Chris Wade; Photo: UK Athletics
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times reports PLD alum A. J. Ellis may be back in contention for the backup catching job with the Dodgers after an injury to Dioner Navarro and Thursday home run but is still likely to begin the season at AAA Albuquerque.
- Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb will try to throw long toss today after canceling a live batting practice throwing session early this week after he failed to get loose.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports the Florida Marlins have released former UK infielder Chris Wade, who batted .218 with two home runs, 24 RBI, 26 runs scored and 13 stolen bases in 81 games between low A Greensboro and high A Jupiter last season.
- Nick Gonnella of the Greensburg Daily News in Indiana, profiles University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer, a Greensburg native and 2008 Indiana Mr. Baseball.
- WAVE-3 TV has an update on the legal case against former UofL baseball player Isaiah Howes, who is claiming self defense in the shooting death of a former UofL football player
In part three of the BluGrass Baseball Top Prospects series I’ll look at the players from Kentucky who were ranked as top prospects prior to the 2009 draft. These players are making their professional debuts in 2009 and will likely factor in somewhere on their organization’s top 30 list following the season. I’ve included the player’s ranking on the Baseball America top draft prospects list if he was included on that list before the draft.
- (37) James Paxton — LHP University of Kentucky — Toronto Blue Jays (1s) — Paxton is likely the only unsigned player from Kentucky who will still sign a professional contract. After being selected in the first supplemental round by the Toronto Blue Jays, Paxton and his adviser, super-agent Scott Boras, are just looking for the right dollar amount. His leverage is minimal though, so Paxton will likely sign prior to the Aug. 17 deadline. After an up-and-down junior season Paxton entered the draft as one of the top left-handed pitchers on the board. James featured a 93-94 mph fastball that peaked at 97 mph and an above-average curveball. Paxton’s performance at UK didn’t match his pure talent, but his young age (21) gives Toronto more reason to hope his best baseball is ahead of him.
- (83) Justin Marks — LHP University of Louisville — Oakland Athletics (3) — Marks is your stereotypical “crafty lefty.” According to BA he doesn’t feature a single overpowering pitch but grades out as average to above-average on each of his four pitches and boasts solid command. Justin was extremely consistent at Louisville, pitching from the weekend rotation since his freshman season in 2007. Marks went to Oakland in the third round, exactly where BA predicted he would fall. He is in the right organization as Oakland often values performance on a higher level than many organizations that favor strong tools in their philosophy. At the very least Marks should have a future in a big league bullpen as a valuable lefty reliever.
- (85) Chris Dominguez — 3B University of Louisville — San Francisco Giants (3) — Baseball America ranked Dominguez two spots behind teammate Justin Marks on its top 200 draft prospects list, but Chris was drafted six spots ahead of his teammate. BA graded both players as third-round talents. Dominguez has featured “light-tower” power throughout his college career, but has had trouble adjusting to more advanced pitching. Chris won the home-run race in the New England Collegiate League (2006), Big East (2008), Cape Cod League (2008) and Big East (2009). There’s no question about Dominguez’s ability to hit a fastball, but his frequency to chase breaking balls was a major question entering the draft. During the UK/UofL baseball game in Louisville this spring several members of the UofL media relations staff had a bet as to how many fastballs Dominguez would even see in the game due to his reputation. Everyone knows his weakness, so Dominguez will have plenty of opportunity to adjust to professional pitching early and fulfill the promise of his extraordinary talent. Dominguez already has six home runs in 18 pro games.
Each of the Bluegrass state’s three minor league teams won Wednesday following strong pitching performances. Here are the recaps from those games and any other BluGrass Baseball news to get you through a cloudy Thursday morning:
- The Hot Rods defeated the Charleston RiverDogs 6-2 on “Bark at the Ballpark” night.
- The Legends rode two early homer runs from Brian Pellegrini and Steve Brown to a 7-3 win over Savannah.
- Lexington also completed several roster moves. Infielder Ronald Ramirez was promoted to High A Lancaster, and infielder Chris Jackson returned to Lexington from Lancaster. Left-handed pitcher David Duncan was promoted from short-season Tri-City to Lexington, and right-handed pitcher Jose Trinidad was added to the 7-day disabled list with right shoulder injury.
- The Courier Journal recaps the Bats’ 4-2 victory over Max Klinger’s favorite team, the Toledo Mud Hens.
- You can replay the live chat with UK Head Coach Gary Henderson and RHP Alex Meyer at “Cat Scratches.” The chat didn’t contain much breaking news, but Henderson did list candidates for the shortstop job and said the two weekend rotation slots next to Meyer were wide open. My favorite answers was Meyer’s response that teammate Marcus Nidiffer was the toughest batter he faced this season. Nice to see Meyer has mastered being politically correct.
- Speaking of the open UK shortstop job…former shortstop Chris Wade made his professional debut yesterday for the rookie GCL Marlins. I’ve added Wade to the KY Minor Leaguers page.
- This is a few days old, but Richard Justice at the Houston Chronicle has an excellent column about former Legend Hunter Pence’s all-star selection.
- Former Legend and American League all-star Ben Zobrist was the hero in Tampa Bay’s 10-9 walk-off victory over Toronto Wednesday.
The UK Bat Cats have lost another important cog in their 2010 roster. Two-year starting shortstop Chris Wade has signed a contract to play professional baseball with the Florida Marlins according to Eric Lindsey at the UK Athletics blog “Cat Scratches.”
Wade was the Marlins’ 11th round pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Players Draft. He batted .313 with six home runs and 42 RBI for UK in 2009. He was named a freshman All-American in 2008 and was All-SEC in 2009. He was UK’s first All-SEC shortstop since 1961.
Wade becomes the second underclassman to leave UK after being drafted this year. RHP Clint Tilford signed with the Colorado Rockies after being selected in the 31st round of the draft. UK has also lost one signee to the draft (Keith Butler, 24th round Cardinals) and expects to lose junior pitcher James Paxton who was selected in the first supplemental round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Senior pitcher Chris Rusin signed with the Chicago Cubs as their fourth round pick.
Rising sophomore Andy Burns is the obvious choice to succeed Wade at shortstop for the Cats, but will have to improve on his 13 errors from 2009 to handle the position full time.