Inspired by College Baseball Daily’s list of the top 100 college baseball players, BluGrass Baseball is counting down the top 25 returning Kentucky collegians in advance of the 2011 season. We continue the list today with a returning draftee who will likely close for one of the top teams in the country this season.
No. 19 — RHP Casey Lucchese — College of Charleston (Paul Laurence Dunbar HS)
Casey Lucchese; College of Charleston photo
Senior right-handed pitcher Casey Lucchese returns to college after being selected in the 39th round of the 2010 draft by the Chicago Cubs. Lucchese was 4-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 21 relief appearances in 2010. The Paul Laurence Dunbar High School alum struck out 52 batters and walked 16 in 39 and two-third innings. He held opponents to a .222 batting average last season. Lucchese appeared in one game for the Lexington Hustlers during the summer.
College of Charleston enters the 2011 season ranked No. 20 team in the country as ranked by Baseball America. Aaron Fitt of BA projects Lucchese as the team’s primary 2011 closer writing Lucchese “was the team’s most reliable reliever last year, and he should do fine as the closer thanks to an 88-92 fastball and a swing-and-miss curve.” The Lexington Herald-Leader included Lucchese on its 2007 all-city team, which also included minor leaguers Ben Revere, Robbie Ross, Jayson Langfels, Tyler Oliver and Thomas Royse and current college standouts Nick Maronde, Cameron Flynn, Justin Riddell and Travis Redmon.
Brandon Webb; Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr
It may be difficult to think about baseball with snow blanketing most of the Bluegrass State, but the Hot Stove League hasn’t taken time off for the winter weather. With that in mind here’s a rundown of the latest Kentucky baseball news to keep you warm:
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets that the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals have stepped up their pursuit of Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb. Crasnick notes several other teams are interested in Webb, but the Cubs and Nationals lead the pack.
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reports the Baltimore Orioles remain the most likely landing spot for Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds, who was born in Pikeville, if he is traded.
- In the Texas Rangers’ top 10 prospects chat, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America notes that Lexington native Robbie Ross has seen his prospect status dip some as many people in the Rangers’ organization think he will end up as a reliever. (subscription required)
- In the Oakland Athletics’ top 10 prospects chat, Jim Shonerd of BA notes former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson is in the A’s top 30 prospects after recently being traded to the organization and could make his big league debut in 2010. (subscription required)
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports Louisville Bats catcher Devin Mesoraco was named the Cincinnati Reds’ minor league player of the year and Bats outfielder Dave Sappelt was named the minor league hitter of the year.
Bill Ballew of Baseball America has released the magazine’s top 20 prospects ranking for the low A South Atlantic league, including several players with Kentucky ties in the bottom quarter of the list. Ballew ranked Lexington Christian Academy alum and Rangers left-handed pitching prospects Robbie Ross at No. 15 on the list, Lexington Legends outfielder and Houston Astros prospect J. D. Martinez at No. 17 and former UofL infielder and San Francisco Giants prospect Chris Dominguez at No. 20.
Ballew writes of Ross, “He does have a great deal of polish, though, as he pitches to both sides of the plate and keeps the ball down in the zone. He’s not afraid of throwing strikes and letting hitters put the ball in play, using his stuff to generate groundouts.” The southpaw went 8-7 with a 2.59 ERA in 16 games for Hickory before a midseason promotion to high A. Martinez led the SAL in batting at .362, and Dominguez led the league with RBI with 101. (Read more, subscription required)
The BA ranking wasn’t the only honor for Martinez in recent days as the Houston Astros named the outfielder the organization’s minor league player of the year. Martinez batted a combined .341 with 18 home runs and 89 RBI between Lexington and AA Corpus Christi. Former Lexington Legends right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles was named the Astros minor league pitcher of the year. (Read more)
Trystan Magnuson; Photo by mwlguide via Flickr
MiLB playoff highlights and latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
- John Manuel of Baseball America reports former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson was selected to the Team Canada roster for the 2010 Pan Am Qualifier in San Juan. Former Lexington Legend first baseman Jimmy Van Ostrand was also selected to the roster.
- Former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer was 0-3, but Tri-City clinched the New York-Penn League championship with a 5-1 win over Brooklyn.
- Over the weekend, LCA alum Robbie Ross took the loss after surrendering seven runs in three innings for AA Frisco as the team was eliminated from the Texas League playoffs.
- Larry Stone of The Seattle Times reports former Mariners director of pro scouting Carmen Fusco was fire at least in part for his role in the controversial acquisition of former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke. The Mariners’ upper management claim they didn’t know of Lueke’s past legal trouble before acquiring the reliever.
- The Houston Astros acquired Louisville Bats right-handed pitcher Enerio Del Rosario from the Cincinnati Reds for cash. Del Rosario was designated for assignment by the Reds Monday.
Nathan Adcock; Photo by mwlguide via Flickr
The 2010 MiLB season is over for all but a handful of Kentucky minor leaguers still active in the playoffs, so it is time for the BluGrass Baseball 2010 MiLB awards.
Hitter of the year: OF Jake Shaffer (High A High Desert)
- Former NKU outfielder and Walton native Jake Shaffer excelled during his first full professional season in 2009 but brought his game to a new level in 2010. Shaffer led all Kentucky minor leaguers in batting average (.336), on-base percentage (.388) and slugging percentage (.511). The left-handed batter spent all but three games of 2010 at High Desert and slugged nine home runs, drove in 78 runs and scored 58 times.
- Honorable Mention: Former UK outfielder, turned second baseman, Jason Kipnis finished second to Shaffer in batting average (.307), on-base percentage (.386) and slugging percentage (.492) and led Kentucky minor leaguers with 96 runs scored…Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill slugged 16 home runs, drove in 83 runs and scored 89 times…Former UofL infielder Chris Dominguez led the state with 21 home runs and 101 RBI.
Pitcher of the year: RHP Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton)
- Elizabethtown native Nathan Adcock has struggled since being drafted out of North Hardin High School in 2006, but came into his own this season. Adcock finished the season 11-7 with a 3.38 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 141 and one-third innings. The right-handed pitcher ranked among the top five Kentucky MiLB pitchers in ERA, strikeouts, batting average against, wins and innings pitched.
- Honorable Mention: LCA alum Robbie Ross was 12-11 with a 3.58 ERA and 111 strikeouts…Former UK left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin was 6-4 with a 3.11 ERA in an injury-shortened season…One-time Madisonville resident Matt Klinker was 11-10 with a 3.79 ERA between AA Carolina and the Louisville Bats.
Rookie of the year: C/1B Marcus Nidiffer (Short-season Tri-City)
- Former UK catcher and 2010 Astros non-drafted free agent Marcus Nidiffer spent his debut season proving he deserved to be selected in the 2010 draft. In 69 games between rookie Greeneville and short-season Tri-City, Nidiffer batted .286 with 14 home runs, 36 RBI and 40 runs scored. Nidiffer’s 14 home runs ranked fifth among all Kentucky MiLB players, including full-season ones.
- Honorable Mention: Former UofL infielder Phil Wunderlich led Kentucky rookies with a .330 batting average…Former UK left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell was 2-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 11 games for rookie-level Elizabethton…Boyd County native Tyler Gatrell saved 13 games for the GCL Royals
In the second leaderboard post we’ll look at the top statistical pitching performers from around Kentucky MiLB action. Remember comparisons across leagues are difficult, so this leaderboard should be considered a starting point for examining the best performances from Kentucky minor leaguers this season.
- Chris Rusin (AA Tennessee) – 3.11
- Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – 3.38
- Robbie Ross (High A Bakersfield) – 3.58
- Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – 3.79
- Marty Popham (High A Kinston) – 4.05
- Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – 138
- Justin Marks (High A Stockton) – 136
- Chaz Roe (AAA Colorado Springs) – 115
- Marty Popham (High A Kinston) – 113
- Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – 113
- Chris Rusin (AA Tennessee) – .240
- Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – .243
- Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – .255
- Justin Marks (High A Stockton) – .258
- Robbie Ross (High A Kinston) – .267
- Robbie Ross (High A Bakersfield) – 12
- Nathan Jones (High A Winston-Salem) – 11
- Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – 11
- Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – 11
- Daniel Calhoun (Low A Quad Cities) – 10
- Josh Lueke (AAA Tacoma) – 17
- Tyler Gatrell (R GCL Royals) – 13 *
- Steven Blevins (AA New Britain) – 10
- Mike Perconte (High A Daytona) – 7
- Three pitchers tied at 5
- Matt Klinker (AAA Louisville) – 163.2
- Chaz Roe (AAA Colorado Springs) – 158
- Nathan Jones (High A Winston-Salem) – 152.1
- Robbie Ross (AA Frisco) – 146
- Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton) – 141.1
Chris Dominguez; UofL Photo
Highlights from Tuesday Kentucky MiLB action:
- The Louisville Bats fell out of first place in the International League West Division after a 4-1 loss to Toledo. Right fielder Danny Dorn homered for Louisville.
- Former UK infielder Michael Bertram homered for Toledo in the game.
- The Lexington Legends closed out August with back-t0-back 10-run games in a 10-7 win over Hagerstown. Designate hitter Ben Heath slugged his fourth home run for Lexington and tenth home run of the season.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods finished their 2010 home schedule with a 13-9 loss to Fort Wayne. Right fielder Burt Reynolds hit a grand slam in his only at-bat for the Hot Rods.
- Former UofL infielder Chris Dominguez was 4-4 with a double, triple and four RBI for low A Augusta.
- Former WKU infielder Wade Gaynor was 4-5 with a home run, double, three RBI and two runs scored for low A West Michigan.
- Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill slugged his 16th home run of the season for AA Mobile.
- Former UK outfielder John Shelby slugged his tenth home run of the season for AA Birmingham.
- Former NKU left-handed pitcher and 2010 White Sox draftee Jarrett Casey earned his first professional win after pitching six shutout innings in a start for rookie-level Bristol.
- Former NKU right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones improved to 11-5 on the season after pitching seven shutout innings in a start for high A Winston-Salem.
- Former Murray St. first baseman and 2010 Padres draftee Wes Cunningham slugged his fifth home run for short-season Eugene.
- Former Union College right-handed pitcher Marty Popham improved to 7-6 on the season after surrendering just two unearned runs in six innings for high A Kinston.
- LCA alum Robbie Ross took a loss despite surrendering just two runs in six innings for high A Bakersfield.
- Louisville native Seth Bynum was 3-4 with a double and run scored for AAA Syracuse.
- Paducah native Daniel Webb was promoted to low A Lansing where he debuted with a loss after surrendering six runs, only two of which were earned, in five innings.
Colling Cowgill; Photo: UK Athletics
Highlights from Thursday Kentucky MiLB action:
- Columbus pulled within a half game of the Louisville Bats for first place in the International League West Division after giving the Bats a 5-2 loss. Right fielder Danny Dorn was 2-3 with a double and RBI.
- The Lexington Legends outhit Kannapolis 8-6 but still suffered a 4-1 loss. Left-handed pitcher Luis Cruz struck out eight in a quality start after surrendering three runs in six innings.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods tallied six hits but couldn’t score in a 4-0 loss to Lake County. Right-handed pitcher Yorman Mayora took the loss after surrendering one run in four innings.
- Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill slugged his 15th home run of the season and drove in three runs for AA Mobile.
- Former UofL left-handed pitcher Justin Marks earned his sixth win of the season for high A Stockton after pitching two and one-third scoreless innings of relief.
- Former NKU right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones improved to 10-5 on the season after surrendering one run in seven and one-third innings for high A Winston-Salem.
- LCA alum Robbie Ross fell to 12-10 on the season after surrendering five runs in two and one-third innings for high A Bakersfield.
Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo
Highlights from Saturday Kentucky MiLB action:
- The Louisville Bats opened its series with Indianapolis with a 10-6 win. Center fielder Dave Sappelt was 5-6 with two doubles, a triple, two RBI, a stolen base and a run scored.
- The Lexington Legends held off a late Augusta rally en route to a 7-6 win. Shortstop Jiovanni Mier was 3-4 with two doubles and three runs scored.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods scored three runs in the eighth inning to tie their game with South Bend but still suffered a 9-7 loss. Second baseman Tyler Bortnick was 4-5 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored.
- Former UofL infielder and 2010 Rays draftee Phil Wunderlich was 3-5 with one RBI and two runs scored.
- Former NKU outfielder Jake Shaffer was 2-3 with a home run, double, three RBI and one run scored for high A High Desert.
- Former Murray St. first baseman and 2010 Padres draftee Wes Cunningham was 2-3 with a triple, home run, three RBI, three walks and two runs scored for short-season Eugene.
- Former Morehead St. shortstop and 2010 White Sox draftee Drew Lee slugged his fifth home run of the season and drove in three runs for rookie-level Bristol.
- LCA alum Robbie Ross surrendered three runs on nine hits in just two and one-third innings in a start for high A Bakersfield but still escaped with a no decision.
Jason Kipnis; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Highlights from Sunday Kentucky MiLB action:
- A start from rehabbing Cincinnati Reds Opening Day starting pitcher Aaron Harang wasn’t enough to help the Louisville Bats avoid a 7-3 loss to Columbus. Harang surrendered five runs on five hits in five innings.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods dropped their fifth straight game with a 9-8 loss to Great Lakes. First baseman Ryan Wiegand was 3-4 with a home run, two RBI and three runs scored.
- Former WKU right-handed pitcher J. B. Paxson earned the win in relief for Great Lakes in his return to Bowling Green.
- The Lexington Legends game with the West Virginia Power was suspended due to rain and will be resumed at 5:05 p.m. today.
- LCA alum Robbie Ross took a no decision for high A Bakersfield after surrendering two runs in four innings.
- One-time UK outfielder Jason Kipnis was 2-2 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored.
- Former UofL right-handed pitcher Trystan Magnuson earned his third win of the season with two and two-third scoreless innings for AA New Hampshire.
- Former WKU outfielder Chad Cregar slugged his 17th home run of the season and drove in three runs for low A Greensboro.
- Former Morehead St. outfielder and 2010 White Sox NDFA J. D. Ashbrook was 2-3 with a double, three RBI and run scored for rookie-level Bristol.