Chapman, Alonso among best IL prospects; Kentucky players make AFL debuts; Zobrist, Rays eliminated

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Aroldis Chapman; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The league championship series are set with a few Kentucky players remaining in the playoffs. Check out some links from around Kentucky baseball while you muster through far too many days without baseball before the second round of the playoffs:

  • Former Lexington Legends infielder Ben Zobrist and the Tampa Bay Rays were eliminated in a 5-1 loss to the Texas Rangers.
  • John Wagner of Baseball America ranks Louisville Bats left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman No. 3 and first baseman Yonder Alonso No. 12 on the magazine’s top 20 International League prospects list.
  • In the accompanying online chat, Wagner answers a number of questions about Bats players including Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart, Juan Francisco, Chris Valaika and Travis Wood. (subscription required)
  • Frazier was 2-4 with a triple, RBI and run scored for Team USA in the team’s 7-2 loss to the Dominican Republic in the Pan Am Qualifying Tournament.
  • PRP alum Zack Cox, the Cardinals’ 2010 first-round pick, was 0-5 with four strikeouts in his Arizona Fall League debut for the Surprise Rafters.
  • Former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke pitched a scoreless inning in his AFL debut for the Peoria Javelinas.
  • Atlanta Braves right-handed pitching prospect Michael Broadway, born in Paducah, surrendered one run in one inning in his AFL debut for the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
  • Bats catcher Devin Mesoraco was 3-4 with a home run, three RBI and run scored for the Peoria Saguaros of the AFL. Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere was 0-1 in the game for Peoria.
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Zobrist, Rauch, Wood excel on first day of playoffs

Major League Baseball

Ben Zobrist; Photo by Keith Allison via Flickr

Kentucky highlights from Wednesday playoff action and the latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch pitched a perfect inning for the Twins in the team’s 6-4 loss to the Yankees. Lexington native Austin Kearns didn’t appear in the game for New York.
  • Former Lexington Legends utility man Ben Zobrist plated the Rays only run in the team’s 5-1 loss to the Rangers with a solo home run. Zobrist finished the game 2-4 with a home run and double.
  • While the story of the Reds/Phillies game is undoubtedly Roy Halladay’s no-hitter, 2010 Louisville Bats left-handed pitcher Travis Wood did pitch three and one-third scoreless innings of relief for the Reds. Wood struck out three while surrendering one hit and one walk.
  • Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader profiles Baseball Hall of Fame Chairwoman Jane Forbes Clark, who is competing in the World Equestrian Games.

Kentuckians in MLB Playoffs

Major League Baseball

The playoffs are officially underway with the Texas Rangers up 4-0 on Tampa Bay at the time of this posting. The playoffs aren’t without plenty of Kentucky connections as every team except the Giants has a player with Bluegrass State connections. Check out the list of Kentucky natives and former minor league players participating in the playoffs below:

Cincinnati Reds (NL Central)

  • Edison Volquez — Louisville Bats (2010)*
  • Johnny Cueto — Louisville Bats (2007)
  • Aroldis Chapman — Louisville Bats (2010)
  • Logan Ondrusek — Louisville Bats (2008, 09, 10)
  • Bill Bray — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09, 10)
  • Homer Bailey — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09, 10)
  • Travis Wood — Louisville Bats (2009, 2010)
  • Joey Votto — Louisville Bats (2007)
  • Jay Bruce — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09)
  • Drew Stubbs — Louisville Bats (2008, 09)
  • Jonny Gomes — Louisville Bats (2009)
  • Ryan Hanigan — Louisville Bats (2003, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10)
  • Chris Heisey — Louisville Bats (2009)
  • Paul Janish — Louisville Bats (2007, 08)
  • Juan Francisco — Louisville Bats (2009, 10)

Philadelphia Phillies (NL East)

  • Joe Blanton — Franklin-Simpson HS (UK)

Atlanta Braves (NL Wild Card)

  • Jonny Venters — Born in Pikeville, Ky. (HS in Florida)
  • Brooks Conrad — Lexington Legends (2003)

Minnesota Twins (AL Central)

  • Jon Rauch — Oldham Co. High School (Morehead St.)

New York Yankees (AL Wild Card)

  • Austin Kearns — Lafayette High School

Tampa Bay Rays (AL East)

  • Ben Zobrist — Lexington Legends (2005)

Texas Rangers (AL West)

  • Josh Hamilton — Louisville Bats (2007)*

*– Volquez and Hamilton both played for Louisville only during rehab assignments.

No Byrd threequel in Boston; MVP voting

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Paul Byrd; Photo by scart via Flickr

Light day for news as baseball and journalism slows down a little for the Holiday. Don’t worry though, BluGrass Baseball is still chugging away.

  • 2009 Bat outfielder Chris Heisey finished in the voting for Arizona Fall League MVP.
  • Chad Finn of The Boston Globe tries to predict the Red Sox 2010 Opening Day roster and favors Tim Wakefield in the fifth starter spot over “Paul Byrd, the threequel.”
  • Lexington Legends Hall-of-Famer Ben Zobrist finished eighth in the American League MVP voting.
  • Pikeville-native Mark Reynolds finished tied for 20th in the National League MVP voting.
  • Former Louisville Bat Joey Votto also received votes.

BluGrass Baseball top fantasy players

Major League Baseball

 

Joey Votto; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Tristan H. Cockcroft ESPN.com has released his preliminary rankings for the 2010 top 200 fantasy players. Clearly this list will change based on offseason movement and injuries before March, but it’s never too early to start preparing your fantasy draft. Here are the players with Kentucky ties on the list:

 

  • 41) 1B Joey Votto — Louisville Bats — Cincinnati Reds
  • 44) 3B Mark Reynolds — Pikevilly, Ky. — Arizona Diamondbacks
  • 58) OF Adam Dunn — Louisville Bats — Washington Nationals
  • 90) INF/OF Ben Zobrist — Lexington Legends — Tampa Bay Rays
  • 100) OF Hunter Pence — Lexington Legends — Houston Astros
  • 114) OF Jay Bruce — Louisville Bats — Cincinnati Reds
  • 136) SP Wandy Rodriguez — Lexington Legends — Houston Astros
  • 145) SP Brandon Webb — Ashland, Ky., UK — Arizona Diamondbacks
  • 146) 2B Dan Uggla — Louisville, Ky. — Florida Marlins
  • 177) 2B Felipe Lopez — Louisville Bats — FA

You can see Cockcroft’s full list here.

BluGrass Players up for Unsung Star of 2009

Major League Baseball

 

Ben Zobrist; Photo by Keith Allison via Flickr

Voting for the This Year in Baseball awards is currently live on MLB.com and two BluGrass Baseball players are nominated for the “Unsung Star” award. Pikeville-native and Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds and Lexington Legends Hall of Famer and Tampa Bay Rays utility man Ben Zobrist are up against eight others for the award.

 

Reynolds batted .260 with a record 44 home runs for a Kentucky native and 102 RBI to go with 42 stolen bases. Zobrist, who appeared at first, second, third, shortstop and outfield for the Ray in 2009, batted .297 with 27 home runs and 91 RBI. Zobrist was elected to the Legends’ Hall of Fame this season.

Jason Bartlett, Billy Butler, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Aaron Hill, Ubaldo Jiminez, Adam Lind and Jayson Werth are also nominated for the award. (Vote here)

BluGrass Baseball on MLB leaderboard

Major League Baseball
Joey Votto; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Joey Votto; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

When the minor league season ended we checked where BluGrass Baseball player ranked on the minor-league leaderboard, so now we’ll do the same for major league players. I’ve broken down the leaderboards by league and added the player’s total MLB rank in parentheses afterward.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Batting Average

  • 5) Joey Votto (9) — Reds — 2007 Bats — .322
  • 10) Felipe Lopez (18) — Brewers — 2004 Bats — .310

Home Runs

  • 4) Mark Reynolds (4) — D’Backs — Pikeville — 44

Hits

  • 5) Felipe Lopez (13) — Brewers — 2004 Bats — 187

On-Base Percentage

  • 4) Joey Votto (5) — Reds — 2007 Bats — .414

AMERICAN LEAGUE

On-Base Percentage

  • 4) Ben Zobrist (11) — Rays — 2005 Legends — .405

Bluegrass players among ESPN’s top 100 keepers

Major League Baseball
Photo by angela n. via Flickr

Photo by angela n. via Flickr

ESPN has released its list of top 100 fantasy keepers for 2010. Keepers in fantasy baseball are players that a fantasy owner has control of for multiple seasons. The list doesn’t necessarily reflect the best fantasy players, because youth is rewarded since an owner will control the player for multiple years. You can see the full list here, but these are the Kentucky players and their rankings:

  • 23 — Mark Reynolds — Arizona Diamondbacks — Pikeville, Ky.
  • 40 — Joey Votto — Cincinnati Reds — Louisville Bats
  • 56 — Adam Dunn — Washington Nationals — Louisville Bats
  • 69 — Hunter Pence — Houston Astros — Lexington Legends
  • 80 — Ben Zobrist — Tampa Rays — Lexington Legends
  • 83 — Jay Bruce — Cincinnati Reds — Louisville Bats
  • 92 — Drew Stubbs — Cincinnati Reds — Louisville Bats
  • 99 — Dan Uggla — Florida Marlins — Louisville, Ky.

Friday Links: Cook helps Rockies clinch Wild Card

Major League Baseball
Aaron Cook; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Aaron Cook; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

More major league action as the season winds down in today’s links, and a story about one Kentucky native being extremely underrated.

  • Fort Campbell native Aaron Cook won the Wild Card-clinching game for the Rockies, his 11th win of the season.
  • Legends’ Hall-of-Famer Ben Zobrist hit his 27th home run of the season.
  • Mark Reynolds Home Run Record Watch: 1-4, 2 SO
  • Pikeville-native Reynolds was ranked tenth on Yahoo Sports’ list of sports’ most underpaid athletes.

Thursday Links: UK opens practice

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UK Athletics Wallpaper

UK Athletics Wallpaper

Lots of college news in today’s links, so get started reading on this Thursday morning.
  • WKU has announced its 2010 schedule, including a game against UK at the Hot Rods’ park.
  • Congress recognized the 125th anniversary of the Hillerich & Bradsby Co.’s Louisville Slugger bats.
  • UK has opened fall practice and set times for weekend scrimmages which are open to the public.
  • Murray State Athletics profiles former pitchers Daniel Calhoun and Mike Perconte.
  • Lexington Legends Hall-of-Famer Ben Zobrist hit his 26th home run of the season.