Downs returns to the DL; Hart close to returning to Brewers; Madison Central is last undefeated high school team

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Scott Downs; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Lyle Spencer of MLB.com reports the Los Angeles Angels placed Louisville native and former UK left-handed pitcher Scott Downs back on the 15-day disabled list with a gastrointestinal virus that has caused him to lose around 10 pounds.
  • Todd Rosiak and Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports Bowling Green native Corey Hart will be back in uniform for the Brewers as early as Tuesday.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb will pitch in an extended Spring Training game on Monday as the next step in his rehabilitation process.
  • University of Louisville junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych has been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year award.
  • Jason Frakes of the Courier-Journal reports Madison Central High School is the last remaining undefeated Kentucky high school baseball team and could be the first team in 29 years to finish the season without a loss.
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UofL moves up to No. 16 in NCBWA poll; Boras to advise Meyer; UofL commitment named HS All-American

College Baseball

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • The University of Louisville moved up to No. 16 in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top 25 poll.
  • Jim Callis of Baseball America reports University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer will be advised by super-agent Scott Boras during his negotiations with the MLB team that drafts him this summer. The last UK player to be advised by Boras was James Paxton, who was declared ineligible for his senior season after the NCAA ruled Boras negotiated with the Toronto Blue Jays on Paxton’s’ behalf instead of just advising him, a violation of NCAA rules.
  • Baseball America has named UofL commitment Nick Burdi, a right-handed pitcher from Illinois, a second-team preseason high school All-America.
  • Emily Patton of the College Heights Herald writes Western Kentucky University baseball returned at the right time for WKU athletics.
  • Brad Stephens of the College Heights Herald examines WKU’s offensive outburst during its first series.

Preseason player of the year: Ryan Wright

College Baseball

In the final BluGrass Baseball preseason awards post we will look at the preseason player of the year.

Player of the year: Ryan Wright — University of Louisville

Ryan Wright; UofL photo

The preseason player of the year award is essentially a two-way race between UofL junior infielder Ryan Wright, and WKU senior catcher Matt Rice, but the award goes to Wright in a tight race. BluGrass Baseball recently ranked Wright the No. 1 collegiate player in the state, and the second baseman has already been named a preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Baseball America. The Indiana native batted .366 with 16 home runs, 80 RBI and 61 runs scored in 2010. He recently earned the nickname, “RBI Mongrel” from his head coach Dan McDonnell for compiling 146 RBI in two seasons at UofL.

During the summer 2010 Wright played for the collegiate national team and finished the summer season as the Team USA leader in batting average (.361) and runs scored (18).  Baseball America recently ranked Wright the No. 30 junior prospect in the 2011 draft. Wright leads returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 RBI, runs scored and home runs and ranks second in 2010 batting average and slugging percentage. The middle infielder will start the season as UofL’s second baseman but could move to shortstop if the need arises. In 2009 Wright received freshman All-American honors from Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and Ping! Baseball.

Top 2011 Ky. Collegians: No. 1 Ryan Wright

College Baseball

Inspired by College Baseball Daily’s list of the top 100 college baseball players, BluGrass Baseball is counting down the top 25 returning Kentucky collegians in advance of the 2011 season. We finish the countdown today with the Kentucky position player who has already been named to three different preseason all-American teams.

No. 1 — 2B Ryan Wright — University of Louisville

Ryan Wright; UofL photo

UofL junior second baseman Ryan Wright batted .366 with 16 home runs, 80 RBI and 61 runs scored in 2010, serving as the Cards’ most consistent hitter throughout the season. Wright leads returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 RBI, runs scored and home runs and ranks second in 2010 batting average and slugging percentage. The middle infielder, who spent most of his time at second base in 2010 and will return there this season, was named a second-team preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and a third-team preseason All-American by Baseball America.

Wright spent the summer with the collegiate Team USA, leading the team with a .361 batting average and 18 runs scored. He slugged two home runs, tallied 12 RBI and stole three bases for Team USA. Baseball America named Wright a second-team All-American following the 2010 season and recently ranked him the No. 30 college prospect for the 2011 draft. Wright was also selected to the first-team All-Big East Conference team, the All-Big East Tournament team and the ABCA All-South Region team following the 2010 season. In 2009 Wright received freshman All-American honors from Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and Ping! Baseball.

College summer league team to play in Morhead; WKU, EKU closers named to Stopper of the Year award watch list

College Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • The Morehead News reports the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League will be adding a team in Morehead for the 2011 summer season. The team will be called the Eastern Kentucky Ridgerunners.
  • Western Kentucky University redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Rye Davis and Eastern Kentucky University senior right-handed pitcher Ryne Purcell have been named to the watch list for the 2011 Stopper of the Year Award, given by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association to the nation’s best relief pitcher.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports right-handed pitcher Chris Jakubauskas, the only former Florence Freedom player to ever reach the major leagues, signed a minor-league contract with the Baltimore Orioles.
  • The University of Louisville has released its 2011 broadcast schedule, which will include 36 regular season games and all post-season games on KOOL 1570 AM in Clarksville, Ind.

UofL loses pitcher until midseason; NCBWA ranks Cards No. 22; Paxton negotiations at impasse; Legends host caravan

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

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)

Holland named 1st-team All-Ameircan; Hustlers start season; Ellis feels at home with Dodgers; Webb throws from mound

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

A. J. Ellis; Photo by frankat1stbase3 via Flickr

Links from around the Kentucky baseball world:

  • The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association has named University of Louisville junior closer Neil Holland a first-team All-American. Pleasure Ridge Park alum and Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox and Murray State University senior first baseman Wes Cunningham were named to the second and third teams respectively.
  • Mark Maloney of the Lexington Herald-Leader examines the history of the Lexington Hustlers‘ name as the new collegiate summer team starts its inaugural season.
  • Herald-Leader columnist John Clay profiles Paul Laurence Dunbar alum and Los Angeles Dodgers backup catcher A. J. Ellis and his unlikely 2010 season.
  • Ashland native, University of Kentucky alum and Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb threw off a mound for the first time since March this weekend and finally has a “reason to smile,” writes Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona.

Ky. catchers honored; UK, UofL ranked by NCBWA; Honors for Roof and Revere; Webb encouraged by bullpen session

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Marcus Nidiffer; Photo: UK Athletics

Some morning links to tide you over until this afternoon’s games:

  • The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission has named University of Kentucky catcher Marcus Nidiffer to the watch list for 2010 Johnny Bench Award, which goes to the country’s top catcher.
  • University of Louisville catcher Jeff Arnold and Eastern Kentucky University catcher Joey Stevens were also included on the list.
  • The UofL ranked No. 11 and UK ranked No. 27 in the NCBWA top 25 poll. (Link via The College Baseball Blog)
  • Aaron Smith of the Kentucky Kernel profiles UK freshman left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers.
  • Adam Revelette of Examiner.com talks to UK right-handed pitcher Logan Darnell about the weekend series.
  • Jim Callis of Baseball America lists Lexington-native Ben Revere as one of the best prospects omitted from the publication’s top 100 prospects list.
  • I missed this last week, but St. Mary’s (Paducah) alum Jonathan Roof was named Big Ten player of the week for his performance in the opening week for Michigan State.
  • Roof, a shortstop, is batting .478 with two home runs and five RBI during the first six games of the season.
  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports UK alum Brandon Webb was encouraged by his last bullpen session.

Wilkerson signs with Phillies; UofL and UK in NCBWA rankings

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Brad Wilkerson; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Just a couple of quick notes to pass along this evening:

  • Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com reported via Twitter this afternoon that Apollo grad Brad Wilkerson has signed a Minor League contract with the Phillies. Rosenthal later clarified that Wilkerson will not participate in big league camp, but will start the season in AAA. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports the Phillies have confirmed the signing.
  • Wilkerson played in two games last season for the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox and hasn’t played in the majors since 2008. He was believed to have retired.
  • The new National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top 30 rankings have been released and the University of Louisville checks in at No. 15 and the University of Kentucky checks in at No. 29. Western Kentucky University is in the “also receiving votes” category. (Link via UK Athletics)
  • Just in case you missed our tweet earlier, the UK and Murray State game tomorrow has been postponed until March 15.

UofL ranks No. 20 in preseason poll; Shaw honored

College Baseball

ESPN/USA Today has released their preseason top 25 poll for college baseball, and the University of Louisville ranks No. 20 on the list. UofL has already been picked as the preseason Big East favorites and ranked in the Baseball America top 25. The Cardinals will try to defend their 2009 Big East title this year after a 47-18 season.

The University of Kentucky and Western Kentucky University finished in the others receiving votes category. UK ranked 47th with 4 votes and WKU ranked 52nd with one vote.

UofL closer and member of the BluGrass Baseball All-State team Gabriel Shaw was also named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association stopper of the year watch list. Shaw is one of 47 relievers honored on the initial watch list.

(Hat tip on both stories to The College Baseball Blog.)