Baseball America has released its South region NCAA baseball preview, which includes the Southeastern, Ohio Valley and Sun Belt conferences. The magazine named Western Kentucky University senior catcher Matt Rice its preseason Sun Belt player of the year and selected University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer to its preseason All-SEC team. Morehead State University junior catcher Taylor Davis and Eastern Kentucky University senior outfielder Ryan Faidley were named to the All-OVC team. BA ranked WKU outfielder Kes Carter as the best prospect in the Sun Belt and projected UK, WKU, EKU, Morehead St. and Murray State University to each miss the postseason. (Subscription required)
Detroit Tigers farmhand Wade Gaynor recently returned to his alma mater for an interview with the WKU media relations department.
In a revised Big East Conference preview from Kendall Rogers, Allan Simpson of Perfect Game USA ranks UofL junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych the No. 3 2011 draft prospect in the conference. Other UofL players included on the 2011 draft prospect rankings were second baseman Ryan Wright (No. 6), right-handed pitcher Mike Nastold (No. 8), outfielder Stewart Ijames (No. 11), right-handed pitcher Derek Self (No. 15) and right-handed pitcher Gabriel Shaw (No. 20). Simpson ranked UofL sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Koch, sophomore first baseman Zak Wasserman, freshman right-handed pitcher Chad Green and sophomore outfielder Jared Clarkson among the Big East’s top 2012 draft prospects.
In it’s North Region Preview Baseball America picks the University of Louisville to finish third in the Big East Conference. BA includes UofL second baseman Ryan Wright, outfielder Stewart Ijames and relief pitcher Tony Zych on its All-Big East team and ranks freshmen right-handed pitchers Dace Kime and Chad Green as the top two newcomers in the conference. (Subscription required)
Jason Beck of MLB.com reports former UK first baseman Ryan Strieby agreed on a one-year contract with the Detroit Tigers that will kick in for any time the slugger spends on the 25-man roster.
In previewing the Arizona Diamondbacks Steve Gilbert of MLB.com lists former UK outfielder and Lexington native Collin Cowgill among the team’s prospects to watch in 2011.
Patrick Ebert of Perfect Game USA lists University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher and first baseman Braden Kapteyn among the 2011 college baseball sleepers.
Baseball America has released its top 50 draft prospect rankings for each class with several Kentucky players included on the lists. Western Kentucky University senior catcher Matt Rice;University of Kentucky senior shortstop Taylor Black, junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer and sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper; and University of Louisville junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych and junior infielder Ryan Wright were ranked among the top 50 prospects in their respective classes. (subscription required)
UofL will host two intra-squad scrimmages at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The games are open to the public.
Stephanie Storm, writing for BA, reports one time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis has worked his way into consideration for a spot on the Cleveland Indians’ MLB roster. (Subscription required)
Brian Foley of College Baseball Daily previews the Big East Conference, picking the University of Louisville to finish third in the conference. Foley also lists Lexington native Justin Riddell among the key returnees for Cincinnati.
Kendall Rogers of Yahoo Sports! and Rivals.com picks the University of Louisville to finish second in the Big East in his conference preview. Rogers named UofL second baseman Ryan Wright, outfielder Stewart Ijames and right-handed reliever Tony Zych to his preseason all-Big East team. Rogers reports right-handed pitcher Mike Nastold will fill one of the weekend starter slots.
Rogers also breaks down his No. 19 college team in his preseason poll: Coastal Carolina. Among the key contributors for the Chaticleers in 2011 will be Danville native Rich Witten, Rogers reports.
Jim Callis of Baseball America runs down the prospect scouting reports that were pushed out of the magazine’s “Prospect Handbook” due to new acquisitions including former Morehead St. infielder Drew Lee. BA calls Lee a “smart hitter with surprising pop for his size,” and notes the White Sox could have found a bargain in Lee if he continues to hit at higher levels.
Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer lays out the case for the Phillies trading former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton.
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com thinks it makes sense for the Phillies to keep Blanton according to his latest mailbag and reports it’s unlikely the team would ask Blanton to defer some of his 2011 salary to later years.
Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reports the Oriole have shown little interest in Blanton despite their need for a starting pitcher.
The University of Louisville is the latest Kentucky school to release its 2011 baseball schedule. In the latest post in the schedule breakdown series we’ll look at the big series on UofL’s schedule, including in-state matchups:
Feb. 18-20 — vs. Michigan, Ohio St., Minnesota — Big East/Big Ten Challenge (Fla.)
Links from around the Kentucky baseball world for your Tuesday morning:
Murray State University senior first baseman Wes Cunningham was named the Ohio Valley Conference player of the week for his performance last week, including setting the new school single-season home run record.
University of Louisville senior first baseman Andrew Clark was named the Big East Conference player of the week.
The Cards jumped to No. 7 in the latest Rivals.comranking.
Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman picked up is second win of the season for the Louisville Bats but allowed six runs on nine hits in five innings. He struck out eight and walked one in the Bats’ 20-7 blowout of Buffalo.
University of Kentucky alum Joe Blanton took the loss in his return from a strained left oblique for the Philadelphia Phillies but pitched well, allowing four runs in six and two-third innings.