Adams balances time between two sports; Lueke could win spot in Mariners’ bullpen; Paxton to throw today

College Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Brian Adams; UK Athletics photo

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Walter Villa, writing for ESPN.com, profiles University of Kentucky sophomore outfielder Brian Adams, noting how the Cats’ speedster balances time between baseball and football.
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch compares Louisville native Zack Cox with another former top Cardinals prospect, Brett Wallace.
  • Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times reports Highland Heights native and former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke is among those competing for the spot in the Mariners’ bullpen vacated by the injured David Aardsma.
  • Greg Johns of MLB.com reports former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton will throw his first bullpen session on Friday.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports former WKU catcher Jordan Newton, who spend 2010 in the Pirates’ organization, has retired.
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Brandon Webb may be close to picking new team

Major League Baseball

Brandon Webb; Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr

Christmas may be over, but one MLB team appears poised to pick up a late gift in the form of Ashland native Brandon Webb:

  • Jason Stark of ESPN.com reports Webb is nearing a decision “closing in” on a decision as to which team he will sign with.
  • Stark reports the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals are no longer in the running for Webb’s services. He lists the Texas Rangers and a still-unidentified mystery NL Central team as the leaders for Webb. Stark speculates the Cardinals or Pirates may be the mystery team.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reports the Cincinnati Reds are the principal challenger to the Rangers.
  • Stark tweets that the Rangers are still the favorites, but other teams support the rumor that the Reds are not out of the running.

Royals take Nathan Adcock in Rule 5 Draft

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Nathan Adcock; Photo by mwlguide via Flickr

The Kansas City Royals selected Elizabethtown native Nathan Adcock with the fifth pick in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft this morning. The Royals must keep Adcock on the 25-man roster all season or return him to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the organization they selected him from. Adcock, who was the fifth-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 2006 draft out of North Hardin High School, was traded to Pittsburgh in July of 2009 in a deal that sent Jack Wilson to Seattle.

The Royals plan to give Adcock a shot to win a spot in the team’s starting rotation in Spring Training, but he could possibly stick with the team as a reliever if he doesn’t make the rotation. “If he doesn’t win a job as a starter, he could fit into the bullpen because he throws strikes. But he’s not the typical power reliever that you see out of the bullpen,” Royals assistant general manager J. J. Picollo told Dick Kaegel of MLB.com. Adcock was 11-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 27 games for high A Bradenton of the Florida State League in 2010. (Read more)

“If he doesn’t win a job as a starter, he could fit into the bullpen because he throws strikes. But he’s not the typical power reliever that you see out of the bullpen,” Picollo said.

D’Backs close to trading Mark Reynolds to Baltimore

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

 

Mark Reynolds; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Winter Meetings have officially started meaning baseball news will likely be coming frequently in the next few days. Remember to check back to BluGrass Baseball often for any Kentucky news, and follow us on Twitter here for up-to-the-minute updates. We’ll get the Winter MEetings started with a quick rundown of Kentucky news, including a likely trade of one Bluegrass State major leaguer:

 

  • Multiple reports have the Arizona Diamondbacks on the verge of trading third baseman Mark Reynolds, who was born in Pikeville, to the Baltimore Orioles. Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports the trade has been completed pending physicals.
  • Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the Pirates appear to have dropped out of the derby for former UK right-handed pitcher and Ashland native Brandon Webb.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas reports the Texas Rangers may also be interested in Webb.
  • Bubba Brown of Baseball America profiles University of Kentucky signee and Ohio prep outfielder Austin Cousino, who missed his junior season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Magnuson traded to A’s; Wade signs with Rays; Dials signs with Marlins; Webb garners free-agent interest

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

The Kentucky hot stove league kicked into full drive on Wednesday with a bevy of breaking news, most of which came via Twitter. Here’s a quick rundown of the pertinent news:

  • Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors reports former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson has been traded to the Oakland Athletics as part of the Rajai Davis deal.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets former Kentucky Wesleyan right-handed pitcher Cory Wade, who excelled during 2008 with the Dodgers, has signed a minor-league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Eddy also reports via Twitter that former UK right-handed pitcher Zach Dials has signed a minor-league contract with the Florida Marlins.
  • Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports the Dodgers, Pirates, Twins and Rangers have all expressed interest in former UK right-handed pitcher and Ashland native Brandon Webb. Crasnick notes the Nationals, Reds and Cardinals may also be interested.

Gaynor named Tigers’ all star; Nidiffer, Legends named Astros’ all stars; Reber homers in UK scrimmage

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Jacob Goebbert; BluGrass Baseball photo

Latest links and highlights from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Ashley Marshall, writing for MLB.com, named former WKU third baseman Wade Gaynor to the Detroit Tigers organizational all-star team.
  • Josh Jackson, writing for MLB.com, named former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer and 2010 Lexington Legends infielder Jose Altuve, outfielders J. D. Martinez and Jacob Goebbert, designated hitter Kody Hinze and starting pitcher Jose Cisnero to the Houston Astros organizational all-star team.
  • The University of Kentucky‘s Thursday scrimmage was highlighted by a three-run home run from freshman infielder Dallen Reber.
  • Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review lists Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer as a possible free-agent acquisition for the Pirates.
  • Former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke struck out two in a scoreless inning for the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League.

Black, Ijames, Davis, Rice among Kentucky draftees who turned down professional contracts

College Baseball, High School Baseball

Matt Rice bats for WKU: BluGrass Baseball photo

While Louisville native Zack Cox and Danville native Blake Perry signed professional contracts before Monday’s midnight draft signing deadline, 16 other Kentucky draftees did not and will head to college in the coming weeks. UK shortstop Taylor Black, UofL outfielder Stewart Ijames, WKU  right-handed pitcher Rye Davis, NKU left-handed pitcher David Middendorf and WKU catcher Matt Rice were the Kentucky collegians who elected to return to school rather than sign deals with their professional clubs. Lexington native Casey Lucchese, the Cubs’ 39th round pick, will return to the College of Charleston for his senior season in 2011.

Ohio high school right-handed pitcher Dace Kime, the Pirates’ eight-round pick, was the highest drafted Kentucky player to choose college and will attend the University of Louisville this fall. UofL signee Chad Green, an Illinois right-handed pitcher and Blue Jays 37th round pick, also will play for the Cards in 2011. (Update 8/23: This item has been updated to correct previous error about UofL signee Joel Bender, who did sign with Reds)

Mr. Kentucky Baseball and Western Hills High School infielder/right-handed pitcher J. T. Riddle, the Red Sox’ 35th round pick; Lexington Christian Academy outfielder Lucas Witt, the Dodgers’ 38th round pick; and Trinity High School left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell, the Nationals’ 42nd round pick, will each play for the University of Kentucky in 2011 rather than sign pro deals. UK out-of-state commitments Jonathan Bobea, a New York right-handed pitcher and Angles’ 19th round pick, and Matt Reida, an Indiana infielder and White Sox 47th round pick, will also suit up for the Cats in 2011.

Hopkinsville High School right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman, the first Kentucky high schooler selected in the 2010 draft as the Royals 32nd round pick, will follow through on his commitment to Western Kentucky University. Former Boone County High School outfielder Ronald Cotton, the White Sox’ 45th round pick, will play for the University of Cincinnati next season. In all 31 of 48 players with Kentucky ties selected in the 2010 draft have signed professional contracts as well as six non-drafted free agents. Former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton, the Mariners’ fourth-round pick, has yet to sign a pro deal but wasn’t restricted by the Monday deadline as he pitched in independent ball in 2010.

Draft signing deadline morning notes

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

The deadline for drafted players to sign with their professional teams is tonight at midnight, meaning college coaches from around the state will be holding their breath to learn the status of some of their would-be freshmen and returning players. I thought I’d give a quick refresher about where some of the unsigned players stand before the deadline:

  • Pleasure Ridge Park alum and Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox is the lone first rounder among Bluegrass draftees, but all indications point to him signing before the deadline. Cox is a draft-eligible sophomore so he has enough leverage that he probably won’t sign until a few hours, if not minutes, before the deadline. Draft expert Jim Callis of Baseball America is on record as predicting Cox will sign with the Cardinals.
  • Seattle Mariners fourth-round pick James Paxton, the former University of Kentucky left-handed pitcher, is unsigned but is not restricted by the midnight deadline as he pitched in an independent league in 2010. Don’t expect any movement on Paxton today, as his agent Scott Boras has plenty of other first-round draftees to negotiate for before the deadline.
  • Danville native Blake Perry, a right-handed pitcher who played high school ball in Florida in 2010 and has signed to play collegiately at UK, is still in negotiations with the Arizona Diamondbacks as the team’s sixth round pick. Arizona has evidently cut off negotiations with its first-round pick, leaving Perry as the team’s highest drafted unsigned player. Negotiations are expected to last through the day, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports.
  • University of Louisville signee Dace Kime, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ eighth-round pick, has said he will attend UofL, though Kendall Rogers of Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com tweeted over the weekend Kime to UofL wasn’t a 100 percent lock.
  • Keep in mind this stat from Callis and BA: Last season clubs signed 93 percent of all players drafted in the first 10 rounds. Callis also notes big signing bonuses after the 10th round are the exception rather than the rule.
  • As for the rest of the unsigned players, it appears likely most if not all of the Kentuckians drafted after the 25th round will end up at their respective schools in the fall. However there might be a surprise or two among the group so keep checking the BluGrass Baseball twitter feed all day for updates.

Several high school draftees look likely to attend college

College Baseball, High School Baseball

With the weekend deadline for MLB draft picks to sign looming, several of the Kentucky high school prospects selected in the 2010 appear ready to head to college. Ohio prep left-handed pitcher and University of Louisville signee Dace Kime, the eighth round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, told Tim McDonough of The Crescent-News in Defiance, Ohio, that he would follow through on his committment to UofL instead of signing with the Pirates. “The more I waited around (for the Pirates) and the more I was around Louisville, the more persuaded I became to go to school,” Kime told McDonough. “My mom didn’t know about my decision, my dad (Jay Kime) didn’t know about my decision, I just made it and let Louisville know I was coming. Then I told my parents.”

Similarly Mr. Kentucky Baseball, J. T. Riddle, the Western Hills High School shortstop/pitcher and Boston Red Sox 35th round selection, told Linda Younkin of The State Journal in Frankfort he would follow through on his commitment to the University of Kentucky. “After being drafted there was some thought about not going [to UK], but the Red Sox had come back and said that where my shoulder was injured they couldn’t offer what I was asking and so that really put that down the drain, and I just decided to go on to UK,” Riddle told Younkin. In July the Courier-Journal also reported Trinity High School right-handed pitcher Corey Littrell, the Nationals’ 42nd round pick and Louisville Slugger player of the year, would attend UK.

Indiana prep infielder Matt Reida, the White Sox 47th round pick, told the Kokomo Tribune in Indiana after the draft he was likely following through on his commitment to UK and has given no indication to the contrary since. Boone County High School outfielder Ronald Cotton, the White Sox 45th round pick, committed to play collegiate ball at the University of Cincinnati in July, one month after the draft. I’ve found no media reports about the status of Hopkinsville High School right-handed pitcher and WKU signee Justin Hageman, Lexington Christian Academy outfielder and UK signee Lucas Witt or UofL signees Joel Bender and Chad Green. Since each of those players was drafted after the 25th round the chances of them attending school are good.

The Kentucky high school player who appears most likely to sign a professional contract is Danville native Blake Perry, a right-handed pitcher who signed with UK but was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth round. Perry told The Advocate-Messenger in late July he still had no idea whether he would sign or not, but he figures to garner a six-figure signing bonus if he choses to go to Arizona. Earlier this week Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported the Diamondbacks were still working to sign Perry.

Draft Update: 18 Kentucky draftees have yet to sign

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

We’re just over three weeks from the Aug. 16 deadline for Major League teams to sign their non-college senior draft picks, so I thought we’d look at the remaining Kentucky draftees who have yet to sign. Remember over-slot deals aren’t announced until the deadline so some of these players may have agreed to deals that haven’t been announced yet:

  • 3B — Zack Cox — Louisville (University of Arkansas) — 1st Round — St. Louis Cardinals
  • LHP — James Paxton — University of Kentucky (Ind. League) — 4th Round — Seattle Mariners
  • RHP — Blake Perry — Danville (Pendleton Academy, Fla.) — 6th Round — Arizona Diamondbacks
  • RHP — Dace Kime — Ohio HS (University of Louisville Signee) — 8th Round — Pittsburgh Pirates
  • LHP — Joel Bender — Ohio HS (UofL Signee) — 27th Round — Cincinnati Reds
  • SS — Taylor Black — University of Kentucky — 28th Round — St. Louis Cardinals
  • OF — Stewart Ijames — UofL — 29th Round — New York Yankees
  • RHP — Justin Hageman — Hopkinsville High School — 32nd Round — Kansas City Royals
  • SS — J. T. Riddle — Western Hills High School — 35th Round — Boston Red Sox
  • RHP — Rye Davis — Western Kentucky University — 36th Round — Cleveland Indians
  • RHP — Chad Green — Illinois HS (UofL Signee) — 37th Round — Toronto Blue Jays
  • OF — Lucas Witt — Lexington Christian Academy — 38th Round — Los Angeles Dodgers
  • RHP — Casey Lucchese — Lexington (College of Charleston) — 39th Round — Chicago Cubs
  • LHP — Corey Littrell — Louisville Trinity — 42nd Round — Washington Nationals
  • LHP — David Middendorf — Northern Kentucky University — 44th Round — New York Yankees
  • OF — Ronald Cotton — Boone County High School — 45th Round — Chicago White Sox
  • INF — Matt Reida — Indiana HS (UK Signee) — 47th Round — Chicago White Sox
  • C — Matt Rice — WKU — 50th Round — New York Yankees

Rice has already gone on record with his intentions to return to WKU for his senior season, but the final destinations for the other players are at least relatively uncertain. It’s probably safe to assume most of the high schoolers drafted in the later rounds will follow through on their college commitments, barring a team paying way over the slot recommendation to sign them.