- Western Kentucky University, Murray State University, Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University all canceled their Wednesday games due to rain.
- The Lexington Legends, Bowling Green Hot Rods and Louisville Bats were also rained out on Wednesday.
- KHSAA has released its the regional matchups for the 2011 state baseball tournament.
- Baseball America profiles WKU junior outfielder Kes Carter in its latest “Draft Tracker,” noting Carter could be selected as high as the second or third round in the 2011 draft.
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- In the magazine’s midseason top 50 draft prospect ranking, Baseball America ranks University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer the No. 28 prospect in the 2011 draft.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports Bowling Green native Corey Hart took swings in the indoor batting cage without any discomfort on Tuesday and hopes to go on a minor league rehab assignment on Sunday.
- Aaron Fitt of BA includes bot the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University in his latest NCAA tournament projections as at-large bids. He also notes the UK is one of just two teams in the Southeastern Conference without a realistic at-large shot.
- C. L. Brown of the Courier-Journal recaps the UK 3-2 win over UofL on Tuesday, noting UofL redshirt junior outfielder Stewart Ijames said his team was “not competing enough as an offensive unit.”
- Chip Cosby of the Lexington Herald-Leader recaps the game, quoting UK head coach Gary Henderson as saying “When you play Louisville, it’s important no matter what sport it is.
- Former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton struggled in his second start of the season for the Phillies, taking a loss after surrendering five runs on seven hits in six innings. Blanton has a 10.45 ERA on the young season.
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- The Arizona Diamondbacks have re-assigned Lexington native and former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill to minor league camp.
- The Seattle Mariners have optioned Lexington native Chaz Roe to AAA Tacoma.
- Aaron Fitt of Baseball America profiles University of Louisville junior infielder Ryan Wright, who is adapting to becoming a full-time second baseman after playing shortstop and right field during his first two seasons to get his bat in the lineup. (Subscription required)
- Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports Louisville native and former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch could be in line to close games for the Blue Jays if injuries keep Frank Fransisco and Octavio Dotel off the Opening Day roster.
- Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton was frustrated with his Tuesday start, but Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was unconcerned with the results.
Matchup of the week: University of Kentucky @ Rice
UK heads to Houston this weekend for the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. On Friday the Cats face No. 21 Rice and preseason national player of the year favorite Anthony Rendon. UK head coach Gary Henderson tabbed sophomore left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers to the mound versus the Owls. Rogers doesn’t have a decision on the season but has a 3.55 ERA in 12 and two-third innings on the season. Rendon, who Baseball America ranks as the No. 1 prospect in the 2011 draft, is batting .429 with two home runs, seven RBI and 12 runs scored in 10 games.
Tournament Spotlight No. 1: Houston College Classic
Henderson and the Cats have the rare opportunity to play a weekend series at a MLB stadium in front of a national audience. National baseball writers as well a plethora of scouts will be on hand to see Rendon and UK top draft prospect Alex Meyer. Henderson decided not to send Meyer to the mound on Friday for the matchup with Rendon everyone hoped to see, but he will start versus Houston on Saturday. On Sunday sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper will take the mound versus Utah.
Tournament Spotlight No. 2: College of Charleston Classic
Western Kentucky University will head to South Carolina for the second consecutive weekend, this time for to face No. 18 College of Charleston, New York Tech and Auburn. WKU will look to rebound from a disappointing showing at the Baseball at the Beach Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S. C., during which the team went 1-2. Head coach Chris Finwood will send sophomore ace Tanner Perkins to the mound on Friday versus College of Charleston, freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman to the mound on Saturday versus New York Tech and sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Haydel to the mound on Sunday versus Auburn.
Tournament spotlight No. 3: University of Tennessee Tournament
Morehead State University will head south to Knoxville, Tenn., to play in the UT Tournament versus Indiana, Bradley and Tennessee. On Friday the Eagles will send redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Josh Schneider to the mound versus Indiana and Lexington native Chad Martin. PLD alum Martin is 0-0 with a 2.16 ERA in three relief appearances on the season. On Saturday Morehead St. senior right-handed pitcher Trey Smith will face Bradley, and on Sunday freshman left-handed pitcher Noah Smallwood will face Tennessee.
Tournament spotlight No. 4: Memphis Classic Tournament
Eastern Kentucky University heads to Memphis, Tenn., this weekend for a three-game appearance in the Memphis Classic. The Colonels will face Southern Illinois on Friday, Memphis on Saturday and Oral Roberts on Sunday. Expect sophomore right-handed pitcher Anthony Bazzani to get the Friday start for EKU, though head coach Jason Stein has not yet announced his weekend rotation.
Out-of-state Ky. collegians playing Ky. colleges: RHP Chad Martin (Indiana), C/OF Wes Wilson (Indiana), C Ty Downing, SS Zach Osborne (Tennessee), RHP Casey Lucchese (College of Charleston), RHP Chase Joiner (Memphis)
Morehead St. will face a quartet of Kentucky high school alumni in the University of Tennessee Tournament in the form of Indiana catchers Wes Wilson and Ty Downing and right-handed pitcher Chad Martin and Tennessee shortstop Zach Osborne. Martin, a PLD alum, will start versus Morehead St. on Friday. Wilson, a Bryan Station alum, is batting .278 in six games, and Downing, a Greenwood alum, is batting .333 in five games. Osborne, a PRP alum, is batting .438 with three RBI and four runs scored on the season. College of Charleston closer Casey Lucchese, a PLD alum, will look for his first save of the season versus WKU. Joiner is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
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
- 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.
- University of Louisville junior infielder Ryan Wright and junior closer Tony Zych have been named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list by USA Baseball. The award goes to the nation’s top college player each season.
- Richard Skinner of the Cincinnati Enquirer previews Northern Kentucky University‘s season, noting the school is still waiting for word on star slugger Jason Crisper‘s eligibility.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle profiles former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson, who the Oakland Athletics acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in November.
- Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports the Texas Rangers are taking it easy with former UK right-handed pitcher and Ashland native Brandon Webb, having him throw off a mound every three days instead of every two.
- Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA has UofL as a No. 2 seed in the Charlottesville regional in his preseason NCAA tournament projection and the University of Kentucky just missing the field.
- Aaron Fitt of Baseball America has UofL as a No. 3 seed in the Nashville regional in his preseason NCAA tournament projections and also has UK among the teams just missing the field.
In the final BluGrass Baseball preseason awards post we will look at the preseason player of the year.
Player of the year: Ryan Wright — University of Louisville
The preseason player of the year award is essentially a two-way race between UofL junior infielder Ryan Wright, and WKU senior catcher Matt Rice, but the award goes to Wright in a tight race. BluGrass Baseball recently ranked Wright the No. 1 collegiate player in the state, and the second baseman has already been named a preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Baseball America. The Indiana native batted .366 with 16 home runs, 80 RBI and 61 runs scored in 2010. He recently earned the nickname, “RBI Mongrel” from his head coach Dan McDonnell for compiling 146 RBI in two seasons at UofL.
During the summer 2010 Wright played for the collegiate national team and finished the summer season as the Team USA leader in batting average (.361) and runs scored (18). Baseball America recently ranked Wright the No. 30 junior prospect in the 2011 draft. Wright leads returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 RBI, runs scored and home runs and ranks second in 2010 batting average and slugging percentage. The middle infielder will start the season as UofL’s second baseman but could move to shortstop if the need arises. In 2009 Wright received freshman All-American honors from Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and Ping! Baseball.
Inspired by College Baseball Daily’s list of the top 100 college baseball players, BluGrass Baseball is counting down the top 25 returning Kentucky collegians in advance of the 2011 season. We finish the countdown today with the Kentucky position player who has already been named to three different preseason all-American teams.
No. 1 — 2B Ryan Wright — University of Louisville
UofL junior second baseman Ryan Wright batted .366 with 16 home runs, 80 RBI and 61 runs scored in 2010, serving as the Cards’ most consistent hitter throughout the season. Wright leads returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 RBI, runs scored and home runs and ranks second in 2010 batting average and slugging percentage. The middle infielder, who spent most of his time at second base in 2010 and will return there this season, was named a second-team preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and a third-team preseason All-American by Baseball America.
Wright spent the summer with the collegiate Team USA, leading the team with a .361 batting average and 18 runs scored. He slugged two home runs, tallied 12 RBI and stole three bases for Team USA. Baseball America named Wright a second-team All-American following the 2010 season and recently ranked him the No. 30 college prospect for the 2011 draft. Wright was also selected to the first-team All-Big East Conference team, the All-Big East Tournament team and the ABCA All-South Region team following the 2010 season. In 2009 Wright received freshman All-American honors from Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and Ping! Baseball.
Inspired by College Baseball Daily’s list of the top 100 college baseball players, BluGrass Baseball is counting down the top 25 returning Kentucky collegians in advance of the 2011 season. We continue the list today with the top returning 2010 Kentucky draftee.
No. 2 — Matt Rice — Western Kentucky University
WKU senior catcher Matt Rice was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2010 draft, being selected with the last pick by the New York Yankees, but his low draft selection had nothing to due with his 2010 performance. Rice batted .369 with 10 home runs, 65 RBI and 51 runs scored in 2010 while recording just two errors and four passed balls as the Hilltoppers primary catcher. The Tennessee native fell to the last pick in the draft because teams were scared off by his candidacy for the Rhodes Scholarship and 4.0 GPA as a mechanical engineering major.
Baseball America recently named Rice its preseason Sun Belt Conference player of the year, and the Sun Belt coaches selected Rice to its preseason All-Sun Belt team. Rice’s 2010 .369 batting average leads returning Kentucky collegians, his 65 RBI rank second, his 51 runs scored rank fifth and his .585 slugging percentage ranks fifth. Rice’s stellar 2010 season earned him a selection to the first-team All-Sun Belt team following the season. He was a semi-finalist for the Johnny Bench Award that goes to the nation’s top catcher. As a sophomore in 2009 Rice batted .399 with a school-record 31-game hitting streak. BA ranked Rice the No. 15 senior prospect in advance of the 2011 draft.