John Shelby; Photo: UK Athletics
The Chicago White Sox today traded Lexington native and former UK outfielder John Shelby Jr. to the Tampa Bay Rays for future considerations, Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. Shelby batted .249 with 11 home runs, 43 RBI and 63 runs scored in 111 games for AA Birmingham in 2010. He stole 15 bases on the season. The White Sox selected Shelby in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB draft.
Meanwhile, former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer was released by the Houston Astros and signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Angels, according to Brent Ingram of the UK media relations department. Nidiffer, who spend most of his time at first base during his professional debut, signed with the Astros as a non-drafted free agent following his senior season at UK in 2010. He batted .286 with 14 home runs, 36 RBI and 40 runs scored in 69 games between rookie-level Greeneville and short-season Tri-City. Nidiffer was poised to become the first UK alum to play for the Lexington Legends before his release.
John Shelby; Photo: UK Athletics
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.
Marcus Nidiffer, center; Photo: UK Athletics
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- 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 Legends annual 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)
The wonderful staff at Baseball America held its last “Prospect Hot Sheet” chat of the season Friday and it wasn’t without relevant BluGrass Baseball questions. Check out those questions and answers plus more here, but I’ve provided a sampling of them below.
Steven (Kentucky): Who's will be the better ML pitcher...Robbie Ross or Christian Friedrich?
- Ben Badler: Friedrich. Ten more strikeouts yesterday in the playoffs for him, by the way.
Brandon (Utah): Is Ryan Strieby now a better prospect than Cale Iorg?
- Ben Badler: I think Strieby’s always been a better prospect than Iorg.
MIKE (PAINTSVILLE,KY): Where do you see tim beckham playing at in 2010
- Ben Badler: Playing shortstop for high Class A Charlotte, but there are a lot of questions about whether he’ll remain at shortstop long term. He looked a lot thicker this year compared to when I saw him in the Appy League last year, and I know a lot of scouts who have seen him this year who have similar concerns about his ability to remain in the middle of the diamond.
Adam (NYC): Can you shed some light on the enigma that is John Shelby Jr.? What type of ceiling does he have with the White Sox? He seems to be up and down with his ability to play his tools, one night being electric and the next night looking lost.
- Ben Badler: He’s got speed, but the bat has a long ways to go.
Mitch Dowden (Pickering, LA): Well it seems that Jason Castro will be in the top 100 but who else will join him? Possibly Jordan Lyles?
- Ben Badler: Castro, Lyles and Jio Mier are all top 100 candidates. I saw Tim Beckham in the Appy League last year and saw Mier there this year. Beckham had more bat speed, but Mier had a better approach at the plate, was a better defender and a faster runner than Beckham.
Ted (new york): Ok, if your prospect of the year isn’t Travis Wood, why not? And while we’re on the topic, when does he join the cincy rotation and is he a #2 or #2 starter?
- J.J. Cooper: Because our prospect of the year is based on prospect status combined with their production and the context of the season. Wood had a great season, but even with that, it’s hard to find scouts who see him being more than a back-end of the rotation starter. And with Cueto, Harang, Arroyo and Bailey already in Cincinnati (plus Edinson Volquez coming back from TJ at some point next year), Wood doesn’t have an easy path to a spot in the Reds’ rotation next year. That being said, I would expect to see him start in Cincinnati some next year.
Larry (Texas): What is the story on Logan Ondrusek. He rose through three levels for the Reds. Seems to be pitching pretty well this year. There is no information on him other than he is pitching extremely well and that he is pitching in the AFL.
- J.J. Cooper: The move to the pen was a good one for him. He simplified his selection of pitches and focused on blowing away hitters with a 93-94 mph fastball that he can cut. He could be a part of the Reds’ future big league bullpen.