Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton will be in Seattle Wednesday to take a physical in advance of signing his contract with the Mariners as the team’s fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks former EKU left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich the No. 3 prospect in the Colorado Rockies’ farm system.
Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports the Arizona Diamondbacks have released former Campbellsville University catcher Richie Rowland, who signed with the team as a non-drafted free agent in 2010 and batted .291 with five home runs, 34 RBI and 19 runs scored in 67 games for rookie-level Missoula during his professional debut.
Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb is taking his return from injury one step at a time and for now pitching in a Spring Training game still isn’t on the radar.
Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer has no hard feelings toward the San Fransisco Giants after the team released him last August. “I was the biggest fan of them in Kentucky, guaranteed,” Wellemeyer told Muskate of his rooting interest during the playoffs last season.
Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today reports Cincinnati Reds left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman had a difficult time adapting to U.S. culture while in Louisville last season, but Louisville Bats trainer Tomas Vera has become a friend and confidant for the Cuban defector.
We are a couple of days late with our look back at Kentucky baseball in 2010, but hopefully you can spare one more retrospective with this look at the year’s best highlight from each level of baseball in the Bluegrass State.
MLB Highlight: Corey Hart completes breakout season
Bowling Green native and Greenwood High School alum Corey Hart batted .283 with 31 home runs, 102 RBI, 91 runs scored and 158 hits in 2010 for the Milwaukee Brewers. Along the way Hart started for the National League in the MLB All-Star Game, signed a three-year contract extension and participated in the home run derby. Hart recorded career highs in home runs, RBI and runs scored in 2010 and finished the year in the running for Kentucky’s best MLB hitter.
One-time Louisville Bats Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto named MLB MVPs.
MiLB Highlight: Kipnis caps season with AAA playoff cycle
One-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis ended an impressive 2010 season by hitting for the cycle for the Columbus Clippers after being promoted to AAA for the team’s playoff run. Kipnis batted .307 with 16 home runs, 74 RBI and 96 runs scored across two levels during the regular season. Kipnis finished his college career as an all-American after transferring to Arizona State and has certainly followed through on the promise that led Cleveland to select him in the second round of the 2009 draft. Kipnis enters 2011 with a chance to make the Indians’ MLB roster out of Spring Training.
Non-drafted free agents Richie Rowland, Marcus Nidiffer and Tyler Gatrell excel in professional debuts.
College Highlight: UofL wins second consecutive Big East title
The University of Louisville clinched its second straight Big East Conference championship with a double-header sweep of Notre Dame on May 23. The Cards were eliminated from the NCAA tournament one win shy of the super regional, but were on cloud nine after outscoring the Fighting Irish 23-6 in the championship-clinching series. UofL sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright put together an All-American season, and the Cards boasted a state-high 10 MLB draftees.
Murray St. first baseman Wes Cunningham completes All-American season.
High School Highlight: Harrison County wins fourth title
Freshman starting pitcher Jordan Martin led Harrison County High School to its fourth KHSAA baseball championship with a complete-game championship-clinching win. The champions defeated Butler County High School 2-1 to win the title and ended the season on a 24-game winning streak. Harrison County placed two players on the KHSBCA all-state teams and three players on the KHSAA All-Tournament team during the state playoffs. Junior outfielder Eric Sanders was named the MVP of the state tournament.
Honorable Mention: Western Hills shortstop J. T. Riddle wins “Mr. Baseball.”
Baseball America has released its annual draft report cards for each of the 30 MLB organization’s. Kentucky saw 57 players with some tie to the Bluegrass State drafted this season, so it is no surprise that several Kentucky players were mentioned in the draft report cards. Check out those report cards below, remembering that all links require a subscription:
John Manuel ranks PRP alum and St. Louis Cardinals’ first-round pick Zack Cox the best hitter, best power hitter and closest to the majors from the Cardinals’ draft.
Jim Callis ranks former UK infielder Chris Bisson the best athlete in the San Diego Padres’ draft and one of the best runners.
Manuel ranks former UK outfielder Lance Ray one of the three best pure hitters from the Minnesota Twins’ draft.
Callis lists Paducah native Jonathan Roof among Texas Rangers’ draftees with the most intriguing background, noting the Roof family’s baseball prominence.
Callis mentions former Morehead St. infielder and Mount Sterling native Drew Lee among the Chicago White Sox’s best professional debuts.
Manuel lists Campbellsville University non-drafted free agent catcher Richie Rowland in the intriguing background category of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ report card as he teamed with his brother at rookie-level Missoula.
Callis mentions Lexington native Jeremy Shelby among the fastest runners and most intriguing backgrounds in the Baltimore Orioles’ draft.
Earlier this week BluGrass Baseball unveiled its 2010 minor league hitter, pitcher and rookie of the year awards. Jake Shaffer, Nathan Adcock and Marcus Nidiffer weren’t the only Kentucky minor leaguers to excel in 2010, and with that in mind here are the standout Kentucky performers at each position:
Catcher: Richie Rowland (Missoula Osprey)
Former Campbellsville catcher and 2010 Diamondbacks NDFA Richie Rowland spent a lot of time at designated hitter for rookie-level Missoula, but Rowland stands out among players who caught this season. Rowland batted .291 with five home runs, 34 RBI and 19 runs scored in 67 games.
First baseman: Marcus Nidiffer (Tri-City Valley Cats)
Former UK catcher and 2010 Astros NDFA Marcus Nidiffer moved from behind the plate to first base as a professional and let his bat do the talking. Nidiffer slugged 14 home runs and batted .286 in 69 games en route to being named BluGrass Baseball rookie of the year. Nidiffer should open 2011 with the Lexington Legends.
Second baseman: Jason Kipnis (Akron Aeros)
One-time UK outfielder Jason Kipnis transferred to Arizona State, where he became a NCAA all-American, and has done nothing but hit since being drafted by the Indians. Kipnis, who moved to second base as a professional, batted .307 with 16 home runs, 74 RBI and 96 runs scored for AA Akron in 2010.
Third baseman: Chris Dominguez (Augusta GreenJackets)
Former UofL infielder and Giants prospect Chris Dominguez led all Kentucky minor leaguers with 21 home runs and 101 RBI in 2010. Dominguez batted .272 with 85 runs scored for low A Augusta and added 14 stolen bases for good measure.
Shortstop: Drew Lee (Bristol White Sox)
Former Morehead St. shortstop and 2010 White Sox draftee Drew Lee played primarily at second base during his first professional season, but shortstop remains the weakest position for Kentucky minor leaguers so he slots in here on the All MiLB team. Lee batted .282 with five home runs, 39 RBI and 32 runs scored in 62 games for rookie-level Bristol.
Outfielder: Jake Shaffer (High Desert Mavericks)
Former NKU outfielder and 2010 BluGrass Baseball hitter of the year Jake Shaffer led all Kentucky minor leaguers with a .336 batting average in 2010. Shaffer also slugged nine home runs and tallied 78 RBI. Shaffer also led Kentuckians in on-base and slugging percentage.
Outfielder: Ben Revere (New Britain Rock Cats)
Lexington Catholic alum and Twins farmhand Ben Revere battled through adversity in 2010 to post another solid season. Revere batted .305 with 44 runs scored and 36 stolen bases for AA New Britain. His season appeared to end early after being hit in the face by a pitch in August, but Revere returned to New Britain in late September and earned a surprise call-up to Minnesota.
Outfielder: Collin Cowgill (Mobile BayBears)
Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill was among the top five Kentucky minor leaguers in almost every major offensive category. Cowgill batted .285 with 16 home runs, 83 RBI and 89 runs scored for AA Mobile. Cowgill also stole 25 bases on the season.
Designated hitter: Wade Gaynor (West Michigan Whitecaps)
If not for Chris Dominguez’s power surge, former WKU infielder Wade Gaynor would be the third baseman on this team but instead he slots in as the designated hitter. Gaynor batted .286 with 10 home runs, 80 RBI and 91 runs scored for low A West Michigan and is in the running for Detroit Tigers MiLB player of the year.
North Hardin alum and BluGrass Baseball pitcher of the year Nathan Adcock stood out among Kentucky pitchers with an 11-7 record and 3.38 ERA in 2010. Adcock struck out 113 batters and walked just 28 in 141.1 innings pitched for high A Bradenton.
Relief pitcher: Josh Lueke (Tacoma Rainiers)
Former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke was traded to the Seattle Mariners organization midseason in the Cliff Lee trade and has elicited controversy in Seattle since due to his past legal trouble, but there is no denying his success on the mound in 2010. Lueke finished the season 5-1 with a 1.86 ERA and 17 saves in 50 games between four different teams. He struck out 94 batters and walked just 15 in 63 innings pitched.
Yesterday we looked at the hitting and pitching leaderboards for full-season Kentucky minor leaguers in advance of the BluGrass Baseball MiLB awards post. If you saw that post you already know former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer was named the rookie of the year, but looking at the statistical leaders among players that made their professional debuts in 2010 is still helpful.
While draftees may have garnered most of the headlines Monday, current minor leaguers were also in action. Check out some highlights from Monday Kentucky MiLB play:
The Bowling Green Hot Rods snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-0 win over Great Lakes. Left-handed reliever Aaron Dott earned the win after holding the Loon scoreless on three hits in four innings.
In the completion of a previously suspended game, the Lexington Legends mustered just five hits in a 5-3 loss to West Virginia. Right-handed reliever Wander Alvino took the loss after surrendering two unearned runs in three and two-third innings.
In game two the Legends used seven innings of one run ball from left-handed pitcher Luis Cruz for a 7-1 win over the Power. Left fielder Jacob Goebbert was 2-3 with four RBI and a run scored.
The Louisville Bats were off.
Former Morehead St. shortstop and 2010 White Sox draftee Drew Lee was 3-5 with two home runs, three RBI and two runs scored for rookie-level Bristol.
Former Campbellsville catcher and 2010 Diamondbacks’ NDFA Richie Rowland slugged his fifth home run of the season for rookie-level Missoula.
Louisville native Seth Bynum slugged his 12th home run of the season for AAA Syracuse.
Lexington native and 2010 Nationals draftee Tyler Oliver was 2-3 with a double, home run, five RBI and two runs scored for the rookie-level GCL Nationals.
Former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke earned his first win for AA Tacoma and improved to 5-2 on the season with two innings of relief.
Trinity High School alum Tyler Kuhn was 3-6 with a run scored and two walks in a double header for AA Birmingham.
The Louisville Bats recorded a 3-2 win over Gwinnet behind right-handed pitcher Matt Maloney, who surrendered just two runs in six and two-third innings. First baseman Todd Frazier was 2-3 with a run scored.
The Lexington Legends scored three runs in the bottom of the tenth inning to earn a come-from-behind 9-8 win over Savannah. Second baseman Jose Altuve was 4-5 with a run scored, and left fielder Jacob Goebbert drove home the winning run with a single.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods held off a late Cedar Rapids rally to earn a 5-3 win. Third baseman Bennett Davis was 2-3 with a run scored and two RBI.
Former UofL infielder Chris Dominguez was 3-4 with a home run, five RBI and two runs scored for low A Augusta.
Former UofL right-handed pitcher and 2010 White Sox drafteeThomas Royse took a no decision despite surrendering just one run on two hits in six innings for rookie-level Great Falls. Royse struck out six and walked none.
Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill was 2-4 with his eleventh home run of the season, one RBI and one run scored for AA Mobile.
Former UK outfielder and 2010 Twins draftee Lance Ray slugged his second home run of the season for low A Beloit.
Former UofL infielder and 2010 Rays draftee Phil Wunderlich slugged his third professional home run for short-season Hudson Valley.
Former WKU catcher Jordan Newton slugged his first home run of the season since returning to affiliated ball with high A Bradenton.
Former Campbellsville catcher and 2010 Diamondbacks NDFA Richie Rowland was 3-4 with a double, walk and two RBI for rookie-level Missoula.
Frankfort native and 2010 Royals draftee Cameron Conner slugged his first professional home run for the rookie-level AZL Royals.
Danville native and 2010 Tigers draftee Patrick Cooper took a no decision after surrendering four runs in six innings for short-season Connecticut.
The Lexington Legends jumped out to a 6-0 lead and held on for a 7-4 win over the Hickory Crawdads. Outfielder J. D. Martinez was 2-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods fell into an early 7-2 hole and the team’s rally fell just short in a 7-6 loss to the Burlington Bees. First baseman Ryan Wiegand was 2-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored.
Louisville Bats infielder Chris Valaika was 1-3 with a double and one of two International League runs scored in the IL’s 2-1 in over the Pacific Coast League in the AAA All-Star Game.
Lexington Catholic alum and Twins outfield prospect Ben Revere was 0-2 with a RBI, and former UofL right-handed pitcher and current Blue Jays prospect Trystan Magnuson retired both batters he faced for the East team in the AA Eastern League All-Star game.
Former UK catcher and 2010 Astros NDFA Marcus Nidiffer was 2-4 with a home run in his first consecutive game for rookie-level Greeneville.
Former Campbellsville catcher and 2010 Diamondbacks NDFA Richie Rowland was 2-2 with his fourth home run of his young professional career, three RBI and one run scored for rookie-level Missoula to bring his batting average back above .400 for the season.
Former UofL infielder and 2010 Rays draftee Phil Wunderlich extended his hitting streak to 10 games for short-season Hudson Valley.
Former UofL right-handed pitcher and 2010 White Sox draftee Thomas Royse took a no decision after surrendering three runs, none of which were earned, in five innings for rookie-level Great Falls.
Former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke, who was recently traded to the Mariners organization as part of the Cliff Lee deal, has been assigned to AA West Tennessee.
Louisville native and 2010 Giants draftee Stephen Shakleford picked up his first professional win with a scoreless inning for the rookie-level AZL Giants.
Right-handed pitcher Matt Klinker surrendered just one hit in six innings in the Louisville Bats6-1 win over Indianapolis. Shortstop Zack Cozart was 2-5 with a home run and three RBI.
Right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya struck out six batters in five innings in the Lexington Legends‘ 4-1 win over Augusta.
Former UofL third baseman Chris Dominguez was 2-4 with a home run for Augusta.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods wasted a strong performance from starting pitcher Wilking Rodriguez when the bullpen blew a late lead in a 5-4 loss to Dayton. Left-fielder Cody Rogers was 3-4 with two runs scored.
Former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Henry Mabee extended his scoreless innings streak to 13 and one-third innings with a two and one-third innings appearance for AA Birmingham.
Former Campbellsville catcher Richie Rowland‘s 13-game hitting streak was snapped with an 0-3 performance, but he did reach base via walk for rookie-level Missoula.
Former UK outfielder Lance Ray was 2-4 with a run scored and a stolen base rookie-level Elizabethton.
Six different Louisville Bats‘ batter tallied two hits and three hit at least one home run in the Bats’ 9-7 loss to Indianapolis. Third baseman Juan Francisco was 2-5 with two solo home runs.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods scored a single run in the top of the 11th inning to record a 3-2 win over Fort Wayne. Right fielder Brett Nommensen was 3-5 and homered for the third time in four games, and starting pitcher Kyle Lobstein struck out eight battes in six and one-third innings.
Lexington Legends right-handed pitcher Tanner Bushue fell to 4-5 on the season in the Legends’ 9-5 loss to Augusta. Legends center fielder Grant Hogue was 3-4 with a run scored.
Former UofL third baseman Chris Dominguez was 1-5 with a double and two RBI for Augusta.
Former UK second baseman Chris Bisson recorded his first multi-hit game as a professional with a 3-5 performance for short-season Eugene.
Former UK right-handed pitcher Chris Rusin earned his third win of the season for high A Daytona after surrendering just one hit in seven scoreless innings. He struck out seven and walked none.
Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill was 4-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored for AA Mobile. He has hits in four straight games and has homered in his last two contests.
Former EKU infielder Neil Sellers was 3-4 with a double, RBI and run scored for AAA Lehigh Valley.
Former Campbellsville catcher Richie Rowland was 1-5 for rookie-level Missoula to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.
Paducah native and 2010 draftee Jonathan Roof made his professional debut for the AZL Rangers with a pinch-hit RBI double.