Mr. Ky. Baseball: Where are they now?

High School Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Austin Kearns; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

We did this last summer, but with Monday’s announcement that Western Hills shortstop J. T. Riddle had been named the 2010 Mr. Baseball it’s always fun to look back on previous Mr. Baseballs and see where they are today. Check out the list below with each player’s most recent baseball affiliation:

  • 2010: J. T. Riddle (Western Hills) — Riddle has signed to play college ball at the University of Kentucky in 2011 and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 35th round of the 2010 MLB draft.
  • 2009: Luke Maile (Covington Catholic) — Maile is a rising sophomore at UK and was 7-25 with three home runs and six RBI in limited action as a freshman.
  • 2008: Zack Cox (Pleasure Ridge Park) — Spent 2010 as a sophomore at Arkansas where he was named an All-American by several outlets after batting .429. Cox was the first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2010 MLB draft.
  • 2007: Ben Revere (Lexington Catholic) — Revere was the Minnesota Twins’ first round pick in 2007 and has done nothing but hit in his Minor League career. Revere is currently batting .307 with 21 stolen bases for the AA New Britain Rock Cats and was named the fifth best prospect in the Twins’ system by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season.
  • 2006: Nathan Adcock (North Hardin) — After three and one-half mediocre season in the Seattle Mariners’ organization Adcock was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009 as part of the Jack Wilson trade. Adcock is having his best season to date in 2010 for the high A Bradenton Marauders where he is 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 13 starts.
  • 2005: Chaz Roe (Lafayette) — Roe was the Colorado Rockies’ first-supplemental round pick in the 2005 MLB draft and has worked his way through the Minor Leagues to AAA. Last year was Roe’s best season to date when he went 7-3 with a 3.15 ERA for AA Tulsa, but he has struggled so far in 2010 to the tune of a 5-7 record and 5.86 ERA in hitter-friendly AAA Colorado Springs.
  • 2004: Collin Cowgill (Henry Clay) — Cowgill was a standout in his four seasons at UK and has continued to excel in professional baseball after the Arizona Diamondbacks took him with their fifth-round pick in 2008. Named the ninth best prospect in the D’Backs farm system by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season, Cowgill is batting .280 with five home runs and 43 RBI for AA Mobile this season.
  • 2003: Josh Ellis (Paul Laurence Dunbar) — While older brother A.J. Ellis has carved a niche for himself as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ backup catcher this season, Josh is still working his way through the Diamobacks system after the team selected him in the 11th round of the 2007 draft. Ellis is 1-0 with a  2.86 ERA in 18 relief appearances between AAA Reno and AA Mobile this season.
  • 2002: Brad Corley (Pleasure Ridge Park) — Corley was the Pirates second-round pick as an outfielder in 2005 and was named the tenth best prospect in the team’s system by Baseball America entering the 2008 season. Corely’s career stalled after that honor. and he hasn’t advanced past AA since. He was acquired by Colorado in 2009 and is currently playing for short-season Tri-City as he attempts to become a full-time pitcher.
  • 2001: Jeremy Sowers (Ballard) — Sowers was the Indian’s first-round pick in 2004 out of Vanderbilt University and has appeared in 72 games over parts of four season with the Indians. Sowers is 18-30 as a MLB starting pitcher, and he is currently struggling to the tune of a 1-4 record and 6.49 ERA as a left-handed reliever for AAA Columbus.
  • 2000: Spencer Graeter (Ballard) — Greater batted .307 with 14 home runs and 98 RBI in four seasons for UK from 2001-2004 but never appeared in affiliated ball.
  • 1999: Joe Blanton (Franklin-Simpson) — Blanton has appeared in two World Series and even earned a victory in game four of the Philadelphia Phillies World Series win in 2008. Blanton is just 2-5 with a 6.96 ERA in eight starts for Philadelphia this season, but is 65-59 with a 4.34 ERA in seven MLB seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Phillies.
  • 1998: Austin Kearns (Lafayette) — Kearns won a job as a reserve outfielder with the Cleveland Indians in Spring Training and has worked his way into a starting role. On the season Kearns is batting .288 with seven home runs an 32 RBI. In nine MLB seasons, Kearns has batted .258 with 112 home runs and 454 RBI with the Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals and Indians.
  • 1997: Scott Hodges (Henry Clay) — Hodges was the Montreal Expos’ first-round pick in 1997 and spent nine seasons in the Minor Leagues appearing as high as AAA. In 2005 he was diagnosed with lymphoma, ending his career.
  • 1996: Aaron McGlone (Greenup Co.) — McGlone batted .345 with eight home runs and 51 RBI for UK in 2000, but never appeared in affiliated ball.
  • 1995: Brad Wilkerson (Apollo) — Wilkerson spent parts of eights season in the Major Leagues, batting .247 with 122 home runs and 399 RBI for the Expos, Washington Nationals, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. He retired in 2008 before briefly making a comeback with the Phillies during Spring Training this season only to announce his retirement for good.
  • 1994: Scott Downs (Pleasure Ridge Park) — Downs was the Chicago Cubs’ third-round pick in 1997 out of UK, and has spent parts of ten season in the big leagues. Over the past four seasons he has carved out a niche as one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2010 he is 2-5 with a 3.34 ERA in 34 games for the Blue Jays.
  • 1993: Dion Newby (Harrison Co.) — Newby played collegiately at North Alabama but never appeared in affiliated ball.
  • 1992: Shon Walker (Harrison Co.) — Walker was the Pirates first-round pick in 1992 and last appeared in affiliated ball in 1998 at High A Lynchburg.
  • 1991: Trever Miller (Trinity) — Miller’s long Major League career is still going strong as a left-handed reliever in the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen. Miller is 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 25 games for the Cardinals this season and is 18-16 with a 4.17 ERA over 12 MLB seasons. Miller was the Detroit Tigers’ first-round pick in 1991.
  • 1990: Darren Burton (Pulaski Co.) — Burton was the Royals’ fifth-round pick in 1990 and last appeared in affiliated ball at AA Altoona in 2001. He spent parts of six seasons in AAA.
  • 1989: Tab Brown (St. Xavier) — Brown was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1989 and spent at least two seasons in the Braves’ organization.

BluGrass Baseball Spring Training battle update

Major League Baseball

Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr

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

Hit the jump for the concluded competitions.

BluGrass Baseball Spring Training position battles

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

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

Hit the jump to see more spring position battles.

Adcock, Duncan just miss inclusion in BA’s handbook

Minor League Baseball

David Duncan; Photo: Lexington Legends

Baseball America‘s Prospect Handbook is the single most important book for coverage of minor league baseball released every year. BA ranks the top 30 prospects from each organization plus the top 100 prospects in the game in its pages every year. Starting last year they also added a No. 31 prospect supplement for each organization to those who order the book directly from them. Every year several scouting reports get cut from the final edition of the book due to talent added to an organization through trades or late judgment calls. BA releases these reports online in its annual 32nd team, and this year two Kentucky-related minor leaguers made the cut. (Enitre 32nd Team)

RHP Nathan Adcock — Radcliff, Ky. — Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Adcock hasn’t lived up to his billing as a fifth-round draft pick out of Central Hardin yet as a professional. The Pirates acquired him from the Mariners at the trade deadline in the Jack Wilson deal, but his performance didn’t improve after the trade. Adcock was 8-9 with a 5.29 ERA and 86 strikeouts to go with 61 walks in 126 innings.
  • BA: “To find success against more advanced hitters, he’ll have to throw more strikes and locate his pitches better in the zone. Adcock needs to make a lot of strides if he’s going to cut it as a starter, and he may project better as a reliever. He likely will begin 2010 in Double-A.”

LHP David Duncan — Lexington Legends — Houston Astros

  • Duncan joined the Legends midseason after struggling to adjust to High A ball, but he quickly showed why the Astros think highly of him after the demotion. In 10 games with Lexington, Duncan was 4-4 with a 4.29 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. On the season he was 4-14 with a 5.73 ERA and 102 strikeouts to go with just 29 walks in 125.2 innings between three levels. (David also shares a birthday with a certain Kentucky baseball blogger).
  • BA: “Though he doesn’t miss many bats, he does do a good job of keeping the ball on the ground. Some scouts think he profiles better as a reliever than as a starter. He’ll return to Lancaster in 2010.”

BA is also having a day-long chat to celebrate the release of the handbook. You should stop by for some great info. Already the BA staff has revealed 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rod Keyong Kang will rank No. 31 in the Rays’ supplement.

2010 may be Webb’s last season in Arizona

Major League Baseball

Brandon Webb; Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr

Last week we linked an ESPN.com profile of Brandon Webb, now Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic uses one quote from that story to conclude Webb may not be in Arizona past 2010. The Ashland native will be a free agent following this season, but he has expressed some interest in negotiating a contract extension with the Diamondbacks. Arizona has been reluctant to commit a long-term extension to Webb until the team learns how his shoulder has recovered.

Webb told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick of his future:

We’ve had a great time in Arizona, and if everything works out and we stay here, that would be good. But to get back close to home (in Kentucky) would be just as good. I’m definitely keeping it open. I’m not going to hold myself down to just Arizona.”

Piecoro doesn’t see the perfect scenario of a good 2010 for Webb and contract extension from Arizona coming to fruition. If Webb is looking to move closer to home Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta, Pittsburgh or Philadelphia could all make geographical sense. The Indians and Pirates seem like unlikely candidates to shell out the money Webb will likely receive though. Cincinnati normally would be ruled out for a high-priced free agent, but that’s as close to a hometown situation as it gets in Ashland. (Read more)

BA answers Kentucky prospect questions

Minor League Baseball

During two recent NL Central top prospect chats, Baseball America correspondents answered questions about Kentucky prospects that I wanted to hire. The Houston Astros chat saw several Lexington Legends questions, but I wanted to highlight one in particular (mostly because I asked it). During the Pittsburgh Pirates chat Hardin County alum Nathan Adcock also was mentioned.

Jon (Lexington, KY): I know he’s old, but will Brian Pellegrini warrant top 30 consideration? He did break Hunter Pence’s Lexington home run record

    Ben Badler: He had a great year and he’s in consideration for the back end of the top 30 just because he does have some power, but he is a 23-year-old in low Class A who’s limited defensively and doesn’t handle breaking balls well.

Dave (PA): What can you tell me about a couple of young pitchers the Pirates acquired, Nathan Adcock and Hunter Strickland? Will they be in the Top 30?

    John Perrotto: Strickland was throwing 94 mph at the end of the season and it looks like the Pirates might have something in him. Adcock is a decent prospect. One is in the top 30 and one isnt’. The Prospect Handbook will reveal the answer.

UK, UofL bring in top recruiting classes

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

uk-uoflAaron Fitt at Baseball America has ranked the top 25 college baseball recruiting classes and two Kentucky schools are on the list. Fitt ranks Kentucky’s 13-man class 15th and Louisville’s 13-man class 25th. The story is subscriber-only content so I won’t steal BA’s punchline too much, however I will tell you the Cats were ranked sixth among Southeastern Conference schools, behind No. 1 Florida and former UK Coach John Cohen’s No. 8 Mississippi State. The Mississippi State class is Cohen’s first complete recruiting class at his alma mater.

Here’s a look at both UK’s and UofL’s classes, with draft status included:

15) University of Kentucky:

  • LHP Taylor Rogers — Orioles (37th round)
  • RHP Jordan Cooper — Pirates (17th round)
  • C Luke Maile — Red Sox (43rd round) — Covington Catholic
  • RHP/OF Sam Kidd — Phillies (39th round) — Ohio Co.
  • OF Brian Adams — Reds (45th round)
  • RHP Joey Devine — JUCO
  • SS Taylor Back — JUCO
  • RHP Kyle Jackson — JUCO
  • OF/1B Lance Ray — JUCO
  • RHP John Carlson
  • C Michael Thomas
  • INF Tyler Townsend
  • RHP Walter Wijas

25) University of Louisville:

  • RHP Matt Koch — Red Sox (37th round)
  • LHP Brian Feekin — Phillies (44th round)
  • 1b/LHP Zak Wasserman– Giants (21st round)
  • C Asaad Ali — Angels (40th round)
  • SS Kyle Grieshaber — Marquette
  • 1B Mike Morrison — JUCO
  • C J. J. Ethel — JUCO
  • RHP Andy Flett
  • OF Jarred Clarkson — Shelby Co.
  • 3b Cade Stallings
  • OF Drew Fitzpatrick
  • RHP Curtis McCombs — Ballard HS
  • RHP Tyler Boraz

BA predicts left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers and JUCO transfer OF/1B Lance Ray will have the biggest impact in 2010 for UK. Shortstop Taylor Back was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America at Charleston Southern in 2008. Fitt says third baseman Cade Stallings could step in and play the hot corner for UofL immediately while Clarkson is the Cards’ centerfielder of the future.

Draft Update: Friday Aug. 14

College Baseball, Major League Baseball
Photo: UK Athletics
Photo: UK Athletics

So far, so good on the wisdom teeth recovery, so I’m cranking out more posts than I anticipated today.  With just three days left until the Aug. 17 deadline for MLB draft picks to sign, I thought we’d check in on the unsigned Kentucky players againg.  Baseball America reported today the UK pitcher James Paxton was seeking an over-slot bonus and that Davies County alum Tyler Blandford might receive an over-slot bonus.  (Contract status is according to Baseball America’s draft database)

UK Players and Signees

  • LHP James Paxton — 1st Supp. (37) Toronto Blue Jays
  • RHP Jordan Cooper — 17th Round Pittsburgh Pirates — Central HS, Shelbyville, Tenn.
  • LHP Taylor Rogers — 37th Round Baltimore Orioles — Chatfield HS, Littleton, Colo.
  • RHP Sam Kidd — 39th Round Philadelphia Phillies — Ohio County High School, Hartford, Ky.
  • C Luke Maile — 43rd Round Boston Red Sox — Covington Catholic HS, Park Hills, Ky.
  • OF Brian Adams  (Football)– 45th Round Cincinnati Reds — South Forysth HS, Cumming, Ga.

UofL Players and Signees

  • 1b Andrew Clark — 31st Round Chicago Cubs
  • RHP Matt Koch — 37th Round Boston Red Sox — Washington HS, Cherokee, Iowa

WKU Players and Signees

  • RHP Matt Ridings — 25th Round Washington Nationals

Other Kentucky Natives

  • RHP Tyler Blandford — Davies County High School; Oklahoma State — 5th round Seattle Mariners
  • RHP Daniel Webb — Heath High School, Paducah, Ky.; Northwest Florida State JC — 18th round Toronto Blue Jays
  • RHP Patrick Cooper — Boyle County, Ky.; Des Moines Area CC — 34th round Arizona Diamondbacks
  • 1b Jon Hedges — Owensboro, Ky., Olney Central College — 43rd round Minnesota Twins
  • RHP James Jones — Ballard County High School, John A Logan College — 45th round Cleveland Indians
  • RHP Tim Dunn — Carlisle County High School, Tevecca Nazarene University — 46th Round Cincinatti Reds

Kentucky pitcher James Paxton is the only one of the listed players who is almost certain to sign, and Davies County product Tyler Blandford was said to have second-round talent so the Mariners might offer him over slot money to not return to Oklahoma State.  The news about UK football recruit Brian Adams’ blood clot most likely ends any chance of him signing with the Reds.

Adcock Part of Seven-Player Deal

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Nathan Adcock

Hardin County native Nathan Adcock has been sent from the Seattle Mariners to the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of a seven-player deal that nets the Mariners SS Jack Wilson and LHP Ian Snell.  Adcock was the Mariners fifth-round pick in the 2006 draft out of North Hardin High School. 

Before the draft Baseball America said Adcock feature a 90 mph fastball with a better breaking ball than fellow Kentucky prospect Clint Tilford (now pitching for short-season Casper).  Adcock was pitching for the high A High Desert Mavericks where he was 5-7 with a 5.29 ERA.  In 2008 Adcock was 2-5 with a 3.72 ERA for low A Wisconsin of the Midwest League.