The Ohio Valley Conference baseball coaches have picked their preseason favorites for the conference title and awards and several Kentucky teams were represented. Morehead State University shortstop Drew Lee and Eastern Kentucky University third baseman Jayson Langfels were named the preseason co-players of the year. Murray State University ace Chris Craycraft was named the preseason co-pitcher of the year.
The coaches picked Murray to finish fourth, Morehead fifth and EKU sixth in the final standings. Murray first baseman Wes Cunningham, outfielder Daniel Hill, designated hitter Jason Laws and Morehead outfielder J. D. Ashbrook were named to the preseason All-OVC team to accompany Lee, Langfels and Craycraft. (Read more)
You can also read the news releases from the respective universities below:
If you scrolled down to the bottom of the Baseball America story linked in the last post you would have noticed the Ohio Valley and Sun Belt conference previews. But since so many Kentucky teams are included they get their own post on BluGrass Baseball. BA picked Murray State to finish fourth, Morehead State fifth and EKU eighth in the Ohio Valley conference. BA picked WKU to finish third in the Sun Belt. None of the four teams were picked to make the NCAA tournament.
BA selected EKU third baseman Jayson Langfels, Morehead shortstop Drew Lee, outfielder J. D. Ashbrook and utility player Michael Bottoms, and Murray outfielder Daniel Hill and designated hitter Wes Cunningham to the all-OVC team. WKU catcher Matt Rice was named to the all-Sun Belt team. Pleasure Ridge Park alum and Morehead right-handed pitcher Cody Gibson was picked as the No. 4 newcomer in the league. Rice was ranked the No. 3 Sun Belt 2010 draft prospect and WKU left-handed pitcher and Mount-Vernon native Tanner Perkins was ranked the No. 8 newcomer in the league. (Read more, subscription required)
While the Southeastern Conference and Big East Conference get the most headlines in our state, there is only one division one conference with three state teams: the Ohio Valley. Kendall Rogers of Yahoo! Sports has released his OVC 2010 preview and it’s littered with Kentucky teams and players. Rogers picks Murray State to finish second, Morehead State to finish third and Eastern Kentucky University to finish eighth of nine teams in 2010. (Read more)
Rogers also gives us his All-OVC team. I’ve included the Kentucky players below:
- 1B Wes Cunningham — Murray State
- 2B Jonathan Craycraft — Murray State
- SS Drew Lee — Morehead State
- 3B Jayson Langfels — EKU
- OF Daniel Hill — Murray State
- OF J. D. Ashbrook — Morhead State
- SP Chris Craycraft — Murray State
- OVC Best Hitter — SS Drew Lee — Morehead State
Chris Bisson; Photo: UK Athletics
The college season is just around the corner. With Opening Day just weeks away there’s no time like the present to unveil the BluGrass Baseball preseason All-State team. Players from Kentucky colleges were eligble.
C — Matt Rice — WKU
- 2009: .399, 10 HR, 72 RBI, 50 Runs
- Rice was recently named a third-team preseason All-American by Ping! Baseball. In 2009, he teamed with Detroit Tigers draft pick Wade Gaynor to lead WKU to a Sun Belt Championship and NCAA appearance. During that season, Rice hit in a school-record 31 consecutive games from March 1 to April 17. With most of last year’s championship team in professional ball now, Rice will be counted on to carry the offensive load for WKU.
- Honorable Mention: Marcus Nidiffer (UK) .312, 10 HR, 32 RBI
1B — Wes Cunningham — Murray State
- 2009: .411, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 51 Runs
- Cunningham is probably the best hitter in the state you’ve never heard of, if not one of the best in the country. Ping! selected him for their under the radar All American team, and the slugging first baseman ranked as the No. 87 player in the country by The College Baseball Blog. Cunningham is a graduate of Eastern High School in Louisville and should be drafted this summer as a senior.
- Honorable Mention: Andrew Clark (UofL) .350, 9 HR, 55 RBI
2B — Chris Bisson — UK
- 2009: .360, 2 HR, 52 RBI, 49 Runs, .414 On-base, 13 SB
- Bisson was recently named a third-team preseason All American by Ping! Baseball after leading UK in almost every major offensive category in 2009. Chris was selected to participate in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer where he led the league in stolen bases. Bisson will be counted on to anchor a young Wildcat lineup in 2010.
- Honorable Mention: Adam Duvall (UofL) .328, 11 HR, 51 RBI
SS — Drew Lee — Morehead State
- 2009: .413, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 62 Runs, 1249 OPS
- Montgomery County graduate Lee was named a second-team preseason Ping! All-American and a third-team preseason Louisville Slugger All-American. Lee was named all OVC in 2009 and was a semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award. Drew set the Morehead single-season record for hits with 86 in 2009. Lee will try and use a strong 2010 to earn a draft selection this summer as a senior.
- Honorable Mention: Ryan Wright (UofL) .335, 5 HR, 66 RBI
3B — Jayson Langfels — EKU
- 2009: .441, 12 HR, 72 RBI, 45 Runs, 1284 OPS
- Lafayette High School graduate Langfels is the only Colonel on the list after Ping! named him a third-team preseason All-American. Jayson led the state in batting average last season and could be positioned as an early draft pick with a strong 2010. Langfels was named a second-team postseason All-American by CollegeBaseballInsider.com following the 2009 season.
- Honorable Mention: Andy Burns (UK) .287, 7 HR, 33 RBI
DH — Phil Wunderlich — UofL
- 2009: .367, 18 HR, 78 RBI, 56 Runs, 1113 OPS
- Wunderlich was named a second-team All American by the National Baseball Writers Association following the 2009 season where he was also named to the first-team All Big East Tournament team, All-Regional first team and All Big East second team. Wunderlich will probably move to the field in 2010 after third baseman Chris Dominguez signed with the Giants, but as the best slugger in the state he’ll repeat his 2009 role as the All-State team DH.
- Honorable Mention: Jason Laws (Murray) .373, 3 HR, 39 RBI
OF — Chad Wright — UK
- 2009: .343, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 40 Runs, .415 On-base, 10 SB
- Wright came to UK as one of the least heralded freshman in the historic 2009 recruiting class, but he finished the year by outperforming most of his more highly touted classmates. By the end of 2009 Wright was entrenched as UK’s leadoff hitter, and he batted .381 in the team’s last 20 games. Wright batted .300 in 60 games in the Northwoods League this summer.
- Honorable Mention: Josh Richmond (UofL) .307, 7 HR, 31 RBI
OF — Daniel Hill — Murray State
- 2009: .344, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 49 Runs
- Hill was honored with a first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference performer in 2009 after his .344, 16 HR season. Daniel transferred to Murray State prior to last season after two seasons at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Hill was selected as National Hitter of the Week during the opening week of 2009 and tied the Murray State single-season record with 16 home runs.
- Honorable Mention: Andrew Deed (Morehead) .366, 6 HR, 37 RBI
OF — J. D. Ashbrook — Morehead State
- 2009: .366, 14 HR, 36 RBI, 10 SB, 65 Runs
- Ashbrook, a Harrison County graduate, was named second-team All-OVC in 2009. Outfield is the offensive weakness on the All-State team, but Ashbrook earns the nod as the third outfielder for his mix of batting average and power. Ashbrook’s Harrison County teams won four regional titles in his six season as a starter. Honorable mention Stewart Ijames would have been a shoe-in for one spot had he not missed all of last season with an injury.
- Honorable Mention: Stewart Ijames (UofL) — DNP 2009
SP — Matt Ridings — WKU
- 2009: 8-2, 4.84, 93 SO, 102.1 IP, 29 BB
- Ridings was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 25th round of the draft following the 2009 season after leading WKU in wins for the third consecutive year. Matt started a team-high 16 games and went at least seven innings seven times last season. Ridings earned a win against Missouri in the NCAA tournament and surrendered one run in seven innings in the regional finals.
- Honorable Mention: Chris Craycraft (Murray) 10-3, 4.05 ERA, 80 SO, 100 IP
SP — Tony Zych — UofL
- 2009: 6-2, 3.25, 31 SO, 44.1 IP, 10 BB
- Zych was unhittable as the Cardinals closer to start 2009, but he moved to the starting rotation to close the season. Tony won each of his three starts and was selected as a Freshman All American by Louisville Slugger and Ping! Baseball. Opposing batters hit just .235 against Zych in 2009.
- Honorable Mention: Thomas Royse (UofL) 3-2, 3.48, 48 SO, 41.1 IP
SP — Alex Meyer — UK
- 2009: 1-4, 5.73, 80 SO, 59.2 IP, 45 BB
- Starting pitching is this team’s weakness and the third spot should logically go to first-round pick James Paxton, but with his 2010 status up in the air I can’t justify putting him on this team. Meyer’s 2009 stats were not good, but he’s the single most talented pitcher in the state, and if he steps up in 2010 anywhere near his talent level he’ll end up on the postseason All-State team for certain.
- Honorable Mention: James Paxton (UK) 5-3, 5.86 ERA, 115 SO, 78.1 IP
RP — Gabriel Shaw — UofL
- 2009: 3-1, 3.73 ERA, 29 games, 3 saves, 47 SO/12 BB, 50.2 IP
- With Zych moving to the UofL starting rotation full time this season, Shaw will have the first shot at the Cardinals’ closer position. Shaw, a graduate of St. Mary’s in Paducah, had the fifth most appearances in one season in UofL history in 2009. He closed out the Cardinal’s NCAA regional win against Indiana.
- Honorable Mention: Logan Darnell (UK) — 5-6, 4.50 ERA, 3 saves, 47 SO, 46 IP