Corey Hart; Photo by Steve Paluch via Flickr
The trade deadline for Kentucky baseball players ended up being a lot of smoke with the biggest names among rumored trade candidates (Corey Hart and Scott Downs) staying put. Neither player figures to clear waivers in August, so unless a deal is worked out with whatever team claims them both could spend the rest of the season with their current teams. Check out some links from around Kentucky baseball about stories that did happen over the weekend:
- If Bowling Green native Corey Hart has his way he won’t be staying with the Brewers only through the end of the season. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports Hart wants a contract extension since Milwaukee decided not to trade him before the deadline.
- Chad Bishop of the Bowling Green Daily News reports Warren East High School rising senior pitcher/third baseman Mark Biggs has committed to play collegiate baseball at the University of Louisville.
- The Lexington Legends made several important roster moves over the weekend, headlined by the promotion of South Atlantic League all-star infielder Jose Altuve to high A Lancaster. Infielder Barry Butera switched places with Altuve, moving from Lancaster to Lexington, and infielder Jimmy Paredes, acquired by the Astros in the Lance Berkman trade with the Yankees, was added to the Legends’ roster.
- John Manuel of Baseball America profiles Paredes in his breakdown of the Berkman trade.
- Western Kentucky University has announced a showcase for high school players for September 5 at Nick Denes Field.
- In case you are still a little fuzzy about how major league players can still be traded after the July 31 “trade deadline” check out this very useful explanation of the process from the always great MLBTradeRumors.
- Josh Cook, writing for the Courier-Journal, recaps the Louisville Bats Saturday win over Louisville natives Marty Popham and Jeremy Sowers of the Columbus Clippers.
Jon Rauch; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Thursday was a big day for trades in Major League Baseball and while no Kentuckians were directly involved in the transactions there was plenty of fallout relating to Kentucky players. Check out those stories and more in some Friday morning hot links:
- La Velle E. Neal of the Minnesota Star Tribune reports the Minnesota Twins will move Louisville native and former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch back to a set-up role after acquiring former Washington Nationals closer Matt Capps.
- Keith Law of ESPN.com reports the Brewers have decided not to trade Bowling Green native Corey Hart. A move would have been difficult anyway since Hart has missed most of this week with a wrist injury.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the Colorado Rockies are quietly shopping right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook, who was born in Fort Campbell.
- Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today examines the rising controversy over metal baseball bats, which of course has huge implications for Louisville Slugger. In the story Ortiz interviews Jim Fox of Florence, whose son Aaron, a 13-year-old pitcher, spent nine days in coma after being struck in the head by a ball hit with a composite bat.
- Ben Badler of Baseball America examines 10 prospects who have significantly helped their stock since June 1, including recently promoted Lexington Legends outfielder J. D. Martinez. (Subscription required)
- Also I want to correct an errant tweet I sent out earlier regarding Astros shortstop prospects Jonathan Villar, acquired in the Roy Oswal deal. While MiLB.com still lists him as a Lexington Legend, he will actually report to high A Lancaster.
Scott Downs; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
With just six days left until the July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline rumors should be flying around the baseball world this week. Check out some updates on Kentucky players you might hear mention in trade talks and other links from around Kentucky baseball:
- John Lott of the National Post in Canada profiles Louisville native and former UK left-handed pitcher Scott Downs, who says he wants to stay in Toronto despite rampant rumors that he will be traded this week.
- Alex Speier of WEEI Radio in Boston reports the Blue Jays are seeking an elite prospect for Downs.
- Jason Stark of ESPN.com reports sources tell him the Blue Jays are simply fanning the fires on Downs rumors for now and won’t get serious about trade talks until the weekend.
- John Heyman of Sports Illustrated runs down the buyers in the trade market and outlines which teams might be possible landing destinations for Downs and Bowling Green native Corey Hart.
- Buster Olney of ESPN.com quotes a rival executive as saying Hart will need to play before the deadline after recently injuring his wrist if the Brewers plan to trade him.
Scott Downs; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
We’re just 23 days from the MLB non-waiver trade deadline so you can expect trade rumors to be heating up over the coming days and weeks. As with most baseball stories, Kentucky players figure to factor in the middle of many of the rumors. I’ve outlined some early Kentucky trade storylines to watch below:
- The relief pitching market is always a big commodity during July as evidenced in this breakdown by the Boston Globe‘s Chad Finn. Among the hottest relievers on the block is former University of Kentucky left-handed pitcher Scott Downs, currently a set-up man for the Blue Jays. Peter Gammons of MLB.com calls Downs the “hottest name on the market” right now and says he may even attract more interest than perennial All-Star Roy Oswalt.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted earlier this week that the Giants have interest in Brewers outfielder and Bowling Green native Corey Hart, who the Brewers have been rumored to be trying to move at various points in the last year. However, Hart has led the National League in home runs for much of the first half and is worth more than ever after being named to his second All-Star team, so he won’t come cheap.
- The Cleveland Indians are not very good and may be preparing for another fire sale which means Lexington native Austin Kearns, who has enjoyed a career resurgence this season could be on the move. For now though Kearns isn’t attracting the same level of interest as some other Indians, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
- It wouldn’t be a Kentucky trade rumor breakdown without mention of Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, who was born in Louisville. The Marlins tried to move Uggla throughout most of the offseason but their asking price proved too high. That price may prevent him from be traded before the deadline, but the Marlins and Rockies matchup nicely for a deal if they were motivated to move the slugging infielder, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports.
Remember too that any number of Kentucky minor leaguers could be moved in deals for established MLB names. For the latest trade rumors from all of baseball you can’t do any better than MLBTradeRumors.com.
Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
More early signing classes are starting to trickle in from the state’s universities. This week I’ll start breaking down those classes in a little more detail, but check out the releases from the two schools below with some more hot stove news:
- EKU Sports reports the baseball Colonels have signed three freshman for 2011.
- UofL Sports also announced four early signers for the baseball team.
- Catcher Louie Helmburg of West Jessamine High School signed a LOI to play baseball at Marshall.
- Bellarmine-alum Todd Wellemeyer tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch he plans to start somewhere next season, and a source says the Brewers are one of two teams to already express interest.
- Joanie Baker Hendricks of the Bowling Green Daily News writes about the Hot Rods’ new art program with local students.
Corey Hart; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Two evening trade rumors to pass along concerning Kentucky natives. Jason Stark of ESPN.com reports that trade talks from the Marlins with the Giants and Rangers about Louisville-native Dan Uggla got “pretty hot and heavy” at the GM meetings. Uggla remains the most likely Marlin to be traded, but the team told Stark they would keep him and trade someone else if they didn’t get what they wanted for the second baseman.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reports the Braves are trying to move starting pitcher Derek Lowe and there most serious discussion so far came with the Brewers concerning Bowling Green-native Corey Hart. That deal appears to have fallen through, and Mark Bowman of MLB.com says the Braves would prefer prospects to Hart.
Mark Reynolds; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
In the last of the awards series we look at the big show. Our two major league award winners have differing ties to the Bluegrass State. One was born in Eastern Kentucky, but spent most of his adolescence in Virginia, the other was born in Tennessee but graduated from a Kentucky high school and college.
Player of the Year — 3B Mark Reynolds Diamondbacks
- Pikeville-native Reynolds batted .260 with 44 home runs and 102 RBI while breaking his own major league record for strikeout with 223. Despite the strikeouts, Mark was far-and-away the most productive Kentucky native at the plate this season. His 44 home runs tied Jay Buhner’s record for a Bluegrass native, and Reynolds was named a ESPN.com Fantasy All-Star and the SportingNews’ postseason NL All-Star team.
- The other candidates for the award included Louisville-native and Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, who slugged 31 home runs, and Bowling Green-native and Brewers’ outfielder Corey Hart who posted a .335 on-base percentage in 115 games.
Pitcher of the Year — RHP Joe Blanton — Philadelphia Phillies
- Franklin-Simpson and UK alum Joe Blanton helped lead his Phillies teammates to the World Series for the second consecutive season posting above average numbers along the way. Blanton was 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 195.1 innings pitched, providing a stalwart in a volatile Phillies’ rotation. Blanton did everything manager Charlie Manuel asked of him, evidenced by his fluctuating role between the rotation and bullpen in the playoffs.
- Blanton’s competition for the award came from Fort Campbell-native Aaron Cook who was 11-6 with a 4.16 ERA for the Rockies. Relievers Tyler Clippard (4-2, 2.69 ERA), Jon Rauch (7-3, 3.60 ERA) and Scott Downs (1-3, 3.09 ERA, 9 saves) also posted good seasons.
We’ve looked at stolen bases and home runs, now we’ll move on to batting average. As always the KHSAA keeps its entire baseball record book online here.
Career Batting Average Leaders
- David Owens — Rockcastle Co. — 1975-78 — .584
- Noah Welte — St. Patrick — 1997-2000 — .568
- Soren Wolfe — Monticello — 1998-2001 — .526
- Corey Hart — Greenwood — 1997-2000 — .519
- Rich Witten — Danville — 2003-07 — .503
Single Season Batting Average Leaders
- Noah Welte — St. Patrick — 2000 — .737
- David Owens — Rockcastle Co. — 1977 — .683
- Keith Butler — Butler Co. — 2007 — .630
- David Owens — Rockcastle Co. — 1978 — .614
- Rich Witten — Danville — 2006 — .607