Joe Blanton pulled early in Phillies’ loss; Austin Kearns is missing in action during Yankees playoff run

Major League Baseball

Joe Blanton; Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky Wednesday playoff highlights and the latest links from around Bluegrass state baseball:

  • Franklin Simpson High School alum and former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton surrendered three runs in four and two-third innings for the Phillies and was pulled while his team held a 4-3 lead. The Giants rallied against the Phillies’ bullpen and ended up with a 6-5 win.
  • Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan of the¬†writes Phillies manager Charlie Manuel’s mistake wasn’t “putting his faith in Joe Blanton for Game 4. It was losing faith in Blanton too early.
  • Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports Manuel’s quick hook of Blanton added to the NLCS drama.
  • In the ALCS Lexington native Austin Kearns still hasn’t appeared in a game for the New York Yankees, who trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series to the Texas Rangers.
  • Dave Sheinin of The Washington Post asks, “Why is Kearns on the playoff roster if the Yankees won’t use him?”

Phillies turn to former UK pitcher Joe Blanton in game four

Major League Baseball

Joe Blanton; UK Athletics Wallpaper

In preparation for his start tonight in game four of the NLCS an assortment of Joe Blanton links from across the Internet:

  • Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports Phillies ace Roy Halladay was willing to start in game four on short rest, but manager Charlie Manuel is sticking with Blanton.
  • Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports the Phillies’ united front on the decision hasn’t prevented plenty of speculation that Blanton shouldn’t be starting tonight outside of the clubhouse.
  • MLB.com previews Blanton’s start in a video.
  • Philadelphia Daily News columnist Sam Donnellon, a self-proclaimed Joe Blanton fan, is among those who thinks Halladay should be getting the game-four start.
  • Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford writes the Phillies are turning to the “other one” in Blanton, who is used to stepping up for game-four playoff starts.
  • Blanton is 2-0 with a 3.89 ERA in eight postseason appearances including five starts. (Stats via Baseball-Reference.com)

MLB Final Four: Who are you rooting for?

Major League Baseball

Joe Blanton; UK Athletics Wallpaper

The Major League Baseball league championship series were set Tuesday evening when the Texas Rangers eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays. The New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants join the Rangers in the MLB final four, leaving Kentuckians with a mixed rooting interest. The Cincinnati Reds were the obvious choice for most Kentuckians, but their quick NLDS exist left fans unfulfilled.

The Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and Rays also had plenty of Kentucky connections, but the remaining four teams are a mixed bag when it comes to Bluegrass State ties. If you are looking for a Kentucky rooting interest, you can probably eliminate the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants. Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton did spend 11 games with the Louisville Bats in 2007 on a rehab assignment and Louisville native Todd Wellemeyer will likely receive a playoff share from the Giants despite being released earlier this season, but neither team boasts a strong Bluegrass State connection.

Austin Kearns; Photo by Scott Ableman via Flickr

That leaves us with the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. Lexington native Austin Kearns was on the Yankees NLDS roster, but didn’t appear in the team’s three-game sweep of the Twins. Franklin-Simpson High School alum and former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton didn’t appear in the Phillies three-game sweep of the Reds but is the likely choice for the game four start in the NLCS.

Kearns is probably Kentucky’s sentimental favorite. The Lafayette High School alum was drafted by the hometown Reds and spent parts of five seasons in Cincinnati. Kearns still hasn’t appeared in a postseason game, but should get that chance in the ALCS. Blanton already played a key role with the game-four win in the Phillies 2008 World Series championship.

BluGrass Baseball’s first inclination is to support Kearns, but something just doesn’t seem right about rooting for the Yankees. We wouldn’t blame you for picking either Kearns or Blanton, but here’s hoping for a key showdown between the two one-time Lexingtonians during game four of the World Series.

Venters, Conrad, Braves eliminated; J. D. Martinez up for best low A hitter; Blanton biding time for NLCS start

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

J. D. Martinez; Lexington Legends photo

Kentucky Monday playoff highlights and the latest links from around Bluegrass State baseball:

  • The Atlanta Braves were eliminated from the playoffs with a 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Braves left-handed reliever Jonny Venters, born in Pikeville, entered the game in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and let the eventual winning run score before getting out of the jam. Former Lexington Legend Brooks Conrad flew out in a ninth-inning pinch hit appearance for Atlanta.
  • Louisville Bats outfielder Todd Frazier tallied two hits, including a double, in Team USA’s 4-1 win over Cuba in the Pan Am Qualifying Tournament.
  • Voting for MiLB.com’s hitters of the year is open with a couple of Kentucky candidates in the running. Lexington Legends outfielder J. D. Martinez is nominated for best low A hitter and Bats outfielder Dave Sappelt is nominated for best AA hitter.
  • Danny Wild of MLB.com honors former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill as one of the Diamondbacks’ organization all-star.
  • Ed Barkowitz of the Philadelphia Daily News reports former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton is biding his time for a probable game-four NLCS start.

UofL loses signee to draft; Surgery looks likely for ailing Kelley; Revere, Carroll boast AA’s best tools

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Shawn Kelley; Photo by mwlguide via Flickr

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball including a professional contract for a Bluegrass university signee:

  • Jim Callis of Baseball America reports Illinois prep catcher Jake DePew, a University of Louisville commitment, has signed a professional contract with the Tampa Bay Rays as the team’s ninth round pick.
  • Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer told Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News he was not surprised by the Giants designating him for assignment.
  • Doug Miller of MLB.com reports surgery is likely the only option to treat Ballard High School alum and Seattle Mariners right-handed pitcher Shawn Kelley‘s injured pitching elbow.
  • In Baseball America’s survey of best AA tools Eastern League managers and scouts voted Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere the fastest baserunner in the league, and Texas League managers and scouts voted former UK outfielder Sawyer Carroll as the best outfield arm in the league. (Subscription required)
  • Louisville Bats right-handed pitcher Jared Burton sat down for a question-and-answer session with Jason Stella of the Bats’ media relations department.

Wellemeyer designated for assignment; Former Bats playing big roles in pennant chase; Wright named top DH

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball, including bad news for one Bluegrass major leaguer:

  • Cash Kruth of MLB.com reports the San Francisco Giants designated Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer for assignment. The team can now trade Wellemeyer or, if he clears waivers, assign him to AAA.
  • Courier-Journal columnist Eric Crawford writes “baseball is being very good to us” as former Louisville Bats contribute in big ways to the Cincinnati Reds’ playoff run.
  • The C-J also reports July set a new attendance record for the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
  • University of Louisville rising junior infielder Ryan Wright was named the best designated hitter at the FISU World University Baseball Championships and finished the summer for Team USA batting .361 with two home runs, 18 runs scored and 12 RBI.
  • Baseball America has released its annual “Best Tools” list for AAA and several Louisville Bats were among those honored by International League managers and scouts. Left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman was voted to have the best fastball and breaking pitch, infielder Chris Valaika was voted as the best defensive second baseman and outfielder Wladimir Balentien was voted to have the best outfield arm.
  • Ken Neuhauser of the Courier-Journal talks with Kentucky baseball historian and author Philip Von Borries about his most recent book: “The Louisville Baseball Almanac”

Webb focuses on returning as reliever; Wellemeyer to pitch in long relief; Cook to DL with toe injury; Reynolds ailing

Major League Baseball

Brandon Webb; Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr

A host of Kentucky major league injury news broke Thursday. Check out those stories and more in some Friday morning links:

  • Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb confirmed rumors from the last month to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com: If Webb is to pitch in 2010 it will be as a reliever.
  • In that same story, Gilbert writes Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds, born in Pikeville, is still feeling the effects of Tuesday’s hit-by-pitch to the head.
  • Chris Haft of MLB.com reports the San Francisco Giants activated Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer from the disabled list. Wellemeyer lost his starting rotation spot while injured and will now¬† pitch in long relief for the Giants.
  • The Colorado Rockies placed right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook, born in Fort Campbell, on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained toe.
  • Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal reports the Cincinnati Reds are not on the radio in Louisville after the local affiliates shut down and may not be for the rest of the season.

Kentucky MLB Trade Deadline Names to Watch

Major League Baseball

Scott Downs; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

We’re just 23 days from the MLB non-waiver trade deadline so you can expect trade rumors to be heating up over the coming days and weeks. As with most baseball stories, Kentucky players figure to factor in the middle of many of the rumors. I’ve outlined some early Kentucky trade storylines to watch below:

  • The relief pitching market is always a big commodity during July as evidenced in this breakdown by the Boston Globe‘s Chad Finn. Among the hottest relievers on the block is former University of Kentucky left-handed pitcher Scott Downs, currently a set-up man for the Blue Jays. Peter Gammons of MLB.com calls Downs the “hottest name on the market” right now and says he may even attract more interest than perennial All-Star Roy Oswalt.
  • Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted earlier this week that the Giants have interest in Brewers outfielder and Bowling Green native Corey Hart, who the Brewers have been rumored to be trying to move at various points in the last year. However, Hart has led the National League in home runs for much of the first half and is worth more than ever after being named to his second All-Star team, so he won’t come cheap.
  • The Cleveland Indians are not very good and may be preparing for another fire sale which means Lexington native Austin Kearns, who has enjoyed a career resurgence this season could be on the move. For now though Kearns isn’t attracting the same level of interest as some other Indians, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
  • It wouldn’t be a Kentucky trade rumor breakdown without mention of Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, who was born in Louisville. The Marlins tried to move Uggla throughout most of the offseason but their asking price proved too high. That price may prevent him from be traded before the deadline, but the Marlins and Rockies matchup nicely for a deal if they were motivated to move the slugging infielder, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports.

Remember too that any number of Kentucky minor leaguers could be moved in deals for established MLB names. For the latest trade rumors from all of baseball you can’t do any better than MLBTradeRumors.com.

MLB Draft Day Three Breakdown

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Matt Rice bats for WKU: BluGrass Baseball photo

Kentucky selections from the third and final day of the MLB amateur player’s draft:

  • 31st Round (943) — RHP Matt Little — UK — Tigers
  • 32nd Round (959) — RHP Justin Hageman — Hopkinsville High School — Royals
  • 32nd Round (968) — LHP Jarrett Casey — NKU — White Sox
  • 35th Round (1046) — 1B Tyler Oliver — Wabash Valley JC (LCA, UK verbal) — Nationals
  • 35th Round (1068) — RHP Stephen Shackleford — Savannah College of Art & Design (Trinity HS) — Giants
  • 35th Round (1073) — SS J.T. Riddle — Western Hills High School (UK signee) — Red Sox
  • 36th Round (1080) — RHP Rye Davis — WKU — Indians
  • 36th Round (1099) — LHP Dean Kiekhefer — UofL — Cardinals
  • 37th Round (1116) — RHP Chad Green — Effingham, Ill. (UofL signee) — Blue Jays
  • 38th Round (1138) — CF Jeremy Shelby — Grambling St. (Lexington) — Orioles
  • 38th Round (1162) — OF Lucas Witt — Lexington Christian Academy (UK signee) — Dodgers
  • 39th Round (1180) — RHP Casey Lucchese — College of Charleston (Paul Laurence Dubar) — Cubs
  • 39th Round (1185) — LHP Bart Carter — WKU — Twins
  • 41st Round (1229) — RHP Matt Ridings — WKU — Royals
  • 42nd Round (1286) — LHP Corey Littrell — Trinity High School (UK signee) — Nationals
  • 44th Round (1345) — LHP David Middendorf — NKU — Yankees
  • 45th Round (1358) — OF Ronald Cotton — Boone County HS — White Sox
  • 47th Round (1418) — 2B Matt Reida — Indiana (UK signee) — White Sox
  • 48th Round (1452) — INF Patrick Brady — Bellarmine — Mariners
  • 49th Round (1489) — LHP Bob Revesz — UofL — Cardinals
  • 50th Round (1525) — C Matt Rice — WKU — Yankees

Day Two Draft Breakdown

College Baseball, High School Baseball, Major League Baseball

Day two of the Major League Baseball amateur player’s draft finished this evening with the completion of round 30. Twenty-six players with Kentucky ties have been drafted so far including three by the Texas Rangers. Check out the full list below:

  • 1st Round (25) — 3B Zack Cox — Pleasure Ridge Park (Arkansas) — St. Louis Cardinals
  • 3rd Supplemental (114) — RHP Thomas Royse — Paul Laurence Dunbar (UofL) — Chicago White Sox
  • 4th Round (124) — 2B Chris Bisson — Canada (UK) — San Diego Padres
  • 4th Round (132) — LHP James Paxton — Canada (UK) — Seattle Mariners
  • 6th Round (181) — RHP Blake Perry — Danville (Fla. HS) — Arizona Diamondbacks
  • 6th Round (195) — LHP Logan Darnell — Tennessee (UK) — Minnesota Twins
  • 8th Round (237) — RHP Dace Kime — Ohio (UofL signee) — Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 8th Round (255) — OF Lance Ray — Nevada (UK) — Minnesota Twins
  • 8th Round (256) — SS Jonathan Roof — St. Mary’s (Mich. St.) — Texas Rangers
  • 11th Round (326) — RHP Neil Holland — Owensboro Catholic (UofL) — Washington Nationals
  • 11th Round (348) — 2B Adam Duvall — Butler HS (UofL) — San Francisco Giants
  • 12th Round (368) — SS Drew Lee — Montgomery County HS (Morehead St.) — Chicago White Sox
  • 12th Round (371) — 1B Phil Wunderlich — Illinois (UofL) — Tampa Bay Rays
  • 12th Round (376) — OF Josh Richmond — Ohio (UofL) — Texas Rangers
  • 13th Round (406) — 1B Andrew Clark — Indiana (UofL) — Texas Rangers
  • 14th Round (418) — 3B Michael Mosby — Hancock County (Wabash Valley JC) — Baltimore Orioles
  • 14th Round (433) — RHP Patrick Cooper — Boyle County HS (Bradley) — Detroit Tigers
  • 16th Round (500) — 3B Jayson Langfels — Lafayette (EKU) — Colorado Rockies
  • 17th Round (516) — 1B Wes Cunningham — Eastern HS (Murray St.) — San Diego Padres
  • 20th Round (599) — OF Cameron Conner — Frankfort (IU Southeast) — Kansas City Royals
  • 26th Round (798) — C Jeff Arnold — Male HS (UofL) — San Francisco Giants
  • 27th Round (817) — LHP Joel Bender — Ohio (UofL signee) — Cincinnati Reds
  • 27th Round (831) — 2B Matt Payton — Male HS (WKU) — Philadelphia Phillies
  • 28th Round (843) — RHP Jason Chowning — Eastern HS (Oklahoma) — Houston Astros
  • 28th Round (859) — SS Taylor Black — S. C. (UK) — St. Louis Cardinals
  • 29th Round (895) — OF Stewart Ijames — Owensboro Catholic (UofL) — New York Yankees