Justin Hageman, Matt Harris earn conference pitcher of week honors; Corey Hart closer to returning to Brewers

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Matt Harris; BluGrass Baseball photo

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Western Kentucky University freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman was named the Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the week.
  • Eastern Kentucky University junior right-handed pitcher Matt Harris was named the Ohio Valley Conference co-pitcher of the week.
  • Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports Bowling Green native Corey Hart has turned a corner in his rehab from an oblique injury and will take batting practice this week with hopes of returning in time for the Brewers’ next homestand on April 22.
  • Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA includes WKU among the weekend winners in college baseball and the University of Kentucky among the weekend losers.
  • Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times reports PLD alum A. J. Ellis was packing his bags after the Dodgers planned to send him to AAA to make room for starting pitcher John Ely on the roster but was saved by a last-minute injury to the team’s other backup catcher Hector Giminez.
  • The University of Louisville dropped to No. 25 in the latest NCBWA top 30 poll, and WKU was included in the “others receiving votes” category.
  • Don’t forget that 2010 No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper will be playing in Lexington this weekend versus the Lexington Legends from Monday to Thursday.

Top 2011 Ky. Collegians: No. 2 Matt Rice

College Baseball

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 the top returning 2010 Kentucky draftee.

No. 2 — Matt Rice — Western Kentucky University

Matt Rice; WKU photo

WKU senior catcher Matt Rice was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2010 draft, being selected with the last pick by the New York Yankees, but his low draft selection had nothing to due with his 2010 performance. Rice batted .369 with 10 home runs, 65 RBI and 51 runs scored in 2010 while recording just two errors and four passed balls as the Hilltoppers primary catcher. The Tennessee native fell to the last pick in the draft because teams were scared off by his candidacy for the Rhodes Scholarship and 4.0 GPA as a mechanical engineering major.

Baseball America recently named Rice its preseason Sun Belt Conference player of the year, and the Sun Belt coaches selected Rice to its preseason All-Sun Belt team. Rice’s 2010 .369 batting average leads returning Kentucky collegians, his 65 RBI rank second, his 51 runs scored rank fifth and his .585 slugging percentage ranks fifth. Rice’s stellar 2010 season earned him a selection to the first-team All-Sun Belt team following the season. He was a semi-finalist for the Johnny Bench Award that goes to the nation’s top catcher. As a sophomore in 2009 Rice batted .399 with a school-record 31-game hitting streak. BA ranked Rice the No. 15 senior prospect in advance of the 2011 draft.

Matt Rice, Rye Davis, Kes Carter named all-Sun Belt; UK to have four games on national television in 2011

College Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • The Sun Belt Conference coaches have picked Western Kentucky University to finish fourth in the conference. The coaches also named WKU senior catcher Matt Rice, redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Rye Davis and junior outfielder Kes Carter to the preseason All-Sun Belt team.
  • Nick Baumgardner of the Bowling Green Daily News reports the 2011 WKU team is not dwelling on the Hilltoppers’ late-season collapse last season.
  • The Southeastern Conference has announced its 2011 television schedule, and the University of Kentucky will be featured in four national games this season: April 10 versus Auburn on CSS, April 23 versus Arkansas on FSN, April 28 at LSU on ESPNU and May 21 at Florida on Sports South.
  • Brent Ingram of the UK media relations’ department also notes via Twitter that the Big Blue Sports Network will televise five to-be-announced UK home games.
  • C. Ray Hall of The Courier-Journal reports the 2011 Louisville Bats figure to have plenty of familiar faces due to the depth of the Cincinnati Reds’ MLB roster.

Top 2011 Ky. Collegians: No. 7 Kes Carter

College Baseball

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 2010 All-Sun Belt Conference performer.

No. 7 — OF Kes Carter — Western Kentucky University

Kes Carter; WKU photo

WKU junior outfielder Kes Carter batted .341 with seven home runs, 53 RBI and 40 runs scored in 2010 en route to being named first-team All-Sun Belt following the season. Carter added 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts and boasted a .418 on-base percentage to go with a .484 slugging percentage. Among returning 2010 Ky. collegians, Carter ranks fifth in 2010 RBIs and stolen bases and fourth in 2010 on-base percentage. Carter was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 43rd round of the 2008 draft out of high school.

During the 2010 summer season Carter batted .228 with no home runs, eight RBI and four runs scored in 18 games for Pensacola of the Coastal Plains League. Carter stole four bases in four attempts on the summer season. The outfielder committed just one error in 2010, finishing the season with a .993 fielding percentage. Carter tallied hits in 15 consecutive games between April 6 and 25. WKU also lists Carter as a left-handed pitcher on the 2011 roster, though he has not appeared on the mound since his freshman season, when he allowed 15 runs in five and one-third innings over three appearances for the Hilltoppers.

NKU picked second in GLVC by coaches; Kipnis to compete for Indians’ second base job; UK opens practice

College Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports one-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis, who transferred to Arizona St. from UK, will participate in the Cleveland Indians Winter Development Program for 14 of the organization’s top prospects. Bastian notes Kipnis will compete for the MLB second base job during Spring Training.
  • Eric Lindsey of the University of Kentucky media relations department notes on the school’s “Cat Scratches” blog that the Bat Cats began practice for the upcoming season on Wednesday.
  • Northern Kentucky University has been picked to finish second in the east division by the Great Lakes Valley Conference coaches in their preseason poll. NKU was recently ranked No. 17 in the country in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper‘s preseason Division II poll.
  • If Western Kentucky University finishes among the top eight teams in the Sun Belt Conference it will face a new format in the conference tournament. The Sun Belt tournament will feature two round-robin, four-team pools in the first round with the top team from each pool moving on to the championship game.

2011 Schedule Breakdown: Western Kentucky University

College Baseball

In the second schedule breakdown post we’ll look at Western Kentucky University, which released its 2011 schedule on Friday. Check out highlights from the WKU schedule below:

  • Feb. 18-20 — vs. Bowling Green St. — Season/Home Opener
  • Feb. 25-27 — Baseball at the Beach Tournament (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
  • March 29 — @ University of Louisville
  • April 5 — vs. UofL
  • April 13 — vs. Murray State University
  • April 19 — vs. University of Kentucky
  • March 3 — vs. Eastern Kentucky University
  • March 17 — @ UK
  • March 25-20 — Sun Belt Conference Tournament

You can see the full schedule here.