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
Josh Anderson; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Some MiLB links and updates to pass along for your Monday morning:
- Michael Grant of the Courier Journal profiles Somerset native, Lexington Legends hall of famer and Eastern Kentucky University alum Josh Anderson‘s slow start for the Louisville Bats.
- Michael Compton of the Bowling Green Daily News profiles Western Kentucky University alum Wade Gaynor and his return to Bowling Green with the West Michigan Whitecaps. Gaynor was 3-15 in the three-game set against the Hot Rods.
- Mark Maloney of the Lexington Herald-Leader recaps the Lexington Legends home opener. Be sure to check out the photo gallery from the game to see the Legends “tuxedo jerseys.”
- Standings Update: The Bats currently sit in last place of the International League west division at 4-7. The Hot Rods are seventh in the Midwest League eastern division at 3-8, and the Legends are third in the South Atlantic League southern division at 6-5.
- Outfielder Daniel Dorn leads the Bats with a .343 average, four home runs and seven RBI. Third baseman Jonathan Meyer leads the Legends with a .386 average, first baseman Kody Hinze leads the team with three home runs and outfielder Jacob Goebbert leads Lexington with 12 RBI. Catcher Mark Thomas leads the Hot Rods with a .417 average in six games, two home runs and five RBI.
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)
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.
- 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)
- Corky Miller — Amateur FA (1998)
- Wilkin Castillo — NDFA 2002
- Jake Long — 37th Round (2005)
- 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)
- 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.
Today I’m unveiling the first of two All BluGrass Baseball teams for the 2009 season. As with most features on the site, we’ll divide BluGrass players into two divisions: one made of rosters of the state’s three minor league teams and the other made of Kentucky natives and college alums. The first team comes from the rosters of the Louisville Bats, Bowling Green Hot Rods and Lexington Legends.
- Catcher: Jake Jeffries, Bowling Green Hot Rods — .261, eight home runs, 50 RBI
- First Base: Brian Pellegrini, Lexington Legends — .291, 27 home runs, 74 RBI
- Second Base: Isaias Velasquez, Bowling Green Hot Rods — .278, two home runs, 40 RBI
- Third Base: Juan Francisco, Louisville Bats — .359, five home runs, 19 RBI
- Shortstop: Tim Beckham, Bowling Green Hot Rods — .275, five home runs, 63 RBI
- Left Field: Daniel Dorn, Louisville Bats — .275, 14 home runs, 47 RBI
- Center Field: Drew Stubbs, Louisville Bats — .268, three home runs, 39 RBI
- Right Field: Kyeong Kang, Bowling Green Hot Rods — .307, five home runs, 42 RBI
- Starting Pitcher 1: Matthew Moore, Bowling Green Hot Rods — 8-5, 3.15, 176 SO
- Starting Pitcher 2: Jordan Lyles, Lexington Legends — 7-11, 3.24, 167 SO
- Starting Pitcher 3: Matt Maloney, Louisville Bats — 9-9, 3.08, 125 SO
- Starting Pitcher 4: Chris Andujar, Bowling Green Hot Rods — 10-4, 2.70, 79 SO
- Starting Pitcher 5: Justin Lehr, Louisville Bats, 13-3, 3.31, 60 SO
- Closer: Henry Villar, Lexington Legends, 3-4, 2.60, 109 SO
Notes: Third base was, by far, the worst position among the three teams. Francisco wins due to his domination of AAA pitching in his brief audition for Louisville. The rotation had plenty of competition with as many as five other starters having an argument for inclusion. If we’d included multiple relievers, Logan Ondrusek, Patrick Urckfitz and Josh Roenicke could have all made the team. Arguably the state’s top position prospect (Chris Heisey) didn’t make the cut because of spending half the season in AA and posting worse numbers than his teammate Dorn in the half season of AAA.
The Louisville Bats put on an offense showcase en route to a 10-6 victory over Durham in game four of a best-of-five series. The Bats forced a decisive game five with their victory. Catcher Chris Denove led the Bats with two doubles, a run scored and three RBI. Left fielder Daniel Dorn was 1-1 with three runs scored, a home run and two walks.
Starting pitcher Tom Cochran surrendered six runs in two and one-third innings. Lee Tabor earned the win with four scoreless innings of relief and Logan Ondrusek pitched a perfect 1.2 innings to close the game and earn the save.
Louisville overcame an early two-run deficit en route to a 5-2 win Thursday to even the first-round series with Durham at one game each. Second baseman Todd Frazier led the Bats with two hits, a run scored and an RBI.
Frazier started the scoring rally in the third inning with a single. Consecutive singles from Yonder Alonso, Daniel Dorn and Chris Valaika plated three runs to give Louisville a 3-2 win. Juan Francisco led off the seventh with a double before Frazier drove him in with a single. Valaika drove Francisco home with a single two batters later.
Ben Jukich earned the win after allowing two runs in five innings. Logan Ondrusek earned the save with a scoreless ninth inning. Mitch Talbot took the loss for Durham after allowing three runs in three innings.
If you click over to the “Ky. in the Minors” page you can see an in-depth list of every minor league player with Kentucky ties. As always, if you know of a player who is not on the list you can send me an email at email@example.com. So you have a list of every Kentucky player in the minors, but which of those players have the best chance to become impact major leaguers? My goal in this series of posts is to let you know which minor leaguers from Kentucky are top prospects. I’ll start by examining where these players and the members of the state’s three minor league teams rank on their Baseball America’s organization top 30s and will work toward a master list of Kentucky prospects.
In the first installment of the “BluGrass Baseball Top Prospects” post, here are the top organizational prospects on the state’s three minor league teams according to Baseball America.
Bowling Green Hot Rods
- #2 — SS Tim Beckham — Beckham ranked only behind Tampa Bay pitcher David Price on the Baseball America top 30 prospects list for the Rays. Since Price is currently pitching for the Rays his prospect status will soon be exhausted, and Beckham should move up to the number one spot. Beckham, the number one pick in the 2008 draft, is from Griffin, Ga., and has all the tools to become an all-star shortstop. In Baseball America’s mid-season prospect report for Tampa Bay, the publication listed Tim Beckham as the player who took the “biggest leap forward.”
- #6 — LHP Matt Moore — According to Baseball America, Moore’s only weakness entering 2008 was his control which he dramatically improved on during his time with rookie Princeton. After posting a 2-2 record with a 1.66 ERA in 2008, BA said that Moore only needed to prove himself against tougher competition. Moore, a 2007 8th round pick, hasn’t disappointed this season in Bowling Green. The lefty is 6-3 with a 2.87 ERA with 116 strikeouts and 45 walks in 81.2 innings.
- # 18 — C Jake Jeffries — Jeffries was the Rays third round pick in 2008 out of UC Davis. In his first professional season he batted .315 with two home runs and 41 RBI for short season Hudson Valley. Jeffries has continued to hit for Bowling Green this season. He is currently hitting .270 with six home runs and 43 RBI in 77 games. He has shown and exceptional eye at the plate with 28 walks and 25 strikeouts in 281 at-bats.
- #27 — OF Kyeong Kang — Kang was the first South Korean to be selected in the MLB amateur players draft. He moved to the United States with his family in high school and was selected by the Rays in the 15th round of the 2006 draft. Kang was named a mid-season all-star in the New York-Penn League in 2008 and finished the year with a .278 average, six home runs and 43 RBI. Kang was selected to represent the Rays for the World team in the 2009 Futures Game. Through 48 games for Bowling Green, Kang is batting .285 with two home runs and 22 RBI.
Hit the jump for the top prospects on the Lexington Legends and Louisville Bats.