BluGrass Baseball Week 10 Weekend Preview

College Baseball

Zach Osborne; BluGrass Baseball photo

It’s time for the college baseball week 10 weekend preview. Check out the storylines to watch in week 10 college baseball games below:

Series of the week: Western Kentucky University @ Troy

Western Kentucky University travels to Troy this weekend to face the Sun Belt Conference leader. WKU is tied for second place in the Sun Belt, one game behind Troy. A series win this weekend will move the Hilltoppers into a tie with Troy, and a series sweep would ensure WKU will have at least a share of first place. WKU head coach Chris Finwood will send his normal starting rotation to the mound this weekend with sophomore left-handed pitcher Tanner Perkins, freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman and redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Brian Edelen.

Player to watch: OF/DH Jacob Daniel (EKU)

Despite a 14-23 overall record, Eastern Kentucky University is just 1.5 games out of first place in the wide-open Ohio Valley Conference race. The Colonels have won seven of their last 10 games and are coming off a weekend sweep of in-state rival Morehead State University last week. If the Colonels are going to make a run at the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title, they will need another strong weekend from junior slugger Jacob Daniel. The outfielder is batting .366 with eight home runs, 36 RBI and 22 runs scored on the season and slugged a walk-off home run in game one of the Morehead St. series.

Stat of the week: UK’s conference losing streak

The University of Kentucky was a preseason sleeper pick in the Southeastern Conference, but the Cats have collapsed in conference play. UK has lost 12 consecutive SEC games and now holds last-place in the conference to itself. The Cats welcome SEC West leader Arkansas to Lexington this weekend so the schedule doesn’t get any easier. UK’s only conference wins came against 11th place Tennessee. Strangely, UK had won nine non-conference games in a row before Tuesday’s loss to WKU.

Out-of-state Ky. collegian to watch: SS Zach Osborne (Tennessee, PRP)

No out-of-state Kentucky collegians are playing Kentucky schools this week, so we’ll give you an out-of-state player to watch instead. Pleasure Ridge Park alum Zach Osborne and his Tennessee teammates are coming off the school’s first SEC series win of the season last week. The Vols are still a longshot to make the SEC tournament, but Osborne is doing his part to keep them in the race. The former Little League World Series star is batting .360 with one home run, 16 RBI and 21 runs scored on the season.

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Wellemeyer close to throwing again; Beechwood pitcher excels on and off the field; Adams excels as two-sport athlete

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune reports Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer, who was not assigned to a minor league team to start the season, is still rehabbing from a hip injury suffered during Spring Training. Cubs GM Jim Hendry told Rogers he expects Wellemeyer to start throwing soon.
  • Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA has both the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University as No. 3 seeds in his latest NCAA field of 64 projection.
  • Marc Hardin, writing for the Cincinnati Enquirer, profiles Beechwood High School senior pitcher Colin Johnson, who helped Beechwood win 12 of its first 14 games and may play baseball at MIT next year.
  • Ethan Levine of the Kentucky Kernel profiles University of Kentucky sophomore outfielder Brian Adams, who is currently going through spring practice as a wide receiver on the football team in addition to manning center field in most games for the baseball team.
  • Brad Stephens of the College Heights Herald recaps WKU’s 3-2 win over Murray State University, noting WKU redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Rye Davis said after a poor start to 2011 he decided his season was going to start over last night.
  • Nick Baumgardner of The Daily News reports WKU head coach Chris Finwood said he was going to try and pitch Davis in low-pressure situations out of the bullpen in the near future.

BluGrass Baseball Week Eight Weekend Preview

College Baseball

Justin Riddell; BluGrass Baseball photo

It’s time for the week eight college baseball weekend preview. Check out the storylines to watch in week eight Kentucky college baseball games below:

Series of the week: Western Kentucky University vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Western Kentucky University (18-11, 6-3) welcomes Sun Belt Conference foe Louisiana-Lafayette (17-11, 6-3) to Bowling Green this weekend. The two teams are essentially tied for second place in conference play, so the series should play a major role in the conference title race. WKU head coach Chris Finwood has made a minor change in the weekend starting rotation, sending freshman Justin Hageman to the mound on Friday and sophomore Tanner Perkins to the mound on Saturday. WKU ranked No. 79 in the first RPI standings released by the NCAA and Louisiana-Lafayette ranked No. 68, so a series win would help WKU’s NCAA at-large chances as well.

Player to watch: RHP Alex Meyer (UK)

The University of Kentucky needs a series win in the worst way versus Auburn this weekend. The Cats have lost their last six Southeastern Conference games and are in danger of falling out of the Southeastern Conference tournament race before it even reaches the halfway point. Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer will take the mound on Friday in his usual starting spot and needs to post a strong performance to get UK off on the right foot. Meyer has excellent secondary numbers this season with a 3.10 ERA, 62 strikeouts and a .214 batting average against but has just a 3-4 record. He needs offensive support, but UK has no shot at the postseason if its ace has a sub-.500 record.

Stat of the week: Cards’ pitchers grow stronger late in games.

The University of Louisville pitching staff has been among the best in college baseball this season, but it has been particularly strong as games progress. The team has surrendered over half of its runs, 54 of 94, in the first three innings. After the third innings UofL is outscoring its opponents 99-43 on the season. The UofL bullpen has been particularly strong, led by junior closer Tony Zych, who has a 2.92 ERA and seven saves in 12 appearances, and junior right-handed pitcher Derek Self, who has a 0.68 ERA in 26 and two-third relief innings. Freshman right-handed pitcher Chad Green boasts a 1.62 ERA in nine games, including eight relief appearances.

Out of state Kentucky collegians playing Kentucky colleges: OF Justin Riddell (Cincinnati, Lexington Catholic), RHP Zach Isler (Cincinnati, Covington Catholic), INF Kiley Jones (Cincinnati, Eastern), OF Ronald Cotton (Cincinnati, Boone Co.), LHP Joe Sullivan (Cincinnati, Villa Hills), LHP Jeremy Dobbs (Austin Peay, Daviess Co.), LHP Jack Snodgrass (Austin Peay, Bowling Green)

A host of Kentucky high school alumni will return to the Bluegrass State this weekend, led by Cincinnati’s five Kentucky natives. Senior outfielder Justin Riddell is among the Bearcats best hitters and had two home runs against Morehead St. in a midweek game this week, and freshman right-handed pitcher Zach Isler is a valuable bullpen arm. Austin Peay will send Daviess Co. alum Jeremy Dobbs and Bowling Green alum Jack Snodgrass to the mound for starts against Eastern Kentucky University this weekend.

Legends among Astros’ top prospects; Webb wants to throw in game situation; Finwood, players shave heads for charity

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Jimmy Paredes; BluGrass Baseball photo

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks 2010 Lexington Legends shortstop Jiovanni Mier, outfielder J. D. Martinez, right-handed pitcher Tanner Bushue and second baseman Jimmy Paredes among the top 10 prospects in the Astros’ organization. Likely 2011 Legends Delino DeShields Jr., Mike Foltynewicz and Austin Wates also are included on the list.
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb feels he is ready to pitch in a game situation, but the Rangers have not decided what his next step will be.
  • David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will start the season with a left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters, who was born in Pikeville, sharing the closer role with right-handed pitcher Craig Kimbrel.
  • Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun reports Louisville native and former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch has been a key mentor for some of the Blue Jays young pitchers this spring.
  • Nick Baumgardner of the Bowling Green Daily News reports Western Kentucky University head coach Chris Finwood and 11 player shaved their heads following their Friday win versus Middle Tennessee to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation that supports the fight against childhood cancer.

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.

Opening Weekend Review: Western Kentucky University

College Baseball

Western Kentucky University was one of two Kentucky schools to earn a series sweep in its opening series of the season. In our second opening weekend review post we’ll look at the Hilltoppers.

  • BGSU no match for Hilltoppers’ offense: Seven different WKU batters hit at least .300 in the opening series of the season, highlighted by senior Matt Rice‘s .538 performance with seven RBI and three runs scored. Outfielders Matt Borgschulte, Jared Andreoli and Ryan Hutchinson each hit over .400 in the series as well. Perhaps influenced by the new NCAA mandated bats, no Hilltopper homered in the series, but the team did tally eight doubles and three triples. Even without the power surge WKU scored 32 runs in the series.
  • Perkins anchors new weekend rotation: WKU had to replace two weekend starting pitchers this season, but sophomore left-handed pitcher Tanner Perkins, who spent parts of 2010 in the weekend rotation, made his case to be the new WKU ace with six shutout innings Friday. Perkins struck out five batters, walked two and surrendered just two hits in the game. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Haydel struggled in his Saturday start, but senior Brian Edelen, the team’s fourth starting pitcher, recorded three scoreless innings of relief Sunday.
  • Freshmen excel in limited action: Sunday starting pitcher Justin Hageman was the only freshman to see extended playing time on the weekend, but WKU head coach Chris Finwood did let six freshmen make their collegiate debuts. Hageman earned a win in his first collegiate start on Sunday after surrendering three runs in five innings. Freshmen relievers G. J. Strauss and Austin Clay recorded three outs without surrendering a run. At the plate freshman infielder Scott Wilcox was 1-1 in two games, and freshman outfielder David Simmons was 0-1 in one game. Freshman outfielder Jordan Cessna also made his debut as a defensive replacement.

Jon Rauch returns to mound after ankle injury; Todd Wellemeyer finds comfort in returning to former team

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest hits from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports Louisville native and former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch threw his first bullpen session of the spring after missing his previous session with a twisted ankle.
  • Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer returned to the Chicago Cubs in part because of his experience with the organization, which drafted him out of college.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb only experienced normal soreness after his brief throwing session Thursday.
  • Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports the Seattle Mariners still hope to sign former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton, who was the team’s fourth-round pick in 2010.
  • Chad Bishop of the Bowling Green Daily News recaps Western Kentucky University‘s opening-day win over Bowling Green St., noting WKU head coach Chris Finwood said he was “very proud” of sophomore left-handed pitcher Tanner Perkins‘ start.
  • Brad Stephens of the College Heights Herald also recaps the WKU 12-1 win.

BluGrass Baseball preseason all-newcomer team

Uncategorized

Over the past few weeks BluGrass Baseball has been counting down the top 2011 returning Kentucky collegians. Freshmen and junior-college transfers were excluded from that list, but don’t worry the newcomers are about to get their due. Check out the preseason all-newcomer team below. The team is focused on players who are projected to receive major playing time for their respective schools.

CatcherSean HagenEastern Kentucky University

Hagen is projected to start at catcher for the Colonels. After Hagen signed with EKU out of high school, Colonels head coach Jason Stein said, “Sean will fill an immediate need at catcher following the graduation of 2010. He is a complete catcher who can catch, throw and block. But he is also a very offensive-minded player, as well.”

Honorable mention: Murray St. junior-college transfer Jacob Rhodes figures to be a mainstay in the Breds’ lineup at either catcher or designated hitter.

First Base — Tyler Beers — Murray State University

There is no clear first base candidate among the 2011 Kentucky newcomers, Beers may start for the Breds so he takes this spot almost by default. Beers batted .300 with five home runs and 25 RBI as a sophomore at Mineral Area College.

Honorable mention: UK head coach Gary Henderson said freshman infielder J. T. Riddle could see time at first base if carries his strong spring offensive performance over to the season.

Second Base — Matt Reida — University of Kentucky

Henderson hasn’t officially named a starter at second base for the Cats, but all signs point to Reida as the likely winner of that position battle. Reida may struggle with the bat early on, but as a plus defender he figures to get plenty of playing time at the position.

Honorable mention: Murray St. junior-college transfer Travis Isaak batted .420 with eight home runs and 19 doubles as a sophomore at Lincoln Trail Community College.

Shortstop — Alex Chittenden — University of Louisville

On Monday UofL head coach Dan McDonnell announced Chittenden would start at shortstop for the Cards. Chittenden batted .588 with eight home runs and 19 stolen bases as a senior in high school.

Honorable mention: Morehead St. freshman infielder Bud Morton may not start for the Eagles to begin the season, but he adds an excitement factor to the lineup the Eagles could use.

Third base — Thomas McCarthy — University of Kentucky

McCarthy comes to UK after batting over .400 for two seasons in junior-college baseball. UK head coach Gary Henderson doesn’t predict that for his third baseman this season, but Henderson said “he’s going to be able to get a hit.”

Honorable mention: EKU freshman infielder Bryan Soloman, who head coach Jason Stein called “a complete third baseman,” is projected to start for the Colonels.

Outfield — Ryan Hutchinson — Western Kentucky University

Baseball America recently ranked Hutchinson, who was an all-American at 2010 NJCAA World Series champion Iowa Western Community College, the No. 3 newcomer in the Sun Belt Conference. WKU head coach Chris Finwood expects Hutchinson to provide a middle-of-the-order power presence for the Hilltoppers this season.

Outfield — Lucas Witt — University of Kentucky

In an interview with College Baseball Daily, UK head coach Gary Henderson singled Witt out as a the freshmen outfielder who was making the best case to start in right field. Witt may not be the full-time starter to begin the season, but he figures to see plenty of playing time in 2010.

Outfield — Paul Ritzheimer — Murray State University

Ritzheimer batted .405 with three home runs and 20 RBI as a freshman at Kaskaskia College in 2010, and he should push for playing time in the Murray State outfield this season.

Honorable Mention — UK freshman infielder and outfielder Dallen Reber probably has the most power on the UK roster and will likely push for playing time in right field for the Cats.

Designated hitter — Ivan Hartle — Western Kentucky Unviersity

Junior-college trasnfer Ivan Hartle will start at second base for WKU this season and only is included at DH here to get him into the starting lineup. Hartle was named the NJCAA Division I defensive player of the year in 2010 while playing for the NJCAA World Series champion, Iowa Western Community College.

Honorable mention — UofL freshmen infielder Adam Engel will start for the Cards at designated hitter to begin the season.

Starting pitcher — Corey Littrell — University of Kentucky

Freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell will be UK’s primary midweek starting pitcher to begin the season and stands to be the first option on the weekend in the event of injury or poor performance by one of UK’s top three starters. Littrell was all-state as a senior at Trinity High School and was the 43rd-round pick of the Nationals in 2010.

Starting pitcher — Justin Hageman — Western Kentucky University

WKU head coach Chris Finwood says freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman, the 2010 32nd round pick of the Royals, has as much talent as any pitcher he saw on a Friday night during his time in the Southeastern Conference, but it remains to be seen what Hageman’s role will be with the Hilltoppers. He figures to begin the season as a midweek starting pitcher, but will move to the weekend rotation if he proves himself in that role.

Starting pitcher — Kyle McGrath — Eastern Kentucky University

Freshman left-handed pitcher Kyle McGrath figures to begin the season as a midweek starting pitcher for the Colonels, but you have to figure he will be given every shot to carve out a more substantial role with the team considering the Colonels’ poor pitching performance in 2010. McGrath was all-state at Butler High School.

Honorable mention — Due to the overall depth of UofL’s pitching staff, freshman right-handed pitcher Dace Kime may not start for the Cards this season but as the highest-drafted player attending a Kentucky college this season he figures to push for playing time in some role.

WKU hosts preseason baseball media day; UK players ranked among the top 2011 and 2012 draft prospects

College Baseball, Minor League Baseball


Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Brad Stephens of the College Heights Herald, reporting from Western Kentucky University baseball media day, writes pitching is the focus for WKU head coach Chris Finwood.
  • WKU has posted audio from Finwood and junior players Matt Rice, Rye Davis and Kes Carter.
  • The video above is also from the College Heights Herald.
  • In the Perfect Game USA Southeastern Conference preview Allan Simpson ranks University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer the No. 3 2011 draft prospect in the conference and ranks UK junior right-handed pitcher and first baseman Braden Kapteyn the No. 17 prospect on the list. Simpson ranks sophomore outfielder Brian Adams the No. four SEC prospect in the 2012 draft and sophomore left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers the N0. eight prospect.
  • Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies lists former EKU left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich among the prospects to watch in Colorado Rockies’ camp this spring.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas profiles former UK right-handed pitcher and Ashland native Brandon Webb as part of his Texas Rangers’ position-by-position preview.
  • Scott Miller of CBS Sportsline lists Webb among his six impact players looking to make a comeback from injury this season.

Offseason position battle: WKU first baseman

Uncategorized

In the third Western Kentucky University post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the Hilltoppers’ vacant first-base position:

The departed — Infielder Jake Wells, a 2010 senior, started all but the first six WKU games of 2010 at first base. Wells was one of just four Hilltoppers to start all 58 games in 2010. He batted .312 with two home runs and 41 RBI on the season. Wells scored 42 runs and boasted an .802 OPS. The first baseman committed six errors on the season and finished 2010 with a .988 fielding percentage.

The returning candidates — Junior infielder Casey Dykes was the only other Hilltopper to record a start at first base in 2010, earning the nod in the first six games of the season. Dykes is listed as a “C/UTL” on the WKU roster and made 45 starts at third base in 2010, so head coach Chris Finwood may look elsewhere for his infield cornerstone. Sophomore Blake Crabtree made the final seven games of the 2010 season at third so Dykes could make a position change…Sophomore catcher/infielder Ryan Huck didn’t appear at first base in 2010, but Finwood suggested during the fall world series most of his playing time would come there this season. Huck batted .287 with seven home runs, 30 RBI and 24 runs scored in 2010 as a freshman, so WKU needs to get his bat in the lineup if at all possible. He is blocked behind the plate by All-Sun Belt Conference catcher Matt Rice.

Newcomers to watch — Incoming freshman infielder Jordan Cessna excelled during WKU’s fall practice according to the school’s media relations department. At 6-1 he could conceivably fill in when Huck catches or serves as the designate hitter…In a news release recapping the fall World Series WKU also highlighted Canadian freshman infielder Scott Wilcox as a standout in fall practice. At 6-0 Wilcox could also fill in at first base…Freshman right-handed pitcher and infielder Brian Doering was listed as a corner infielder when he signed with WKU in 2009. Doering was named first-team all-state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association after his senior season at Dupont Manual High School.

Wildcard — WKU boasts a plethora of outfielders with 11 players listed on the roster who can play the position. If Huck gets most of the playing time at first base, head coach Chris Finwood could try one of his surplus outfielders at first base when Huck catches. Junior college transfer Ryan Hutchison is 6-4 and could fit at first base. Sophomore outfielders Matt Borgschulte and Monte Ketchum each appeared in at least 41 games for WKU in 2010, so Finwood could be looking for a way to get them into the Hilltoppers’ lineup. If Finwood wanted to give Rice some time off from catching at 6-3 he might profile well as a first baseman as well.