall (UofL)
Pitcher of the day: RHP Thomas Royse (UofL)
Stats: ND, 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB 6 SO
Honorable Mention: Tony Zych (UofL), Neil Holland (UofL), Phil Wetherell (WKU)