BluGrass Baseball Preseason All-State Team

College Baseball

Matt Rice bats for WKU: BluGrass Baseball photo

With just two days remaining until the start of the 2011 college baseball season it’s time to unveil the 2011 preseason BluGrass Baseball All-State team. Eligible players either play for a Kentucky college or attended a Kentucky high school. Check out the team below, with short bios on the first-team players. Remember, we’ll update this team at midseason and after the regular season is over.

C — Matt Rice — Western Kentucky University

  • .369/.446/.585, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 51 R
  • Rice was the first-team catcher on the 2010 BluGrass Baseball postseason All-State Team and returns to WKU after declining to sign with the New York Yankees as the team’s 50th round draft pick this summer. Rice may have been Mr. Irrelevant in the draft after being selected with the last pick, but he’s far from irrelevant in Kentucky college baseball as he should be in the running all season for the player of the year award. Rice was named All-Sun Belt Conference following the 2010 season, and recently was named the preseason Sun Belt player of the year by Baseball America.
  • Second Team: J. J. Ethel (UofL) — .303/.384/.459, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 15 R

1B — Rich Witten — Coastal Carolina (Danville High School)

  • 2010: .312/.393/.584, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 22 R
  • After spending most of 2010 as a key reserve for the Chanticleers before moving into the starting lineup as the everyday first baseman in time for postseason play. Witten is expected to begin 2011 as the NCAA-regional hopeful’s first baseman and hopes to build on his strong postseason play. Witten was named to the Myrtle Beach All-Regional team after batting .278 with a double, home run and 6 RBI in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. As a junior at Danville High School Witten slugged 25 home runs, the second most in a single season in KHSAA history.
  • Second Team: Zak Wasserman (UofL) — .324/.405/.419, 11 RBI, 9 R

2B — Ryan Wright — University of Louisville

  • 2010: .366/.413/.638, 16 HR, 80 RBI, 61 R
  • Junior infielder Ryan Wright has already been named a preseason all-American by three different outlets, including a second-team selection by Baseball America. Wright leads returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 RBI, runs scored and home runs and ranks second in 2010 batting average and slugging percentage. The second baseman spent the summer with Team USA, where he led everyday players with a .361 batting average and 18 runs scored. UofL head coach Dan McDonnell recently called Wright a “RBI mongrel,” noting the junior has 146 RBI in two seasons at UofL.
  • Second Team: Travis Redmon (Morehead St.) — .333/.411/.497, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 42 R

3B — Andrew Deeds — Morehead State University

  • 2010: .305/.356/.603, 13 HR, 39 RBI, 43 R
  • Junior infielder Andrew Deeds leads a weak crop of Kentucky third baseman returning from the 2010 season. Deeds ranks third among returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 home runs and slugging percentage. The Trinity High School alum finished the 2010 season on a 12-game hitting streak and tallied 12 multi-hit games on the year. In the Eagles’ series against in-state rival EKU, Deeds was 7-15 with four home runs and six RBI.
  • Second Team: Colton Moore (Murray St.) — .328/.383/.429, 1 HR, 39 RBI, 23 R

SS — Richie Rodriguez — Eastern Kentucky University

  • 2010: .357/.405/.496, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 55 R, 21 SB
  • Junior shortstop Richie Rodriguez led the Colonels in batting average, stolen bases and hits in 2010. He ranks second in 2010 stolen bases and third in 2010 batting average and runs scored among returning Kentucky collegians. The Miami, Fla., native was named a Louisville Slugger freshman all-American following the 2009 season. Rodriguez started every game in 2010 at shortstop and the leadoff slot in the lineup for EKU. He tallied 24 multi-hit games in 2010 including five four-hit games.
  • Second team: Taylor Black (UK) — .270/.386/.489, 11 HR, 37 RBI, 44 R, 12 SB

OF — Stewart Ijames — University of Louisville

  • 2010: .324/.406/.570, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 47 R
  • Redshirt junior outfielder Stewart Ijames returns to Louisville after declining to sign with the New York Yankees as the team’s 29th round pick in the 2010 draft. Ijames was named second-team All-Big East and selected to the all-Big East Tournament Team following the 2010 season. He ranks third among returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 batting average and RBI and fifth in 2010 slugging percentage. Ijames was named a Ping! Baseball and Louisville Slugger freshman all-American in 2008 and missed the 2009 season with a shoulder injury.
  • Second Team: Ryan Faidley (EKU) — .324/.420/.605, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 44 R

OF — Kes Carter — Western Kentucky University

  • 2010: .341/.418/.484, 7 HR, 53 RBI, 40 R, 14 SB
  • Junior outfielder Kes Carter was named first-team all-Sun Belt following the 2010 season and returns to WKU hoping to improve his draft status. Carter ranks fourth among returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 on-base percentage and fifth in 2010 RBI and stolen bases. The outfielder recorded a 15-game hitting streak last season between April 6 and 25 and committed just one error in 2010. Carter was selected in the 43rd round of the 2008 draft by the Florida Marlins following his senior season in high school.
  • Second Team: Chad Wright (UK) — .316/.388/.413, 2 HR, 37 RBI, 36 R, 12 SB

OF — Jared Andreoli — Western Kentucky University

  • 2010: .341/.415/.484, 5 HR, 49 RBI, 61 R, 14 SB
  • Junior outfielder Jared Andreoli led the Hilltoppers with 32 multi-hit games in 2010 and tallied a 15-game hitting streak from March 12 to April 3. Among returning Kentucky collegians Andreoli ranks first in 2010 runs scored, fifth in stolen bases and fifth in on-base percentage. Andreoli ranked eight in runs scored in the Sun Belt Conference last season and fifth in triples. The outfielder leads returning Hilltoppers in total bases and tallied six sacrifice bunts last season.
  • Second Team: Daniel Pugh — .335/.438/.447, 4 HR, 32 RBI, 45 R

DH — Taylor Davis — Morehead State University

  • 2010: .350/.412/..596, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 40 R
  • Junior catcher Taylor Davis was named preseason all-Ohio Valley Conference after his strong 2010 season. Davis ranks fourth among returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 batting average and RBI and fifth in 2010 home runs. The junior started 36 games at catcher, six at designated hitter and three at third base for the Eagles in 2010. Davis tallied a 13-game hitting streak, 19 multi-hit games and 13-multi-RBI games last season. The catcher has been selected to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League during the summer of 2011.
  • Second team — Braden Kapteyn (UK) — .297/.403/.484, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 31 R

SP — Matt Koch — University of Louisville

  • 2010: 3-0, 3.27 ERA, 31 SO/9BB, 44 IP
  • Sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Koch did not qualify for the ERA title in 2010, but was outstanding after moving into the Cards’ weekend rotation during conference play. Koch appeared in 11 games for UofL in 2010, including six starts. He surrendered just one run in six innings in UofL’s win over Vanderbilt in the NCAA Regional, earning a spot on the all-regional team. Koch moved into the weekend rotation on April 30 against Rutgers and remained there for the rest of the season. He was the 37th round pick of the Boston Red Sox in the 2009 draft out of high school.
  • Second Team: Anthony Bazzani (EKU) — 5-3, 5.47 ERA, 41 SO/30 BB, 77.1 IP

SP — Justin Amlung — University of Louisville

  • 2010: 5-2, 4.27 ERA, 55 SO/14 BB, 65.1 IP
  • Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung was named the 2010 freshman of the year and boasts the lowest qualifying 2010 ERA of any returning Kentucky pitcher. Amlung started 10 games for the Cards last season, beginning the year as a midweek starter before moving into the weekend rotation. He surrendered just three home runs in 65.1 innings pitched that season and begins the season as UofL’s Saturday starting pitcher.
  • Second team: Jordan Cooper (UK) — 4-5, 5.71 ERA, 35 SO/27 BB, 58.1 IP

SP — Alex Meyer — University of Kentucky

  • 2010: 5-3, 7.06 ERA, 63 SO/36 BB, 51 IP
  • Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer has struggled in two season on campus, but he begins 2011 in the same place he has the last two years as arguably the state’s most talented player. Baseball America recently ranked Meyer the No. 34 prospect in the 2011 draft and selected him to its preseason All-Southeastern Conference team. Meyer is 6-7 with a 6.34 ERA and 143 strikeouts in his UK career but should be a first-round pick in 2011 with a strong season.
  • Second Team: Jake Donze (Murray St.) 6-6, 6.02 ERA, 71 SO/56 BB, 83.2 IP

RP — Rye Davis — Western Kentucky University

  • 2010: 3-4, 2.72 ERA, 9 saves, 63 SO/20 BB, 49.2 IP
  • Relief pitcher might be the most hotly contested spot on the All-State team with redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Rye Davis and UofL top draft prospect Tony Zych. Davis was the 36th round pick of the Cleveland Indians during the summer of 2010 but returned to WKU in hopes of improving his draft status, that may have been hurt when he missed all of 2009 after being struck in the face by a line drive. Davis leads returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 appearances and ranks second in strikeouts and saves.
  • Second Team: Tony Zych — 5-2, 5.13 ERA, 1 save, 50 SO/11 BB, 61.2 IP
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2011 Lineup Projections: Murray St. University

College Baseball

Following the completion of the “offseason position battle” series we will post a lineup project for each of the five division one schools this week. The lineups are based on the position battle posts and are my projection with a little background research of what the Opening Day lineup might look like. Note that while some positions were not included in the offseason battle series because they had an incumbent starter those starters can still change. We will also include weekend rotations, midweek starters and closers for good measure. We are moving in reverse order of 2010 records and will look at Murray State University today.

Lineup

  • C — Drew Pixley
  • 1B — Tyler Beers
  • 2B — Travis Isaak
  • 3B — Colton Moore
  • SS — Brandon Elliott
  • LF — Zach Noonan
  • CF — Elliot Frey
  • RF — Paul Ritzheimer
  • DH — Jacob Rhodes

Weekend rotation

  • LHP — Jacob Donze
  • LHP — Bryan Babin
  • LHP — Kyle Cornett

Midweek starting pitchers

  • LHP — Brock Downey
  • LHP — Mark Roberts

Closer

  • LHP — Luke Shuemaker

Offseason position battle: Murray St. second baseman

College Baseball

In our third Murray State University post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant second base position.

The departed — Murray St. split its 57 starts at second base between three players in 2010: seniors Kyle Tiernan and Cory Hodskins and sophomore Jonathan Craycraft. The Breds lost Tiernan, who started 32 games at second base, and Hodskins, who started one game at second, to graduation. Craycraft, who started 24 games at the position, is not listed on the 2011 roster. Tiernan batted .300 with three home runs, 37 RBI and 30 runs scored in 2010, while Craycraft batted .262 with two home runs, 13 RBI and 23 runs scored. Craycraft started 46 games at second base as a freshman, batting .337.

Returning candidates — Murray St. lists just two returning infielders on its 2011 roster: sophomores Brandon Elliott and Colton Moore. Elliott returns to the Breds as the primary shortstop after starting 43 games there in 2010. Moore started 19 games at third base and 24 games as a designated hitter in 2010 and will likely be the primary third baseman in 2011.

Newcomers to watch — Junior college transfer Travis Isaak joins the Breds after batting .420 with 19 doubles, eight home runs and 55 RBI as a sophomore at Lincoln Trail Community College. Isaak batted .365 with 25 doubles, five home runs and 38 RBI as a freshman at LTCC…Freshman infielder Wes Warren comes to Murray St. from Goodlettsville, Tenn., where he batted .419 with seven triples and 32 RBI as a senior at Hendersonville High School.

Wildcard — With just four infielders listed on the 2011 roster there appear to be few surprises in the second base competition. Head coach Rob McDonald could conceivably move incumbent infielders Elliott and Moore to the position, though that appears unlikely as neither logged any time at second base during 2011. If a position change from another player was in order, the Breds boast a surplus at catcher with five players and outfield with six players on the roster.

Offseason position battle: Murray St. first baseman

College Baseball

Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo

In the latest offseason position battle post we will look at the vacant Murray State University first base position:

The departed — All-American Wes Cunningham started 52 of the Breds’ 57 games at first base before being drafted by the Sand Diego Padres in the 17th round of the 2010 draft. Cunningham led Murray State in batting average (.408), on-base percentage (.476), slugging percentage (.824), hits (95), home runs (22), RBI (86), runs (77), triples (6) and total bases (192). Cunningham’s 86 RBI and 192 total bases ranked fifth in the country and his 22 home runs ranked 12th. Senior Bryan Propst also started the other five games at first base for Murray St.

Returning candidates — Rising sophomore Colton Moore is the only returning Bred who logged any time at first base in 2010. Moore played the last two innings of Murray St.’s May 28 Ohio Valley Conference tournament win over Eastern Illinois at first base. Moore started 19 games at third base and 24 at designated hitter so he could make the switch to first base in 2011 if he can handle the position defensively full-time. Redshirt freshman infielder Jordan Queen figures to earn some playing time in the infield and had a RBI singled during the fall World Series.

Newcomers to watch — Junior college transfer Tyler Beers is the only player listed as a first baseman on the roster, but will also likely pitch some for Murray St. During the final game of the fall World Series Beers tallied a RBI single. Beers batted .300 with five home runs and 25 RBI as a sophomore for Mineral Area College.

Wildcard — Murray State has five catchers listed on the roster, so head coach Rob McDonald could consider moving one to first base. At 6-1 junior college transfer Jacob Rhodes is the tallest of the group but will likely battle with Drew Pixley for the majority of the playing time at catcher. McDonald could also move one of the seven outfielders on the roster to first base.

Season Review: Murray State University

College Baseball

In the second season review post we’ll look at Murray State University, which finished 28-28-1. Check out these highlights and awards for Breds’ players:

  • Hitter of the year: 1B Wes Cunningham — Cunningham’s selection should come as no surprise as he was named the BluGrass Baseball state player of the year. The senior first baseman led Murray St. in every major offensive category, batting .408 with 22 home runs, 86 RBI and 77 runs scored. Cunningham had a .476 on-base percentage, slugged .824 and even stole 10 bases on the season. The Ohio Valley Conference player of the year will look to be a mid-to-late round selection in this summer’s draft.
  • Pitcher of the year: RHP Matt McGaha — McGaha started only one game this season for Murray St., and that start didn’t come until the OVC tournament. Despite making 26 relief appearances, McGaha qualified for the state ERA title with 67 innings pitched. The senior left-handed pitcher finished the year at 5-3 with a 3.90 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 13 walks. McGaha also saved three games this season.
  • Season high point: Senior right-handed pitcher Alex Love threw 180 pitches in two days to earn wins on back-to-back days in the OVC tournament. Love’s complete-game win in the OVC tournament ended up being his final collegiate appearance.
  • Season low point: With a chance to clinch to OVC regular season title outright, Murray St. was swept in a three game series by second-place Tennessee Tech to finish the season. The Breds entered the OVC tournament at the three seed instead of the one seed after the sweep and lost its first round game to Eastern Kentucky University.
  • Miscellaneous: The Breds received strong performances from freshmen Colton Moore (.328, 39 RBI, 23 R) and Brandon Elliott (.347, 25 RBI, 41 R)…Senior outfielder Bryan Propst was a consistent threat in the Breds’ lineup and slugged 14 home runs and drove in 56 runs…Senior ace Chris Craycraft had an up-and-down season with six wins but a 5.05 ERA. Craycraft pitched two complete games.

BluGrass Baseball Postseason Awards

College Baseball

Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo

The 2010 collegiate season is officially over for every Kentucky Division One school except UofL, so this is the perfect time to unveil the BluGrass Baseball season awards.

Player of the year: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)

  • Stats: .408/.476/.824, 22 HR, 86 RBI, 77 R, 10 SB
  • Cunningham led the state in home runs, RBI, runs scored and slugging percentage and ranked tenth in home runs, ninth in RBI and fifth in slugging percentage in all of D1 baseball during the regular season. He was named Ohio Valley Conference player of the year and ranked in the top five in OVC batting average, hits, runs scored, RBI, triples, home runs and total bases. Cunningham led Murray State University in every major offensive category.
  • Honorable Mention: Zack Cox (Arkansas, PRP), J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead State University), Drew Lee (Morehead St.), Jayson Langfels (Eastern Kentucky University), Matt Rice (Western Kentucky University), Ryan Wright (UofL)

Pitcher of the year: RHP Thomas Royse (UofL)

  • Stats: 9-1, 2.91 ERA, 99 IP, 94 SO, 25 BB, .252 BA against
  • Royse led Kentucky pitchers in ERA, wins, strikeouts and innings pitched in 2010 . The Big East Conference pitcher of the year led the University of Louisville to the No. 7 overall seed in the NCAA tournament as its weekend ace. Royse outdueled WKU senior ace Matt Ridings, who ranked second in most pitching categories and led in batting average against, for the pitcher of the year honor.
  • Honorable Mention: Matt Ridings (WKU), Neil Holland (UofL), Matt McGaha (Murray St.), Justin Amlung (UofL), Rye Davis (WKU)

Freshman of the year: RHP Justin Amlung (UofL)

  • Stats: 5-1, 4.01 ERA, 19 G, 9 GS, 60.2 IP, 51 SO, 12 BB, .281 BA against
  • Almung redshirted during the 2009 season, but wasted no time making an impact in his first season on the diamond for UofL, first as a mid-week starting pitcher and reliever and later as a weekend starter. Amlung led all Kentucky freshman in wins, ERA, strikeouts and batting average against.
  • Honorable Mention: Matt Koch (UofL), Taylor Rogers (University of Kentucky), Jordan Cooper (UK), Ryan Huck (WKU), Colton Moore (Murray St.), Anthony Bazzani (EKU), Austin Grisham (EKU)

Royse, Cunningham, Ridings receive conference awards; 29 Kentucky players named to all-conference teams

College Baseball

Tuesday saw the naming of all-conference teams across the country and the awarding of pitcher and player of the year honors. Kentucky collegiate players received their fair share of recognition, and I’ve listed those honors below:

  • University of Louisville (9) junior right-handed pitcher Thomas Royse was named the Big East Conference pitcher of the year.
  • Western Kentucky University senior right-handed pitcher Matt Ridings was named the Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the year.
  • Murray State University senior first baseman Wes Cunningham was named the Ohio Valley Conference player of the year.
  • First team All-Southeastern Conference: 3B Zack Cox (Arkansas, PRP)
  • Second team All-SEC: 2B Chris Bisson (University of Kentucky)
  • First team All-Big East: P Neil Holland (UofL), P Thomas Royse (UofL), 1B Andrew Clark (UofL), 2B Ryan Wright (UofL)
  • Second team All-Big East: C Jeff Arnold (UofL), 3B Phil Wunderlich (UofL), SS Adam Duvall (UofL), OF Stewart Ijames (UofL)
  • First team All-Big Ten Conference: SS Jonathan Roof (Michigan St., Paducah)
  • First team All-Sun Belt: RHP Matt Ridings (WKU), RP Rye Davis (WKU), C Matt Rice (WKU), OF Kes Carter (WKU)
  • Second team All-Sun Belt: 2B Matt Payton (WKU)
  • First team All-OVC: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.), SS Drew Lee (Morehead State University), 3B Jayson Langfels (Eastern Kentucky University), OF J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead St.).
  • Second team All-OVC: 1B Anthony Ottrando (EKU), UT Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.), SP Chris Craycraft (Murray St.), RP Matt McGaha (Murray St.)
  • Freshman All-OVC: RHP Anthony Bazzani (EKU), OF Austin Grisham (EKU), SS Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), 3B/DH Colton Moore (Murray St.)
  • Honorable Mention All-Missouri Valley Conference: SP Patrick Cooper (Bradley, Danville)

BluGrass Baseball Week 13 Awards

College Baseball

Player of the week: OF Lance Ray (UK)

  • Stats: 9-19 (.474), 4 HR, 13 RBI, 11 R, 2 2Bs, 1 3B
  • Honorable Mention: Marcus Nidiffer (UK), Stewart Ijames (UofL), Andrew Clark (UofL), Matt Payton (WKU), Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Drew Lee (Morehead St.), Richie Rodriguez (EKU)

Pitcher of the week: RHP Matt Ridings (WKU)

  • Stats: 1-0, 8.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Anthony Bazzani (EKU), Jordan Cooper (UK), Tony Zych (UofL), Matt McGaha (Murray St.), Matthew Robertson (Morehead St.)

Freshman of the week: RHP Anthony Bazzani (EKU)

  • Stats: 1-0, 2 G, 1 GS, 11 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Jordan Cooper (UK), Walter Wijas (UK), Justin Amlung (UofL), Tanner Perkins (WKU), Colton Moore (Murray St.)

BluGrass Baseball Wednesday Review: Week 13

College Baseball

Wednesday was a winless day on the diamond for Kentucky division one colleges with a 0-2 record. Morehead State University‘s game against Marshall was rained out an tentatively rescheduled for next Wednesday. Check out recaps and awards from the two games played below:

  • The University of Kentucky surrendered 10 runs in the first six innings and couldn’t finish a late comeback in a 10-8 loss to Lipscomb. Senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer was 2-4 with two RBI, and freshman left fielder Brian Adams, making just his second start of the season, was 3-4 with one run scored and one RBI. Senior infielder Gunner Glad and senior center fielder Keenan Wiley also tallied two hits in the game. Freshman right-handed pitcher Sam Kidd took the loss after allowing seven runs in four innings. (Box Score)
  • Murray State University snapped a five-game winning streak with a 10-1 blowout loss to Memphis. Freshman designated hitter Colton Moore, senior second baseman Kyle Tiernan and junior catcher Drew Pixley each recorded two hits in the game. Moore also drove in the Breds only run, scored by senior left fielder Bryan Propst. Senior right-handed pitcher Marc Harmon took the loss after allowing four runs in two innings. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: OF Brian Adams (UK)

  • Stats: 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 2B
  • Honorable Mention: Marcus Nidiffer (UK), Lance Ray (UK), Keenan Wiley (UK), Colton Moore (Murray St.)

Pitcher of the day: RHP Sean Bouthilette (UK)

  • Stats: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Matt McGaha (Murray St.)

BluGrass Baseball Week 12 Awards

College Baseball

Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo

Awards from a finals-shortened week of Kentucky baseball:

Player of the week: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)

  • Stats: 7-11 (.636), 1 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 5 R, 12 RBI
  • Honorable Mention: Richie Rodriguez (EKU), Taylor Davis (Morehead St.) Colton Moore (Murray St.), Jeff Arnold (UofL), Marcus Nidiffer (UK)

Pitcher of the week: RHP Thomas Royse (UofL)

  • Stats: 1-0, 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Chris Craycraft (Murray St.), Justin Amlung (UofL), Matt Koch (UofL), Alex Meyer (UK), Jordan Cooper (UK), Matt Ridings (WKU), Josh Schneider (Morehead St.)

Freshman of the week: RHP Jordan Cooper (UK)

  • Stats: 1-0, 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Justin Amlung (UofL), Matt Koch (UofL), Colton Moore (Murray St.)