BluGrass Baseball Week Three Weekend Preview

College Baseball

It’s time for the Week three weekend preview. Check out storylines to watch in a tournament-heavy slate of weekend games for Kentucky colleges:

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.

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UK falls 11-6 to College of Charleston in season opener

College Baseball

Braden Kapteyn; Photo: UK Athletics

The University of Kentucky couldn’t silence the powerful College of Charleston offense in an 11-6, season-opening loss to the No. 20 Cougars. UK jumped out to a 3-1 lead on a three-run home run from junior first baseman Braden Kapteyn in the top of the third inning, but College of Charleston answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead. UK tied the game again in the sixth inning with two runs, but the Cougars put the game out of reach with five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Paul Laurence Dunbar alum Casey Lucchese pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close out the game for College of Charleston.

UK freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell took the loss after surrendering five runs on five hits in two and one-third innings pitched. Littrell was effective for his first two innings out of the UK bullpen but imploded in the sixth, surrendering five runs while only recording one out. UK sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper struggled in his first start of the season, surrendering five runs on six hits in three innings pitched. At the plate junior designated hitter Michael Williams was 2-3 with two RBI and a walk. Freshman center fielder Lucas Witt was 1-3 with one RBI in his collegiate debut. (Box Score)

BluGrass Baseball Weekend No. 1 preview

College Baseball

We’re trying something new at BluGrass Baseball this collegiate season with a weekend preview post. You will still get the full weekend schedule later this afternoon, but for now check out a few storylines to watch for the next three days of college baseball.

Matchup of the weekendUniversity of Kentucky @ No. 20 College of Charleston

UK will waste no time in getting a chance to prove its batch of newcomers can help put 2010 behind coach Gary Henderson and his team with a matchup against a top 25 team on opening night. College of Charleston sends ace David Peterson, who was 8-3 with a 5.30 ERA in 2010, to the mound against UK sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper, who was 4-5 with a 5.71 ERA last season. Six starters return to CofC’s lineup that ranked seventh nationally with 9.1 runs per game last season.

Newcomer to watchTyler BeersMurray State University

In somewhat of a surprise Murray St. will turn to junior-college transfer Tyler Beers in its opening day matchup at UNC Asheville. Beers is the first newcomer to get an opening day start for Murray St. since UK transfer Kalen Gibson did so in 2006. Beers was just 2-7 with a 6.12 ERA in 2010 at Mineral Area College, so he must have done something impressive during early practices with Murray St. to earn the opening start. He did strike out 55 batters and walk 20 in 64 and two-third innings pitched last season.

Home cookingWestern Kentucky University

The Hilltoppers are the only Kentucky Division I school opening at home this weekend. WKU welcomes Bowling Green State to Bowling Green, Ky., for a three-game series, and will turn to sophomore left-handed pitcher Tanner Perkins, sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Haydel and freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman in its weekend rotation. You will have to forgive the Hilltoppers if they are a little jealous of the other Kentucky schools, which open in places like Malibu, Calif.; Charleston, S.C.; and St. Petersburg, Fla..

Tournament watchUniversity of Louisville (Big East/Big Ten Challenge)

UofL probably gets its most difficult non-conference weekend series out of the way early with the Big East/Big Ten Challenge this weekend. The Cards send sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Koch to the mound versus Michigan Friday on opening night. On Saturday UofL will send redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung to the mound versus Ohio State, and on Sunday UofL will send redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Mike Nastold to the mound versus Minnesota for his first start since 2009. None of the three Big Ten teams are ranked in Baseball America‘s preseason top 25, but the magazine did pick Minnesota to win the conference.

Out-of-state Ky. collegians playing Ky. collegesCasey Lucchese (CofC), Louie Helmburg (Marshall)

UK will face a pair of former Kentucky high school starts in its weekend appearance at the College of Charleston Invitational in Paul Laurence Dunbar alum Case Lucchese and West Jessamine alum Louie Helmburg. Lucchese, a senior right-handed pitcher, will serve as CofC’s closer after turning down the Chicago Cubs as the team’s 39th round pick in the 2010 draft. Helmburg, a freshman catcher, will serve as a backup for Marshall and will probably have to hope for an at-bat off the bench if he is to face his hometown team.

Kime, Paquet lead previously drafted Kentucky collegians

Uncategorized

Jonathan Paquet; UK photo by Chet White

As part of BluGrass Baseball‘s ongoing college preview check out this team-by-team breakdown of 2011 Kentucky collegians who have been previously selected in the MLB draft. UofL freshman right-handed pitcher Dace Kime is the only player to have been drafted in the first 10 rounds of the draft, and UK freshman right-handed pitcher Jonathan Paquet is the only player to have been drafted multiple times. Players are listed with the school they were at when drafted, draft round and year.

University of Kentucky

  • RHP Jordan Cooper — Shelbyville Central HS (Tenn.) — 17th round (2009) — Pirates
  • RHP Alex Meyer — Greensburg HS (Ind.) — 20th round (2008) — Red Sox
  • RHP Jonathan Paquet — Quebec/Cardinal Roy HS (Canada) — 22nd round (2010); 46th round (2009) — Phillies, Angels
  • SS Taylor Black — UK — 28th round (2010) — Cardinals
  • INF J. T. Riddle — Western Hills HS — 35th round (2010) — Red Sox
  • LHP Taylor Rogers — Chatfield HS (Col0.) — 37th round (2009) — Orioles
  • OF Lucas Witt — LCA — 38th round (2010) — Dodgers
  • RHP Braden Kapteyn — Illiana Christian School (Ill.) — 39th round (2008) — Giants
  • RHP Sam Kidd — Ohio County HS — 39th round (2009) — Phillies
  • C Luke Maile — Covington Catholic HS — 43rd round (2009) — Red Sox
  • LHP Corey Littrell — Trinity HS — 43rd round (2010) — Nationals
  • OF Brian Adams — South Forsyth HS (Ga.) — 45th round (2009) — Reds
  • INF Matt Reida — Western HS (Ind.) — 47th round (2010) — White Sox

University of Louisville

  • RHP Dace Kime — Defiance HS (Ohio) — 8th Round (2010) — Pirates
  • LHP Keith Landers — St. Peter Martin HS (Mass.) — 18th Round (2008) — Orioles
  • 1B Zak Wasserman — Lakeshore HS (Mich.) — 21st round (2009) — Giants
  • OF Stewart Ijames — UofL — 26th Round (2010) — Yankees
  • RHP Matt Koch — Cherokee Washington HS (Iowa) — 27th round (2009) — Red Sox
  • RHP Chad Green — Floyd Central HS (Ind.) — 37th round (2010) — Blue Jays
  • C Asaad Ali — Niles HS (Mich.) — 40th round (2009) — Angels
  • RHP Tony Zych — St. Rita HS — 46th round (2008) — Cubs

Western Kentucky University

  • RHP Justin Hageman — Hopkinsville HS — 32nd round (2010) — Royals
  • RHP Rye Davis — Edmonson County HS — 36th round (2010) — Indians
  • OF Kes Carter — Ravenwood HS (Tenn.) — 43rd round (2008) — Marlins
  • OF Chris Bullard — Harris Co. HS (Ga.) — 45th round (2007) — Angels
  • C Matt Rice — WKU — 50th round (2010) — Yankees

Northern Kentucky University

  • LHP Dave Middendorf — NKU — 44th round (2010) — Yankees

Out-of-state colleges

  • LHP Jeremy Dobbs — Daviess Co. HS (Austin Peay) — 30th round (2008) — Orioles
  • RHP Casey Lucchese — College of Charleston (PLD) — 39th round (2010) — Cubs
  • OF Cory Farris — Boone Co. HS (Cumberland Univ.) — 43rd round (2008) — White Sox
  • RHP Nick Maronde — Lexington Catholic HS (Florida) — 43rd round (2008) — Athletics
  • OF Ronald Cotton — Boone Co. HS (Cincinnati) — 45th round (2010) — White Sox

Top 25 Ky. Collegians Recap

College Baseball

Check back later for some breakdown of the omissions from the top 25 list, but for now here is the list in one post:

  1. Ryan Wright
  2. Matt Rice
  3. Tony Zych
  4. Stewart Ijames
  5. Rye Davis
  6. Alex Meyer
  7. Kes Carter
  8. Richie Rodriguez
  9. Taylor Black
  10. Jordan Cooper
  11. Matt Koch
  12. Jared Andreoli
  13. Braden Kapteyn
  14. Justin Amlung
  15. Chad Wright
  16. Derek Self
  17. Taylor Davis
  18. Casey Lucchese
  19. Dave Middendorf
  20. Rich Witten
  21. Justin Riddell
  22. Brian Edelen
  23. Jason Crisper
  24. Brandon Elliott
  25. Tyler Fisher

BluGrass Baseball Preseason Pitching Leaderboard

College Baseball

Throughout the college baseball season BluGrass Baseball publishes a weekly statistics leaderboard for Kentucky collegians. As part of the 2011 college baseball preview we’ll begin the weekly leaderboard series with a look at the top five returners in each statistical category from 2010. Yesterday we looked at the top returning hitters, so today we give the pitchers their turn. To qualify for the ERA and batting average against, pitchers must have a minimum of 1.0 IP per team game.

ERA

  • Justin Amlung — UofL — 4.01
  • Damon McCormick — Valparaiso (St. X) — 5.35
  • Anthony Bazzani — EKU — 5.47
  • Jordan Cooper — UK — 5.71
  • Jake Donze — Murray St. — 6.02

Wins

  • Derek Self — UofL — 7-0
  • Damon McCormick  — Valparaiso (St. X) — 7-1
  • Josh Schneider — Morehead St. — 7-5
  • Jake Donze — Murray St. — 6-6
  • 6 players tied with 5 wins each

Strikeouts

  • Jake Donze — Murray St. — 71
  • Rye Davis — WKU — 63
  • Alex Meyer — UK — 63
  • Justin Amlung — UofL — 55
  • Casey Lucchese — College of Charleston (PLD) — 52

Innings Pitched

  • Jake Donze — Murray St. — 83.2
  • Taylor Rogers — UK — 83.0
  • Anthony Bazzani — EKU — 77.1
  • Stephen Hefler — EKU — 70
  • Damon McCormick — Valparaiso (St. X) — 67.1

Saves

  • Ryne Purcell — EKU — 12
  • Rye Davis — WKU — 9
  • Gabriel Shaw — UofL — 3
  • Cody Gibson — Morehead St. — 3
  • Braden Kapteyn — UK — 2
  • Matt Harris — EKU — 2

Batting Average Against

  • Jake Donze — Murray St. — .278
  • Anthony Bazzani — EKU — .282
  • Justin Amlung — UofL — .286
  • Damon McCormick — Valparaiso (St. X) — .289
  • Jordan Cooper — UK — .303

Appearances

  • Rye Davis — WKU — 33
  • Ryne Purcell — EKU — 30
  • Matt Harris — EKU — 29
  • Gabriel Shaw — UofL — 28
  • Derek Self — UofL — 27

Top 2011 Ky. Collegians — No. 18 RHP Casey Lucchese

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 a returning draftee who will likely close for one of the top teams in the country this season.

No. 19 — RHP Casey Lucchese — College of Charleston (Paul Laurence Dunbar HS)

Casey Lucchese; College of Charleston photo

Senior right-handed pitcher Casey Lucchese returns to college after being selected in the 39th round of the 2010 draft by the Chicago Cubs. Lucchese was 4-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 21 relief appearances in 2010. The Paul Laurence Dunbar High School alum struck out 52 batters and walked 16 in 39 and two-third innings. He held opponents to a .222 batting average last season. Lucchese appeared in one game for the Lexington Hustlers during the summer.

College of Charleston enters the 2011 season ranked No. 20 team in the country as ranked by Baseball America. Aaron Fitt of BA projects Lucchese as the team’s primary 2011 closer writing Lucchese “was the team’s most reliable reliever last year, and he should do fine as the closer thanks to an 88-92 fastball and a swing-and-miss curve.” The Lexington Herald-Leader included Lucchese on its 2007 all-city team, which also included minor leaguers Ben Revere, Robbie Ross, Jayson Langfels, Tyler Oliver and Thomas Royse and current college standouts Nick Maronde, Cameron Flynn, Justin Riddell and Travis Redmon.

Black, Ijames, Davis, Rice among Kentucky draftees who turned down professional contracts

College Baseball, High School Baseball

Matt Rice bats for WKU: BluGrass Baseball photo

While Louisville native Zack Cox and Danville native Blake Perry signed professional contracts before Monday’s midnight draft signing deadline, 16 other Kentucky draftees did not and will head to college in the coming weeks. UK shortstop Taylor Black, UofL outfielder Stewart Ijames, WKU  right-handed pitcher Rye Davis, NKU left-handed pitcher David Middendorf and WKU catcher Matt Rice were the Kentucky collegians who elected to return to school rather than sign deals with their professional clubs. Lexington native Casey Lucchese, the Cubs’ 39th round pick, will return to the College of Charleston for his senior season in 2011.

Ohio high school right-handed pitcher Dace Kime, the Pirates’ eight-round pick, was the highest drafted Kentucky player to choose college and will attend the University of Louisville this fall. UofL signee Chad Green, an Illinois right-handed pitcher and Blue Jays 37th round pick, also will play for the Cards in 2011. (Update 8/23: This item has been updated to correct previous error about UofL signee Joel Bender, who did sign with Reds)

Mr. Kentucky Baseball and Western Hills High School infielder/right-handed pitcher J. T. Riddle, the Red Sox’ 35th round pick; Lexington Christian Academy outfielder Lucas Witt, the Dodgers’ 38th round pick; and Trinity High School left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell, the Nationals’ 42nd round pick, will each play for the University of Kentucky in 2011 rather than sign pro deals. UK out-of-state commitments Jonathan Bobea, a New York right-handed pitcher and Angles’ 19th round pick, and Matt Reida, an Indiana infielder and White Sox 47th round pick, will also suit up for the Cats in 2011.

Hopkinsville High School right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman, the first Kentucky high schooler selected in the 2010 draft as the Royals 32nd round pick, will follow through on his commitment to Western Kentucky University. Former Boone County High School outfielder Ronald Cotton, the White Sox’ 45th round pick, will play for the University of Cincinnati next season. In all 31 of 48 players with Kentucky ties selected in the 2010 draft have signed professional contracts as well as six non-drafted free agents. Former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton, the Mariners’ fourth-round pick, has yet to sign a pro deal but wasn’t restricted by the Monday deadline as he pitched in independent ball in 2010.

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.

MLB Draft Day Three Breakdown

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Matt Rice bats for WKU: BluGrass Baseball photo

Kentucky selections from the third and final day of the MLB amateur player’s draft:

  • 31st Round (943) — RHP Matt Little — UK — Tigers
  • 32nd Round (959) — RHP Justin Hageman — Hopkinsville High School — Royals
  • 32nd Round (968) — LHP Jarrett Casey — NKU — White Sox
  • 35th Round (1046) — 1B Tyler Oliver — Wabash Valley JC (LCA, UK verbal) — Nationals
  • 35th Round (1068) — RHP Stephen Shackleford — Savannah College of Art & Design (Trinity HS) — Giants
  • 35th Round (1073) — SS J.T. Riddle — Western Hills High School (UK signee) — Red Sox
  • 36th Round (1080) — RHP Rye Davis — WKU — Indians
  • 36th Round (1099) — LHP Dean Kiekhefer — UofL — Cardinals
  • 37th Round (1116) — RHP Chad Green — Effingham, Ill. (UofL signee) — Blue Jays
  • 38th Round (1138) — CF Jeremy Shelby — Grambling St. (Lexington) — Orioles
  • 38th Round (1162) — OF Lucas Witt — Lexington Christian Academy (UK signee) — Dodgers
  • 39th Round (1180) — RHP Casey Lucchese — College of Charleston (Paul Laurence Dubar) — Cubs
  • 39th Round (1185) — LHP Bart Carter — WKU — Twins
  • 41st Round (1229) — RHP Matt Ridings — WKU — Royals
  • 42nd Round (1286) — LHP Corey Littrell — Trinity High School (UK signee) — Nationals
  • 44th Round (1345) — LHP David Middendorf — NKU — Yankees
  • 45th Round (1358) — OF Ronald Cotton — Boone County HS — White Sox
  • 47th Round (1418) — 2B Matt Reida — Indiana (UK signee) — White Sox
  • 48th Round (1452) — INF Patrick Brady — Bellarmine — Mariners
  • 49th Round (1489) — LHP Bob Revesz — UofL — Cardinals
  • 50th Round (1525) — C Matt Rice — WKU — Yankees