Albers to work out for MLB teams; Probable 2011 Legend arrested; Louisville finalizes plan for youth baseball complex

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, Youth Baseball

Anderew Albers; Photo: UK Athletics

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Toronto Sun columnist Bob Elliot reports former UK left-handed pitcher Andrew Albers will throw bullpen sessions for the Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies after a strong season for Quebec of the independent Can-Am League.
  • Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports Houston Astros 2010 first-round pick Delino DeShields Jr., a likely 2011 Lexington Legend, was arrested Sunday morning in Georgia and charged with driving under the influence.
  • Last week we linked a report about Louisville’s planned state-of-the-art youth baseball complex. Now Sheldon S. Shafer of the Courier-Journal has more details about the Nations Park project, reporting it will include 25 baseball fields and 25 softball fields.
  • In the online chat accompanying the Arizona Diamondbacks’ top 10 prospects list, Bill Mitchell of Baseball America comments on a few Kentucky prospects including Danville native right-handed pitcher Blake Perry. (subscription required)
  • Adam Revelette of Examiner.com finishes out his five-year anniversary Kentucky Baseball Club team.
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MiLB Roundup: Popham combines on no-no; Goebbert sets RBI record in Legends win; Bats, Hot Rods lose

Minor League Baseball

Henry Mabee; Photo by Wigstruck via Flickr

Highlights from Sunday Kentucky MiLB action:

  • Former Union College right-handed pitcher Marty Popham pitched the first seven innings of high A Kinston’s 10-inning combined no-hitter. Popham struck out eight and walked two.
  • The Louisville Bats suffered a 5-3 loss to Indianapolis after a former Florence Freedom pitcher Chris Jakubauskas surrendered three runs in five innings for the Indians. Third baseman Eric Eymann was 2-4 with a run scored for Louisville.
  • The Lexington Legends used a five-run third inning to record a 9-3 win over Rome. Left fielder Jacob Goebbert set the Legends single-season RBI record with a 3-4, two double, two RBI, three-run-scored performance.
  • The Bowling Green Hot Rods suffered their second straight loss to Great Lakes with a 5-2 defeat. No Hot Rod recorded multiple hits in the game.
  • Former UK outfielder Lance Ray reach based four times for low A Beloit with two singles, two walks and a run scored.
  • Former UofL infielder Chris Dominguez slugged his 20th home run and 99th RBI for low A Augusta.
  • Former UofL catcher and 2010 Giants draftee Jeff Arnold slugged his third home run of the season for short-season Salem-Keizer.
  • Former EKU infielder Neil Sellers slugged his sixth home run of the season for AAA Lehigh Valley.
  • Former NKU right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones posted a quality start after surrendering three runs in six innings for high A Winston-Salem but still suffered a loss.
  • Former Murray St. left-handed pitcher Daniel Calhoun improved to 10-0 on the season with a win in his third straight appearance for low A Quad Cities.
  • Former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Henry Mabee improved to 4-6 on the season after pitching two and two-third scoreless innings.
  • Danville native and 2010 Diamondbacks draftee Blake Perry mad his professional debut with a scoreless inning for rookie-level Missoula.
  • Paducah native Daniel Webb earned his first win for low A Lansing after surrendering one run in six and two-third innings.

Draft Wrap-up: Winners and Losers

College Baseball

The 2010 draft is in the books for the most part, with only former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton‘s status up in the air, so now is as good a time as any to look at some of the Kentucky winners and losers from the last two-plus months of draft news:

Winners

  • Blake Perry — Each of the Kentucky players who signed a professional contract could be listed among the winners, but we’ll single out Perry for his monumental rise over the last year. When BluGrass Baseball broke Perry’s commitment to UK  just over a year ago he was a little known former Boyle County High School pitcher who was spending his senior season playing baseball in Florida. Turn the clock a year ahead and Perry not only improved his stock enough to be drafted in the sixth round but also negotiated a signing bonus worth more than three times the recommended slot amount for players drafted after the fifth round without the help of an adviser.
  • Northern Kentucky University — The draft is a double-edged sword for college teams. Schools want their players selected for the notoriety and recruiting help such news brings but also face losing valuable underclassmen and high school signees the better they do. NKU earned some rare publicity for a DII school with two draftees, and while rising senior left-handed pitcher Dave Middendorf appeared likely to sign with the Yankees after being selected, he didn’t sign before the deadline and could offer the Norse a rare returning draftee in 2011.
  • Western Kentucky University — The Hilltoppers had about as good a draft as a Sun Belt Conference team could hope for with three prominent 2010 seniors being selected and signed to professional teams while both underclassmen and one signee selected chose to return to school for 2011. WKU did lose signee Michael Mosby to the Orioles, but rising senior catcher Matt Rice, rising redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Rye Davis and incoming freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman should help the team build on its early 2010 success.

Losers

  • James Paxton — Paxton still hasn’t signed a professional contract with the Mariners, and since his attempt to return to school after being picked in the first-supplemental round in 2009 failed last season he has no college eligibility left. As such he has until a week before the 2011 draft to sign with the Mariners. After dropping to the fourth round in the 2010 draft he stands to lose a substantial amount of money whenever he signs compared to what he would have received if he had signed in 2009. Paxton appears unlikely to suit up in affiliated ball this season unless he signs in the next few days, so he could begin 2011 with just a handful of indy ball innings under his belt over the last two years. Paxton has had some tough breaks since the 2009 draft, but at some point he likely needs to cut his losses, sign a contract and just start pitching again.
  • University of Kentucky — The Cats make the loser list only because they had the most to lose from the draft with 11 underclassmen and signees selected. UK probably expected to lose juniors Chris Bisson and Logan Darnell, but the signings of juniors Matt Little and Lance Ray deal a blow to a depleted bullpen and infield. Ray could have been the center of UK’s 2011 offense, but instead the Cats only really got half a season of production from him before he left for professional ball. The loss of signees Tyler Oliver and Perry only complicates matters. The good news is at least five drafted newcomers will arrive on campus this fall.
  • University of Louisville — The Cards have experienced great success under Dan McDonnell, but he faces his biggest rebuilding job yet in 2011 after losing nine players and one signee to the draft. Four of those loses were seniors, but McDonnell will need to find replacements for key 2010 underclassmen contributors in closer Neil Holland, ace Thomas Royse, slugger Phil Wunderlich, outfielder Josh Richmond and valuable left-handed pitcher Dean Kiekhefer. Rising redshirt junior draftee Stewart Ijames will be back as will two drafted signees, including eighth-round pick Dace Kime.

Danville native Blake Perry signs with Diamondbacks

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

UK Athletics Wallpaper

Danville native and University of Kentucky signee Blake Perry has signed a professional contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America reports via Twitter. Perry, the Diamondbacks’ sixth-round pick, signed for a $500,000 signing bonus, Fitt reports. The Danville native and former Boyle County High School pitcher spent his senior season at the Pendleton Academy in Florida.

Perry marks the second UK commitment to sign a professional contract after being drafted this year. Former LCA and Wabash Valley Junior College first baseman Tyler Oliver previously signed with the Washington Nationals as the team’s 35th round pick. UK signees J. T. Riddle, Corey Littrell, Matt Reida and Lucas Witt were also selected in the 2010 draft. The Cats also picked up a late commitment following the draft from New York prep pitcher Jonathan Bobea, the 19th-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels.

Draft signing deadline morning notes

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

The deadline for drafted players to sign with their professional teams is tonight at midnight, meaning college coaches from around the state will be holding their breath to learn the status of some of their would-be freshmen and returning players. I thought I’d give a quick refresher about where some of the unsigned players stand before the deadline:

  • Pleasure Ridge Park alum and Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox is the lone first rounder among Bluegrass draftees, but all indications point to him signing before the deadline. Cox is a draft-eligible sophomore so he has enough leverage that he probably won’t sign until a few hours, if not minutes, before the deadline. Draft expert Jim Callis of Baseball America is on record as predicting Cox will sign with the Cardinals.
  • Seattle Mariners fourth-round pick James Paxton, the former University of Kentucky left-handed pitcher, is unsigned but is not restricted by the midnight deadline as he pitched in an independent league in 2010. Don’t expect any movement on Paxton today, as his agent Scott Boras has plenty of other first-round draftees to negotiate for before the deadline.
  • Danville native Blake Perry, a right-handed pitcher who played high school ball in Florida in 2010 and has signed to play collegiately at UK, is still in negotiations with the Arizona Diamondbacks as the team’s sixth round pick. Arizona has evidently cut off negotiations with its first-round pick, leaving Perry as the team’s highest drafted unsigned player. Negotiations are expected to last through the day, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports.
  • University of Louisville signee Dace Kime, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ eighth-round pick, has said he will attend UofL, though Kendall Rogers of Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com tweeted over the weekend Kime to UofL wasn’t a 100 percent lock.
  • Keep in mind this stat from Callis and BA: Last season clubs signed 93 percent of all players drafted in the first 10 rounds. Callis also notes big signing bonuses after the 10th round are the exception rather than the rule.
  • As for the rest of the unsigned players, it appears likely most if not all of the Kentuckians drafted after the 25th round will end up at their respective schools in the fall. However there might be a surprise or two among the group so keep checking the BluGrass Baseball twitter feed all day for updates.

Several high school draftees look likely to attend college

College Baseball, High School Baseball

With the weekend deadline for MLB draft picks to sign looming, several of the Kentucky high school prospects selected in the 2010 appear ready to head to college. Ohio prep left-handed pitcher and University of Louisville signee Dace Kime, the eighth round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, told Tim McDonough of The Crescent-News in Defiance, Ohio, that he would follow through on his committment to UofL instead of signing with the Pirates. “The more I waited around (for the Pirates) and the more I was around Louisville, the more persuaded I became to go to school,” Kime told McDonough. “My mom didn’t know about my decision, my dad (Jay Kime) didn’t know about my decision, I just made it and let Louisville know I was coming. Then I told my parents.”

Similarly Mr. Kentucky Baseball, J. T. Riddle, the Western Hills High School shortstop/pitcher and Boston Red Sox 35th round selection, told Linda Younkin of The State Journal in Frankfort he would follow through on his commitment to the University of Kentucky. “After being drafted there was some thought about not going [to UK], but the Red Sox had come back and said that where my shoulder was injured they couldn’t offer what I was asking and so that really put that down the drain, and I just decided to go on to UK,” Riddle told Younkin. In July the Courier-Journal also reported Trinity High School right-handed pitcher Corey Littrell, the Nationals’ 42nd round pick and Louisville Slugger player of the year, would attend UK.

Indiana prep infielder Matt Reida, the White Sox 47th round pick, told the Kokomo Tribune in Indiana after the draft he was likely following through on his commitment to UK and has given no indication to the contrary since. Boone County High School outfielder Ronald Cotton, the White Sox 45th round pick, committed to play collegiate ball at the University of Cincinnati in July, one month after the draft. I’ve found no media reports about the status of Hopkinsville High School right-handed pitcher and WKU signee Justin Hageman, Lexington Christian Academy outfielder and UK signee Lucas Witt or UofL signees Joel Bender and Chad Green. Since each of those players was drafted after the 25th round the chances of them attending school are good.

The Kentucky high school player who appears most likely to sign a professional contract is Danville native Blake Perry, a right-handed pitcher who signed with UK but was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth round. Perry told The Advocate-Messenger in late July he still had no idea whether he would sign or not, but he figures to garner a six-figure signing bonus if he choses to go to Arizona. Earlier this week Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported the Diamondbacks were still working to sign Perry.

Draft Update: 18 Kentucky draftees have yet to sign

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

We’re just over three weeks from the Aug. 16 deadline for Major League teams to sign their non-college senior draft picks, so I thought we’d look at the remaining Kentucky draftees who have yet to sign. Remember over-slot deals aren’t announced until the deadline so some of these players may have agreed to deals that haven’t been announced yet:

  • 3B — Zack Cox — Louisville (University of Arkansas) — 1st Round — St. Louis Cardinals
  • LHP — James Paxton — University of Kentucky (Ind. League) — 4th Round — Seattle Mariners
  • RHP — Blake Perry — Danville (Pendleton Academy, Fla.) — 6th Round — Arizona Diamondbacks
  • RHP — Dace Kime — Ohio HS (University of Louisville Signee) — 8th Round — Pittsburgh Pirates
  • LHP — Joel Bender — Ohio HS (UofL Signee) — 27th Round — Cincinnati Reds
  • SS — Taylor Black — University of Kentucky — 28th Round — St. Louis Cardinals
  • OF — Stewart Ijames — UofL — 29th Round — New York Yankees
  • RHP — Justin Hageman — Hopkinsville High School — 32nd Round — Kansas City Royals
  • SS — J. T. Riddle — Western Hills High School — 35th Round — Boston Red Sox
  • RHP — Rye Davis — Western Kentucky University — 36th Round — Cleveland Indians
  • RHP — Chad Green — Illinois HS (UofL Signee) — 37th Round — Toronto Blue Jays
  • OF — Lucas Witt — Lexington Christian Academy — 38th Round — Los Angeles Dodgers
  • RHP — Casey Lucchese — Lexington (College of Charleston) — 39th Round — Chicago Cubs
  • LHP — Corey Littrell — Louisville Trinity — 42nd Round — Washington Nationals
  • LHP — David Middendorf — Northern Kentucky University — 44th Round — New York Yankees
  • OF — Ronald Cotton — Boone County High School — 45th Round — Chicago White Sox
  • INF — Matt Reida — Indiana HS (UK Signee) — 47th Round — Chicago White Sox
  • C — Matt Rice — WKU — 50th Round — New York Yankees

Rice has already gone on record with his intentions to return to WKU for his senior season, but the final destinations for the other players are at least relatively uncertain. It’s probably safe to assume most of the high schoolers drafted in the later rounds will follow through on their college commitments, barring a team paying way over the slot recommendation to sign them.

Shackleford signs; Cowgill honored; Webb throws again; Paxton, Perry in negotiations with MLB teams

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball


Latest Kentucky-related baseball news:

  • Trinity High School alum and Savannah College of Art and Design junior right-handed pitcher Stephen Shackleford has signed a professional contract with the San Francisco Giants as the teams 35th round pick according to a SCAD news release.
  • Earlier this week we reported Franklin County High School alum and Indiana University Southeast junior outfielder Cameron Conner had signed with the Royals as the team’s 20th round pick. For more information about Conner check out the video above and this story from the IUSE media relations department about Conner being the school’s first ever MLB draft selection.
  • Former University of Kentucky outfielder and Lexington native Collin Cowgill was selected to Baseball America‘s weekly Prospect Hot Sheet. Cowgill checked in at No. 12 on the list while 2009 Lexington Legend Jordan Lyles was ranked No. 2 and 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rod Matt Moore was ranked No. 7. Former University of Louisville third baseman Chris Dominguez was included on the “Not-So Hot Sheet.”
  • Ashland native and former UK pitcher Brandon Webb was satisfied with his most recent bullpen session as he works his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports.
  • Former UK pitcher James Paxton‘s father spoke with Lyndon Little of the Vancouver Sun and said the family was thrilled Paxton was selected by the Seattle Mariners.
  • Boyle County native and UK signee Blake Perry hasn’t decided whether he will sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks as the team’s sixth-round pick or attend UK, Larry Vaught of the Danville Advocate Messenger reports.

Day Two Draft Breakdown

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Day two of the Major League Baseball amateur player’s draft finished this evening with the completion of round 30. Twenty-six players with Kentucky ties have been drafted so far including three by the Texas Rangers. Check out the full list below:

  • 1st Round (25) — 3B Zack Cox — Pleasure Ridge Park (Arkansas) — St. Louis Cardinals
  • 3rd Supplemental (114) — RHP Thomas Royse — Paul Laurence Dunbar (UofL) — Chicago White Sox
  • 4th Round (124) — 2B Chris Bisson — Canada (UK) — San Diego Padres
  • 4th Round (132) — LHP James Paxton — Canada (UK) — Seattle Mariners
  • 6th Round (181) — RHP Blake Perry — Danville (Fla. HS) — Arizona Diamondbacks
  • 6th Round (195) — LHP Logan Darnell — Tennessee (UK) — Minnesota Twins
  • 8th Round (237) — RHP Dace Kime — Ohio (UofL signee) — Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 8th Round (255) — OF Lance Ray — Nevada (UK) — Minnesota Twins
  • 8th Round (256) — SS Jonathan Roof — St. Mary’s (Mich. St.) — Texas Rangers
  • 11th Round (326) — RHP Neil Holland — Owensboro Catholic (UofL) — Washington Nationals
  • 11th Round (348) — 2B Adam Duvall — Butler HS (UofL) — San Francisco Giants
  • 12th Round (368) — SS Drew Lee — Montgomery County HS (Morehead St.) — Chicago White Sox
  • 12th Round (371) — 1B Phil Wunderlich — Illinois (UofL) — Tampa Bay Rays
  • 12th Round (376) — OF Josh Richmond — Ohio (UofL) — Texas Rangers
  • 13th Round (406) — 1B Andrew Clark — Indiana (UofL) — Texas Rangers
  • 14th Round (418) — 3B Michael Mosby — Hancock County (Wabash Valley JC) — Baltimore Orioles
  • 14th Round (433) — RHP Patrick Cooper — Boyle County HS (Bradley) — Detroit Tigers
  • 16th Round (500) — 3B Jayson Langfels — Lafayette (EKU) — Colorado Rockies
  • 17th Round (516) — 1B Wes Cunningham — Eastern HS (Murray St.) — San Diego Padres
  • 20th Round (599) — OF Cameron Conner — Frankfort (IU Southeast) — Kansas City Royals
  • 26th Round (798) — C Jeff Arnold — Male HS (UofL) — San Francisco Giants
  • 27th Round (817) — LHP Joel Bender — Ohio (UofL signee) — Cincinnati Reds
  • 27th Round (831) — 2B Matt Payton — Male HS (WKU) — Philadelphia Phillies
  • 28th Round (843) — RHP Jason Chowning — Eastern HS (Oklahoma) — Houston Astros
  • 28th Round (859) — SS Taylor Black — S. C. (UK) — St. Louis Cardinals
  • 29th Round (895) — OF Stewart Ijames — Owensboro Catholic (UofL) — New York Yankees

Draft Preview: University of Kentucky

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

UK Athletics Wallpaper

While the Cats missed out on the NCAA tournament they will compete with the University of Louisville for most players selected in the MLB draft over the next three days. Even without senior left-handed pitcher James Paxton, the University of Kentucky should enjoy another impressive draft. Check out some of the UK players with the most hope of hearing their names called below:

The sure thing

  • Junior second baseman Chris Bisson is ranked No. 149 on Baseball America‘s top 200 draft prospects list and represents the best prospect among current Kentucky collegians. BA writes that Bisson is likely the best second baseman in the draft that is likely to stay at that position as a professional. After being hit by a pitch in the face early in the 2010 season, Bisson missed only a week but struggled for several weeks following the injury at the plate. Bisson’s intangibles are off the charts and he demonstrated plus speed leading the Southeastern Conference in 2010 and Cape Cod League in summer 2009 in stolen bases. Bisson profiles as a leadoff hitter as a professional and should go in the first five rounds.

Other prospects of note:

  • Junior left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell struggled as a weekend starting pitcher for UK in 2010, but a late-season move to the pen will likely foreshadow his professional role. Darnell enjoyed mixed success as a reliever in 2009, so he has shown he can perform admirably in the role. A mid-season bout with shoulder tendonitis has to scare teams a little, but Baseball America projects Darnell will likely be drafted in the first ten rounds.
  • Junior closer Matt Little burst onto the scene in 2010 after sitting out 2009 following his transfer from Louisberg Junior College and was nearly unhittable for much of the year. Little struggled late in the conference schedule, but still stands a good chance of being selected in the mid-rounds of the draft after striking out 52 batters in 42 innings. Little pitched in the prestigious Cape Cod League during summer 2009.
  • Junior outfielder Lance Ray was among the SEC’s best hitters in the second half of 2010, slugging .720 in just 118 at-bats. He’ll need to find a full-time position to succeed in professional ball, but Ray could very well have slugged his way into a draft selection. He could boost his status even more by returning for his senior season and performing well for an entire year.
  • Junior shortstop Taylor Black was the team’s best defender and even slugged 10 home runs. Black will likely return to UK for his senior year, but could be a valuable late-round pick for a professional team.
  • Redshirt senior utility man Gunner Glad likely has a future as a professional after playing all over the diamond and leading the team with 12 home runs. Glad’s versatility will help him as a professional as he played first, second, third and outfield in 2010. Look for Gunner to come off the board after round 20.
  • Redshirt senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer and redshirt senior outfielder Keenan Wiley have both experience mixed success at UK and should be late-round selections this week.

Other Eligible Juniors

  • RHP Kyle Jackson
  • INF Neiko Johnson
  • LHP Mike Kaczmarek
  • RHP Nick Kennedy

High School Signees

  • Trinity LHP Corey Littrell is the best high school player in the state, but Baseball America reports he’s unlikely to forgo his commitment to UK.
  • BA also ranks Tates Creek RHP Trevor Gott and LCA OF Lucas Witt among the top 25 Kentucky draft prospects.
  • BA ranked Danville native RHP Blake Perry, who attends a prep school in Florida, as the No. 71 prospect in the Sunshine state. Perry has been rising up team’s draft boards with an impressive senior campaign where he hit 92 mph with his fastball and boasted a 76 mph curveball at a recent showcase.