Former UofL and Male High School right-handed pitcher Sean Green signed a one-year, $875,000 contract with the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday. Like most one-year deals the contract is non-guaranteed, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports. Green missed most of the 2010 season with a rib cage injury but was 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 games for the New York Mets. In five MLB seasons Green is 10-11 with a 4.36 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 258 innings pitched for the Mets and Seattle Mariners.
The Colorado Rockies selected Green in the 12th round of the 2000 amateur draft out of UofL. Green was traded by the Rockies to the Mariners on Dec. 20, 2004, for Aaron Taylor. The Mets acquired Green on Dec. 11, 2008, in a three-team deal that also sent J. J. Putz and Jeremy Reed to New York. Green was non-tendered by the Mets on Dec. 2, 2010. (Read more)
Kentucky baseball gained another free agent on Thursday after the New York Mets non-tendered former Male High School and UofL right-handed pitcher Sean Green. The right-handed reliever had no decisions and a 3.86 ERA in 11 games in his injury-shortened 2010 season. The decision was first reported by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Green was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 12th round of the 2000 MLB draft out of UofL. He made his MLB debut on May 2, 2006, and is 10-11 with a 4.36 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 258 innings over his five-season career.
Green blamed the Mets decision to convert him to a submarine-style pitcher during Spring Training last season as the reason for a stress fracture in his rib that cost him most of the 2010 season, Rubin reports. Green made one appearance with the Mets in April before being placed on the disabled list. He didn’t return to the team until September after making 24 appearances in the minor leagues. (Read more)
Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports the agent for former Male High School and UofL right-handed pitcher Sean Green expects the New York Mets to tender a contract to Green, but if the reliever becomes a free agent he’ll receive plenty of interest from other teams.
Chip Cosby of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart plans to stay at UK to complete unfinished business including upgrading the baseball facilities.
MLB.com columnist Mike Bauman writes signing Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb could be “worth the risk” for MLB teams.
James Schmel of MLive.com lists Lexington native Austin Kearns could be a potential target for the Detroit Tigers.
Baseball America named the Louisville Bats the 2010 Bob Freitas “Organization of the Year” Award for the Triple-A level.
Louisville native and former UK left-handed pitcher Scott Downs decline arbitration from the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.
The Major League Baseball amateur player’s draft kicks off tonight with the first round in primetime so we’ll spend the day preview Kentucky players that might hear their names called at some point in the 50-round draft. First we’ll look at alumni of Kentucky high schools playing elsewhere in college baseball and players that have spent some time at a Kentucky college who figure to be drafted:
First Round Talent
The crown jewel of the Kentucky draft class is without a doubt Pleasure Ridge Park alumni Zack Cox, currently a third baseman for the University of Arkansas. Cox is ranked by many as the best college bat in the entire draft and should last no longer than the first 10 picks. Several mock drafts have him going to the Mets at No. 7 overall. Since Cox is a draft-eligible sophomore he is considered a tougher sign than your average top-ten pick and could be pushed back to college if a team isn’t willing to meet his reportedly high contract demands.
Since former University of Kentucky senior left-handed pitcher James Paxton was drafted in the supplemental first round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010, Paxton has been busy. First he shocked the baseball world by returning to UK for his senior season, then he became the subject of an NCAA investigation after comments from a Blue Jays official in a Canadian newspaper implicated him of violating the NCAA’s no-agent rule, sued UK for holding him out of competition and finally left school to prepare for this year’s draft in the independent American Association. After all that, Paxton appears likely to end up where he started as a supplemental-round pick. He could slide to the second round after missing so much time and would need to grant his home-country Blue Jays permission to draft him for a second consecutive year.
Other prospects of note:
Danville native and former Eastern Kentucky University pitcher Patrick Cooper was selected in the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 34th round in 2009, but opted to follow through with his commitment to Bradley University, where he struggled at times as a junior. Cooper was a Cape Cod League All-Star last summer and could improve his draft status to the first 10 rounds after improving down the stretch for Bradley. In his last three starts Cooper, a right-handed pitcher who touched 93 mph with his fastball in the Cape, surrendered just four earned runs in his last three starts.
Paducah native and Michigan St. junior shortstop Jonathan Roof will look to follow his two brothers, Eric and Shawn, into professional baseball. Roof was an All-Big Ten shortstop for Michigan St. in 2010 and profiles as an excellent defender. Baseball America projects Roof to go somewhere around the 10th round.
RHP/INF Damon McCormick — St. X — Valparaiso
C Wes Wilson — Bryan Station — Indiana
LHP David Vicini — Lexington Catholic — Austin Peay
LHP Jack Snodgrass — Bowling Green HS — Austin Peay
Throughout the season you can view the Kentuckians on Major League rosters list by accessing the “Ky. in the Majors” tab at the top of the page or clicking this link. But with MLB’s first official game set to start in just hours I thought I’d post the list of Kentucky natives or college alumni that made Major League Opening Day rosters here:
Joe Blanton SP (DL) — Franklin-Simpson High School, UK — Philadelphia Phillies
Earlier this month I posted a Spring Training position battle primer for Kentucky fans looking to keep track of their native sons hoping to make MLB rosters. These were the borderline major leaguers and players assured of making the roster but fighting for a bigger role, not established players. With one week left before Opening Day I thought I’d update each battle so you have a better idea of where the official Kentuckians in the majors count will stand in 2010. A special kudos goes to PLD alum and Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis who appears ready to start the season with the big league club after starting catcher Russell Martin suffered a groin injury.
Toronto Blue Jays: Closer
University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is all but eliminated in the three-way closer race that will go to righties Jason Fraser or Kevin Gregg. Downs recently commented to a Toronto newspaper he prefers pitching in the eighth inning anyway.
San Francisco Giants: Fifth starter
Louisville-native and Bellarmine alum Todd Wellemeyer has all but wrapped up the fifth starter position after star prospect Madison Bumgarner was sent to AAA this week. Wellemeyer is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA this spring.
Cleveland Indians: Left fielder
Lexington-native Austin Kearns has likely lost the starting job to top prospects Michael Brantley and Matt Laporta, but should still stick with the Indians as a reserve. The team is very left-handed, so Kearns’ right-handed bat is needed for balance.
Seattle Mariners: Relief pitcher
Louisville-native Shawn Kelley appears destined to make the team per this MLB.com blog post, but hasn’t had a great spring. Kelley has given up eight runs in 12 innings, but does have 14 strikeouts compared to just one walk.
New York Mets: Relief pitcher
No one in the Mets bullpen has really stepped up this Spring so Louisville Male alum Sean Green remains firmly in the mix for an Opening Day spot despite a 6.75 ERA and eight walks compared to four strikeouts this spring.
Cincinnati Reds: Utility reserve
Despite an early camp injury, non-roster invitee and St X alum Chris Burke is still hanging on to a big league Spring Training spot. Burke is batting just .188 in eight games, so he’ll have to sell the Reds on his defensive versatility to avoid spending 2010 in his hometown with the Bats. 2009 Louisville Bat Drew Sutton is still in the mix.
Candidates: Burke, Sutton, Aaron Miles, Paul Janish
Spring Training games are officially underway, making today an excellent chance to examine what BluGrass Baseball players are battling for specific roles on major league squads and roster spots. I’ve outlined relevant battles I can think of below, but feel free to include any you would add in the comments section.
Toronto Blue Jays:Closer
University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is in a three-way battle for the Blue Jays closer position. Toronto manager Cito Gaston has said he might use a closer-by-committee approach if none of the three candidates step up. Downs saved nine games in 13 opportunities last season.
Other candidates: Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg
St. Louis Cardinals: Fifth Starter
2009 Louisville Bats starting pitcher Ben Jukich is in Cardinals camp as the team’s Rule 5 pick. Jukich must be on the 25-man roster all season for the Cardinals to avoid giving him back to the Reds, so he may be given added chance to make the team out of camp. If he doesn’t earn a starting spot he could be considered for a left-handed reliever spot.
Other candidates: Rich Hill, Mitchell Boggs, Kyle McClellan
Los Angles Dodgers: Right-handed reliever
Kentucky Wesleyan alum Cory Wade is looking to regain his spot in the Dodgers bullpen one year after shoulder pain led him back to AAA. Wade is in an open competition for a right-handed setup role after Ronald Belisario’s visa trouble getting into the country, but he would probably take a spot in middle relief if it means leaving the minors.
Other Candidates: Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, Charlie Haeger
Louisville-native Todd Wellemeyer appears to have merged from Hot Stove league exile with some possible destinations finally surfacing. Check out those possibilities plus a possible long-term contract for one Bluegrass pre-arbitration player:
Tracy Ringolsby of Foxsports.com reports the Rockies have targeted Bellarmine alum Todd Wellemeyer in their search to add pitching depth.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes the Giants are the favorites to sign Wellemeyer, and the Rockies are interested in a minor league deal.
Tim McKernan of 1380 AM in tweets the Mets are also in the picture.
Nick Piecoro reports the Diamondbacks and Pikeville-native Mark Reynolds have started negotiations for a long-term contract.
Piecoro also reports Ashland-native Brandon Webb has a bullpen session scheduled for Tuesday.
In the same buzz blog post, Ken Rosenthal writes the Blue Jays may flip University of Kentucky alum Scott Downs for prospects.
Debbie Harbsmeier of WHAS reports from UofL’s first two spring scrimmages.
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.
A few notes and news releases to pass along on a snow Saturday morning in Central Kentucky:
Kelly Thesier of MLB.com The Twins have offered a non-roster invitation to Spring Training for top prospect and Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere.
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports the Phillies have also invited University of Louisville alum B. J. Rosenberg to Spring Training.
After several moves in the coaching staffs of the upper minor league teams, the Houston Astros have promoted former Lexington Legends Travis Driskill and named Rick Aponte the new pitching coach in Lexington.
University of Kentucky athletics has a news release about Andy Green’s signing we reported earlier this week.
Eastern Kentucky University sports also has a news release about Josh Andserson’s signing we reported this week.