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.