Corey Hart returns to Brewers; Scott Downs hopes to be back Friday; Jordan Cooper continues dominance over UofL

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Corey Hart; Photo by manning999 via Flickr

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports Bowling Green native Corey Hart was not expected to be activated from the Milwaukee Brewers’ disabled list until Wednesday, but a batting-practice injury to Erick Almonte forced Hart off the DL on Tuesday. He grounded out in a pinch-hit appearance in his season debut.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times reports Louisville native and former UK left-handed pitcher Scott Downs, who is on the Angels’ disabled list with a gastrointestinal disorder, will throw a bullpen session Wednesday before being activated in time for Friday’s game.
  • Chuck Jones of The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown reports the 2011 high school season has been the “year of the hitter” in the greater Elizabethtown area, with 19 players still batting over .400.
  • Brett Dawson of the Courier-Journal focuses on University of Kentucky sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper‘s career success against the University of Louisville in his recap of the Cats’ 7-1 win over the Cards.
  • University of Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell told Mark Maloney of the Lexington Herald-Leader he was “kind of getting tired of seeing that guy [Cooper].”
  • The College Baseball Blog has no Kentucky teams in its latest NCAA field of 64 projection.
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Webb to throw simulated game; McDonnell apologizes for UofL play; Revere to open season with AAA Rochester

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Brandon Webb; Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb felt good after throwing 65 pitches on Thursday and will likely throw a simulated game on Monday.
  • The Courier-Journal reports University of Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell apologized to fans for his team’s performance in a Friday loss to West Virginia.
  • Elizabethtown native Nathan Adcock talks to the The News-Enterprise about his major-league debut.
  • Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere will open the season with AAA Rochester barring any unforeseen trades or injuries with the Twins.
  • WAVE3-TV reports former University of Louisville baseball player Isaiah Howes will not face charges in the shooting death of former UofL football player Daniel Covington.

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.

Offseason position battle: UofL closer

College Baseball

In the final post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant University of Louisville closer position.

The departed — Right-handed pitcher Neil Holland, a 2010 junior and Washington Nationals draftee, was 8-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 17 saves last season. The first-team all-Big East Conference reliever struck out 59 batters and walked 16 in 56 and one-third innings. Holland led Kentucky collegians in saves and was tied for third in appearances (29). The Nationals selected Holland with their pick in the 11th round of the 2010 draft. Holland was 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 19 games during his professional debut.

Returning candidates — Junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych all but has the closer position wrapped up and is considered to be the top reliever draft prospect in college baseball. Zych was 5-2 with a 5.13 ERA in 2010, but was much more effective after head coach Dan McDonnell removed him from the starting rotation. As a freshman Zych saved two games for the Cards. This summer he was named a Cape Cod League all-star and received the postseason Cape awards for top draft prospect and top reliever…Senior right-handed pitcher Gabriel Shaw saved three games for UofL in 2010 and was 5-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 28 games, including three starts. Shaw may move into the starting rotation for the Cards in 2011, but if he remains in the bullpen he could serve as a valuable insurance option to Zych. He struck out 41 batters and walked just eight in 46 and one-third innings last season. Shaw also saved three games for UofL as a sophomore in 2009.

Newcomers to watch — Freshman right-handed pitcher Dace Kime is the highest drafted player to attend a Kentucky college this season after turning down the Pittsburgh Pirates contract offer as the team’s eight-round pick. Kime could be a potent weekend reliever if he doesn’t break the starting rotation to begin the season…Freshman right-handed pitcher Chad Green was the 37th round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010. He struck out 107 batters as a senior in high school and should provide another strong arm in the Cards’ bullpen.

Wildcard — McDonnell has a plethora of starting pitcher candidates in redshirt sophomore Justin Amlung, junior Derek Self, redshirt sophomore Mike Nastold, sophomore Matt Koch, Kime, Green and Shaw. The loser of the battle between Amlung, Self, Nastold and Koch for the weekend rotation spots would present another valuable reliever for the Cards. Self was 5-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 2010 when 19 of his 27 appearances came out of the bullpen.

Offseason position battle: UofL outfielder

College Baseball

In the sixth University of Louisville post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant outfield position.

The departed — Texas Rangers draftee Josh Richmond, a 2010 junior, missed most of last season with a wrist injury but batted .262 with one home run, 10 RBI and 17 runs scored in 23 games for the Cards. Richmond, an outfielder who started in each of his 23 appearances, was the Rangers 12th round pick in the 2010 draft…Tampa Bay Rays draftee Phil Wunderlich, a 2010 junior, started five games in left field last season…First baseman and outfielder Mike Morrison, a 2010 sophomore, and outfielder Drew Fitzpatrick, a 2010 freshman, started 12 games in the outfield for the Cards last season but neither is listed on the 2011 UofL roster

Returning candidates — Outfield stalwarts senior Drew Haynes and redshirt junior Stewart Ijames return to UofL after starting 64 and 63 games respectively for the Cards in 2010. Haynes batted .291 with 15 stolen bases and served as the primary center fielder until Richmond returned from injury late in the season. Ijames, the 29th round pick of the New York Yankees, batted .324 with 14 home runs, 63 RBI and 64 runs scored in 2010…Sophomore utility man Kyle Grieshaber started 23 games in left field for the Cards in 2010 while serving as Richmond’s primary replacement during his injury. Grieshaber batted .239 with one home run, 15 RBI and 24 runs scored in 53 games last season, but he is the leading candidate for the vacant third base position, after starting each of the five Fall Pizza Bowl Series games there…Sophomore outfielder Jarred Clarkson started two games in left field in 2010 but was just 2-16 in 28 games for the Cards last year.

Newcomers to watch — Freshman Cody Edge started each of the five Pizza Bowl Series games in left field, going 4-12 with two runs scored, two RBI and a walk. Edge will also likely pitch for the Cards in 2011. The two-way player was a three-time all-state selection at Cherokee Washington High School in Iowa and batted .456 with nine home runs, 34 RBI and 32 runs scored as a senior…Freshman outfielder and left-handed pitcher Cole Sturgeon started each of the five Pizza Bowl Series games in centerfield and finished the series 7-17 with two runs scored, five RBI and two walks. Sturgeon was named first-team all state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association as a senior at Owensboro Catholic High School.

Wildcard — Freshman infielders Ryan Seiz and Adam Engel both have the ability to play outfield but started each Pizza Bowl Series game at third base and second base respectively. Each of those positions is likely to be manned by a veteran when the Cards begin the 2011 season so head coach Dan McDonnell could elect to player either newcomer in the outfield to get some playing time. The vacant outfield position will also be heavily effect by the corner infield battles as McDonnell is likely to make sure sophomores Grieshaber, Zak Wasserman and Cade Stallings are each in the lineup in some combination at first base, third base, outfield and designated hitter.

Offseason position battle: UofL shortstop

College Baseball

We have exhausted the offseason position battles for WKU, EKU and Morehead St., so we’ll restart the fifth round with a look at the vacant University of Louisville catching position.

The departed — San Francisco Giants draftee Adam Duvall started 61 games for UofL in 2010, including 54 games at shortstop. Duvall batted .327 with 12 home runs, 47 RBI, 68 runs scored and 10 stolen bases for the Cards last season. The middle infielder made 23 errors in 2010 and finished the season with a .928 fielding percentage. The Giants selected Duvall in the 11th round of the 2010 draft, and he batted .245 in his professional debut.

Returning candidates — Junior All-American Ryan Wright started the 10 UofL games at shortstop that Duvall didn’t start in 2010, but he is entrenched as the every-day second baseman for the Cards…Senior infielder Mark Grieshaber did not appear in a game during his first season at UofL in 2010, but could push for backup playing time this season as the Cards rely on newcomers to man the shortstop position.

Newcomers to watch — Freshman shortstops Ty Young and Alex Chittenden started each of the five games of the Fall Pizza Bowl series at shortstop for the two UofL squads. Young was 7-20 in the Pizza Bowl series with three runs scored, one RBI and two walks. The Pennsylvania native batted .505 with nine home runs, seven doubles, 13 triples, 36 RBI and 43 runs scored as a senior at Malvern Preparatory High School…Chittenden finished the Pizza Bowl series at 3-15 with three RBI and a walk. The Indiana native batted .588 with eight home runs, 16 doubles and 19 stolen bases as a senior at Lawrence Central High School…Freshman infielder Adam Engel started each of the five Pizza Bowl series games at second base, going 4-23. Since second is occupied by Wright, head coach Dan McDonnell could try Engel at shortstop if he wants to get the Ohio native into the lineup.

Wildcard — The candidates for the vacant shortstop position appear fairly straight forward, so the real wildcard in the race would come if McDonnell decided to shift the all-American second baseman back to shortstop, where he started the 2010 season. In the event he wanted to play one of the less experience infielders at second base, McDonnell could conceivably move Wright back to shortstop.

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.

Offseason position battle: UofL catcher

College Baseball

Jeff Arnold; UofL Sports wallpaper

To begin the fourth lap in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant University of Louisville catching position.

The departed — San Francisco Giants draftee Jeff Arnold, a 2010 UofL senior, started all 63 games for the Cards in 2010, serving as the primary catcher for the Big East Conference champions. Arnold batted .306 with three home runs, 32 RBI, 64 runs scored and 16 stolen bases in 19 attempts. The Male High School graduate was named second-team All Big East following the 2010 season, and the Giants selected him in the 26th round of the MLB draft. Behind the plate Arnold threw out 41.2 percent of opposing base runners attempting to steal a base.

Returning candidates — Senior catcher J. J. Ethel batted .303 with two home runs, 15 RBI and 15 runs scored in 41 games for UofL in 2010 after transferring from Scottsdale Community College. Opposing base runners were successful in 53.8 (7-13) percent of stolen base attempts against Ethel in 2010. During the UofL Fall World Series Ethel started each of the five games for assistant coach Xan Barksdale’s team, going 6-20 with two runs scored and two RBI.

Newcomers to watch — Freshman catcher Kyle Gibson was named first-team all-state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association following his senior season at Henderson County High School. As a senior Gibson batted .485 with 20 home runs, seven triples, 15 doubles, 67 RBI and 61 runs scored. Gibson set a Kentucky high school record with home runs in five consecutive games as senior and was 4-15 with three runs scored and an RBI during the Fall World Series. Gibson started all five games in the series including two at catcher…Freshman catcher Jeff Gardner was name honorable mention all-state by KHSBCA after his senior season at Whitfield Academy in Louisville. Gardner starter each game during the Fall World Series, including three at catcher during the Fall World Series, going 3-12 with three walks, two runs scored and three RBI.

Wildcard — Sophomore Asaad Ali didn’t see any action as freshman, and may reprise his role as the team’s bullpen catcher after not appearing during the Fall World Series. Still head coach Dan McDonnell could decide to give Ali, who is the adopted son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, some playing time. Ali was the 40th round pick of the Los Angeles Angels out of high school in 2009. While Ali could qualify as a redshirt freshman since he didn’t play in 2010 the UofL roster lists him as a sophomore.

Offseason position battle: UofL third baseman

College Baseball

In the third University of Louisville post in the “offseason position battle series” we will look at the vacant third base position:

The departed — Second team All-Big East Conference third baseman Phil Wunderlich started 52 games at the hot corner for UofL in 2010, batting .355 with 21 home runs, 62 RBI and 54 runs scored. Wunderlich led the team in home runs (21), total bases (177) and slugging percentage (.691). The slugger added 12 stolen bases for good measure before moving on to professional baseball as the 12th round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2010 MLB draft. Wunderlich started all 64 games for UofL in 2010 with seven starts coming at first base and five in left field. Wunderlich was named a Louisville Slugger third-team All-American.

Returning candidates — Sophomore Cade Stallings received each of UofL’s 12 starts at third base that didn’t go to Wunderlich in 2010, batting .257 with four home runs, 24 RBI and eight runs scored. Stallings started each of the Cards’ five fall Pizza Bowl series games at first base but did move to the hot corner late in one game…During the fall Pizza Bowl sophomore Kyle Grieshaber started each of the five games at third base, going 5-18 in the series. Grieshaber batted .239 in 58 games for the Cards in 2010, including 38 starts at designated hitter and in the outfield. Grieshaber scored 24 runs in 2010 and stole seven bases in seven attempts. During the fall Pizza Bowl Grieshaber batted in the leadoff spot for his team in four of the five games.

Newcomers to watch — Freshman Ryan Seiz started each of the five fall Pizza Bowl series games for the “Xan’s Zephyrs” team at third base. In the series, Seiz was 5-20 with two runs scored, three RBI and a walk. Seiz was named an Under Armour Preseason All-American as a senior at Christopher Dock High School in Perkasie, Pa. He batted .575 with five home runs, 36 RBI, 47 runs scored and 19 stolen bases as a senior in high school…Freshman Brandon Alphin is listed as a RHP/3B on the UofL roster but did not appear in any games in the field during the fall Pizza Bowl.

Wildcard — Freshman infielders Adam Engel, Ty Young and Alex Chittenden each started every game of the fall Pizza Bowl at either second base or shortstop. Second base is clearly occupied by preseason All-American Ryan Wright, so Engel, who started five games at second opposite Wright during the series and is listed as an infielder on the roster, could conceivably see some time at third during the season. The loser of the shortstop race between Young and Chittenden might be able to move to the hot corner, but both are listed as pure shortstops on the roster. In a recent interview with College Baseball Daily, dead coach Dan McDonnell listed Grieshaber, Stallings and Zak Wasserman as hitters who would be counted on to provide a middle of the lineup presence in 2011, so all three should find in the field in some combination at first base, third base, designated hitter and outfield.

Lexington Legends among Astros top prospects; Dan McDonnell highlights fall practice standouts

College Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Jordan Lyles; Photo: Lexington Legends

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • John Manuel of Baseball America has published the magazine’s top 10 Houston Astros’ prospect list with several current, former and future Legends included in the rankings. The list is headlined by 2009 Legend Jordan Lyles, who is followed by 2010 Legends Jiovanni Mier (No. 5), J. D. Martinez (No. 6), Jimmy Paredes (No. 7) and Tanner Bushue (No. 8). Three players on the list, Delino Deshields Jr. (No. 2), Mike Foltynewicz (No. 4) and Austin Wates (No. 9), could open 2011 in Lexington.
  • University of Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell recently completed an interview with College Baseball Daily in which he touches on a number of topics including newcomer standouts from fall practice.
  • The University of Illinois has announced it will play a three-game series at Western Kentucky University on March 11-13 to replace its scheduled appearance in the Metrodome Tournament. The Metrodome suffered a roof collapse on Dec. 12 an officials have announced the facility will not be ready to host previously scheduled college baseball games this spring.
  • UofL assistant coach Xan Barksdale will speak at the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention this weekend about preparing catchers for success.
  • Nick Evans of the Louisville Bats media relations department notes the Cincinnati Reds Caravan will stop at Louisville Slugger Field on Jan. 27.