We have exhausted the offseason position battles for WKU, EKU and Morehead St., so we’ll restart the fifth round with a look at the vacant University of Louisville catching position.
The departed — San Francisco Giants draftee Adam Duvall started 61 games for UofL in 2010, including 54 games at shortstop. Duvall batted .327 with 12 home runs, 47 RBI, 68 runs scored and 10 stolen bases for the Cards last season. The middle infielder made 23 errors in 2010 and finished the season with a .928 fielding percentage. The Giants selected Duvall in the 11th round of the 2010 draft, and he batted .245 in his professional debut.
Returning candidates — Junior All-American Ryan Wright started the 10 UofL games at shortstop that Duvall didn’t start in 2010, but he is entrenched as the every-day second baseman for the Cards…Senior infielder Mark Grieshaber did not appear in a game during his first season at UofL in 2010, but could push for backup playing time this season as the Cards rely on newcomers to man the shortstop position.
Newcomers to watch — Freshman shortstops Ty Young and Alex Chittenden started each of the five games of the Fall Pizza Bowl series at shortstop for the two UofL squads. Young was 7-20 in the Pizza Bowl series with three runs scored, one RBI and two walks. The Pennsylvania native batted .505 with nine home runs, seven doubles, 13 triples, 36 RBI and 43 runs scored as a senior at Malvern Preparatory High School…Chittenden finished the Pizza Bowl series at 3-15 with three RBI and a walk. The Indiana native batted .588 with eight home runs, 16 doubles and 19 stolen bases as a senior at Lawrence Central High School…Freshman infielder Adam Engel started each of the five Pizza Bowl series games at second base, going 4-23. Since second is occupied by Wright, head coach Dan McDonnell could try Engel at shortstop if he wants to get the Ohio native into the lineup.
Wildcard — The candidates for the vacant shortstop position appear fairly straight forward, so the real wildcard in the race would come if McDonnell decided to shift the all-American second baseman back to shortstop, where he started the 2010 season. In the event he wanted to play one of the less experience infielders at second base, McDonnell could conceivably move Wright back to shortstop.
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.