Former No. 1 attempts comeback with Phillies; Friedrich, Kipnis among top prospects; At least 6 2010 Cats transfer

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Christian Friedrich; Photo by Matt McGee via Flickr

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com profiles Louisville native and St. X alum Matt Anderson‘s attempted return to MLB with the Philadelphia Phillies. Anderson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, and is 15-7 with a 5.19 ERA in 257 career games. A shoulder injury derailed his career in 2003.
  • Tracy Ringolsby of Baseball America ranks former EKU left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich the No. 4 prospect in the Colorado Rockies system.
  • Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks one-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis the No. 4 second base prospect in MiLB.
  • On Tuesday we linked comments from Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, who said he would not trade former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton before Opening Day. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports the Phillies have decided Blanton’s role as rotation depth is worth more than his trade value.
  • Derek Poore of the Courier-Journal reports Blue Jays farmhand Trystan Magnuson, former major league pitcher Paul Byrd, UofL head coach Dan McDonnell, former Astro Chris Burke and others will speak at the BaseballCon held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville on Jan. 28-29.
  • Yesterday we listed the newcomers on the newly released University of Kentucky roster, but also of interest were the 2010 players no longer on the roster. BluGrass Baseball has confirmed third baseman Andy Burns transferred to Arizona, outfielder Cory Farris transferred to Cumberland University, right-handed pitcher Joe Devine transferred to Georgetown College, outfielder Navarro Hall transferred to Columbus State University, right-handed pitcher Chase Greene transferred to Eastern Kentucky University and right-handed pitcher Sean Bouthilette transferred to Campbellsville University. Right-handed pitcher Kyle Jackson and left-handed pitcher Jon Carlson are also no longer on the roster.
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Friedrich, Martinez named players of week; Burke’s career likely over; Streiby part of Tigers’ 2011 plans

Minor League Baseball

Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr

Latest links from around Kentucky Minor League Baseball:

  • Former EKU left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich was named pitcher of the week in the AA Texas League. Lexington Legends outfielder J. D. Martinez was named the player of the week in the South Atlantic League.
  • Louisville native Chris Burke told Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal his baseball career is likely over after being released from the Louisville Bats roster by the Cincinnati Reds in late June, and he now wants to be a college coach.
  • Lynn Henning of The Detroit News writes former UK first baseman Ryan Strieby is blasting his way into the Detroit Tigers’ 2011 plans.
  • Lexington Catholic alum and Minnesota Twins outfield prospect Ben Revere told Bob Nightengale he expected to be traded last week if the Twins had acquired Cliff Lee.

Burke contemplating retirement after release

Minor League Baseball

Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr

Louisville native and St. Xavier High School alum Chris Burke is contemplating retirement after being released by the Cincinnati Reds, Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal reports. Burke had spent all of 2010 with the Louisville Bats. The 30-year-old outfielder is perhaps most famous for his game-winning home run, above, in the bottom of the 18th inning of game four of the 2005 National League Division Series. The victory clinched the series win for the Houston Astros. Burke told Grant he has been contacted by several Major League teams but would only consider continuing to play if he had a chance for a MLB callup this season. (Read more)

BluGrass Baseball MiLB Opening Day Highlights

College Baseball

Ryan Strieby; Photo via Flickr by mwlguide

The minor league season officially kicked off Thursday night, and there were no shortage of relevant Kentucky highlights to pass along. Check out these recaps of the local teams, plus notes from Kentucky alumni across MiLB:

  • Sam LeCure surrendered two runs in five innings to give the Louisville Bats their first win of the season, 5-3 over the Toledo Mud Hens. Chris Heisey, Todd Frazier, Daniel Dorn and Chris Valaika each tallied two hits. The two Kentucky natives, Josh Anderson and Chris Burke, were a combined 0-10 batting in the top two spots in the lineup. (Box Score)
  • University of Kentucky alum Ryan Strieby was 1-3 with a home run for the Mud Hens.
  • The Lexington Legends dropped their first game 5-2 to Charleston, but 2009 second round pick Tanner Bushue made his Lexington debut with 4.1 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, one walk and struck out six. 2009 Astros’ first round pick Jiovanni Mier was 1-4 in his debut. (Box Score)
  • The Bowling Green Hot Rods season got off to an inauspicious start with a 7-2 loss to Fort Wayne in the team’s Midwest League debut. Leadoff man and center fielder Christopher Murrill was 3-5 in his Bowling Green debut, and Brett Nommensen and Mark Thomas each tallied two hits. (Box Score)
  • Eastern Kentucky University alum Christian Friedrich took the loss in his AA debut for the Tulsa Drillers, but allowed just one run in six innings. He surrendered four hits, walked two and struck out five. (Box Score)
  • Lexington native Ben Revere was 1-4 with a run scored in his AA debut for the New Britian Rock Cats. (Box Score)
  • UK alum Collin Cowgill was 2-4 with a double in his AA debut for the Mobile BayBears. (Box Score)

Louisville Bats 2010 Opening Day Roster

Uncategorized

The Louisville Bats are set to start play today and will feature two Kentucky natives in the lineup as well as several of the best prospects in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Check out the roster below via the Courier-Journal. I’ve included Baseball America prospect rankings for the Reds organization. Remember top prospects Juan Francisco and Mike Leake are starting the season with the Reds but might appear in Louisville at some point if they struggle, and Yonder Alonso is starting the season in AA but should earn a callup to Louisville early this season.

Pitchers

  • LHP Travis Wood (BA #7) (SP) — 2nd Round (2005)
  • RHP Sam LeCure (SP) — 4th Round (2005)
  • LHP Matt Maloney (BA #8) (SP) — Phillies 3rd Round (2005)
  • RHP Federico Baez — Cubs NDFA (2002)
  • RHP Jon Adkins — Athletics 9th Round (1998)
  • RHP Chad Reineke — 2005 Lexington Legend — Astros 13th Round (2004)
  • RHP Enerio Del Rosario (BA # 19) — NDFA 2005
  • LHP Lee Tabor — 30th Round (2006)
  • RHP Justin Lehr (SP) — Athletics 8th Round (1999)
  • LHP Pedro Viola (BA # 22) — NDFA (2005)
  • RHP Carlos Fisher — 11th Round (2005)
  • RHP Jared Burton — Athletics 8th Round (2002)
  • LHP Aroldis Chapman (BA #1A*) (SP) — Cuban FA (2009)

Catchers

  • Corky Miller — Amateur FA (1998)
  • Wilkin Castillo — NDFA 2002
  • Jake Long — 37th Round (2005)

Infielders

  • 2B — Chris Burke — St. X High School — Astros 1st Round (2004)
  • 3B — Michael Griffin — 14th Round (2005)
  • 3B — Drew Sutton — 2005 Lexington Legend — S/R — Astros 15th Round (2005)
  • 2B — Chris Valaika (BA #12) — 3rd Round (2006)
  • SS — Zach Cozart (BA #10) — 2nd Round (2007)
  • 3B/LF — Todd Frazier (BA #1B) — 1st Supp. Round (2007)

Outfielders

  • RF — Josh Anderson — Pulaski Co., EKU, 2004 Lexington Legend — 4th Round (2003)
  • LF/1B — Daniel Dorn — 32nd Round (2006)
  • LF — Chris Heisey (BA #4) — 17th Round (2006)
  • OF — Luis Terrero — D’Backs NDFA (1997)

* — Chapman signed after Baseball America released its Reds top 10 prospects list, but is ranked higher than No. 1 Frazier on the overall top 100 prospects list published by the magazine.

Kentucky minor-league media day links

Minor League Baseball

Louisville Slugger Field; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday was media day for each of the state’s three minor-league teams. I wasn’t able to attend because of class and the UK/UofL college game, but check out these profiles and recaps of the proceedings from the state’s media:

  • Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal reports the Louisville Bats will have eight of the Reds’ top ten prospects in Baseball America‘s rankings in addition to Kentucky natives Chris Burke and Josh Anderson.
  • The C-J also reports Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman may make his home debut for the Bats on April 16.
  • Mark Maloney of the Herald-Leader reports Lexington Legends manager Rodney Linares is happy to be back with the team.
  • Michael Compton of the Bowling Green Daily News talks to Hot Rods manager Brady Williams and outfielder Ty Morrison about the importance of interacting with the local fans.
  • USA Today lists Louisville Slugger Field as one of ten distinctive minor-league venues to visit.

BluGrass Baseball Spring Training battle update

Major League Baseball

Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr

Earlier this month I posted a Spring Training position battle primer for Kentucky fans looking to keep track of their native sons hoping to make MLB rosters. These were the borderline major leaguers and players assured of making the roster but fighting for a bigger role, not established players. With one week left before Opening Day I thought I’d update each battle so you have a better idea of where the official Kentuckians in the majors count will stand in 2010. A special kudos goes to PLD alum and Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis who appears ready to start the season with the big league club after starting catcher Russell Martin suffered a groin injury.

Toronto Blue Jays: Closer

  • University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is all but eliminated in the three-way closer race that will go to righties Jason Fraser or Kevin Gregg. Downs recently commented to a Toronto newspaper he prefers pitching in the eighth inning anyway.

San Francisco Giants: Fifth starter

  • Louisville-native and Bellarmine alum Todd Wellemeyer has all but wrapped up the fifth starter position after star prospect Madison Bumgarner was sent to AAA this week. Wellemeyer is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA this spring.

Cleveland Indians: Left fielder

  • Lexington-native Austin Kearns has likely lost the starting job to top prospects Michael Brantley and Matt Laporta, but should still stick with the Indians as a reserve. The team is very left-handed, so Kearns’ right-handed bat is needed for balance.

Seattle Mariners: Relief pitcher

  • Louisville-native Shawn Kelley appears destined to make the team per this MLB.com blog post, but hasn’t had a great spring. Kelley has given up eight runs in 12 innings, but does have 14 strikeouts compared to just one walk.

New York Mets: Relief pitcher

  • No one in the Mets bullpen has really stepped up this Spring so Louisville Male alum Sean Green remains firmly in the mix for an Opening Day spot despite a 6.75 ERA and eight walks compared to four strikeouts this spring.

Cincinnati Reds: Utility reserve

  • Despite an early camp injury, non-roster invitee and St X alum Chris Burke is still hanging on to a big league Spring Training spot. Burke is batting just .188 in eight games, so he’ll have to sell the Reds on his defensive versatility to avoid spending 2010 in his hometown with the Bats.  2009 Louisville Bat Drew Sutton is still in the mix.
  • Candidates: Burke, Sutton, Aaron Miles, Paul Janish

Hit the jump for the concluded competitions.

BluGrass Baseball Spring Training position battles

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Spring Training games are officially underway, making today an excellent chance to examine what BluGrass Baseball players are battling for specific roles on major league squads and roster spots. I’ve outlined relevant battles I can think of below, but feel free to include any you would add in the comments section.

Toronto Blue Jays: Closer

  • University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is in a three-way battle for the Blue Jays closer position. Toronto manager Cito Gaston has said he might use a closer-by-committee approach if none of the three candidates step up. Downs saved nine games in 13 opportunities last season.
  • Other candidates: Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg

St. Louis Cardinals: Fifth Starter

  • 2009 Louisville Bats starting pitcher Ben Jukich is in Cardinals camp as the team’s Rule 5 pick. Jukich must be on the 25-man roster all season for the Cardinals to avoid giving him back to the Reds, so he may be given added chance to make the team out of camp. If he doesn’t earn a starting spot he could be considered for a left-handed reliever spot.
  • Other candidates: Rich Hill, Mitchell Boggs, Kyle McClellan

Los Angles Dodgers: Right-handed reliever

  • Kentucky Wesleyan alum Cory Wade is looking to regain his spot in the Dodgers bullpen one year after shoulder pain led him back to AAA. Wade is in an open competition for a right-handed setup role after Ronald Belisario’s visa trouble getting into the country, but he would probably take a spot in middle relief if it means leaving the minors.
  • Other Candidates: Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, Charlie Haeger

Hit the jump to see more spring position battles.

Burke injured in Reds camp, likely out for two weeks

Major League Baseball

Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr

Yesterday we re-tweeted Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer John Fay’s report that Louisville-native and St. X alum Chris Burke had been injured in Reds camp. Now Fay has more information about the injury and it appears Burke will miss at least two weeks with a broken right ring finger. Burke, who is competing for a utility spot on the Reds bench, injured the finger trying to catch a routine popup.

“I was going to catch it with two hands, like you’ve been taught since you were 5 years old,” Burke told Fay. “I put that hand in there a little too quick. It tipped off the finger. It caught me square.” Reds manager Dusty Baker added, “Very tough break. I was talking to him today about how to stay ready. . . work on your legs, come back in great, great shape. Keep your other arm strong, which is lead arm for hitting…It’s better to get hurt early than in the middle or late. He still could be in our plans. This guy was a good player in Houston.” (Read more)

Paxton speaks; Burke looking for shot with Reds; Wunderlich healthy; Webb a trade candidate?

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr

The college Opening Day was marred a little yesterday with the late news that the Ky. Court of Appeals had sided against University of Kentucky left-handed pitcher James Paxton, and that story leads our morning links. For the first time we also have a comment from Paxton himself:

  • Paxton told Jennifer Hewlett of the Lexington Herald-Leader, “It’s very disappointing the way things have gone here. I’m kind of on the sidelines waiting to see what happens.”
  • B. W. Jones of the Kentucky Kernel also reports on the appeal.
  • My friend Rob Gidel of the Cat’s Pause profiles University of Kentucky freshman starting pitcher Taylor Rogers in preparation his collegiate debut this afternoon.
  • St X alum Chris Burke is hoping to make the Cincinnati Reds squad out of Spring Training, Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal reports, but he is excited about playing for the hometown Louisville Bats if he is sent to AAA.
  • Grant also profiles University of Louisville slugger Phil Wunderlich who says his shoulder is fully healthy.
  • Phil Rogers of The Chicago Tribune picks Ashland-native and UK alum Brandon Webb as one attractive midseason MLB trade candidate.