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.
Baseball America has released its 2010 NCAA All-American teams and several players with Kentucky connections made the list. I’ve included them below, but you can see the entire All-American team here.
- 2B — Ryan Wright — University of Louisville
- DH — Zack Cox — Pleasure Ridge Park HS — Arkansas
- 3B — Phil Wunderlich — UofL
- RP — Neil Holland — UofL
No. 9 University of Louisville‘s elimination from the NCAA tournament was slightly overshadowed by the draft coverage here at BluGrass Baseball, but now it’s time to finish the season review series with a look at the Big East champion Cardinals. UofL finished the season at 50-14 and one win shy of a NCAA super regional.
- Hitter of the year: 2B Ryan Wright — The Cards had plenty of hitters to choose from for this honor, as evidenced by their six offensive draftees, but the award goes to the sophomore second baseman who wasn’t even eligible for the draft. Wright was second on the team in batting (.366) behind senior first baseman Andrew Clark (.370) but played in 11 more games than Clark. He led the team in RBI (80), hits (93) and triples (2) and ranked third in runs scored (61). Wright also stole 10 bases in 11 attempts.
- Pitcher of the year: RHP Thomas Royse — The Big East pitcher of the year was a shoe-in for this award as he lead the state in most major pitching categories. Royse, a third-supplemental round pick by the Chicago White Sox, finished the season at 9-1 with a 2.85 ERA and 99 strikeouts compared to 26 walks in 104 and one-third innings pitched. Opponents batted just .257 against Royse on the season.
- Season high point: Battling for the Big East Conference regular season title with Connecticut in the season’s final weekend, UofL outscored Notre Dame 23-6 in a series sweep to clinch the title. The Cards all but wrapped up a top eight national seed in the NCAA tournament with the conference championship.
- Season low point: The vaunted UofL offense picked the worst time to go cold as the Cards were held scoreless for a season-high 15 consecutive innings in back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt to be eliminated from the NCAA tournament. Even worse, the first loss came against soft-tossing lefty Richie Goodenow, who had made just one previous start for Vanderbilt before pitching a complete-game shutout against UofL.
- Micellaneous: The Cards had five batters, Phil Wunderlich (21), Wright (16), Stewart Ijames (14), Clark (13), Adam Duvall (12), reach double digits in home runs…Royse, Neil Holland, Duvall, Wunderlich, Josh Richmond, Clark, Jeff Arnold, Ijames, Dean Kiekhefer and Bob Revesz were each selected in the 2010 draft…Holland was among the country’s best relievers after saving 17 games and going 8-1 with a 2.08 ERA and .160 batting average against…Freshman right-handed starting pitchers Justin Amlung (5-2, 4.27) and Matt Koch (3-0, 3.27) performed admirably down the stretch, setting UofL up well for the 2011 season.
Day two of the Major League Baseball amateur player’s draft finished this evening with the completion of round 30. Twenty-six players with Kentucky ties have been drafted so far including three by the Texas Rangers. Check out the full list below:
- 1st Round (25) — 3B Zack Cox — Pleasure Ridge Park (Arkansas) — St. Louis Cardinals
- 3rd Supplemental (114) — RHP Thomas Royse — Paul Laurence Dunbar (UofL) — Chicago White Sox
- 4th Round (124) — 2B Chris Bisson — Canada (UK) — San Diego Padres
- 4th Round (132) — LHP James Paxton — Canada (UK) — Seattle Mariners
- 6th Round (181) — RHP Blake Perry — Danville (Fla. HS) — Arizona Diamondbacks
- 6th Round (195) — LHP Logan Darnell — Tennessee (UK) — Minnesota Twins
- 8th Round (237) — RHP Dace Kime — Ohio (UofL signee) — Pittsburgh Pirates
- 8th Round (255) — OF Lance Ray — Nevada (UK) — Minnesota Twins
- 8th Round (256) — SS Jonathan Roof — St. Mary’s (Mich. St.) — Texas Rangers
- 11th Round (326) — RHP Neil Holland — Owensboro Catholic (UofL) — Washington Nationals
- 11th Round (348) — 2B Adam Duvall — Butler HS (UofL) — San Francisco Giants
- 12th Round (368) — SS Drew Lee — Montgomery County HS (Morehead St.) — Chicago White Sox
- 12th Round (371) — 1B Phil Wunderlich — Illinois (UofL) — Tampa Bay Rays
- 12th Round (376) — OF Josh Richmond — Ohio (UofL) — Texas Rangers
- 13th Round (406) — 1B Andrew Clark — Indiana (UofL) — Texas Rangers
- 14th Round (418) — 3B Michael Mosby — Hancock County (Wabash Valley JC) — Baltimore Orioles
- 14th Round (433) — RHP Patrick Cooper — Boyle County HS (Bradley) — Detroit Tigers
- 16th Round (500) — 3B Jayson Langfels — Lafayette (EKU) — Colorado Rockies
- 17th Round (516) — 1B Wes Cunningham — Eastern HS (Murray St.) — San Diego Padres
- 20th Round (599) — OF Cameron Conner — Frankfort (IU Southeast) — Kansas City Royals
- 26th Round (798) — C Jeff Arnold — Male HS (UofL) — San Francisco Giants
- 27th Round (817) — LHP Joel Bender — Ohio (UofL signee) — Cincinnati Reds
- 27th Round (831) — 2B Matt Payton — Male HS (WKU) — Philadelphia Phillies
- 28th Round (843) — RHP Jason Chowning — Eastern HS (Oklahoma) — Houston Astros
- 28th Round (859) — SS Taylor Black — S. C. (UK) — St. Louis Cardinals
- 29th Round (895) — OF Stewart Ijames — Owensboro Catholic (UofL) — New York Yankees
The Kentucky collegiate season came it an end Monday when No. 9 University of Louisville failed to complete two different late comebacks and lost 3-2 on a suicide squeeze from Vanderbilt in the bottom of the tenth inning. The loss ended UofL’s NCAA tournament run just shy of the super regional. The Cards were held scoreless for the first six innings before tieing the game for the first time with a single run in the top of the seventh.
Vanderbilt immediately took the lead back with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning, but UofL sent the game to extra innings when it scored with two outs in the ninth inning. Junior right-handed closer Neil Holland took his first loss of the season in the team’s final game. Junior right-handed pitcher Thomas Royse surrendered eight hits in five and one-third innings but held Vandy to just one run.
Sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright was 2-5 with a run scored, and junior third baseman Phil Wunderlich added two hits of his own. The loss dropped UofL to 1-3 on the season against Vanderbilt and 2-4 against the Southeastern Conference. (Box Score)
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.
No. 9 University of Louisville scored three times in the first inning and didn’t look back en route to a 7-3 win over Vanderbilt in the Cards’ second game of the NCAA tournament. Senior third baseman Phil Wunderlich paced the Cards’ attack with a 2-4 performance. Wunderlich launched his 21st home run of the season, drove in four runs and scored twice. Freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Koch earned the win after allowing just one run on three hits in six innings.
Koch struck out three Commodores and walked just one. Junior right-handed closer Neil Holland allowed one hit in the final three innings to record his 17th save of the season. Holland struck out five and walked one. Sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright was 2-4 with one RBI and one runs scored. Senior first baseman Andrew Clark scored twice in the game. (Box score)
Player of the game: RHP Matt Koch — After spending the first half of the season as little more than an afterthought in the UofL bullpen, freshman Matt Koch has excelled as a weekend starting pitcher since moving up the pitching depth chart. Koch earned the biggest win in his young career with six strong innings Saturday and moved to 3-0 on the season with a 3.27 ERA. Koch has now made six starts on the season.
Check out the pitching leaderboard updated through conference tournament action. Stats are final for every team except UofL, which is still playing in the NCAA tournament. To qualify for the ERA and batting average against, pitchers must have a minimum of 1.0 IP per team game, which makes Murray St. left-handed pitcher Matt McGaha the only eligible full-time reliever. Stats are current through Sunday. The college leaderboard is now permanently accessible on its own page on the left sidebar here.
- Thomas Royse — UofL — 2.91
- Matt Ridings — WKU — 3.01
- Matt McGaha — Murray St. — 3.90
- Justin Amlung — UofL — 4.01
- Dean Kiekhefer — UofL — 4.31
- Matt Ridings — WKU — 9-1
- Thomas Royse — UofL — 9-1
- Neil Holland — UofL — 8-0
- Alex Love — Murray St. — 8-1
- Derek Self — UofL — 7-0
- Josh Schneider — Morehead St. — 7-5
- Thomas Royse — UofL — 94
- Matt Ridings — WKU — 90
- Shane Cameron — WKU — 80
- Chris Craycraft — Murray St. — 72
- Jake Donze — Murray St. — 71
- Thomas Royse — UofL — 99.0
- Matt Ridings — WKU —92.2
- Chris Craycraft — Murray St. — 92.2
- Shane Cameron — WKU — 87.1
- Jake Donze — Murray St. — 83.2
- Neil Holland — UofL — 16
- Ryne Purcell — EKU — 12
- Rye Davis — WKU — 9
- Matt Little — UK — 7
- Dan Huff — Murray St. — 4
Batting Average Against
- Matt Ridings — WKU — .218
- Thomas Royse — UofL — .252
- Dean Kiekhefer — UofL — .264
- Shane Cameron — WKU — .270
- Jake Donze — Murray St. — .278
- Rye Davis — WKU — 33
- Ryne Purcell — EKU — 30
- Matt Harris — EKU — 29
- Neil Holland — UofL — 27
- Gabriel Shaw — UofL — 27
- Matt McGaha — Murray St. — 27
Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo
The 2010 collegiate season is officially over for every Kentucky Division One school except UofL, so this is the perfect time to unveil the BluGrass Baseball season awards.
Player of the year: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)
- Stats: .408/.476/.824, 22 HR, 86 RBI, 77 R, 10 SB
- Cunningham led the state in home runs, RBI, runs scored and slugging percentage and ranked tenth in home runs, ninth in RBI and fifth in slugging percentage in all of D1 baseball during the regular season. He was named Ohio Valley Conference player of the year and ranked in the top five in OVC batting average, hits, runs scored, RBI, triples, home runs and total bases. Cunningham led Murray State University in every major offensive category.
- Honorable Mention: Zack Cox (Arkansas, PRP), J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead State University), Drew Lee (Morehead St.), Jayson Langfels (Eastern Kentucky University), Matt Rice (Western Kentucky University), Ryan Wright (UofL)
Pitcher of the year: RHP Thomas Royse (UofL)
- Stats: 9-1, 2.91 ERA, 99 IP, 94 SO, 25 BB, .252 BA against
- Royse led Kentucky pitchers in ERA, wins, strikeouts and innings pitched in 2010 . The Big East Conference pitcher of the year led the University of Louisville to the No. 7 overall seed in the NCAA tournament as its weekend ace. Royse outdueled WKU senior ace Matt Ridings, who ranked second in most pitching categories and led in batting average against, for the pitcher of the year honor.
- Honorable Mention: Matt Ridings (WKU), Neil Holland (UofL), Matt McGaha (Murray St.), Justin Amlung (UofL), Rye Davis (WKU)
Freshman of the year: RHP Justin Amlung (UofL)
- Stats: 5-1, 4.01 ERA, 19 G, 9 GS, 60.2 IP, 51 SO, 12 BB, .281 BA against
- Almung redshirted during the 2009 season, but wasted no time making an impact in his first season on the diamond for UofL, first as a mid-week starting pitcher and reliever and later as a weekend starter. Amlung led all Kentucky freshman in wins, ERA, strikeouts and batting average against.
- Honorable Mention: Matt Koch (UofL), Taylor Rogers (University of Kentucky), Jordan Cooper (UK), Ryan Huck (WKU), Colton Moore (Murray St.), Anthony Bazzani (EKU), Austin Grisham (EKU)
The Bluegrass lost another conference tournament team Friday with EKU’s elimination at the hands of in-state rival Murray St. However, both UofL and the Breds remain in their respective tournaments. Check out recaps and awards from Friday’s games below and post-game interviews from Murray St.’s win over EKU above:
- Murray State University scored four runs in the first inning and didn’t look back in a 10-2 win over Eastern Kentucky University in an Ohio Valley Conference tournament elimination game. The loss ended the Colonels’ season. Murray St. redshirt junior left-handed pitcher Jake Donze pitched a complete game, allowed two runs on eight hits and struck out seven while walking just two. Four different Breds’ batters tallied two hits in the game. EKU junior left-fielder Bryce Labhart was 3-4 with one RBI. (Box Score)
- The Breds returned to action at 3 p.m. in a second elimination game and rode another complete game performance from senior right-handed pitcher Alex Love to a 14-4 win over Southeast Missouri. The game was delayed by rain for five hours in the ninth inning. Love had pitched five innings on Thursday as well. Senior left fielder Bryan Propst was 4-5 with three RBI and two runs scored, and senior first baseman Wes Cunningham added three hits an a home run. Love surrendered three earned runs, struck out three and walked two. (Box Score)
- No 9 University of Louisville blew a late lead but rode a two-run home run from redshirt sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames in the top of the 11th inning to a 9-7 win over South Florida in an elimination game in the Big East Conference tournament. Senior third baseman Phil Wunderlich was 4-6 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung took a no-decision, but allowed just two runs in seven innings. Junior right-handed closer Neil Holland recorded his eighth win of the season. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)
- Stats: 5-10, 1 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 1 2B
- Honorable Mention: Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Phil Wunderlich (UofL), Stewart Ijames (UofL), Bryce Labhart (EKU)
Pitcher of the day: LHP Jake Donze (Murray St.)
- Stats: 1-0, 9 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO
- Honorable Mention: Alex Love (Murray St.), Justin Amlung (UofL)