Corey Hart; Photo by Steve Paluch via Flickr
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.”
Scott Downs; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Baseball news hasn’t stopped for the holiday week, so check out a quick rundown of recent Kentucky baseball stories:
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors reports the Toronto Blue Jays offered arbitration to Louisville native and former UK left-handed pitcher Scott Downs, a type A free agent. If Downs signs with another team the Blue Jays will receive a compensation draft pick. The Twins did not offer arbitration to former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch, a type B free agent.
- Bill Mitchel of Baseball America rates one-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis and Louisville Bats catcher Devin Mesoraco among the top prospects in the Arizona Fall League.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere the No. 8 prospect, Kipnis the No. 17 prospect and Mesoraco the No. 18 prospect in the AFL.
- Revere recently sat down for a question-and-answer session with Josh Jackson of MLB.com.
- Nick Evans of the Louisville Bats media relations department notes both 2010 MVPs, Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton, spent time with the Bats.
The playoffs are officially underway with the Texas Rangers up 4-0 on Tampa Bay at the time of this posting. The playoffs aren’t without plenty of Kentucky connections as every team except the Giants has a player with Bluegrass State connections. Check out the list of Kentucky natives and former minor league players participating in the playoffs below:
Cincinnati Reds (NL Central)
- Edison Volquez — Louisville Bats (2010)*
- Johnny Cueto — Louisville Bats (2007)
- Aroldis Chapman — Louisville Bats (2010)
- Logan Ondrusek — Louisville Bats (2008, 09, 10)
- Bill Bray — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09, 10)
- Homer Bailey — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09, 10)
- Travis Wood — Louisville Bats (2009, 2010)
- Joey Votto — Louisville Bats (2007)
- Jay Bruce — Louisville Bats (2007, 08, 09)
- Drew Stubbs — Louisville Bats (2008, 09)
- Jonny Gomes — Louisville Bats (2009)
- Ryan Hanigan — Louisville Bats (2003, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10)
- Chris Heisey — Louisville Bats (2009)
- Paul Janish — Louisville Bats (2007, 08)
- Juan Francisco — Louisville Bats (2009, 10)
Philadelphia Phillies (NL East)
- Joe Blanton — Franklin-Simpson HS (UK)
Atlanta Braves (NL Wild Card)
- Jonny Venters — Born in Pikeville, Ky. (HS in Florida)
- Brooks Conrad — Lexington Legends (2003)
Minnesota Twins (AL Central)
- Jon Rauch — Oldham Co. High School (Morehead St.)
New York Yankees (AL Wild Card)
- Austin Kearns — Lafayette High School
Tampa Bay Rays (AL East)
- Ben Zobrist — Lexington Legends (2005)
Texas Rangers (AL West)
- Josh Hamilton — Louisville Bats (2007)*
*– Volquez and Hamilton both played for Louisville only during rehab assignments.
Joey Votto; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Former Louisville Bat and current Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto leads in the National League final man vote for the last spot on the NL All-Star team, Mark Newman of MLB.com reports. But do Kentucky baseball fans owe it to Votto to ensure he gets the final spot? That’s the argument Courier-Journal columnist Eric Crawford is making.
“Though impatient to get on to the majors, he never took his eye off the ball in Louisville, and that same kind of ethic has put him among the best players in the majors,” Crawford writes. “Votto could use some partners in Louisville, too. It’d be a great way for this city to say thanks and to once again play a role in Votto stepping up to the level where he belongs.” (Read more)
If you agree with Crawford and want to support Votto’s campaign for the NL All-Star team here.
Joey Votto; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Tristan H. Cockcroft ESPN.com has released his preliminary rankings for the 2010 top 200 fantasy players. Clearly this list will change based on offseason movement and injuries before March, but it’s never too early to start preparing your fantasy draft. Here are the players with Kentucky ties on the list:
- 41) 1B Joey Votto — Louisville Bats — Cincinnati Reds
- 44) 3B Mark Reynolds — Pikevilly, Ky. — Arizona Diamondbacks
- 58) OF Adam Dunn — Louisville Bats — Washington Nationals
- 90) INF/OF Ben Zobrist — Lexington Legends — Tampa Bay Rays
- 100) OF Hunter Pence — Lexington Legends — Houston Astros
- 114) OF Jay Bruce — Louisville Bats — Cincinnati Reds
- 136) SP Wandy Rodriguez — Lexington Legends — Houston Astros
- 145) SP Brandon Webb — Ashland, Ky., UK — Arizona Diamondbacks
- 146) 2B Dan Uggla — Louisville, Ky. — Florida Marlins
- 177) 2B Felipe Lopez — Louisville Bats — FA
You can see Cockcroft’s full list here.
Joey Votto; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
When the minor league season ended we checked where BluGrass Baseball player ranked on the minor-league leaderboard, so now we’ll do the same for major league players. I’ve broken down the leaderboards by league and added the player’s total MLB rank in parentheses afterward.
- 5) Joey Votto (9) — Reds — 2007 Bats — .322
- 10) Felipe Lopez (18) — Brewers — 2004 Bats — .310
- 4) Mark Reynolds (4) — D’Backs — Pikeville — 44
- 5) Felipe Lopez (13) — Brewers — 2004 Bats — 187
- 4) Joey Votto (5) — Reds — 2007 Bats — .414
- 4) Ben Zobrist (11) — Rays — 2005 Legends — .405
Photo by angela n. via Flickr
ESPN has released its list of top 100 fantasy keepers for 2010. Keepers in fantasy baseball are players that a fantasy owner has control of for multiple seasons. The list doesn’t necessarily reflect the best fantasy players, because youth is rewarded since an owner will control the player for multiple years. You can see the full list here, but these are the Kentucky players and their rankings:
- 23 — Mark Reynolds — Arizona Diamondbacks — Pikeville, Ky.
- 40 — Joey Votto — Cincinnati Reds — Louisville Bats
- 56 — Adam Dunn — Washington Nationals — Louisville Bats
- 69 — Hunter Pence — Houston Astros — Lexington Legends
- 80 — Ben Zobrist — Tampa Rays — Lexington Legends
- 83 — Jay Bruce — Cincinnati Reds — Louisville Bats
- 92 — Drew Stubbs — Cincinnati Reds — Louisville Bats
- 99 — Dan Uggla — Florida Marlins — Louisville, Ky.