As pitchers and catchers report across Florida and Arizona here are some Kentucky baseball links to get you through the unofficial start of the 2011 baseball season:
Mark Maloney of the Lexington Herald-Leader profiles the first family of Kentucky baseball: the Shelbys. Maloney reports John Shelby Jr. will serve as an outfield instructor for the Milwuakee Brewers, former UK standout John Shelby III will hopes to make his major-league debut with the White Sox this season and younger brother Jeremy Shelby hopes to be assigned to a full-season squad by the Baltimore Orioles out of Spring Training.
Jack Etkin of Inside the Rockies reports right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook, born in Fort Campbell, hopes a smoother delivery will help improve his performance in 2011.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton arrives in Phillies camp just two weeks after his wife gave birth to their second daughter.
Brian Foley of College Baseball Daily reports University of Louisville sophomore left-handed pitcher Keith Landers is out until midseason after undergoing a second surgery on his throwing arm during the fall.
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association has released its preseason poll with UofL at No. 22.
The Lexington Legendsannual caravan will begin Wednesday in Danville. The Caravan will also make stops in Cynthiana, Lexington, Somerset, Columbia and Jackson. Kentucky minor leaguers Marcus Nidiffer, Ben Revere, Chaz Roe, Jeremy Shelby and John Shelby III will attend the Lexington event on Thursday. Former Kentucky major leaguers Willie Blair, Andy Green, John Shelby Jr., Jeff Parrett and Josh Anderson will also appear at one of the caravan stops.
Larry Stone of The Seattle Times catches up with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik about his negotiations with former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton. In summary, Zduriencik doesn’t sound very optimistic about Paxton signing before Spring Training.
T. R. Sullivan of MLB.com recaps the Texas Rangers’ offseason, pointing to the team’s acquisition of Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb as one of the moves that will define the success of the offseason.
In examining the Atlanta Braves’ offseason Steven Henson of Yahoo! Sports concludes second baseman Dan Uggla, who was born in Louisville, is the new face of the team.
As noted by the Legends, Andy Green has retired and will serve as the hitting coach for the rookie-level Missoula Osprey in 2011.
We’ve removed the Morehead State University lineup projection post after learning several of the choices were inaccurate. It appears Cody Gibson and Garrick Whittle are competing for a weekend rotation spot with Matthew Robertson being a midweek starting pitcher for the Eagles. Junior Matt Cartwright will likely replace Gibson as the Eagles closer. Senior Jeff Arnold may miss some time with an injury. Sophomore Austin Haney is the leading candidate to replace All-OVC shortstop Drew Lee, and freshman outfielder Duran Elmore appears unlikely to see early playing time. (I’ve decided to try the series again but remember the projections are just speculation on my part)
Baseball America has released its annual draft report cards for each of the 30 MLB organization’s. Kentucky saw 57 players with some tie to the Bluegrass State drafted this season, so it is no surprise that several Kentucky players were mentioned in the draft report cards. Check out those report cards below, remembering that all links require a subscription:
John Manuel ranks PRP alum and St. Louis Cardinals’ first-round pick Zack Cox the best hitter, best power hitter and closest to the majors from the Cardinals’ draft.
Jim Callis ranks former UK infielder Chris Bisson the best athlete in the San Diego Padres’ draft and one of the best runners.
Manuel ranks former UK outfielder Lance Ray one of the three best pure hitters from the Minnesota Twins’ draft.
Callis lists Paducah native Jonathan Roof among Texas Rangers’ draftees with the most intriguing background, noting the Roof family’s baseball prominence.
Callis mentions former Morehead St. infielder and Mount Sterling native Drew Lee among the Chicago White Sox’s best professional debuts.
Manuel lists Campbellsville University non-drafted free agent catcher Richie Rowland in the intriguing background category of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ report card as he teamed with his brother at rookie-level Missoula.
Callis mentions Lexington native Jeremy Shelby among the fastest runners and most intriguing backgrounds in the Baltimore Orioles’ draft.
The Louisville Bats scored four runs in the first inning and held off a late Lehigh Valley rally to earn a 5-4 win over the IronPigs. Shortstop Zach Cozart was 3-4 with a home run, double, two RBI and two runs scored. Starting pitcher Sam LeCure surrendered just two runs in seven innings and struck out 13 while walking none.
Former EKU infielder Neil Sellers was 1-4 in the game for Lehigh Valley.
Hickory Crawdads starting pitcher Jacob Brigham held the Lexington Legends to just one run in a complete game performance to lead Hickory to a 6-1 win over Lexington. Legends right-handed pitcher Robert Donovan took the loss despite surrendering just two runs in six innings and striking out six.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods tallied just six hits in a 9-0 shutout loss to Peoria. Designated hitter Gabe Cohen was 3-4 in the game.
Former EKU left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich was forced to leave his start for AA Tulsa without recording an out after being hit under the left elbow with a line drive. Friedrich surrendered two runs on four hits. Check back to BluGrass Baseball for updates of Friedrich’s condition later as he is scheduled to be re-examined today.
Former UK catcher and 2010 Astros NDFA Marcus Nidiffer extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a 2-6, one home run performance. Nidiffer drove in two runs and scored twice. He is batting .356 with six home runs and 13 RBI in 24 games for rookie-level Greeneville.
LCA alum Robbie Ross picked up his first win for high A Bakersfield after surrendering four runs, only one of which was earned, in seven innings. Ross struck out eight and walked just one.
Former UofL first baseman and 2010 Rangers draftee Andrew Clark was 3-4 with a stolen base, walk, RBI and run scored for short-season Spokane.
Former UofL infielder Chris Dominguez was 2-4 with a home run, two runs scored and two RBI for high A Augusta.
Former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson picked up his fifth save for AA New Hampshire with three scoreless innings.
Former WKU outfielder Chad Cregar slugged his 11th home run of the season for low A Greensboro.
Lexington native Jeremy Shelby was 3-6 with a double, RBI and run scored for rookie-level Greensboro.
Trinity High School alum Tyler Kuhn slugged his third home run of the season for AA Birmingham.
Late highlights from Saturday Kentucky MiLB action:
The Louisville Bats couldn’t muster any offense against Lehigh Valley in a 5-1 loss to the Iron Pigs. First baseman Yonder Alonso was 2-4 with a double for the Bats.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods tallied just two hits in a 5-0 shutout loss to Peoria. Left-handed pitcher Kyle Lobstein surrendered five runs in six innings to take the loss.
Left-handed pitcher Brad Dydalewicz surrendered 10 runs in just four innings in the Lexington Legends15-4 loss to Hickory. Left fielder Jacob Goebbert was 3-4 with a home run, one RBI and two runs scored.
Paducah native Jonathan Roof was 2-5 with one RBI and one run scored for Hickory in the game.
Former UofL infielder and 2010 Rays draftee Phil Wunderlich was 2-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored for short-season Hudson Valley.
Former UK left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin fell to 3-3 on the season for high A Daytona after surrendering seven runs, two of which were earned, in four and two-third innings.
Lexington native Jeremy Shelby tripled and drove in three runs for rookie-level Bluefield.
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 Bats7-5. 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.
The Louisville Bats defeated Columbus 4-2 in the first game of a two-game series. Right-handed pitcher Chad Reineke earned his sixth win of the season after allowing two runs in five and one-third innings.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods offense exploded for 11 runs in a 11-5 win over Lansing. Designated hitter Cody Rogers was 3-4 with a home run, one RBI and four runs scored.
The West Virginia Power scored one run in the eighth inning to defeat the Lexington Legends 6-5. Legends designated hitter J. D. Martinez was 3-4 with a home run, one RBI and two runs scored.
Lexington native Jeremy Shelby had his best professional game to-date with a 4-5, two home run, five RBI, three runs scored performance for rookie-level Bluefield.
Jeremy’s older brother and former UK outfielder John Shelby was 2-5 with his sixth home run of the season for AA Birmingham.
Former UK outfielder Lance Ray was promoted to low A Beloit.
Former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer launched his third home run for rookie-level Greenville.
Former UofL first baseman Andrew Clark was 3-5 with four RBI and two runs scored.
Former EKU third baseman Neil Sellers blasted his third home run of the season for AAA Lehigh Valley.
Former NKU right-handed pitcher Nathan Jonesfell to 7-3 for high A Winston-Salem despite surrendering just four runs in six innings.
Lafayette High School alum Chaz Roe picked up his sixth win of the season despite surrendering six runs in five and one-third innings.
Louisville native Richard Sullivan earned his second win of the season with three and one-third scoreless innings of relief for AA Mississippi.
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