Joe Blanton; Photo via Wikimedia Commons
With Ashland Native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb signing with the Texas Rangers the Kentucky portion of MLB’s offseason appears to be winding down. Have no fear though, there are plenty of storylines to keep you occupied until pitchers and catchers report. Check out a quick rundown of what Kentucky news you can expect from the rest of the offseason:
- Jon Rauch signing — Rauch is the final MLB free agent remaining from Kentucky’s original five-man free agent class. Recent rumors have had Rauch connected to the Orioles, Rays, Rockies and Yankees. Almost every team could use a veteran reliever with closing experience, so Rauch could still end up just about anywhere.
- Joe Blanton trade — The Philadelphia Phillies pulled off the shocker of the offseason by signing Cliff Lee, but now are likely to trade former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton to make room on the payroll for Lee’s massive contract. The Red Sox were rumored to be a landing spot for Blanton immediately after the Lee signing, but those rumors appear to have been silenced in the weeks since. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe recently speculated the market for Blanton could heat up after free agent Carl Pavano signs with a new team. Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors lists the Brewers, Nationals, Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Mariners, Orioles, Royals and Athletics as teams that might have interest in Blanton.
- MiLB free agents — Kentuckians Matt Wilhite (Bowling Green) and Neil Wilson (Covington) are the state’s remaining unsigned minor-league free agents. Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer will likely need a minor-league deal if he is to continue his playing career after being released by the San Francisco Giants during the 2010 season.
- Dan Uggla extension — The Atlanta Braves acquire second baseman Dan Uggla, who was born in Louisville, from the Florida Marlins this offseason and are reportedly talking about a long-term contract extension with the slugger. Cafardo recently reported extension talks had slowed as Uggla was seeking more money, but he speculated a deal could still be finished in the first week of January. Two weeks earlier Cafardo tweeted the two sides were close to a five-year extension worth between $60 an $61 million.
Wladimir Balentien; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Matt Eddy of Baseball America recently posted the complete list of Minor League free agents and several Kentuckians are on the list. I’ve copied the Kentucky MiLB free agents below with organization and 2010 team:
- RHP Jesus Delgado — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville Bats
- RHP Jason Isringhausen — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- RHP Chad Reineke — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- C Wilkin Castillo — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- OF Wladimir Balentien — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- OF Sean Henry — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- OF Luis Terrero — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- RHP Matt Wilhite (WKU) — Colorado Rockies — AAA Colorado Springs
- C Neil Wilson (Covington) — Florida Marlins — AAA New Orleans
- RHP Cory Wade (Ky Wesleyan) — Los Angeles Dodgers — AAA Albuquerque
- 3B Neil Sellers (EKU) — Philadelphia Phillies — AAA Lehigh Valley
- LHP Zach Jackson (UofL) — Toronto Blue Jays — AAA Las Vegas
- RHP Zach Dials (UK) — Washington Nationals — AA Harrisburg
You can see the full MiLB free agent list here.
Nathan Adcock; Photo by mwlguide via Flickr
Highlights from Saturday Kentucky MiLB action:
- The Louisville Bats clinched a spot in the International League playoffs despite a 4-1 loss to Indianapolis. One-time Madisonville resident Matt Klinker took the loss after surrendering four runs in five and one-third innings.
- Two Lexington Legends pitcher combined on a seven-hit shutout in a 6-0 win over Rome. Right–handed pitcher Jose Cisnero improved to 8-6 on the season after surrendering four hits in six innings.
- Great Lakes scored six runs in the first innings and held on to send the Bowling Green Hot Rods to a 7-5 loss. Right-handed pitcher Alex Koronis held the Loons to just one run in four and one-third innings out of the Bowling Green bullpen.
- Former WKU right-handed pitcher J. B. Paxon recorded a hold with one and one-third scoreless innings for Great Lakes.
- Former UK left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell took the loss in the decisive game of the Appalachian League finals after surrendering four runs in six and two-third innings for rookie-level Elizabethton.
- Former UK infielder Michael Bertram was 3-4 with a double, triple, RBI and two runs scored for AAA Toledo.
- Former UofL outfielder and 2010 Rangers draftee Josh Richmond was 3-4 with a walk, double and RBI for short-season Spokane.
- Former WKU infielder Wade Gaynor slugged his tenth home run of the season for low A West Michigan.
- Elizabethtown native Nathan Adcock improved to 11-7 on the season after surrendering two runs in five and two-third innings for high A Bradenton.
- Covington native Neil Wilson slugged his sixth home run of the season for AAA New Orleans.
Ben Revere; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Highlights from Saturday Kentucky MiLB action:
- The Louisville Bats opened their three-game series against Toledo with an 8-3 loss. First baseman Todd Frazier was 2-3 with a run scored.
- The Lexington Legends couldn’t salvage a series split in its final road game of the season after suffering a 6-5 loss to Kannapolis. Catcher Ben Heath was 2-3 with a triple and two RBI.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods opened their four-game series with Fort Wayne with a 3-2 loss. No Hot Rods batter tallied multiple hits in the game.
- Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere was 4-5 with a run scored and three stolen bases for AA New Britain.
- Former UK outfielder Antone DeJesus was 3-4 with a double, triple and two runs scored.
- Former UofL outfielder Boomer Whiting was 3-4 with a run scored for AAA Syracuse.
- Former NKU outfielder Jake Shaffer slugged his ninth home run of the season for high A High Desert.
- Covington native Neil Wilson slugged his fifth home run of the season for AAA New Orleans.
- St. Mary’s alum Shawn Roof was 3-4 with two RBI and a run scored for AAA Toledo.
- Louisville native Stephen Shackleford earned his second win of the season after throwing three scoreless innings for short-season Salem-Keizer.
- Former Murray St. first baseman and 2010 Padres draftee Wes Cunningham singled in four at-bats to extend his hitting streak to 11 games for short-season Eugene.
John Shelby; Photo: UK Athletics
Highlights from Monday Kentucky MiLB action:
- The Lexington Legends pounded out 15 hits en route to a 9-4 win over Hagerstown. First baseman Kody Hinze was 2-5 with two doubles, one RBI and three runs scored.
- The Lansing Lugnuts scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to send the Bowling Green Hot Rods to a 10-9 loss. First baseman Ryan Wiegand was 2-4 with a home run, double, three RBI and one run scored.
- The Louisville Bats were off Monday.
- Former NKU left-handed pitcher Jarrett Casey fell to 0-4 on the season for rookie-level Bristol despite surrendering just one run on three hits in six innings. Casey struck out six and walked just one.
- Former NKU right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones earned his eighth win of the season with a quality start for high A Winston-Salem. Jones surrendered three runs on nine hits in six innings and struck out three.
- Former UK outfielder John Shelby was 2-4 with a double, run scored and two stolen bases for AA Birmingham.
- Former UK first baseman Lance Ray was 3-3 with a RBI and run scored for low A Beloit.
- Former UofL infielder Phil Wunderlich tallied three hits and scored one run for short-season Hudson Valley.
- Paducah native and 2010 Rangers draftee Jonathan Roof was 3-4 with a double, RBI and run scored for low A Hickory.
- Covington native Neil Wilson slugged his fourth home run of the season for AAA New Orleans.
- Louisville native and 2010 Giants draftee Stephen Shackleford picked up his first professional save with two scoreless innings for the rookie-level AZL Giants.
- Former Morehead St. shortstop and 2010 White Sox draftee Drew Lee saw his 14-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-3 performance for rookie-level Bristol.
News of minor league free agent signings is always scarce unless a player signs with an invitation to Spring Training like Somerset-native Josh Anderson or Louisville-native Chris Burke. For lower level minor league free agents spots contracts are signed as teams seek to fill organizational holes. The best resource for following these signings is usually Baseball America‘s weekly minor league transaction feature.
With that in mind here my most up-to-date Kentucky minor league free agents list with the players 2009 organization and level listed.
- C Neil Wilson — Covington, Ky. — Florida Marlins — AAA
- 3B Tanner Townsend — WKU — Florida Marlins — 2009 DNP
- LHRP John Switzer — Covington, Ky. — New York Mets — AAA
- RHRP Matt Ginter — Winchester, Ky. (Morehead) — Milwaukee Brewers — AAA
- RHRP Zack Pitts — Elizabethtown, Ky. (UofL) — St. Louis Cardinals — 2009 DNP
- RHRP Matt Wilhite — Bowling Green, Ky. (WKU) — Colorado Rockies — AAA
- RHRP Andrew Albers — UK — San Diego Padres — 2009 DNP
- SS Ryan Wilkes — UK — New York Yankees — 2009 DNP