Offseason position battle: UK midweek starting pitcher

College Baseball

In the sixth University of Kentucky post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant midweek starting pitcher positions:

The departed — UK returns each of its three weekend starting pitchers, but head coach Gary Henderson needs to fix a problem from the last two seasons by finding a suitable starting pitcher for midweek matchups to provide much-needed depth. Left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell, a 2010 senior, made 11 weekend starts for UK in 2010 before moving to the bullpen at the end of the season…Right-handed pitcher Sean Bouthilette, a 2010 sophomore, started seven games for the Cats in two years before transferring to Campbellsville University…Right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper was UK’s primary midweek starter early in the 2010 but cemented himself as the Cats’ Saturday starting pitcher during conference play and will reprise that role in 2011…Right-handed pitcher Joe Devine started three midweek games for UK in 2010 but transferred to Georgetown College prior to this season.

Returning candidates — Sophomore right-handed pitcher and outfielder Sam Kidd started five games for UK last season and finished the year 1-2 with an 8.89 ERA in 12 total appearances. Kidd didn’t last longer than four innings in any of his 12 appearances…Sophomore right-handed pitcher Walter Wijas excelled in a bullpen role for UK in 2010 but also pitched well in his one start on the season, earning a no decision after surrendering one run in three and one-third innings against Florida. Wijas also pitched four and one-third scoreless innings of relief in a UK win against LSU.

Newcomers to watch — Freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell was the 43rd round pick by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 MLB draft and a first-team all-state selection by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association as a senior at Trinity High School. Littrell was considered the top high school draft prospect in Kentucky and was the Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year. As a senior at Trinity, Littrell was 8-3 with a 1.90 ERA…Freshman right-handed pitcher Jonathan Paquet was the 36th round selection of the New York Yankees in the 2010 draft, even though his high school did not field a baseball team. Paquet made two starts for Quebec during the Baseball Canada Cup…Junior college transfer Alex Phillips started 12 games for Lower Columbia College in 2010, finishing the season 9-1 with a 1.52 ERA in 71 innings pitched.

Wildcard — Freshman infielder and right-handed pitcher J. T. Riddle, 2010 Mr. Kentucky Baseball, will likely push for early playing time on offense but could also serve a valuable role as a midweek starter or reliever. Riddle was 8-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 60 innings as a senior at Western Hill High School en route to a first-team all-state selection by the KHSBCA. Riddle walked just 12 batters as senior in high school.

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Former No. 1 attempts comeback with Phillies; Friedrich, Kipnis among top prospects; At least 6 2010 Cats transfer

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Christian Friedrich; Photo by Matt McGee via Flickr

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com profiles Louisville native and St. X alum Matt Anderson‘s attempted return to MLB with the Philadelphia Phillies. Anderson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, and is 15-7 with a 5.19 ERA in 257 career games. A shoulder injury derailed his career in 2003.
  • Tracy Ringolsby of Baseball America ranks former EKU left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich the No. 4 prospect in the Colorado Rockies system.
  • Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks one-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis the No. 4 second base prospect in MiLB.
  • On Tuesday we linked comments from Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, who said he would not trade former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton before Opening Day. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports the Phillies have decided Blanton’s role as rotation depth is worth more than his trade value.
  • Derek Poore of the Courier-Journal reports Blue Jays farmhand Trystan Magnuson, former major league pitcher Paul Byrd, UofL head coach Dan McDonnell, former Astro Chris Burke and others will speak at the BaseballCon held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville on Jan. 28-29.
  • Yesterday we listed the newcomers on the newly released University of Kentucky roster, but also of interest were the 2010 players no longer on the roster. BluGrass Baseball has confirmed third baseman Andy Burns transferred to Arizona, outfielder Cory Farris transferred to Cumberland University, right-handed pitcher Joe Devine transferred to Georgetown College, outfielder Navarro Hall transferred to Columbus State University, right-handed pitcher Chase Greene transferred to Eastern Kentucky University and right-handed pitcher Sean Bouthilette transferred to Campbellsville University. Right-handed pitcher Kyle Jackson and left-handed pitcher Jon Carlson are also no longer on the roster.

Georgetown College outfielder named NYCBL MVP

College Baseball

For the second consecutive season a Kentucky collegian has been named the New York Collegiate Baseball League player of the year. The league announced Monday that Georgetown College outfielder Tyler Fisher was selected as the 2010 most valuable player. Fisher batted .366 with five home runs, 25 RBI and 30 runs scored in 26 games with the Allegany County Nitros. Fisher boasted a .436 on-base percentage and .577 slugging percentage for the summer.

Fisher batted .350 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI as a junior for Georgetown in 2010. The outfielder wasn’t the only Kentucky standout in the NYCBL as University of Kentucky right-handed pitcher Sean Bouthilette was also named to the second-team All-NYCBL. UK first baseman/right-handed pitcher Braden Kapteyn was selected as the 2009 NYCBL MVP. (Read more)

Kentuckians in the NYCBL

College Baseball

We’ll continue our look at where Kentucky collegians are playing summer leauge baseball with the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Check out the list of Kentuckians below with their college and NYCBL teams:

  • RHP Kyle Williams — Morehead State University — Allegany County Nitros
  • RHP Shane Stancill — University of Cumberlands — Albany Dutchmen
  • OF/RHP Sam Kidd — University of Kentucky — Amsterdam Mohawks
  • C Luke Maile — UK — Amsterdam Mohawks
  • RHP Sean Bouthilette — UK — Amsterdam Mohawks
  • C T. J. Daugherty — UK — Mohawk Valley Diamond Dogs
  • 3B Tyler Townsend — UK —  Mohawk Valley Diamond Dogs
  • OF Jared Clarkson — University of Louisville — Oneonta Outlaws
  • OF Tyler Fisher Georgetown College — Allegany County Nitros
  • C Brian Erie — Northern Kentucky University — Elmira Pioneers
  • RHP Matt Atkins — Kentucky Wesleyan University — Geneva Red Wings

BluGrass Baseball Wednesday Review: Week 13

College Baseball

Wednesday was a winless day on the diamond for Kentucky division one colleges with a 0-2 record. Morehead State University‘s game against Marshall was rained out an tentatively rescheduled for next Wednesday. Check out recaps and awards from the two games played below:

  • The University of Kentucky surrendered 10 runs in the first six innings and couldn’t finish a late comeback in a 10-8 loss to Lipscomb. Senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer was 2-4 with two RBI, and freshman left fielder Brian Adams, making just his second start of the season, was 3-4 with one run scored and one RBI. Senior infielder Gunner Glad and senior center fielder Keenan Wiley also tallied two hits in the game. Freshman right-handed pitcher Sam Kidd took the loss after allowing seven runs in four innings. (Box Score)
  • Murray State University snapped a five-game winning streak with a 10-1 blowout loss to Memphis. Freshman designated hitter Colton Moore, senior second baseman Kyle Tiernan and junior catcher Drew Pixley each recorded two hits in the game. Moore also drove in the Breds only run, scored by senior left fielder Bryan Propst. Senior right-handed pitcher Marc Harmon took the loss after allowing four runs in two innings. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: OF Brian Adams (UK)

  • Stats: 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 2B
  • Honorable Mention: Marcus Nidiffer (UK), Lance Ray (UK), Keenan Wiley (UK), Colton Moore (Murray St.)

Pitcher of the day: RHP Sean Bouthilette (UK)

  • Stats: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Matt McGaha (Murray St.)

Meyer to miss at least 3 weeks with mono; WKU administration considering hosting regional

College Baseball
Alex Meyer; BluGrass Baseball photo

Alex Meyer; BluGrass Baseball photo

A couple of afternoon notes to pass along from the Kentucky college baseball scene:

  • University of Kentucky sophomore right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer will miss 3-4 weeks with mononucleosis. I asked UK about his weekend rotation replacement and was told Sunday’s starting pitcher is TBA. Look to sophomore right-handed pitcher Sean Boutilette, freshman right-handed pitchers Jordan Cooper and Sam Kidd or junior left-handed pitcher Mike Kaczmarek as possible replacements.
  • With a weekend series against No. 7 Florida on the horizon, any candidate UK selects for the Sunday start will face a level of competition he isn’t used to in his midweek action to this point in the season. It’s also interesting to consider UK is now without each of its three projected weekend starters from the end of last season. The Cats lost Clint Tilford to the draft, James Paxton to NCAA trouble and now Meyer to illness.
  • Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports tweets Western Kentucky University coach Chris Finwood says the Hilltoppers’ administration is looking into hosting a NCAA regional.

BluGrass Baseball Week Seven Awards

College Baseball

Player of the Week: 1B Andrew Clark (UofL)

  • Stats: 10-18 (.556), 4 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R
  • Honorable Mention: Gunner Glad (UK), Travis Redmon (Morehead State), Drew Lee (Morehead), J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead), Wes Cunningham (Murray State), Daniel Hill (Murray St.), Adam Duvall (UofL), Zack Cox (Arkansas, PRP), Matt Payton (WKU)

Pitcher of the Week: LHP Dean Kiekhefer (UofL)

  • Stats: 1-0, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Jeff Arnold (Morehead St.), Nick Kennedy (UK), Sean Bouthilette (UK), Thomas Royse (UofL), Matt Ridings (WKU), Alex Love (Murray St.), Chris Craycraft (Murray St.)

Freshman of the Week: 3B Colton Moore (Murray St.)

  • Stats: 7-18, 2 R, 7 RBI, 2 BB
  • Honorable Mention: Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Blake Crabtree (WKU), Walter Wijas (UK)

Western Kentucky sophomores continue to outshine their more heralded University of Kentucky counterparts

College Baseball

Jared Andreoli bats against UK: BluGrass Baseball photo

Western Kentucky University (17) rallied for a 6-3 win Tuesday against in-state rival University of Kentucky behind four hits from senior first baseman Jake Wells and three RBI from senior shortstop Matt Payton, but it was WKU’s sophomores than made the most interesting statement of the game. The Cats’ sophomore class has been counted on for production since it entered campus as the fourth-best recruiting class in the country in 2009, but as conference play gets underway one could easily argue that the unheralded Hilltopper sophomores are having a bigger impact on their team.

WKU’s second-year players are headlined by a pair of relative unknowns entering the 2010 season in outfielders Jared Andreoli and Kes Carter. Still doubtful of their importance in the WKU lineup? Just look to the sixth inning Tuesday when UK head coach Gary Henderson elected to intentionally walk Carter to load the bases with two outs and face preseason All-American Matt Rice. Andreoli leads the Hilltoppers with a .389 batting average, Carter ranks second at .387. Andreoli ranks second in the state with 39 runs scored and Carter ranks fourth in the state with 33 RBI.

Meanwhile UK’s heralded sophomores spent all of 2009 counted on to lead a team to the NCAA tournament, an amount of pressure that was probably unfair to place on a group of freshman. The class has been led by its least heralded member in outfielder Chad Wright, who ranks second on the team with a .349 average and 20 RBI. Slugger Cory Farris has shown his token power stroke in limited action this season with six home runs, but hasn’t been able to break out of the right-field platoon. Designated hitter, pitcher and first baseman Braden Kapteyn is batting .266, and third baseman Andy Burns, arguably the most highly touted position player to ever sign with UK, is batting just .237.

WKU sophomore infielder Casey Dykes is excelling to the rate of a .340 average and four home runs after starting ever game this season. On the mound sophomore relievers Tyler Gilliand and Craig Stem both have sub-3.00 ERAs and over ten appearances in 2010. Just sophomore relievers Phil Whetherell and Aaron Mayfield with their over-6.00 ERAs and sophomore infielder Logan Robbins with his under-.200 batting average have struggled this season.

UK’s sophomore pitchers have enjoyed at least mixed success in 2010. Right-handed starting pitcher Alex Meyer, arguably the most talented pitcher in the state, has four wins but has struggled with his control to the tune of a 6.15 ERA. Sometime midweek starter Sean Bouthilette has a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings after a stellar six-inning performance Tuesday. Kapteyn hasn’t given up an unearned run in 6.2 innings this season, and righty Chase Greene pitched a scoreless inning in his only performance this year. Heralded catcher Michael Williams now finds himself in a battle for the backup time with freshman Luke Maile.

You can’t quite chalk up the success of the WKU incoming class of 2009 to inferior competition either. The Hilltoppers currently have more wins (2) against Southeastern Conference opponents than the Cats (1). The UK incoming class of 2009 has had the spotlight shined on it since its members reportedly made a pact to not sign professional contracts when drafted out of high school unless they received first-round money. I wrote my first feature about them just weeks after fall classes started their freshman year, but so far performance hasn’t quite matched up to the hype. The common thinking goes that the Cats have struggled because they are young, but they aren’t that young anymore. Just ask the sophomores to the west in Bowling Green.

BluGrass Baseball Tuesday Review: Week Seven

College Baseball

Four Kentucky Division One colleges were in action Tuesday, and each team won its game. Check out short recaps of those contests, including one in-state matchup below, with links to athletic department recaps.

  • Senior first baseman Andrew Clark‘s two-run ninth inning home run off Indiana’s ace led No. 9 University of Louisville to a 5-4 victory over the Hoosiers. Clark was 2-5 with one home run, three RBI and one run scored in the game, and freshman left fielder Kyle Grieshaber tallied three hits in the game. UofL closer Neil Holland earned the win with one and two-third perfect innings of relief. (Box Score)
  • Sophomore right-handed pitcher Sean Bouthilette gave the University of Kentucky the mid-week pitching performance it had been looking for with six innings of one-run ball in a 11-2 blowout win over Cincinnati Tuesday. Senior infielder Gunner Glad was 4-5 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored, and sophomore left fielder Chad Wright was 3-3 in the game. (Box Score)
  • A four-run sixth inning led Murray State University to a 6-5 win over Belmont Tuesday. Senior right-handed pitcher Alex Love earned the victory with four scoreless innings of relief, and senior second baseman Kyle Tiernan was 3-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Senior left-handed pitcher Matt McGaha recorded his second save of the season. (Box Score)
  • In Tuesday’s in-state matchup Morehead State University blew out NAIA foe Georgetown College 12-3. Morehead junior right-handed pitcher Jeff Arnold allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings for the win. Eagles senior outfielder J. D. Ashbrook, sophomore designated hitter Cameron Flynn and senior first baseman Michael Bottoms each homered in the game. Georgetown center fielder Chris Wood was 3-4 with a home run, three RBI and one run scored. (Box Score)

UK Baseball Summer League Wrap-Up

College Baseball
Photo: UK Athletics

Photo: UK Athletics

With the Cape Cod League championship in the book, the UK summer league action has concluded for the season.  Braden Kapteyn’s MVP performance in the New York Collegiate Baseball League highlighted the summer, but his performance wasn’t the only one worth noting this summer.

UPDATE 1:25 P.M. — ADDED NAVARRO HALL/ NYCBL ALL-LEAGUE INFO

New York Collegiate Baseball League

  • INF/RHP Braden Kapteyn — Amsterdam Mohawks — Kapteyn led the Mohawks in homeruns (4), batted .319 on the season and posted a 2.47 ERA on the mound.  Had a singled, double and home run in the NYCBL finals to lead Amsterdam to the title.  Named league MVP after leading league in strikeouts on the mound (72) and ranking third in total bases at the plate (66).  Braden was named the utility player on the NYCBL first team all league.
  • RHP Sean Bouthilette — Amsterdam Mohawks — 4-3 with a 2.02 ERA in nine starts with two complete games.  Sean had 42 strikeouts and 14 walks in 49 innings.  Sean was named to the NYCBL second team all league at pitcher.
  • OF Cory Farris — Amsterdam Mohawks — Farris batted .280 with two home runs and 15 RBI in 34 games.  Cory started 32 games for Amsterdam.
  • RHP Chase Green — Amsterdam Mohawks — 3-0 with a 0.71 ERA in 15 games with 25 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.  Started one game for Amsterdam and held opponents to a .128 batting average.  Green was named NYCBL first team all league at relief pitcher.
  • INF Neiko Johnson — Watertown Wizards — Johnson batted .343 with two home runs and 24 RBI in 39 games for Watertown.  Neiko stole 21-22 bases, but had 13 errors in the field.  Johnson was named NYCBL second team all-league at second base.
  • OF Navarro Hall — Mohawk Valley — Sophomore outfielder Navarro Hall batting .289 with one home run and nine RBI in 39 games for Mohawk Valley.  Hall started 38 games and scored 28 runs.