Inspired by College Baseball Daily’s list of the top 100 college baseball players, BluGrass Baseball is counting down the top 25 returning Kentucky collegians in advance of the 2011 season. We continue the list today with No. 20, a player who posted one of the most memorable Kentucky high school seasons in recent years.
First baseman Rich Witten slugged 25 home runs as a senior at Danville High School, the second most in one season in Kentucky High School history. During his first three seasons at Coastal Carolina, Witten has experience moderate success. Witten earned a medical redshirt as a freshman even after appearing in 11 games. As a redshirt sophomore in 2010 Witten batted .312 with four home runs, 22 RBI and 22 runs scored in 39 games, including 15 starts. The Danville slugger spent the last month of 2010 as the Coastal Carolina primary first baseman and enters 2011 in that role.
During the summer 2010 Witten batted .288 with six home runs, 25 RBI and 25 runs scored in 32 games for the Outer Banks Daredevils of the Coastal Plains League. Witten was named to the all-tournament team of the Myrtle Beach Regional during the 2010 NCAA tournament, batting .278 with a home run, double and six RBI. In the regional championship game versus College of Charleston, Witten slugged a grand slam and scored the eventual winning run.
Derrick Goold of Baseball America ranks Louisville native Zack Cox the No. 2 prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals’ system.
Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports via Twitter the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and other teams have expressed interest in Louisville native and former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch.
College Baseball Daily continues its countdown of the top 100 college baseball players with University of Louisville junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych at No. 13.
Two signees from the University of Louisville and Morehead State University have been named Louisville Slugger All Americans by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper. One of the four players, Duran Elmore, attended a Kentucky high school. Check out the list of players with Kentucky connections below or look at the entire list here:
RHP Dace Kime — Defiance HS (Ohio) — UofL
C Jake Depew — Granite City HS (Ill.) — UofL
OF/LHP Duran Elmore — Danville High School — Morehead St.
C Caden Cleveland — Christian Heritage Academy (Okla.) — Morehead St.
The Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association has released its latest top 25, and two Lexington teams headline the rankings. No. 1 Lexington Catholic and No. 2 Lexington Christian will face off Tuesday in one of the biggest games of the high school season. For more information about the showdown check out Adam Revelette’s preview for Examiner.comhere.
We had a brief hiatus in the early signing period breakdowns for the Thanksgiving holiday, but now we’ll pick back up with Morehead State. The Golden Eagles finished 2009 at 20-32, but did boast a 12-10 Ohio Valley Conference record. Coach Jay Sorg signed six freshman for 2011 during the fall. I’ve included some 2009 highlights and Sorg’s comments on each player below.
P — Ryan Rogers — Wabash Valley JC — Owensboro Catholic
6-1, 3.13, 63 IP, 55 SO
Sorg: “We believe Ryan can be in our starting rotation right away. He has the ability to throw three quality pitches for strikes at any time. He knows how to make the big pitch. Ryan is an ultra-competitor and proven winner. His experience against top college hitters will be invaluable to our club. This guy knows how to pitch. Coach Fournier and his staff do a tremendous job of recruiting and developing great players. We are very fortunate to get Ryan into our program.”
P — Noah Smallwood — West Jessamine High School
.198 BA against, 1.34 ERA, 42 SO, 34 IP
Sorg: “Noah is one the most improved pitchers in the state. He continues to gain velocity and has developed a sharper breaking ball. His fastball showcases a tremendous amount of run and sink. We really like his upside and feel that he will be a good fit for our staff.”
P — Kyle Williams — Shawnee Community College — Heath HS
Signed with Shawnee as an outfielder but moved to the mound in 2009.
Sorg: “Kyle really has the chance to be a great signing for us. He has taken to pitching quickly. Kyle has a free and easy arm that showcases in the low to mid 90’s. He already has an idea and feel for pitching. More innings of development could put him over the top. We feel he will have an immediate impact on our staff despite his limited time on the mound.”
C — Caden Cleveland — Oklahoma City, OK
.541 BA, 30-game hitting streak, Diamond Baseball First Team All-American
Sorg: “Caden is a guy who is capable of being an impact middle of the order hitter for us very early in his career. He had several offers from schools in power conferences. Caden is a draftable talent on the field but even more impressive is his high character off the diamond. It speaks volumes about his family and upbringing. This is a big signing for us.”
SS — Bud Morton — West Jessamine High School
.385 BA, .497 on-base percentage, 36 SB
Sorg: “With Bud, we believe that our program has landed the most exciting position player in the state. He is one of the fastest players at any level. His speed and athleticism can instantly change the course of a game. He plays with an energy and passion that is contagious. He has been one of the most fun and dedicated players we have ever recruited. We know under Coach Hamilton’s system that he is tough and well-trained. We are excited to get him on campus.”
OF/P — Duran Elmore — Danville High School
.408 BA, .520 on-base, 46 SB — 1.62 ERA, 106 SO, 77 IP
Sorg: “Duran is another athletic player who fits well into our system. He is a young senior and we believe there is a tremendous upside to an already great player. He follows a long line of impact Eagle players coached by Paul Morse. He is very competitive and knows how to win impact points in the course of a game. He is a great addition to our club.”
All quotes are via a Morehead news release you can read here.