Christian Friedrich; Photo by Matt McGee via Flickr
Baseball America has released its top prospects list for all of minor league baseball and several Kentucky players were included in the rankings. Eastern Kentucky University alum Christian Friedrich leads Kentucky prospects on the list at No. 33. I’ve included each BluGrass Baseball player and his ranking below:
22 — Christian Friedrich — EKU — Colorado Rockies
35 — Matt Moore — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods — Tampa Bay Rays
* — Cincinnati Reds offseason signee Aroldis Champman ranked at No. 22 on the list and will likely appear for AAA Louisville at some point in 2010. Houston Astros shortstop prospect Jiovanni Mier ranked No. 73 on the list and might appear in Lexington this season. Tampa Bay Rays right-handed pitching prospect Alex Colome ranked No. 68 and will likely head to Bowling Green in 2010.
The Baseball America Prospect Handbook is simply a must-have for any minor-league baseball fan. My handbook, in which Baseball America ranks the top 30 prospects in each organization, came in today, and since I ordered it straight from BA they included a 31st prospect supplement for each team. I’m listing where Kentucy players rank in their organizations below, but I’ll leave all BA’s analysis out as incentive for you to go buy their great product.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has released his top 50 prospects list for all of major league baseball, and four players with Bluegrass ties made the cut. Eastern Kentucky University alum Christian Friedrich (No. 23) leads the Kentucky contingent and is followed by 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods shortstop Tim Beckham (No. 24) and 2009 Louisville Bats Yonder Alonso (No. 30) and Juan Francisco (No. 48).
Freidrich dominated the high A California League in 2009 while only giving up more than two runs in three of 24 starts. Mayo projects him to continue a fast rise through the minors to become an excellent No. 2 or 3 starting pitcher in the majors. Beckham had what some considered a down year in 2009, but Mayo writes he still has impressive raw tools and there is still plenty of time for him to develop into a standout major leaguer. Alonso and Francisco both earned late season promotions to Louisville last season and will likely start 2010 there. Mayo projects Alonso as a middle-of-the-order run producer with power and Francisco as a fearsome middle-of-the-order hitter as soon as he finds a defensive position. (Read more)
The most notable omissions with Kentucky ties are probably 2009 Lexington Legends ace Jordan Lyles and Hot Rods ace Matt Moore. Both pitchers excelled in full-season ball despite their young age and should rocket to the top half of this list with strong 2010 seasons.
The hot stove league is still chugging along at a snails pace as Spring Training gets closer by the day. Check out some offseason updates from local media below:
The Cincinnati Reds Winter Caravan will stop in Louisville on Jan. 28 and in Lexington on Jan. 31. The Louisville stop will be at the Louisville Slugger Museum and the Lexington visit will be at the Fayette Mall.
Manager Dusty Baker, outfielder Jay Bruce and 2009 Louisville Bat Todd Frazier will be among those participating in the Kentucky events.
Former UK pitcher Adam Revelette is now blogging for University of Kentucky Athletics at “Cat Scratches.”
Carrie Muskat of the MLB.com reports 2009 Louisville Bats reliever Jeff Kennard has signed a Minor League contract with the Chicago Cubs and received and invitation to Spring Training.
2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods Tim Beckham, Jake Jefferies, Nick Barnese and Matt Moore participated in the Tampa Bay Rays Winter Development Program according to Bill Chastain of MLB.com.
BluGrass Baseball is making its triumphant return from a weekend power outage just in time to break down Baseball America‘s top ten prospects list for the Tampa Bay Rays system with three Bowling Green Hot Rods making the cut. Hot Rods ace Matt Moore ranked fourth on the list, shortstop Tim Beckham checked in at six and right-handed pitcher Nick Barnese ranked tenth on the list. I’ve included each player’s 2009 statistics below and a snippet of BA analysis.
4) LHP Matt Moore
8-5, 3.15 ERA, 123 IP, 176 SO/70 BB, .195 BA against
BA: “If Moore can locate his pitches better, he can be a frontline starter. Only 19, he’s headed to high Class A and the Rays may not be able to hold him back much longer.”
6) SS Tim Beckham
.275, 5 HR, 63 RBI, .275/.328/.389
BA: “The Rays’ present plan is to keep Beckham at shortstop, and third base isn’t much of an option with Evan Longoria already in Tampa Bay. Beckham will spend 2010 in high Class A at age 19.”
10) RHP Nick Barnese
6-5, 2.53 ERA, 75 IP, 62 SO/25 BB, .202 BA against
BA: “Some minor refinements and more consistency will enable Barnese to emerge as a No. 2 or 3 starter in the big leagues. Tampa Bay can continue to be patient with his development, which will continue in high Class A this year.”
We have plenty of hot stove news for your Tuesday morning. I’ll be back later with a breakdown of the WKU early recruiting class. I will hopefully crank out another post today, but I will be traveling so it might be this evening.
Jim Callis of Baseball America writes while the Rays won’t admit it publicly they know they should have drafted Giants top prospect Buster Posey over 2009 Hot Rod Tim Beckham with the first pick in 2008.
Former Lexington Legends manager Tim Bogar will serve as the Red Sox’s third base coach in 2010 after being passed over for the Astros’ managerial job this offseason.
Carrie Muskat of MLB.com writes Louisville-native Dan Uggla is probable too expensive for the Cubs, and she answers a question in her mailbag about UK alum Chris Rusin.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports the Marlins are almost 100 percent certain they will keep infielder Jorge Cantu. That likely further ensures arbitration-eligble Uggla is on his way out of cost-cutting Florida.
Ken Rosenthal and John Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com report the Reds have to decide if they are willing to let 2009 Louisville Bats Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey man the outfield in 2010 before they offer a contract to slugger Jonny Gomes.
A year ago Tuesday, the Bowling Green Hot Rods officially came into existence during a ceremony at Citrus Square Park. The past year has seen the Hot Rods feature the number one overall pick in the 2008 draft, a Futures Game representative and Minor League Baseball’s promotion of the year. In fact, the Hot Rods promotion award came for “What Could’ve Been Night” featuring the Bowling Green Cave Fish, one of the mascots that lost out to Hot Rods a year ago. Bowling Green general manager and CEO Brad Taylor said this in a news release:
“What a difference a year makes. At this time in 2008, we had no name, no mascot, no stadium, temporary offices, and most importantly, no track record with our fans. Now, we’ve played a season, we loved the enthusiasm and support of the fans, and we’re already at work to make 2010 bigger and better for them.”
Baseball America’s list of the top 20 South Atlantic League prospects is out and several members of the Hot Rods and Legends were included. Check out the full list here, but you can see some analysis of the Kentucky players below.
#3 — LHPMatt Moore — Bowling Green Hot Rods
8-5, 3.15 ERA, 176 SO, 123 IP
Moore led the minors with 176 strikeouts, receiving lavish praise from the BA staff: “If he can continue to refine his command, he profiles as a top-of-the-rotation starter.
#5 — SS Tim Beckham — Bowling Green Hot Rods
.275, 5 HR, 63 RBI
While Beckham’s number won’t blow anyone away, the 2008 first-overall pick was playing in his first full season of professional baseball. BA writes: “With his plus bat speed and strong wrists, he projects to hit .300 with 20 home runs in the big leagues.”
#6 — RHP Jordan Lyles — Lexington Legends
7-11, 3.24, 167 SO, 145 IP
The Astros shocked the baseball world when they took Lyles in the first-supplemental round in 2008, but he’s done nothing but make them look like geniuses since. BA writes: “Lyles showed the stuff of a potential frontline starter this season. His fastball now sits at 89-91 mph and touches 93.”
#16 — RHP Nick Barnese — Bowling Green Hot Rods
6-5, 2.53, 62 SO, 75 IP
Barnese spent part of the season in BG’s bullpen, but BA writes that as a starter he and Moore gave the Hot Rods the best lefty/righty combo in the league. BA writes: “His best attribute might be his ability to throw any of his pitches in any count with confidence.”
BA is hosting a chat with Matt Forman at 3 p.m. about SAL prospects, so more Bowling Green and Lexington prospects might come up then.
Today I’m unveiling the first of two All BluGrass Baseball teams for the 2009 season. As with most features on the site, we’ll divide BluGrass players into two divisions: one made of rosters of the state’s three minor league teams and the other made of Kentucky natives and college alums. The first team comes from the rosters of the Louisville Bats, Bowling Green Hot Rods and Lexington Legends.
Catcher: Jake Jeffries, Bowling Green Hot Rods — .261, eight home runs, 50 RBI
First Base: Brian Pellegrini, Lexington Legends — .291, 27 home runs, 74 RBI
Second Base: Isaias Velasquez, Bowling Green Hot Rods — .278, two home runs, 40 RBI
Third Base: Juan Francisco, Louisville Bats — .359, five home runs, 19 RBI
Shortstop: Tim Beckham, Bowling Green Hot Rods — .275, five home runs, 63 RBI
Left Field: Daniel Dorn, Louisville Bats — .275, 14 home runs, 47 RBI
Center Field: Drew Stubbs, Louisville Bats — .268, three home runs, 39 RBI
Right Field: Kyeong Kang, Bowling Green Hot Rods — .307, five home runs, 42 RBI
Starting Pitcher 1: Matthew Moore, Bowling Green Hot Rods — 8-5, 3.15, 176 SO
Starting Pitcher 2: Jordan Lyles, Lexington Legends — 7-11, 3.24, 167 SO
Starting Pitcher 3: Matt Maloney, Louisville Bats — 9-9, 3.08, 125 SO
Starting Pitcher 4: Chris Andujar, Bowling Green Hot Rods — 10-4, 2.70, 79 SO
Closer: Henry Villar, Lexington Legends, 3-4, 2.60, 109 SO
Notes: Third base was, by far, the worst position among the three teams. Francisco wins due to his domination of AAA pitching in his brief audition for Louisville. The rotation had plenty of competition with as many as five other starters having an argument for inclusion. If we’d included multiple relievers, Logan Ondrusek, Patrick Urckfitz and Josh Roenicke could have all made the team. Arguably the state’s top position prospect (Chris Heisey) didn’t make the cut because of spending half the season in AA and posting worse numbers than his teammate Dorn in the half season of AAA.