A hodgepodge of links from around Kentucky baseball:
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes the Cleveland Indians are reaping reward of signing Lexington native Austin Kearns to a Minor League deal in the offseason.
Mark Maloney of the Lexington Herald Leader profiles former University of Kentucky shortstop Chris Wade in his return to Lexington with the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
The Courier Journal profiles University of Louisville first baseman Andrew Clark and his strong performance since returning from a strained oblique.
UK right-handed pitcher/first baseman Braden Kapteyn and Morehead State University right-handed pitcher/first baseman Michael Bottoms have been named to the 25-man watch list for the John Olerud Award, which goes to the country’s top two-way player.
Courier Journal columnist Rick Bozich writes the Louisville Bats are “trying anything to change luck.”
With their sixth straight loss the Bowling Green Hot Rods fell eight games out of first place in the South Atlantic League Southern Division. Check out the Hot Rods’ dwindling playoff hopes and other storylines in some Monday morning hot links:
Tim Beckham extended his hitting streak to seven games, but Bowling Green lost 9-3 to Kannapolis.
The Logan County Little League team fell victim to the powerful team from California in their first round of the round robin portion of the Little League World Series. Logan County will play the team from San Antonio, Tex., at 2 p.m. on ABC Sunday.
Monday’s midnight deadline for MLB teams to sign their draft picks was newsworthy for surprising reasons in the Bluegrass. While Kentucky natives Tyler Blandford and Daniel Webb both signed with the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays respectively, the news of the day was the improbable return of LHP James Paxton to UK. The rising seniors turned down first-supplemental round money from the Blue Jays and elected to return to UK to pair with Alex Meyer for one of the top one-two punches in the country. We’ll break down the Paxton news later, but rest assured that his is monumental news for the 2010 Cats.
Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt reports Paxton will return to UK.
UK Athletics provides a press release about Paxton returning for his senior season.
Jim Callis reported that Owensboro native Tyler Blandford (5th Round) signed with the Mariners for $325,000.
Full-season minor league ERA leader Travis Wood takes the mound tonight in game one of a four-game set with Indianapolis. Wood is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA for Louisville and is with a 1.44 ERA on the season between AA Carolina and Louisville. Wood has struggled with his conrol in AAA with 14 strikeouts compared to 12 walks, but on the season he has 117 strikeouts and just 49 walks in 143.2 innings.
Louisville infielder Wes Bankston is currently enjoying a five-game hitting streak and has three hits in each of his last two games. During the streak, Bankston is 10-22 (.455) with two home runs and five RBI.
Outfielder Drew Stubbs will be among the Bats happy to see the Indians return to town. Stubbs is 10-28 (.357) with two double and four runs scored in nine games against Indianapolis this season. Starting pitcher Ben Jukich is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two games against the Indians.
Indianapolis will send Pirates prospect Virgil Vasquez to the mound in the series opener tonight. Vasquez is 7-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 16 starts for Indianapolis this season. Virgil has 64 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 92.2 innings pitched.