Christian Friedrich; Photo by Matt McGee via Flickr
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com profiles Louisville native and St. X alum Matt Anderson‘s attempted return to MLB with the Philadelphia Phillies. Anderson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, and is 15-7 with a 5.19 ERA in 257 career games. A shoulder injury derailed his career in 2003.
Tracy Ringolsby of Baseball America ranks former EKU left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich the No. 4 prospect in the Colorado Rockies system.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks one-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis the No. 4 second base prospect in MiLB.
On Tuesday we linked comments from Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, who said he would not trade former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton before Opening Day. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports the Phillies have decided Blanton’s role as rotation depth is worth more than his trade value.
Derek Poore of the Courier-Journal reports Blue Jays farmhand Trystan Magnuson, former major league pitcher Paul Byrd, UofL head coach Dan McDonnell, former Astro Chris Burke and others will speak at the BaseballCon held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville on Jan. 28-29.
Yesterday we listed the newcomers on the newly released University of Kentucky roster, but also of interest were the 2010 players no longer on the roster. BluGrass Baseball has confirmed third baseman Andy Burns transferred to Arizona, outfielder Cory Farris transferred to Cumberland University, right-handed pitcher Joe Devine transferred to Georgetown College, outfielder Navarro Hall transferred to Columbus State University, right-handed pitcher Chase Greene transferred to Eastern Kentucky University and right-handed pitcher Sean Bouthilette transferred to Campbellsville University. Right-handed pitcher Kyle Jackson and left-handed pitcher Jon Carlson are also no longer on the roster.
While the Cats missed out on the NCAA tournament they will compete with the University of Louisville for most players selected in the MLB draft over the next three days. Even without senior left-handed pitcher James Paxton, the University of Kentucky should enjoy another impressive draft. Check out some of the UK players with the most hope of hearing their names called below:
The sure thing
Junior second baseman Chris Bisson is ranked No. 149 on Baseball America‘s top 200 draft prospects list and represents the best prospect among current Kentucky collegians. BA writes that Bisson is likely the best second baseman in the draft that is likely to stay at that position as a professional. After being hit by a pitch in the face early in the 2010 season, Bisson missed only a week but struggled for several weeks following the injury at the plate. Bisson’s intangibles are off the charts and he demonstrated plus speed leading the Southeastern Conference in 2010 and Cape Cod League in summer 2009 in stolen bases. Bisson profiles as a leadoff hitter as a professional and should go in the first five rounds.
Other prospects of note:
Junior left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell struggled as a weekend starting pitcher for UK in 2010, but a late-season move to the pen will likely foreshadow his professional role. Darnell enjoyed mixed success as a reliever in 2009, so he has shown he can perform admirably in the role. A mid-season bout with shoulder tendonitis has to scare teams a little, but Baseball America projects Darnell will likely be drafted in the first ten rounds.
Junior closer Matt Little burst onto the scene in 2010 after sitting out 2009 following his transfer from Louisberg Junior College and was nearly unhittable for much of the year. Little struggled late in the conference schedule, but still stands a good chance of being selected in the mid-rounds of the draft after striking out 52 batters in 42 innings. Little pitched in the prestigious Cape Cod League during summer 2009.
Junior outfielder Lance Ray was among the SEC’s best hitters in the second half of 2010, slugging .720 in just 118 at-bats. He’ll need to find a full-time position to succeed in professional ball, but Ray could very well have slugged his way into a draft selection. He could boost his status even more by returning for his senior season and performing well for an entire year.
Junior shortstop Taylor Black was the team’s best defender and even slugged 10 home runs. Black will likely return to UK for his senior year, but could be a valuable late-round pick for a professional team.
Redshirt senior utility man Gunner Glad likely has a future as a professional after playing all over the diamond and leading the team with 12 home runs. Glad’s versatility will help him as a professional as he played first, second, third and outfield in 2010. Look for Gunner to come off the board after round 20.
Redshirt senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer and redshirt senior outfielder Keenan Wiley have both experience mixed success at UK and should be late-round selections this week.
Other Eligible Juniors
RHP Kyle Jackson
INF Neiko Johnson
LHP Mike Kaczmarek
RHP Nick Kennedy
High School Signees
Trinity LHP Corey Littrell is the best high school player in the state, but Baseball America reports he’s unlikely to forgo his commitment to UK.
BA also ranks Tates Creek RHP Trevor Gott and LCA OF Lucas Witt among the top 25 Kentucky draft prospects.
BA ranked Danville native RHP Blake Perry, who attends a prep school in Florida, as the No. 71 prospect in the Sunshine state. Perry has been rising up team’s draft boards with an impressive senior campaign where he hit 92 mph with his fastball and boasted a 76 mph curveball at a recent showcase.
The University of Kentucky scored four runs in the first innings and six runs in the fifth innings en route to an 11-1 blowout of Wright State, which boasts a win over No. 1 Virginia earlier this season. Four different Cats posted at least two hits in the game, and senior center fielder Keenan Wiley and junior shortstop Taylor Black each drove in three runs for UK.
Junior right-handed pitcher Kyle Jackson earned his first win for UK after allowing one run, which was unearned, on four hits in five innings. Junior second baseman Chris Bisson, sophomore designated hitter Braden Kapteyn, senior first baseman Gunner Glad and Wiley each scored twice in the game. UK improved to 14-3 on the season. (Box Score)
BluGrass Baseball POG: Kyle Jackson — The junior college transfer earned his first victory for UK and struck out two and walked none in five innings. While Jackson’s performance wasn’t the stuff of legends, he could provide UK with a much-needed reliable mid-week starting pitcher this season. On the year, Jackson is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA and seven strikeouts in 18 and one-third innings.
The University of Kentucky became the second Kentucky school to win at least 10 games Tuesday after a 7-1 victory over Evansville. Sophomore third baseman Andy Burns was 2-5 with a home run, two RBI and a run scored. Senior first baseman Gunner Glad, senior center fielder Keenan Wiley, sophomore designated hitter Braden Kapteyn and sophomore catcher Michael Williams each had two hits in the game. Freshman right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper was credited with his first career victory after allowing one run in four innings.
Redshirt junior right-handed reliever Nick Kennedy earned the save after pitching three scoreless innings in his season debut. The appearance marked Kennedy’s return from injury. Junior shortstop Taylor Black drove in two runs for the Cats, and junior right-handed reliever Kyle Jackson pitched two scoreless innings out of the pen. UK improved to 10-1 on the season. (Box Score)
BluGrass Baseball POG: Nick Kennedy — While Andy Burns delievered the big blow of the game with his home run, the return of Kennedy to the mound gives UK another viable weapon in the pen. When grouped with Matt Little and Kapteyn, the submarine rigthy Kennedy gives UK much needed bullpen depth. His scoreless three inning performance should be a shot in the arm for the Cats, who lost All-American Chris Bisson to injury last weekend.