EKU All-Century Team; Photo by Chris Radcliffe
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- Eastern Kentucky University unveiled its All-Century Baseball team, which includes current minor leaguers Christian Friedrich, Jayson Langfels, Neil Sellers and Josh Anderson.
- Tom Gage of The Detroit News reports Ewing native and 18-year MLB veteran Woodie Fryman died Friday in Lexington. Fryman was 70 years old. Fryman was 141-155 with a 3.77 ERAa in his MLB career.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe lists former UK right-handed pitcher and Ashland native Brandon Webb among the players that need to step up for their teams in 2011.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer runs down some Reds’ questions entering Spring Training, including several that affect 2010 Louisville Bats. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty notes Bats pitchers Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney, who makes his offseason home in Louisville, are being groomed as depth behind the six starting rotation candidates, meaning they will likely begin 2011 with the Bats.
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)
Josh Anderson; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Some MiLB links and updates to pass along for your Monday morning:
- Michael Grant of the Courier Journal profiles Somerset native, Lexington Legends hall of famer and Eastern Kentucky University alum Josh Anderson‘s slow start for the Louisville Bats.
- Michael Compton of the Bowling Green Daily News profiles Western Kentucky University alum Wade Gaynor and his return to Bowling Green with the West Michigan Whitecaps. Gaynor was 3-15 in the three-game set against the Hot Rods.
- Mark Maloney of the Lexington Herald-Leader recaps the Lexington Legends home opener. Be sure to check out the photo gallery from the game to see the Legends “tuxedo jerseys.”
- Standings Update: The Bats currently sit in last place of the International League west division at 4-7. The Hot Rods are seventh in the Midwest League eastern division at 3-8, and the Legends are third in the South Atlantic League southern division at 6-5.
- Outfielder Daniel Dorn leads the Bats with a .343 average, four home runs and seven RBI. Third baseman Jonathan Meyer leads the Legends with a .386 average, first baseman Kody Hinze leads the team with three home runs and outfielder Jacob Goebbert leads Lexington with 12 RBI. Catcher Mark Thomas leads the Hot Rods with a .417 average in six games, two home runs and five RBI.
Ryan Strieby; Photo via Flickr by mwlguide
The minor league season officially kicked off Thursday night, and there were no shortage of relevant Kentucky highlights to pass along. Check out these recaps of the local teams, plus notes from Kentucky alumni across MiLB:
- Sam LeCure surrendered two runs in five innings to give the Louisville Bats their first win of the season, 5-3 over the Toledo Mud Hens. Chris Heisey, Todd Frazier, Daniel Dorn and Chris Valaika each tallied two hits. The two Kentucky natives, Josh Anderson and Chris Burke, were a combined 0-10 batting in the top two spots in the lineup. (Box Score)
- University of Kentucky alum Ryan Strieby was 1-3 with a home run for the Mud Hens.
- The Lexington Legends dropped their first game 5-2 to Charleston, but 2009 second round pick Tanner Bushue made his Lexington debut with 4.1 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, one walk and struck out six. 2009 Astros’ first round pick Jiovanni Mier was 1-4 in his debut. (Box Score)
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods season got off to an inauspicious start with a 7-2 loss to Fort Wayne in the team’s Midwest League debut. Leadoff man and center fielder Christopher Murrill was 3-5 in his Bowling Green debut, and Brett Nommensen and Mark Thomas each tallied two hits. (Box Score)
- Eastern Kentucky University alum Christian Friedrich took the loss in his AA debut for the Tulsa Drillers, but allowed just one run in six innings. He surrendered four hits, walked two and struck out five. (Box Score)
- Lexington native Ben Revere was 1-4 with a run scored in his AA debut for the New Britian Rock Cats. (Box Score)
- UK alum Collin Cowgill was 2-4 with a double in his AA debut for the Mobile BayBears. (Box Score)
The Louisville Bats are set to start play today and will feature two Kentucky natives in the lineup as well as several of the best prospects in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Check out the roster below via the Courier-Journal. I’ve included Baseball America prospect rankings for the Reds organization. Remember top prospects Juan Francisco and Mike Leake are starting the season with the Reds but might appear in Louisville at some point if they struggle, and Yonder Alonso is starting the season in AA but should earn a callup to Louisville early this season.
- LHP Travis Wood (BA #7) (SP) — 2nd Round (2005)
- RHP Sam LeCure (SP) — 4th Round (2005)
- LHP Matt Maloney (BA #8) (SP) — Phillies 3rd Round (2005)
- RHP Federico Baez — Cubs NDFA (2002)
- RHP Jon Adkins — Athletics 9th Round (1998)
- RHP Chad Reineke — 2005 Lexington Legend — Astros 13th Round (2004)
- RHP Enerio Del Rosario (BA # 19) — NDFA 2005
- LHP Lee Tabor — 30th Round (2006)
- RHP Justin Lehr (SP) — Athletics 8th Round (1999)
- LHP Pedro Viola (BA # 22) — NDFA (2005)
- RHP Carlos Fisher — 11th Round (2005)
- RHP Jared Burton — Athletics 8th Round (2002)
- LHP Aroldis Chapman (BA #1A*) (SP) — Cuban FA (2009)
- Corky Miller — Amateur FA (1998)
- Wilkin Castillo — NDFA 2002
- Jake Long — 37th Round (2005)
- 2B — Chris Burke — St. X High School — Astros 1st Round (2004)
- 3B — Michael Griffin — 14th Round (2005)
- 3B — Drew Sutton — 2005 Lexington Legend — S/R — Astros 15th Round (2005)
- 2B — Chris Valaika (BA #12) — 3rd Round (2006)
- SS — Zach Cozart (BA #10) — 2nd Round (2007)
- 3B/LF — Todd Frazier (BA #1B) — 1st Supp. Round (2007)
- RF — Josh Anderson — Pulaski Co., EKU, 2004 Lexington Legend — 4th Round (2003)
- LF/1B — Daniel Dorn — 32nd Round (2006)
- LF — Chris Heisey (BA #4) — 17th Round (2006)
- OF — Luis Terrero — D’Backs NDFA (1997)
* — Chapman signed after Baseball America released its Reds top 10 prospects list, but is ranked higher than No. 1 Frazier on the overall top 100 prospects list published by the magazine.
Louisville Slugger Field; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Tuesday was media day for each of the state’s three minor-league teams. I wasn’t able to attend because of class and the UK/UofL college game, but check out these profiles and recaps of the proceedings from the state’s media:
- Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal reports the Louisville Bats will have eight of the Reds’ top ten prospects in Baseball America‘s rankings in addition to Kentucky natives Chris Burke and Josh Anderson.
- The C-J also reports Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman may make his home debut for the Bats on April 16.
- Mark Maloney of the Herald-Leader reports Lexington Legends manager Rodney Linares is happy to be back with the team.
- Michael Compton of the Bowling Green Daily News talks to Hot Rods manager Brady Williams and outfielder Ty Morrison about the importance of interacting with the local fans.
- USA Today lists Louisville Slugger Field as one of ten distinctive minor-league venues to visit.
Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr
Earlier this month I posted a Spring Training position battle primer for Kentucky fans looking to keep track of their native sons hoping to make MLB rosters. These were the borderline major leaguers and players assured of making the roster but fighting for a bigger role, not established players. With one week left before Opening Day I thought I’d update each battle so you have a better idea of where the official Kentuckians in the majors count will stand in 2010. A special kudos goes to PLD alum and Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis who appears ready to start the season with the big league club after starting catcher Russell Martin suffered a groin injury.
Toronto Blue Jays: Closer
- University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is all but eliminated in the three-way closer race that will go to righties Jason Fraser or Kevin Gregg. Downs recently commented to a Toronto newspaper he prefers pitching in the eighth inning anyway.
San Francisco Giants: Fifth starter
- Louisville-native and Bellarmine alum Todd Wellemeyer has all but wrapped up the fifth starter position after star prospect Madison Bumgarner was sent to AAA this week. Wellemeyer is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA this spring.
Cleveland Indians: Left fielder
- Lexington-native Austin Kearns has likely lost the starting job to top prospects Michael Brantley and Matt Laporta, but should still stick with the Indians as a reserve. The team is very left-handed, so Kearns’ right-handed bat is needed for balance.
Seattle Mariners: Relief pitcher
- Louisville-native Shawn Kelley appears destined to make the team per this MLB.com blog post, but hasn’t had a great spring. Kelley has given up eight runs in 12 innings, but does have 14 strikeouts compared to just one walk.
New York Mets: Relief pitcher
- No one in the Mets bullpen has really stepped up this Spring so Louisville Male alum Sean Green remains firmly in the mix for an Opening Day spot despite a 6.75 ERA and eight walks compared to four strikeouts this spring.
Cincinnati Reds: Utility reserve
- Despite an early camp injury, non-roster invitee and St X alum Chris Burke is still hanging on to a big league Spring Training spot. Burke is batting just .188 in eight games, so he’ll have to sell the Reds on his defensive versatility to avoid spending 2010 in his hometown with the Bats. 2009 Louisville Bat Drew Sutton is still in the mix.
- Candidates: Burke, Sutton, Aaron Miles, Paul Janish
Hit the jump for the concluded competitions.
Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Spring Training games are officially underway, making today an excellent chance to examine what BluGrass Baseball players are battling for specific roles on major league squads and roster spots. I’ve outlined relevant battles I can think of below, but feel free to include any you would add in the comments section.
Toronto Blue Jays: Closer
- University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is in a three-way battle for the Blue Jays closer position. Toronto manager Cito Gaston has said he might use a closer-by-committee approach if none of the three candidates step up. Downs saved nine games in 13 opportunities last season.
- Other candidates: Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg
St. Louis Cardinals: Fifth Starter
- 2009 Louisville Bats starting pitcher Ben Jukich is in Cardinals camp as the team’s Rule 5 pick. Jukich must be on the 25-man roster all season for the Cardinals to avoid giving him back to the Reds, so he may be given added chance to make the team out of camp. If he doesn’t earn a starting spot he could be considered for a left-handed reliever spot.
- Other candidates: Rich Hill, Mitchell Boggs, Kyle McClellan
Los Angles Dodgers: Right-handed reliever
- Kentucky Wesleyan alum Cory Wade is looking to regain his spot in the Dodgers bullpen one year after shoulder pain led him back to AAA. Wade is in an open competition for a right-handed setup role after Ronald Belisario’s visa trouble getting into the country, but he would probably take a spot in middle relief if it means leaving the minors.
- Other Candidates: Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, Charlie Haeger
Hit the jump to see more spring position battles.