UofL defeats South Florida in Thursday game; White Sox release Ashbrook; Kelley just over a month from return

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Recap of Thursday’s Kentucky college baseball game and the latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • In a rare Thursday night baseball game the University of Louisville earned a 6-4 win over South Florida. Junior right-handed pitcher Travis Tingle earned the win after surrendering one run on one hit in one and one-third innings. Junior infielder Ryan Wright was 2-3 with one double, three RBI and one stolen base, and freshman first baseman Ryan Seiz was 2-4 with one run scored. Freshman catcher Kyle Gibson was 2-4 with one RBI and one run scored. Junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his tenth save of the season. Junior right-handed pitcher Derek Self surrendered three runs on four hits in six and two-third innings in his first start of the season. (Box Score)
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports the White Sox have released former Morehead St. outfielder J. D. Ashbrook.
  • Aaron Fitt of BA highlights Western Kentucky University‘s Friday night game with starting pitcher Tanner Perkins as the pitching matchup of the weekend in college baseball.
  • Christian Caple of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports Louisville native Shawn Kelley is still on track for a June 1 return to the Mariners following Tommy John surgery.
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Offseason position battle: Morehead St. outfielder

College Baseball

In the second Morehead State University post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant outfield position.

The departed — All-Ohio Valley Conference outfielder J. D. Ashbrook, a 2010 senior, led Morehead St. in batting (.432), home runs (18), runs scored (69), stolen bases (14), slugging percentage (.795) and on-base percentage (.540) in 2010. The right-handed hitter signed a free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox after not being selected in the 2010 MLB draft. Ashbrook started all but one game in center field for the Eagles last season. His .540 on-base percentage led all Kentucky division one collegians in 2010. Outfielder Cameron Flynn, a 2010 sophomore who transferred following the 2010 season, was the only other Eagle to record a start in center field last season.

Returning candidates — Morehead St. senior Daniel Pugh and junior Luke Bainer return in 2011 after making the majority of the starts in left and right field respectively in 2010…Redshirt freshman outfielder Ryan Conner slugged three home runs during the fall Blood Bowl series after sitting out the 2010 season. Morehead St. coach Jason Neal said of Conner following the fall scrimmage series: “It seems that Ryan Conner has given us a big hit every time we have needed one this whole series. His home run in the seventh [inning of game four] to answer their run in the top of the inning was huge.”…Junior utility man Andrew Deeds made two starts in left field in 2010…Sophomore outfielder Winston Brodrick appeared in 15 games for Morehead St. in 2010, going 1-8 on the season. According to Brodrick’s MSU bio he batted a ridiculous .650 with 52 stolen bases as a senior in high school…Freshman outfielder Nick Duff also redshirted during the 2010 season.

Newcomers to watch — Freshman outfielder and left-handed pitcher Duran Elmore is the only new outfielder listed on the Morehead St. roster. Elmore comes to the Eagles after excelling as the primary center fielder for Danville High School. Elmore was honored with a Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association’s first-team all-state selection following his senior year. As a junior Elmore batted .408 with 46 stolen bases.

Wildcard — Conner was the standout among outfield candidates during the fall Blood Bowl series, so the real wild card in this race may come if head coach Jay Sorg decides to move one of the incumbent corner outfielders (Pugh and Bainer) to center and play Conner or another returner in left or right field. At 6-6 Conner may profile better defensively in a corner outfield role than the vacant center field position.

MiLB Roundup: Bats lose; Paxson gets win vs. Hot Rods; Kipnis, Cregar homer; Ross takes no-decision

Minor League Baseball

Jason Kipnis; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Highlights from Sunday Kentucky MiLB action:

  • A start from rehabbing Cincinnati Reds Opening Day starting pitcher Aaron Harang wasn’t enough to help the Louisville Bats avoid a 7-3 loss to Columbus. Harang surrendered five runs on five hits in five innings.
  • The Bowling Green Hot Rods dropped their fifth straight game with a 9-8 loss to Great Lakes. First baseman Ryan Wiegand was 3-4 with a home run, two RBI and three runs scored.
  • Former WKU right-handed pitcher J. B. Paxson earned the win in relief for Great Lakes in his return to Bowling Green.
  • The Lexington Legends game with the West Virginia Power was suspended due to rain and will be resumed at 5:05 p.m. today.
  • LCA alum Robbie Ross took a no decision for high A Bakersfield after surrendering two runs in four innings.
  • One-time UK outfielder Jason Kipnis was 2-2 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored.
  • Former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson earned his third win of the season with two and two-third scoreless innings for AA New Hampshire.
  • Former WKU outfielder Chad Cregar slugged his 17th home run of the season and drove in three runs for low A Greensboro.
  • Former Morehead St. outfielder and 2010 White Sox NDFA J. D. Ashbrook was 2-3 with a double, three RBI and run scored for rookie-level Bristol.

MiLB Roundup: Legends, Hot Rods win; Bats lose; Nidiffer, Mosby, Ashbrook homer; Shelby streaking

Minor League Baseball

Marcus Nidiffer, center; Photo: UK Athletics

Highlights from Sunday Kentucky MiLB action:

  • Check out our recap from the MLB Futures Game in the All-Star Game links post below.
  • The Columbus Clippers scored two runs in the top of the tenth inning to defeat the Louisville Bats 7-5. Bats designated hitter Daniel Dorn launched his sixth home run of the season, and right-handed pitcher James Avery surrendered just three runs in six innings in his Bats’ debut.
  • Lexington Legends outfielder J. D. Martinez continued his torrid hitting with an eighth inning home run to send the Legends to a 3-2 win over the West Virginia Power. Right-handed pitcher Robert Donovan took a no decision despite surrendering just two runs in five and one-third innings.
  • The Bowling Green Hot Rods scored four runs in the first inning and held off a Lansing Lugnuts rally to record a 6-4 win. Left-handed pitcher Kyle Lobstein earned his sixth win of the season after allowing two runs in six innings and striking out seven batters.
  • Former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer homered for the second consecutive game for rookie-level Greeneville and was 3-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.
  • Former UofL infielder Phil Wunderlich was 3-6 with two doubles, one RBI and one run scored for low A Hudson Valley.
  • Former Morehead St. outfielder J. D. Ashbrook slugged his first professional home run for rookie-level Bristol.
  • Paducah native Daniel Webb took a no-decision for short-season Auburn after allowing two runs in five and one-third innings. Webb struck out five and walked none.
  • Lexington native Jeremy Shelby followed his monster performance from Saturday with a 2-5 performance Sunday and has multiple hits in each of his last six starts to raise his batting average to .417 in 12 games.
  • Hawesville native Michael Mosby launched his first professional home run for rookie-level Bluefield.
  • Danville native Patrick Cooper fell to 1-1 on the season after surrendering five runs in five innings in his third professional start for short-season Connecticut.
  • Former UK left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin took a no decision for high A Daytona after surrendering four runs in five innings.

MiLB Roundup: Bats, Hot Rods win; Legends blown out; Rowland, Cowgill, Gaynor homer; Strieby streaking

Minor League Baseball

Colling Cowgill; Photo: UK Athletics

Highlights from Monday Kentucky MiLB action:

  • The Louisville Bats swept a double-header from the Indianapolis Indians with a 6-0 win in game one and a 1-0 win in game two. Starting pitchers Ben Jukich and Chad Reineke each pitched five shutout innings for the two wins.
  • The Bowling Green Hot Rods scored a single run in the top of the ninth inning to earn a come-from-behind 8-7 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Designated hitter Cody Rogers was 4-5 with two home runs, four RBI and two runs scored for the Hot Rods.
  • The Lexington Legends were blown out 10-2 by the Augusta GreenJackets to even their series at one win each. Second baseman Jose Altuve was 2-3 with a run scored.
  • Former UofL third baseman Chris Dominguez accounted for little of the GreenJackets’ offense in the game as he was 0-4 with a run scored.
  • Former Campbellsville catcher Richie Rowland homered in his third consecutive game and extended his hitting streak to 12 games for rookie-level Missoula.
  • Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill launched his ninth home run of the season and drove in three runs for AA Mobile.
  • Former UK first baseman Ryan Strieby was 3-4 with two doubles and a run scored for AAA Toledo and has hits in six straight games.
  • Former WKU infielder Wade Gaynor was 3-4 with a triple, home run, four RBI and two runs scored for low A West Michigan.
  • Former NKU outfielder Jake Shaffer was 2-3 with two runs scored for high A High Desert and has hits in seven straight with multiple hits in five of those games.
  • Former Morehead St. shortstop Drew Lee was 3-5 with two doubles, two RBI and one run scored for rookie-level Bristol and is batting .328 in 14 professional games.
  • Former Morehead St. outfielder J. D. Ashbrook was 3-4 with two runs scored in that same game for Bristol.
  • Boyd County native right-handed pitcher Tyler Gatrell picked up his fourth save in six appearances and has not allowed an earned run in six and one-third professional innings.

2010 Draftees Minor League Debuts

Minor League Baseball

Marcus Nidiffer; BluGrass Baseball photo

Most of the 2010 draftees who have already signed professional contracts have a few Minor League games under their belt by now so I thought I’d update you on their early performances. Check out the list below, organized by draft position, with Minor League team listed and Kentucky connection in parentheses:

  • RHP Thomas Royse (UofL) — Great Falls Voyagers — 0-0, 1 GS, 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO
  • 2B Chris Bisson (UK) — Eugene Emeralds — Has not played
  • OF Lance Ray (UK) — Elizabethton Twins — 5-23 (.217), 2 RBI, 2 R
  • SS Jonathan Roof (Paducah) — AZL Rangers — Has not played
  • RHP Neil Holland (UofL) — Vermont Lake Monsters — 0-0, 2 G, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO
  • 2B Adam Duvall (UofL) — Salem-Keizer Volcanoes — 2-11 (.182), 3 R
  • SS Drew Lee (Morehead St.) — Bristol White Sox — 8-23 (.348), 5 RBI, 3 R
  • 1B Andrew Clark (UofL) — Spokane Indians — 11-28 (.393), 2 RBI, 3 R
  • 3B Michael Mosby (Hawesville) — Bluefield Orioles — 4-10 (.400), 1 RBI, 3 R
  • RHP Patrick Cooper (Danville) — Not assigned to a team
  • 3B Jayson Langfels (EKU) — Tri-City Dust Devils — 2-15 (.133), 1 RBI
  • 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.) — Eugene Emeralds — 1-14 (.071), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
  • OF Cameron Conner (Frankfort) — AZL Royals — 3-18 (.167), 1 RBI
  • C Jeff Arnold (UofL) — Salem-Keizer Volcanoes — 4-14 (.286), 2 R
  • 2B Matt Payton (WKU) — GCL Phillies — 2-19 (.105)
  • RHP Matt Little (UK) — Connecticut Tigers — 0-0, 4 G, 1 SV, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
  • LHP Jarrett Casey (NKU) — Bristol White Sox — 0-1, 2 G, 1 SV, 2.2 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO
  • 1B Tyler Oliver (Lexington) — 7-18 (.389), 5 RBI, 2 R
  • RHP Stephen Shackleford (Louisville) — 0-1, 2 G, 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO
  • LHP Dean Kiekhefer (UofL) — 0-1, 1 G, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO
  • OF Jeremy Shelby (Lexington) — Bluefield Orioles — 1-8 (.125), 2 R, 1 SB
  • LHP Bart Carter (WKU) — Fort Myers Miracle — 3 G, 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO
  • RHP Matt Ridings (WKU) — Out for season after Tommy John Surgery
  • 2B Patrick Brady (Bellarmine) — AZL Mariners — 0-4, 1 R
  • LHP Bob Revesz (UofL) — Johnson City Cardinals — 0-0, 1 G, 2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO
  • C Marcus Nidiffer (UK) — Greenville Astros — 7-16  (.438), 2 RBI, 2 R
  • 3B Gunner Glad (UK) — Elizabethton Twins — 5-20 (.200), 3 R
  • RHP Tyler Gatrell (Boyd Co.) — AZL Royals — 0-0, 2 G, 3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
  • OF J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead St.) — 2-11 (.182), 1 R
  • C Richie Rowland (Campbellsville) — 9-17 (.529), 3 RBI, 3 R

Ridings, Ashbrook sign with Royals and White Sox

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Matt Ridings; WKU Photo

Western Kentucky University senior right-handed pitcher and Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the year Matt Ridings has signed a professional contract with the Kansas City Royals as the team’s 41st-round pick. Ridings was projected to be selected in the first ten rounds of the draft before he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow just days prior to the draft. Ridings was 9-1 with a 3.01 ERA in 14 starts for WKU on the season. He struck out 90 batters and walked just 17 in 92 and two-third innings.

Morehead State University senior outfielder J. D. Ashbrook has signed a Minor League contract with the Chicago White Sox as a non-drafted free agent, according to a Morehead news release. Ashbrook batted .432 with 18 home runs and 55 RBI en route to being named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference team. The centerfielder will head to the Appalachian League to play for the rookie-level Bristol White Sox alongside former Morehead teammate Drew Lee.

Draft Preview: Ohio Valley Conference

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo

The state’s three Ohio Valley Conference teams don’t have multiple draft prospects, so we’ll lump them all together for the next preview post. These players will test the importance of college state because several of them posted video game numbers this season:

The test cases

  • Murray State University senior first baseman Wes Cunningham was named OVC player of the year in a season where he batted .408 with 22 home runs, 86 RBI and 77 runs. The third team Louisville Slugger All-American doesn’t have a great fit on defense, struggles against left-handed pitching and is undersized for a first baseman. Cunningham will get drafted, probably in the first 30 rounds for his numbers alone, but will have to prove himself at every level of professional baseball. Baseball America projects he’ll need to move to second base as a pro, where he would have slightly above average speed.
  • Eastern Kentucky University junior third baseman Jayson Langfels struggled toward the end of 2010, which certainly didn’t help his draft status, but has boasted back-to-back .350-plus seasons. He batted over .400 as a sophomore and slugged 16 home runs as a junior. Langfels could probably use another year of college and will likely head back to EKU unless he’s drafted surprisingly high.

Senior standouts

  • Morehead State University hitters’ offensive numbers are boosted by the school’s small park, but senior shortsop Drew Lee and senior outfielder J. D. Ashbrook still boasted abnormally impressive performances. Lee batted .412 while Ashrook hit .432 on the season. Lee slugged 17 home runs, and Ashbrook added 18 long-balls of his own. Both players will hope to be late-round senior signs where they’ll look to prove detractors wrong.
  • EKU senior first baseman Anthony Ottrando slugged 17 home runs and drove in 66, but will hope a team selects him late as an organizational filler due to his limited upside.
  • Murray St. senior right-handed pitcher Chris Craycraft underperformed as a senior but could profile as a middle reliever if given the chance, and Morehead St. senior catcher Taylor Davis batted .350 on the season.

Other possible senior signs:

  • C Joey Stevens (EKU)
  • RHP Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.)
  • OF Bryan Propst (Murray St.)
  • LHP Matt McGaha (Murray St.)

Season Review: Morehead State University

College Baseball

Now that the collegiate season is over for five of the six Division one schools, I’m starting season review series looking at each school’s 2010 season. I’ll work through the teams in reverse order of the season records, finishing with UofL when the Cards NCAA tournament run ends. First off we’ll look at Morehead State University‘s season highlights and awards. The Eagles finished 2010 with a 24-25-1 record.

  • Hitter of the year: OF J. D. Ashbrook — The senior center fielder didn’t garner nearly as many headlines as his senior teammate Drew Lee entering the season, but Ashbrook matched Lee in performance as both were Ohio Valley Conference standouts. Ashbrook batted .432 with 18 home runs, 55 RBI and 69 runs scored in 2010. He also stole 14 of 17 bases, slugged .795 and boasted and on-base percentage of .540.
  • Pitcher of the year: RHP Michael Bottoms — Pitching was far from Morehead’s strong point this season, as no pitcher with more than two innings pitched boasted an ERA below 6 or more than 40 strikeouts on the season. Bottoms was the best of a uninspiring group with a 4-4 record, 6.57 ERA and 40 strikeouts. He gets extra points for playing both ways and batting .311 with three home runs.
  • Season high point: The Eagles sweep three games from Eastern Kentucky University April 17 and 18 by a 57-23 margin. The sweep marked Morehead’s only OVC series win of the season.
  • Season low point: With a chance to qualify for the OVC tournament, Morehead is swept in three games by Jacksonville St. to end the season.
  • Miscellaneous: While Drew Lee might have been slightly outplayed by Ashbrook, his 2010 performance was all Morehead could have hoped for and more. Lee batted .412 with 17 home runs, 66 RBI and 60 runs scored…Senior catcher Taylor Davis stood out among a strong group of Kentucky senior catchers with 11 home runs and 57 RBI…Redshirt sophomore reliever Josh Schneider won eight games despite struggling to the tune of a 8.35 ERA.

BluGrass Baseball Hitting Leaderboard: June 1

College Baseball

Check out the  BluGrass Baseball hitting leaderboard updated through conference tournament action. Remember, these stats are final for all teams except UofL. To be eligible for the percentage categories (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) a player must have at least 2.5 at-bats per team game. The college leaderboard is now permanently accessible on its own page on the left sidebar here.

Batting Average

  • Zack Cox — Arkansas (PRP) — .432
  • J. D. Ashbrook — Morehead St. — .432
  • Drew Lee — Morehead St. — .412
  • Wes Cunningham — Murray St. — .408
  • Andrew Clark — UofL — .377

Home Runs

  • Wes Cunningham — Murray St. — 22
  • Phil Wunderlich — UofL — 20
  • J. D. Ashbrook — Morehead St. — 18
  • Drew Lee — Morehead St. — 17
  • Anthony Ottrando — EKU — 17

RBI

  • Wes Cunningham — Murray St. — 86
  • Ryan Wright — UofL — 77
  • Anthony Ottrando — EKU — 67
  • Drew Lee — Morehead St. — 66
  • Matt Rice — WKU — 65

Runs

  • Wes Cunningham — Murray St. — 77
  • J. D. Ashbrook — Morehead St. — 69
  • Adam Duvall — UofL — 66
  • Matt Payton — WKU — 63
  • Jeff Arnold — UofL — 62

Stolen Bases

  • Chris Bisson — UK — 32/39
  • Neiko Johnson — UK — 24/25
  • Richie Rodriguez — EKU — 21/28
  • Logan Robbins — WKU — 18/20
  • Jeff Arnold — UofL — 16/19
  • Jonathan Roof — Michigan St. (St. Mary’s) — 16/22

On-Base Percentage

  • J. D. Ashbrook — Morehead St. — .540
  • Zack  Cox — Arkansas (PRP) — .514
  • Andrew Clark — UofL — .481
  • Drew Lee — Morehead St. — .485
  • Wes Cunningham — Murray St. — .476

Slugging Percentage

  • Wes Cunningham — Murray St. — .824
  • J. D. Ashbrook — Morehead St. — .795
  • Drew Lee — Morehead St. — .765
  • Phil Wunderlich — UofL — .697
  • Jayson Langfels — EKU — .696