The Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association has released its preseason top 25 rankings. Check out the list below or at the KHSBCA website here. (Note the two-way tie for No. 14 and three-way tie for No. 19)
Predictions, based on pure speculation, for 2011 Kentucky baseball that are sure to go wrong:
University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer finally cashes in on the promise that had him ranked among the top prospects to attend college in 2008 with an All-SEC season. Meyer’s performance secures his status as a first-round pick this June.
Ashland native and 2006 Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb rebounds after missing most of two seasons with a shoulder injury to win 15 games for the reigning American League champion Texas Rangers.
University of Louisville junior infielder Ryan Wright is named a postseason first-team All-American after leading the Cards to their third consecutive Big East Conference championship.
The Lexington Legends unveil the new “Ale-8-One Ballpark.”
The National League all-star team features three players born in Kentucky: Corey Hart, Dan Uggla and Jonny Venters.
Western Kentucky University wins the Sun Belt Conference and enters the NCAA tournament as a two seed.
UofL (Stewart Ijames, Tony Zych, Derek Self, Ryan Wright, Drew Haynes and Gabriel Shaw) and WKU (Jared Andreoli, Kes Carter, Ivan Hartle, Matt Rice, Rye Davis and Brian Edelen) both have six players drafted in June.
Four members of UK’s vaunted junior class are selected in the draft: Meyer, Cory Farris, Chad Wright and Braden Kapteyn. Senior Taylor Black is also selected.
Kentucky’s three Ohio Valley Conference schools each see one player drafted: Eastern Kentucky University junior shortstop Richie Rodriguez, Murray State University junior catcher Jacob Rhodes and Morehead State University senior infielder Travis Redmon.
Morehead St. infielder Bud Morton wins the 2011 BluGrass Baseball freshman of the year award, Meyer wins pitcher of the year and Wright wins player of the year.
PRP alum Zack Cox wins BluGrass Baseball MiLB player of the year and former UK left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin wins MiLB pitcher of the year.
Nine Kentucky minor leaguers make their MLB debuts in 2011: Matt Klinker, Josh Lueke, Trystan Magnuson, Collin Cowgill, Christian Friedrich, Jason Kipnis, Nathan Adcock, Chaz Roe and Ryan Strieby.
Harrison County High School repeats as KHSAA state baseball champions.
Tates Creek High School outfielder and WKU signee Ryan Fucci wins Mr. Kentucky Baseball.
After losing much of its recent talent to the majors the Louisville Bats run of playoff appearances ends.
Boosted by the Tampa Bay Rays signing six players from the first three rounds of the 2010 draft, the Bowling Green Hot Rods finish 2011 as the state’s best minor league team.
We are a couple of days late with our look back at Kentucky baseball in 2010, but hopefully you can spare one more retrospective with this look at the year’s best highlight from each level of baseball in the Bluegrass State.
MLB Highlight: Corey Hart completes breakout season
Bowling Green native and Greenwood High School alum Corey Hart batted .283 with 31 home runs, 102 RBI, 91 runs scored and 158 hits in 2010 for the Milwaukee Brewers. Along the way Hart started for the National League in the MLB All-Star Game, signed a three-year contract extension and participated in the home run derby. Hart recorded career highs in home runs, RBI and runs scored in 2010 and finished the year in the running for Kentucky’s best MLB hitter.
One-time Louisville Bats Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto named MLB MVPs.
MiLB Highlight: Kipnis caps season with AAA playoff cycle
One-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis ended an impressive 2010 season by hitting for the cycle for the Columbus Clippers after being promoted to AAA for the team’s playoff run. Kipnis batted .307 with 16 home runs, 74 RBI and 96 runs scored across two levels during the regular season. Kipnis finished his college career as an all-American after transferring to Arizona State and has certainly followed through on the promise that led Cleveland to select him in the second round of the 2009 draft. Kipnis enters 2011 with a chance to make the Indians’ MLB roster out of Spring Training.
Non-drafted free agents Richie Rowland, Marcus Nidiffer and Tyler Gatrell excel in professional debuts.
College Highlight: UofL wins second consecutive Big East title
The University of Louisville clinched its second straight Big East Conference championship with a double-header sweep of Notre Dame on May 23. The Cards were eliminated from the NCAA tournament one win shy of the super regional, but were on cloud nine after outscoring the Fighting Irish 23-6 in the championship-clinching series. UofL sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright put together an All-American season, and the Cards boasted a state-high 10 MLB draftees.
Murray St. first baseman Wes Cunningham completes All-American season.
High School Highlight: Harrison County wins fourth title
Freshman starting pitcher Jordan Martin led Harrison County High School to its fourth KHSAA baseball championship with a complete-game championship-clinching win. The champions defeated Butler County High School 2-1 to win the title and ended the season on a 24-game winning streak. Harrison County placed two players on the KHSBCA all-state teams and three players on the KHSAA All-Tournament team during the state playoffs. Junior outfielder Eric Sanders was named the MVP of the state tournament.
Honorable Mention: Western Hills shortstop J. T. Riddle wins “Mr. Baseball.”
A roundup of the latest links and stories from around Kentucky baseball:
Jennifer Hewlett of the Lexington Herald-Leader profiles former UK basketball and baseball starCotton Nash and his family. Nash, more known for his basketball career, appeared in 13 games across three seasons for the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. One of his sons, J. Richey Nash, recently filmed a movie about baseball in Lexington.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Gil Lebreton has a plethora of predictions for Texas sports in 2011, including a big season for Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb. Lebreton predicts Webb will make the Rangers’ starting rotation out of Spring Training and pitch the eventual division-clinching win in October.
Jane Lee of MLB.com lists former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson among the Oakland Athletics pitchers that may form an improved bullpen that could reverse the A’s 2010 fortunes.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Herald reports the Philadelphia Phillies are unlikely to trade former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blantonwithin the NL East.
Mike Fields of the Lexington Herald-Leader looks back on highlights from Kentucky high school sports in 2010, including the death of long-time Paintsville High School baseball coach Charlie Adkins, Harrison County High School‘s fourth state baseball title and J. T. Riddle‘s Mr. Baseball win.
We did this last summer, but with Monday’s announcement that Western Hills shortstop J. T. Riddle had been named the 2010 Mr. Baseball it’s always fun to look back on previous Mr. Baseballs and see where they are today. Check out the list below with each player’s most recent baseball affiliation:
2010: J. T. Riddle (Western Hills) — Riddle has signed to play college ball at the University of Kentucky in 2011 and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 35th round of the 2010 MLB draft.
2009: Luke Maile (Covington Catholic) — Maile is a rising sophomore at UK and was 7-25 with three home runs and six RBI in limited action as a freshman.
2008: Zack Cox (Pleasure Ridge Park) — Spent 2010 as a sophomore at Arkansas where he was named an All-American by several outlets after batting .429. Cox was the first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2010 MLB draft.
2007: Ben Revere (Lexington Catholic) — Revere was the Minnesota Twins’ first round pick in 2007 and has done nothing but hit in his Minor League career. Revere is currently batting .307 with 21 stolen bases for the AA New Britain Rock Cats and was named the fifth best prospect in the Twins’ system by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season.
2006: Nathan Adcock (North Hardin) — After three and one-half mediocre season in the Seattle Mariners’ organization Adcock was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009 as part of the Jack Wilson trade. Adcock is having his best season to date in 2010 for the high A Bradenton Marauders where he is 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 13 starts.
2005: Chaz Roe (Lafayette) — Roe was the Colorado Rockies’ first-supplemental round pick in the 2005 MLB draft and has worked his way through the Minor Leagues to AAA. Last year was Roe’s best season to date when he went 7-3 with a 3.15 ERA for AA Tulsa, but he has struggled so far in 2010 to the tune of a 5-7 record and 5.86 ERA in hitter-friendly AAA Colorado Springs.
2004: Collin Cowgill (Henry Clay) — Cowgill was a standout in his four seasons at UK and has continued to excel in professional baseball after the Arizona Diamondbacks took him with their fifth-round pick in 2008. Named the ninth best prospect in the D’Backs farm system by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season, Cowgill is batting .280 with five home runs and 43 RBI for AA Mobile this season.
2003: Josh Ellis (Paul Laurence Dunbar) — While older brother A.J. Ellis has carved a niche for himself as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ backup catcher this season, Josh is still working his way through the Diamobacks system after the team selected him in the 11th round of the 2007 draft. Ellis is 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA in 18 relief appearances between AAA Reno and AA Mobile this season.
2002: Brad Corley (Pleasure Ridge Park) — Corley was the Pirates second-round pick as an outfielder in 2005 and was named the tenth best prospect in the team’s system by Baseball America entering the 2008 season. Corely’s career stalled after that honor. and he hasn’t advanced past AA since. He was acquired by Colorado in 2009 and is currently playing for short-season Tri-City as he attempts to become a full-time pitcher.
2001: Jeremy Sowers (Ballard) — Sowers was the Indian’s first-round pick in 2004 out of Vanderbilt University and has appeared in 72 games over parts of four season with the Indians. Sowers is 18-30 as a MLB starting pitcher, and he is currently struggling to the tune of a 1-4 record and 6.49 ERA as a left-handed reliever for AAA Columbus.
2000: Spencer Graeter (Ballard) — Greater batted .307 with 14 home runs and 98 RBI in four seasons for UK from 2001-2004 but never appeared in affiliated ball.
1999: Joe Blanton (Franklin-Simpson) — Blanton has appeared in two World Series and even earned a victory in game four of the Philadelphia Phillies World Series win in 2008. Blanton is just 2-5 with a 6.96 ERA in eight starts for Philadelphia this season, but is 65-59 with a 4.34 ERA in seven MLB seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Phillies.
1998: Austin Kearns (Lafayette) — Kearns won a job as a reserve outfielder with the Cleveland Indians in Spring Training and has worked his way into a starting role. On the season Kearns is batting .288 with seven home runs an 32 RBI. In nine MLB seasons, Kearns has batted .258 with 112 home runs and 454 RBI with the Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals and Indians.
1997: Scott Hodges (Henry Clay) — Hodges was the Montreal Expos’ first-round pick in 1997 and spent nine seasons in the Minor Leagues appearing as high as AAA. In 2005 he was diagnosed with lymphoma, ending his career.
1996: Aaron McGlone (Greenup Co.) — McGlone batted .345 with eight home runs and 51 RBI for UK in 2000, but never appeared in affiliated ball.
1995: Brad Wilkerson (Apollo) — Wilkerson spent parts of eights season in the Major Leagues, batting .247 with 122 home runs and 399 RBI for the Expos, Washington Nationals, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. He retired in 2008 before briefly making a comeback with the Phillies during Spring Training this season only to announce his retirement for good.
1994: Scott Downs (Pleasure Ridge Park) — Downs was the Chicago Cubs’ third-round pick in 1997 out of UK, and has spent parts of ten season in the big leagues. Over the past four seasons he has carved out a niche as one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2010 he is 2-5 with a 3.34 ERA in 34 games for the Blue Jays.
1993: Dion Newby (Harrison Co.) — Newby played collegiately at North Alabama but never appeared in affiliated ball.
1992: Shon Walker (Harrison Co.) — Walker was the Pirates first-round pick in 1992 and last appeared in affiliated ball in 1998 at High A Lynchburg.
1991: Trever Miller (Trinity) — Miller’s long Major League career is still going strong as a left-handed reliever in the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen. Miller is 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 25 games for the Cardinals this season and is 18-16 with a 4.17 ERA over 12 MLB seasons. Miller was the Detroit Tigers’ first-round pick in 1991.
1990: Darren Burton (Pulaski Co.) — Burton was the Royals’ fifth-round pick in 1990 and last appeared in affiliated ball at AA Altoona in 2001. He spent parts of six seasons in AAA.
1989: Tab Brown (St. Xavier) — Brown was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1989 and spent at least two seasons in the Braves’ organization.
In the last of the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association 2010 awards we’ll look at the players of the year from each of the 16 regions. You can also see the coach and assistant coach of the year for each region here.