Kentuckians in MLB Playoffs

Major League Baseball

The playoffs are officially underway with the Texas Rangers up 4-0 on Tampa Bay at the time of this posting. The playoffs aren’t without plenty of Kentucky connections as every team except the Giants has a player with Bluegrass State connections. Check out the list of Kentucky natives and former minor league players participating in the playoffs below:

Cincinnati Reds (NL Central)

  • Edison Volquez — Louisville Bats (2010)*
  • Johnny Cueto — Louisville Bats (2007)
  • Aroldis Chapman — Louisville Bats (2010)
  • Logan Ondrusek — Louisville Bats (2008, 09, 10)
  • Bill Bray — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09, 10)
  • Homer Bailey — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09, 10)
  • Travis Wood — Louisville Bats (2009, 2010)
  • Joey Votto — Louisville Bats (2007)
  • Jay Bruce — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09)
  • Drew Stubbs — Louisville Bats (2008, 09)
  • Jonny Gomes — Louisville Bats (2009)
  • Ryan Hanigan — Louisville Bats (2003, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10)
  • Chris Heisey — Louisville Bats (2009)
  • Paul Janish — Louisville Bats (2007, 08)
  • Juan Francisco — Louisville Bats (2009, 10)

Philadelphia Phillies (NL East)

  • Joe Blanton — Franklin-Simpson HS (UK)

Atlanta Braves (NL Wild Card)

  • Jonny Venters — Born in Pikeville, Ky. (HS in Florida)
  • Brooks Conrad — Lexington Legends (2003)

Minnesota Twins (AL Central)

  • Jon Rauch — Oldham Co. High School (Morehead St.)

New York Yankees (AL Wild Card)

  • Austin Kearns — Lafayette High School

Tampa Bay Rays (AL East)

  • Ben Zobrist — Lexington Legends (2005)

Texas Rangers (AL West)

  • Josh Hamilton — Louisville Bats (2007)*

*– Volquez and Hamilton both played for Louisville only during rehab assignments.

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BluGrass Baseball Louisville Bats April Awards

Minor League Baseball

Each month of the minor league season we’ll name a hitter and pitcher of the month for the state’s three minor-league teams and for the group of Kentucky natives in the minors. Check out the Louisville Bats team awards below:

Hitter of the month: INF Chris Valaika

  • Stats: .329/.377/.457 — 6 RBI, 8 R
  • Valaika was one of the few bright spots for the Bats’ offense during the first month of the 2010 season. The infielder has yet to homer in 2010, but lead the team in batting average, on-base percentage and runs scored in the month.
  • Honorable Mention: OF Chris Heisey, OF Daniel Dorn, C Corky Miller

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Aroldis Chapman

  • Stats: 1-1, 1.29 ERA, 22 SO/12 BB, 21 IP
  • Chapman has been as advertised so far in 2010 and has dominated AAA competition at times while still showing some control problems that have kept him from a big-league callup. The Cuban defector leads Bats starting pitchers in ERA, batting average against and WHIP.
  • Honorable Mention: LHP Travis Wood, RHP Sam LeCure, LHP Matt Maloney

BluGrass Baseball 2010 top Minor League prospects

Minor League Baseball

Christian Friedrich; Photo by Matt McGee via Flickr

Last summer I released the first BluGrass Baseball top prospects lists. The list was divided into two sections: top 10 prospects on Kentucky Minor League teams and top 10 Kentucky alumni prospects. Clearly the in-state Minor League team list has changed significantly for the 2010 season, and the natives list has also seen some slight revisions. I’ve included the list below, but you can always find it on the “Top Prospects” page here. A player’s ranking on the Baseball America top 100 prospect list is included in parenthesis next to his name.

BluGrass Baseball Top Prospects (Ky. Minor League Teams)

  1. LHP Aroldis Chapman (22) — Louisville Bats
  2. LF/3B Todd Frazier (43) — Louisville Bats
  3. SS Jiovanni Mier (73) — Lexington Legends
  4. OF Chris Heisey — Louisville Bats
  5. RHP Tanner Bushue — Lexington Legends
  6. 3B Juan Francisco — Louisville Bats
  7. LHP Travis Wood — Louisville Bats
  8. RHP Alexander Colome — Bowling Green Hot Rods
  9. LHP Matt Maloney — Louisville Bats
  10. SS Zach Cozart — Louisville Bats

BluGrass Baseball Top Prospects (Ky. Alumni)

  1. LHP Christian Friedrich (33) — EKU — Colorado Rockies
  2. OF Ben Revere — Lexington Catholic High School– Minnesota Twins
  3. RHP Robbie Ross — Lexington Christian Academy — Texas Rangers
  4. 1B Ryan Streiby — UK — Detroit Tigers
  5. OF Collin Cowgill — UK — Arizona Diamondbacks
  6. RHP Trystan Magnuson — UofL — Toronto Blue Jays
  7. 3B Chris Dominguez — UofL — San Francisco Giants
  8. RHP Chaz Roe — Lafayette High School — Colorado Rockies
  9. OF John Shelby — UK — Chicago White Sox
  10. OF Sawyer Carroll — UK — San Diego Padres

Chapman Debut: Day after recaps and commentary

Minor League Baseball

I had planned to be in Cincinnati Sunday for the Cubs/Reds game for several weeks as a fan, and while Reds rookie Mike Leake was making his professional debut for the big league club many Reds fans were focused north as Louisville Bats left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman made his AAA debut in Toledo. There were no shortage of media at that event, so I’ve compiled various accounts of the festivities from around the Internet below:

  • John Erardi, writing for the Courier-Journal, reports “The Cuban Missile threw a lot of them — missiles, that is — but he’ll need to throw them for strikes more often and be able to mix in his changeup more effectively to win in the big leagues.”
  • Erardi also provided a recap for the Cincinnati Enquirer, writing “From a vantage point just behind home plate, the view was of a future Red with surprising composure, unafraid to throw his changeup, a nasty, wide-moving slider (when he could throw it for strikes) and a fastball that had the Triple-A hitters overmatched.”
  • John Wagner of the Toledo Blade quotes Louisville manager Rick Sweet: “Given time, he’s [Champan] going to be ready to pitch in the big leagues. The stuff is there. He could pitch in the big leagues right now and have some success.”
  • Nick Evans of the Bats’ media relations department writes Chapman didn’t disappoint.
  • Joe Vardon foresees big things for Chapman in a recap for MLB.com, writing, “The Minor League debut of Reds pitching sensation Aroldis Chapman was befitting a man destined for a quick and major change of scenery.”
  • In case you missed the game, the Web stream of Chapman’s performance can be rewatched on ESPN3.
  • The Bats did pick up the 2-1 win behind three doubles and a fifth-inning RBI from shortstop Zach Cozart. Outfielder Chris Heisey also homered in the game. (Box Score)

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.

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.

Downs prefers setting up; Wellemeyer close to rotation spot; Webb continues rehab

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Major League storylines to keep an eye on as Spring Training winds down:

  • University of Kentucky alum Scott Downs tells Mike Rutsey of The Toronto Sun that he actually prefers pitching in the eighth inning to closing.
  • Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports Louisville-native Todd Wellemeyer can wrap up the Giants’ fifth starter position this week.
  • Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reports Ashland-native Brandon Webb still hasn’t schedule his next mound appearance.
  • Jamie Ramsey of MLB.com profiles Louisville Bats outfielder Chris Heisey.
  • University of Kentucky junior closer Matt Little has been named to the College Baseball Foundation‘s pitcher of the year watch list.

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.

BluGrass Baseball rankings in BA’s 2010 Prospect Handbook

Minor League Baseball

The Baseball America Prospect Handbook is simply a must-have for any minor-league baseball fan. My handbook, in which Baseball America ranks the top 30 prospects in each organization, came in today, and since I ordered it straight from BA they included a 31st prospect supplement for each team. I’m listing where Kentucy players rank in their organizations below, but I’ll leave all BA’s analysis out as incentive for you to go buy their great product.

Houston Astros

  • 3) — RHP Jordan Lyles — 2009 Lexington Legends
  • 4)  — RHP Sammy Gervacio — 2005/2006 Lexington Legends
  • 6) — RHP Ross Seaton — 2009 Lexington Legends
  • 8 — OF Jay Austin — 2009 Lexington Legends
  • 11) — SS Tommy Manzella — 2006 Lexington Legends
  • 12) — RHP Daniel Meszaros — 2009 Lexington Legends
  • 14) — LHP Fernando Abad — 2008 Lexington Legends
  • 15) — RHP Matt Nevarez — 2009 Lexington Legends
  • 19) — RHP Arcenio Leon — 2009 Lexington Legends
  • 20) — C/OF Koby Clemens — 2006/2007 Lexington Legends
  • 21) — OF Brian Bogusevic — 2006 Lexington Legends
  • 23) — RHP Evan Englebrook — 2005 Lexington Legends
  • 25) — OF Collin DeLome — 2008 Lexington Legends
  • 26) — LHP Polin Trinidad — 2007 Lexington Legends
  • 27) — RHP Henry Villar — 2009 Lexington Legends
  • 28) — RHP Ashton Mowdy — 2009 Lexington Legends
  • 29) — LHP Brad Dydalewicz — 2009 Lexington Legends
  • 30) — RHP Kyle Greenwalt — 2009 Lexington Legends

Oakland Athletics

  • 27) — LHP Justin Marks — University of Louisville

Toronto Blue Jays

  • 1) — RHP Zach Stewart — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 7) — RHP Josh Roenicke — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 20) — RHP Daniel Webb — Ashland, Ky. (Blazer)
  • 22) — RHP Trystan Magnuson — University of Louisville

Atlanta Braves

  • 22) — LHP Richard Sullivan — Louisville, Ky. (Ballard)

St. Louis Cardinals

  • 27) — LHP Ben Jukich — 2009 Louisville Bats

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • 9) — OF Collin Cowgill — University of Kentucky

San Francisco Giants

  • 18) — 3B Chris Dominguez — University of Louisville

Baltimore Orioles

  • 31) — C Craig Tatum — 2009 Louisville Bats

Philadelphia Phillies

  • 24) — RHP B. J. Rosenberg — University of Louisville

Texas Rangers

  • 7) — LHP Robbie Ross — Lexington, Ky. (LCA)

Tampa Bay Rays

  • 4) — LHP Matt Moore — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
  • 6) — SS Tim Beckham — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
  • 10) — RHP Nick Barnese — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
  • 13) — RHP Joe Cruz — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
  • 26) — LHP Frank De Los Santos — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
  • 29) — C Jake Jefferies —  2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
  • 31) — OF Keyong Kang — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods

Cincinnati Reds

  • 1) — INF/OF Todd Frazier — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 2) — 1B Yonder Alonso — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 4) — OF Chris Heisey — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 5) — 3B Juan Francisco — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 7) — LHP Travis Wood — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 8 — LHP Matt Maloney — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 12) — SS/2B Chris Valakia — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 14) — RHP Logan Ondrusek — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 19) — RHP Enerio Del Rosario — 2009 Louisville Bats
  • 22)  — LHP Pedro Viola — 2009 Louisville Bats

Colorado Rockies

  • 2) — LHP Christian Friedrich — Eastern Kentucky University
  • 24) — RHP Chaz Roe — Lexington, Ky. (Lafayette)

Kansas City Royals

  • 19) — OF Jordan Parraz — 2007 Lexington Legends

Detroit Tigers

  • 11) — 1B Ryan Strieby — University of Kentucky
  • 24) — 3B Wade Gaynor — Western Kentucky University
  • 28) — RHP Scott Green — University of Kentucky

Minnesota Twins

  • 5) — OF Ben Revere — Lexington, Ky. (Lex Cath)

Chicago White Sox

  • 25) — OF John Shelby — University of Kentucky
  • 26) — RHP Nathan Jones — Northern Kentucky University