Black, Ijames, Davis, Rice among Kentucky draftees who turned down professional contracts

College Baseball, High School Baseball

Matt Rice bats for WKU: BluGrass Baseball photo

While Louisville native Zack Cox and Danville native Blake Perry signed professional contracts before Monday’s midnight draft signing deadline, 16 other Kentucky draftees did not and will head to college in the coming weeks. UK shortstop Taylor Black, UofL outfielder Stewart Ijames, WKU  right-handed pitcher Rye Davis, NKU left-handed pitcher David Middendorf and WKU catcher Matt Rice were the Kentucky collegians who elected to return to school rather than sign deals with their professional clubs. Lexington native Casey Lucchese, the Cubs’ 39th round pick, will return to the College of Charleston for his senior season in 2011.

Ohio high school right-handed pitcher Dace Kime, the Pirates’ eight-round pick, was the highest drafted Kentucky player to choose college and will attend the University of Louisville this fall. UofL signee Chad Green, an Illinois right-handed pitcher and Blue Jays 37th round pick, also will play for the Cards in 2011. (Update 8/23: This item has been updated to correct previous error about UofL signee Joel Bender, who did sign with Reds)

Mr. Kentucky Baseball and Western Hills High School infielder/right-handed pitcher J. T. Riddle, the Red Sox’ 35th round pick; Lexington Christian Academy outfielder Lucas Witt, the Dodgers’ 38th round pick; and Trinity High School left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell, the Nationals’ 42nd round pick, will each play for the University of Kentucky in 2011 rather than sign pro deals. UK out-of-state commitments Jonathan Bobea, a New York right-handed pitcher and Angles’ 19th round pick, and Matt Reida, an Indiana infielder and White Sox 47th round pick, will also suit up for the Cats in 2011.

Hopkinsville High School right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman, the first Kentucky high schooler selected in the 2010 draft as the Royals 32nd round pick, will follow through on his commitment to Western Kentucky University. Former Boone County High School outfielder Ronald Cotton, the White Sox’ 45th round pick, will play for the University of Cincinnati next season. In all 31 of 48 players with Kentucky ties selected in the 2010 draft have signed professional contracts as well as six non-drafted free agents. Former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton, the Mariners’ fourth-round pick, has yet to sign a pro deal but wasn’t restricted by the Monday deadline as he pitched in independent ball in 2010.

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Several high school draftees look likely to attend college

College Baseball, High School Baseball

With the weekend deadline for MLB draft picks to sign looming, several of the Kentucky high school prospects selected in the 2010 appear ready to head to college. Ohio prep left-handed pitcher and University of Louisville signee Dace Kime, the eighth round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, told Tim McDonough of The Crescent-News in Defiance, Ohio, that he would follow through on his committment to UofL instead of signing with the Pirates. “The more I waited around (for the Pirates) and the more I was around Louisville, the more persuaded I became to go to school,” Kime told McDonough. “My mom didn’t know about my decision, my dad (Jay Kime) didn’t know about my decision, I just made it and let Louisville know I was coming. Then I told my parents.”

Similarly Mr. Kentucky Baseball, J. T. Riddle, the Western Hills High School shortstop/pitcher and Boston Red Sox 35th round selection, told Linda Younkin of The State Journal in Frankfort he would follow through on his commitment to the University of Kentucky. “After being drafted there was some thought about not going [to UK], but the Red Sox had come back and said that where my shoulder was injured they couldn’t offer what I was asking and so that really put that down the drain, and I just decided to go on to UK,” Riddle told Younkin. In July the Courier-Journal also reported Trinity High School right-handed pitcher Corey Littrell, the Nationals’ 42nd round pick and Louisville Slugger player of the year, would attend UK.

Indiana prep infielder Matt Reida, the White Sox 47th round pick, told the Kokomo Tribune in Indiana after the draft he was likely following through on his commitment to UK and has given no indication to the contrary since. Boone County High School outfielder Ronald Cotton, the White Sox 45th round pick, committed to play collegiate ball at the University of Cincinnati in July, one month after the draft. I’ve found no media reports about the status of Hopkinsville High School right-handed pitcher and WKU signee Justin Hageman, Lexington Christian Academy outfielder and UK signee Lucas Witt or UofL signees Joel Bender and Chad Green. Since each of those players was drafted after the 25th round the chances of them attending school are good.

The Kentucky high school player who appears most likely to sign a professional contract is Danville native Blake Perry, a right-handed pitcher who signed with UK but was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth round. Perry told The Advocate-Messenger in late July he still had no idea whether he would sign or not, but he figures to garner a six-figure signing bonus if he choses to go to Arizona. Earlier this week Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported the Diamondbacks were still working to sign Perry.

Draft Update: 18 Kentucky draftees have yet to sign

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

We’re just over three weeks from the Aug. 16 deadline for Major League teams to sign their non-college senior draft picks, so I thought we’d look at the remaining Kentucky draftees who have yet to sign. Remember over-slot deals aren’t announced until the deadline so some of these players may have agreed to deals that haven’t been announced yet:

  • 3B — Zack Cox — Louisville (University of Arkansas) — 1st Round — St. Louis Cardinals
  • LHP — James Paxton — University of Kentucky (Ind. League) — 4th Round — Seattle Mariners
  • RHP — Blake Perry — Danville (Pendleton Academy, Fla.) — 6th Round — Arizona Diamondbacks
  • RHP — Dace Kime — Ohio HS (University of Louisville Signee) — 8th Round — Pittsburgh Pirates
  • LHP — Joel Bender — Ohio HS (UofL Signee) — 27th Round — Cincinnati Reds
  • SS — Taylor Black — University of Kentucky — 28th Round — St. Louis Cardinals
  • OF — Stewart Ijames — UofL — 29th Round — New York Yankees
  • RHP — Justin Hageman — Hopkinsville High School — 32nd Round — Kansas City Royals
  • SS — J. T. Riddle — Western Hills High School — 35th Round — Boston Red Sox
  • RHP — Rye Davis — Western Kentucky University — 36th Round — Cleveland Indians
  • RHP — Chad Green — Illinois HS (UofL Signee) — 37th Round — Toronto Blue Jays
  • OF — Lucas Witt — Lexington Christian Academy — 38th Round — Los Angeles Dodgers
  • RHP — Casey Lucchese — Lexington (College of Charleston) — 39th Round — Chicago Cubs
  • LHP — Corey Littrell — Louisville Trinity — 42nd Round — Washington Nationals
  • LHP — David Middendorf — Northern Kentucky University — 44th Round — New York Yankees
  • OF — Ronald Cotton — Boone County High School — 45th Round — Chicago White Sox
  • INF — Matt Reida — Indiana HS (UK Signee) — 47th Round — Chicago White Sox
  • C — Matt Rice — WKU — 50th Round — New York Yankees

Rice has already gone on record with his intentions to return to WKU for his senior season, but the final destinations for the other players are at least relatively uncertain. It’s probably safe to assume most of the high schoolers drafted in the later rounds will follow through on their college commitments, barring a team paying way over the slot recommendation to sign them.

Day Two Draft Breakdown

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Day two of the Major League Baseball amateur player’s draft finished this evening with the completion of round 30. Twenty-six players with Kentucky ties have been drafted so far including three by the Texas Rangers. Check out the full list below:

  • 1st Round (25) — 3B Zack Cox — Pleasure Ridge Park (Arkansas) — St. Louis Cardinals
  • 3rd Supplemental (114) — RHP Thomas Royse — Paul Laurence Dunbar (UofL) — Chicago White Sox
  • 4th Round (124) — 2B Chris Bisson — Canada (UK) — San Diego Padres
  • 4th Round (132) — LHP James Paxton — Canada (UK) — Seattle Mariners
  • 6th Round (181) — RHP Blake Perry — Danville (Fla. HS) — Arizona Diamondbacks
  • 6th Round (195) — LHP Logan Darnell — Tennessee (UK) — Minnesota Twins
  • 8th Round (237) — RHP Dace Kime — Ohio (UofL signee) — Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 8th Round (255) — OF Lance Ray — Nevada (UK) — Minnesota Twins
  • 8th Round (256) — SS Jonathan Roof — St. Mary’s (Mich. St.) — Texas Rangers
  • 11th Round (326) — RHP Neil Holland — Owensboro Catholic (UofL) — Washington Nationals
  • 11th Round (348) — 2B Adam Duvall — Butler HS (UofL) — San Francisco Giants
  • 12th Round (368) — SS Drew Lee — Montgomery County HS (Morehead St.) — Chicago White Sox
  • 12th Round (371) — 1B Phil Wunderlich — Illinois (UofL) — Tampa Bay Rays
  • 12th Round (376) — OF Josh Richmond — Ohio (UofL) — Texas Rangers
  • 13th Round (406) — 1B Andrew Clark — Indiana (UofL) — Texas Rangers
  • 14th Round (418) — 3B Michael Mosby — Hancock County (Wabash Valley JC) — Baltimore Orioles
  • 14th Round (433) — RHP Patrick Cooper — Boyle County HS (Bradley) — Detroit Tigers
  • 16th Round (500) — 3B Jayson Langfels — Lafayette (EKU) — Colorado Rockies
  • 17th Round (516) — 1B Wes Cunningham — Eastern HS (Murray St.) — San Diego Padres
  • 20th Round (599) — OF Cameron Conner — Frankfort (IU Southeast) — Kansas City Royals
  • 26th Round (798) — C Jeff Arnold — Male HS (UofL) — San Francisco Giants
  • 27th Round (817) — LHP Joel Bender — Ohio (UofL signee) — Cincinnati Reds
  • 27th Round (831) — 2B Matt Payton — Male HS (WKU) — Philadelphia Phillies
  • 28th Round (843) — RHP Jason Chowning — Eastern HS (Oklahoma) — Houston Astros
  • 28th Round (859) — SS Taylor Black — S. C. (UK) — St. Louis Cardinals
  • 29th Round (895) — OF Stewart Ijames — Owensboro Catholic (UofL) — New York Yankees

Draft Preview: University of Louisville

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

The Cards have more important things than the draft to worry about tonight with a elimination game against Vanderbilt in the NCAA regional, but the next three days could have huge implications for several Cards. Baseball America projects UofL to have six hitters drafted, but the Cards draft prospects are led by their weekend ace. Check out breakdowns of those players and more below:

The sure thing

  • Junior right-handed ace Thomas Royse was untouchable at times during the 2010 season en route to being named Big East Conference pitcher of the year. Baseball America ranks Royse the No. 182 prospect in the draft due to his low-to-mid 90s fastball and good control. Royse is 9-1 with a 2.91 ERA for UofL this season and struck out 94 in 99 innings while walking just 25. BA projects the Lexington native to go between the fourth and sixth rounds.

Other prospects of note:

  • Junior outfielder Josh Richmond missed much of the season with a hand injury, but his five-tool talent could land him a selection in the first 10 rounds. Richmond was projected as high as a third-rounder entering the season, but his injury history will likely hurt his stock on draft day. Richmond will need to prove he’s health in summer ball to whatever team drafts him, though he may return to UofL for another year to improve his stock.
  • Redshirt sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames missed the 2009 season with a shoulder injury, but rebounded in 2010 to bat .328 with 14 home runs. Ijames profiles only as a left-fielder as a professional and might be a difficult sign due to his two remaining years of collegiate eligibility.
  • No on has ever doubted junior third baseman Phil Wunderlich‘s power, but his lack of a true position hurts his value. The slugger will likely have to move to first as a pro and will hope to be selected in the mid rounds of the draft.
  • Senior first baseman Andrew Clark was selected by the Chicago Cubs as their 31st round pick in 2009 and likely improved his draft stock with his senior campaign despite missing time with a rib cage injury. Clark profiles as a good defender at first but some scouts question if he has enough power for the position.
  • Junior right-handed pitcher Gabriel Shaw was projected to close for UofL entering the season but instead did a little of everything else. He experience success as a starter in limited action, perhaps boosting his stock. Shaw might improve his stock by starting for an entire season as a senior.
  • Junior closer Neil Holland was one of the NCAA’s top relievers in 2010 and will have a chance to replicate that success in professional ball as a mid-to-late round pick. Holland held opposing batters to a .151 average on the season.
  • Senior catcher Jeff Arnold and senior shortstop Adam Duvall will have a chance to stick in professional ball as mid-to-late-round senior signs.

Other Eligible Juniors

  • OF Drew Haynes
  • LHP Bob Revesz
  • INF Mark Grieshaber
  • LHP Dean Kiekhefer
  • C J. J. Ethel
  • OF Nate Holland
  • LHP Brian Feekin

Other Eligible Seniors

  • RHP Tyler Mathis
  • RHP Matt Lea
  • C Justin Haywood

High School Signees

  • Baseball America ranks Bullitt East RHP Brandon Alphin one of six Kentucky high schoolers likely to be drafted.
  • BA ranks RHP Jeff Thompson the No. 20 prospect in Indiana.
  • RHP Dace Kime and LHP Joel Bender are among the top prep talents in Ohio but are both believed to be headed to Louisville after battling minor injuries this season.
  • BA ranked C Jake Depew the No. 20 prospect in Illinois.
  • Baseball America also projects Illinois RHP Chad Green could blossom into an early-round pick if he follows through on his UofL commitment.

Ky seniors named Rawlings All-Americans

High School Baseball

Earlier today we linked Perfect Game USA‘s underclassmen high school All-American teams. Perfect Game partnered with Rawlings Sporting Goods to release the senior All-American team a few weeks ago, but several Kentucky high schoolers and in-state college signees were honored, so the list is still worth passing along. I’ve included those players with school and college commitment below, but you can see the full team here.

3rd Team All-American

  • LHP Corey Littrell — Trinity — University of Kentucky
  • C Jake DePew — Granite City (Ill.) — University of Louisville
  • RHP Kim Dace — Defiance (Ohio) — UofL

High Honorable Mention

  • RHP Patrick Maronde — Lexington Catholic — Coastal Carolina
  • LHP Joel Bender — Oak Hills (Ohio) — UofL
  • INF Alex Chittenden — Lawrence Central (Ind.) — UofL
  • RHP Chad Green — Effingham (Ill.) — UofL
  • P Jeffrey Thompson — Floyd Centrall (Ind.) — UofL
  • RHP Trevor Gott — Tates Creek — UK
  • OF Gavin Patton — IMG Academies (Fla.) — UK
  • RHP Blake Perry — Danville, IMG Academies (Fla.) — UK
  • SS Matt Reida — Russiaville (Ind.) — UK
  • OF G. J. Strauss — Chesterfield (Mo.) — Western Kentucky University

Hit the jump for players honored on regional teams