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 one of the best relievers in all of college baseball.
No. 3 — RHP Tony Zych — University of Louisville
Tony Zych; UofL photo
UofL junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych began 2010 as a weekend starting pitcher for the Cards, but after struggling early in the season he moved back to his more comfortable relief role. On the season Zych was 5-2 with a 5.13 ERA in 22 games, including five starts. Zych struck out 50 batters and walked 19 in 59 and two-third innings pitched. The Illinois native was the 46th round pick of the Chicago Cubs in the 2008 draft out of high school
During the summer 2010 Zych recorded 12 saves and posted a 0.89 ERA in 20 and one-third innings pitched for the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod League. Zych was named a Cape Cod all-star and was honored with the postseason outstanding pro prospect and relief pitcher awards in the league. Baseball America recently ranked Zych the No. 25 prospect for the 2011 draft and named the relief pitcher a first-team preseason all-American. Zych spend the summer of 2009 as a pitcher for Team USA.
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 one of the state’s top position players.
No. 4 — OF Stewart Ijames — University of Louisville
Stewart Ijames; UofL photo
UofL redshirt junior outfielder Stewart Ijames batted .324 with 14 home runs, 63 RBI and 47 runs scored. Ijames ranks third in 2010 home runs and RBI among returning Kentucky collegians. Ijames boasted a .570 slugging percentage and .406 on-base percentage in 2010. The Owensboro native also stole seven bases in 11 attempts. Ijames returns to the Cards after turning down the New York Yankees’ contract offer as the team’s 29th round pick.
The Owensboro Catholic alum missed all of the 2009 season with rotator cuff problems. During the summer 2010 Ijames batted .219 with three home runs, 16 RBI and 18 runs scored in 46 games in the Cape Cod League. Prior to the 2010 draft Baseball America wrote “Of all the Cardinals’ hitters, Ijames has the swing best suited for wood bats, and he still has untapped lefty power in his 6-foot-1, 215-pound frame.” Ijames was named to two different freshman all-American teams in 2008 and was second-team all-Big East last season.
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 a returning 2010 draftee.
No. 9 — SS Taylor Black — University of Kentucky
Taylor Black; UK photo
UK senior shortstop Taylor Black was the 28th round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2010 after batting .270 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI and 44 runs scored in 2010. Black was successful in all 12 of his stolen base attempts last season, and he started 55 of UK’s 56 games. Black slugged 10 of his 11 home runs in Southeastern Conference play, where he batted .300 with 22 RBI and 26 runs scored.
Black batted .303 with one home run, nine RBI and 16 runs scored in 23 games for Columbia of the Coastal Plains League this summer. He walked 21 times while striking out just 16 times in the league. Black stole 28 of 31 bases on the summer season. The South Carolina native also played in 11 games for Cotuit of the Cape Cod League, where he was 3-24 with an RBI. Baseball America recently ranked Black the No. 26 senior draft prospect in college 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 one of the top two-way players in the country.
No. 13 — RHP/INF Braden Kapteyn — University of Kentucky
Braden Kapteyn; Photo: UK Athletics
Junior right-handed pitcher and infielder Braden Kapteyn returns to UK as not only the best two-way player on the roster but also as one of the top two-way players in the country. On the mound Kapteyn was 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA and 22 strikeouts to go with 15 walks last season. At the plate, serving as UK’s primary designated hitter while also filling in at first base, Kapteyn batted .294 with six home runs, 28 RBI and 31 runs scored. Kapteyn has also saved six games in his two-year collegiate career and enters the 2011 season as the Cats’ likely closer.
During the summer 2010 Kapteyn was named a Cape Cod League all-star. He was 3-1 with a 0.64 ERA in 15 games for the Harwich Mariners during the summer season. Kapteyn struck out 29 batters, walked 11 and allowed just nine hits in 28 and one-third innings for the Mariners. The Lansing, Ill., native was selected to the 2010 watch list for John Olerud Award, which goes to the top two-way player in the country. In the summer 2009 Baseball America named Kapteyn the best prospect in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Kapteyn was the 39th round pick of the San Francisco Giants in the 2008 draft out of high school.
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 our second consecutive 2010 Cape Cod League all-star.
No. 15 — OF Chad Wright — University of Kentucky
Chad Wright; UK photo
UK outfielder Chad Wright arrived on campus without the publicity of his fellow classmates in 2008, but has been the most consistent performer in the Cats’ vaunted junior class. In a two-year career Wright had batted .328 with six home runs, 60 RBI, 76 runs scored and 22 stolen bases, all while starting almost every game in the outfield. In 2010 the then sophomore batted .316 with two home runs, 37 RBI and 36 runs scored. He stole 12 bases in 15 attempts while starting 53 games for the Cats.
During the summer Wright was named an all-start in the prestigious Cape Cod League where he batted .300 with 18 runs scored, six doubles and 10 RBI in 43 games. He was successful on six of 12 stolen base attempts during the summer season. Wright returns to UK in 2011 as the only full-time outfield starter from last season. Wright has been the Cats’ primary leadoff hitter for the last two seasons and should begin 2011 in that role. Wright’s fellow class of newcomers from 2008 was ranked No. 4 in the country.
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 a 2010 Cape Cod League all-star.
No 16 — RHP Derek Self — University of Louisville
Derek Self; UofL photo
Junior right-handed pitcher Derek Self was 7-0 with a 4.52 ERA in 27 games, including eight starts, for UofL in 2010. The Cave City native struck out 50 batters and walked 11 in 61 and two-third innings. Self moved between the weekend starting rotation and a midweek starting role in 2010, but he did start the Cards’ NCAA tournament opening win over St. Louis. He is among the candidates for a weekend starting role in 2011 but will serve as a valuable weapon either as a starter or reliever.
Self was named a 2010 Cape Cod League all-star and finished the summer season at 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 42 innings for the Chatham Anglers. On July 11 he pitched a complete-game, one-hitter for the Anglers. In his two-year UofL career Self is 14-0 with a 4.25 ERA. He has struck out 84 batters and walked 25 in 108 collegiate innings pitched. Self was named a Louisville Slugger freshman all-American in 2009.
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 one of the top returning Kentucky catchers.
Taylor Davis; Morehead St. photo
No. 17 — C Taylor Davis — Morehead State University
Junior catcher Taylor Davis batted .350 with 11 home runs, 57 RBI and 40 runs scored for the Eagles in 2010. The right-handed hitter’s .350 2010 batting average ranks fourth among returning Kentucky collegians, his 57 RBI rank fourth and his 11 home runs rank fifth. Davis started 36 games at catcher for the Eagles last season, six as the designated hitter and three at third base.
Davis boasted the longest hitting streak of any Morehead St. batter in 2010 at 13 games. He tallied 19 multi-hit games and 13 multi-RBI games last season. Davis tallied five hits and nine RBI against Eastern Kentucky University on April 17. During the summer Davis batted .300 with four home runs, 34 RBI and 35 runs scored for the Alexandria Beetles of the Northwoods League. Davis is scheduled to spend summer 2011 in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
Brian Foley of College Baseball Daily has posted the 2011 Cape Cod League rosters. The Cape Cod League is generally considered the most prestigious collegiate summer league. I’ve listed Kentucky players below, but you can see the full rosters here.
- RHP Chad Green — Freshman — University of Louisville
- C Taylor Davis — Junior — Morehead State University
- OF/RHP Cameron Flynn — Junior — University of Kentucky
- RHP Dace Kime — Freshman — UofL
- RHP Matt Koch — Sophomore — UofL
- OF/RHP Taylor Haydel — Sophomore — Western Kentucky University
- LHP Taylor Rogers — Sophomore — UK
Brandon Webb; Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- Jim Callis of Baseball America has ranked the top 30 prospects from the prestigious Cape Cod League for collegiate players, and included University of Louisville right-handed pitcher Tony Zych at No. 17 on the list. Former University of Kentucky infielder Andy Burns, who transferred to Arizona, checked in at No. 30 on the list. (subscription required)
- In the accompanying online chat, Callis answers questions about a number of other Cape prospects, including UK right-handed pitcher/first baseman Braden Kapteyn, who Callis say will improve upon moving to the mound full-time as a professional.
- Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb felt good following his latest throwing session and still hopes to get into a game for the Diamondbacks before the end of the season.
- Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post reports Rockies right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook, born in Fort Campbell, is a long-shot to return this season after breaking his left Wednesday when he was hit by a Joey Votto one-hopper.
- Matt Zimmer of the Argus Leader writes Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere could have an impact on the Twins playoff push after a surprise call-up last week.
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- University of Louisville right-handed pitcher Tony Zych was named to the All Cape Cod League Postseason Team and received the league award for best reliever and top professional prospect.
- Lexington Legends catcher Ben Heath was named South Atlantic League player of the week after batting .533 with three home runs, 10 RBI and four runs scored last week.
- UofL rising redshirt junior outfielder Stewart Ijames told Jim Pickens of the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer that based on where he was drafted he “basically had no choice but to return [to U of L].”
- Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal reports Louisville Bats manager Rick Sweet says left-handed pitching Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman is ready to help the Cincinnati Reds in their major league bullpen.
- Jason Beck of MLB.com reports the Detroit Tigers have sent former UK first baseman Ryan Strieby for additional tests on his oft-injured left wrist to try to identify the cause of the reoccurring injury.