Each month of the minor league season we’ll name a hitter and pitcher of the month for the state’s three minor-league teams and for the group of Kentucky natives in the minors. Check out the Louisville Bats team awards below:
Hitter of the month: INF Chris Valaika
- Stats: .329/.377/.457 — 6 RBI, 8 R
- Valaika was one of the few bright spots for the Bats’ offense during the first month of the 2010 season. The infielder has yet to homer in 2010, but lead the team in batting average, on-base percentage and runs scored in the month.
- Honorable Mention: OF Chris Heisey, OF Daniel Dorn, C Corky Miller
Pitcher of the Month: LHP Aroldis Chapman
- Stats: 1-1, 1.29 ERA, 22 SO/12 BB, 21 IP
- Chapman has been as advertised so far in 2010 and has dominated AAA competition at times while still showing some control problems that have kept him from a big-league callup. The Cuban defector leads Bats starting pitchers in ERA, batting average against and WHIP.
- Honorable Mention: LHP Travis Wood, RHP Sam LeCure, LHP Matt Maloney
Christian Friedrich; Photo by Matt McGee via Flickr
Last summer I released the first BluGrass Baseball top prospects lists. The list was divided into two sections: top 10 prospects on Kentucky Minor League teams and top 10 Kentucky alumni prospects. Clearly the in-state Minor League team list has changed significantly for the 2010 season, and the natives list has also seen some slight revisions. I’ve included the list below, but you can always find it on the “Top Prospects” page here. A player’s ranking on the Baseball America top 100 prospect list is included in parenthesis next to his name.
BluGrass Baseball Top Prospects (Ky. Minor League Teams)
- LHP Aroldis Chapman (22) — Louisville Bats
- LF/3B Todd Frazier (43) — Louisville Bats
- SS Jiovanni Mier (73) — Lexington Legends
- OF Chris Heisey — Louisville Bats
- RHP Tanner Bushue — Lexington Legends
- 3B Juan Francisco — Louisville Bats
- LHP Travis Wood — Louisville Bats
- RHP Alexander Colome — Bowling Green Hot Rods
- LHP Matt Maloney — Louisville Bats
- SS Zach Cozart — Louisville Bats
BluGrass Baseball Top Prospects (Ky. Alumni)
- LHP Christian Friedrich (33) — EKU — Colorado Rockies
- OF Ben Revere — Lexington Catholic High School– Minnesota Twins
- RHP Robbie Ross — Lexington Christian Academy — Texas Rangers
- 1B Ryan Streiby — UK — Detroit Tigers
- OF Collin Cowgill — UK — Arizona Diamondbacks
- RHP Trystan Magnuson — UofL — Toronto Blue Jays
- 3B Chris Dominguez — UofL — San Francisco Giants
- RHP Chaz Roe — Lafayette High School — Colorado Rockies
- OF John Shelby — UK — Chicago White Sox
- OF Sawyer Carroll — UK — San Diego Padres
The Louisville Bats are set to start play today and will feature two Kentucky natives in the lineup as well as several of the best prospects in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Check out the roster below via the Courier-Journal. I’ve included Baseball America prospect rankings for the Reds organization. Remember top prospects Juan Francisco and Mike Leake are starting the season with the Reds but might appear in Louisville at some point if they struggle, and Yonder Alonso is starting the season in AA but should earn a callup to Louisville early this season.
- LHP Travis Wood (BA #7) (SP) — 2nd Round (2005)
- RHP Sam LeCure (SP) — 4th Round (2005)
- LHP Matt Maloney (BA #8) (SP) — Phillies 3rd Round (2005)
- RHP Federico Baez — Cubs NDFA (2002)
- RHP Jon Adkins — Athletics 9th Round (1998)
- RHP Chad Reineke — 2005 Lexington Legend — Astros 13th Round (2004)
- RHP Enerio Del Rosario (BA # 19) — NDFA 2005
- LHP Lee Tabor — 30th Round (2006)
- RHP Justin Lehr (SP) — Athletics 8th Round (1999)
- LHP Pedro Viola (BA # 22) — NDFA (2005)
- RHP Carlos Fisher — 11th Round (2005)
- RHP Jared Burton — Athletics 8th Round (2002)
- LHP Aroldis Chapman (BA #1A*) (SP) — Cuban FA (2009)
- Corky Miller — Amateur FA (1998)
- Wilkin Castillo — NDFA 2002
- Jake Long — 37th Round (2005)
- 2B — Chris Burke — St. X High School — Astros 1st Round (2004)
- 3B — Michael Griffin — 14th Round (2005)
- 3B — Drew Sutton — 2005 Lexington Legend — S/R — Astros 15th Round (2005)
- 2B — Chris Valaika (BA #12) — 3rd Round (2006)
- SS — Zach Cozart (BA #10) — 2nd Round (2007)
- 3B/LF — Todd Frazier (BA #1B) — 1st Supp. Round (2007)
- RF — Josh Anderson — Pulaski Co., EKU, 2004 Lexington Legend — 4th Round (2003)
- LF/1B — Daniel Dorn — 32nd Round (2006)
- LF — Chris Heisey (BA #4) — 17th Round (2006)
- OF — Luis Terrero — D’Backs NDFA (1997)
* — Chapman signed after Baseball America released its Reds top 10 prospects list, but is ranked higher than No. 1 Frazier on the overall top 100 prospects list published by the magazine.
Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr
Earlier this month I posted a Spring Training position battle primer for Kentucky fans looking to keep track of their native sons hoping to make MLB rosters. These were the borderline major leaguers and players assured of making the roster but fighting for a bigger role, not established players. With one week left before Opening Day I thought I’d update each battle so you have a better idea of where the official Kentuckians in the majors count will stand in 2010. A special kudos goes to PLD alum and Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis who appears ready to start the season with the big league club after starting catcher Russell Martin suffered a groin injury.
Toronto Blue Jays: Closer
- University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is all but eliminated in the three-way closer race that will go to righties Jason Fraser or Kevin Gregg. Downs recently commented to a Toronto newspaper he prefers pitching in the eighth inning anyway.
San Francisco Giants: Fifth starter
- Louisville-native and Bellarmine alum Todd Wellemeyer has all but wrapped up the fifth starter position after star prospect Madison Bumgarner was sent to AAA this week. Wellemeyer is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA this spring.
Cleveland Indians: Left fielder
- Lexington-native Austin Kearns has likely lost the starting job to top prospects Michael Brantley and Matt Laporta, but should still stick with the Indians as a reserve. The team is very left-handed, so Kearns’ right-handed bat is needed for balance.
Seattle Mariners: Relief pitcher
- Louisville-native Shawn Kelley appears destined to make the team per this MLB.com blog post, but hasn’t had a great spring. Kelley has given up eight runs in 12 innings, but does have 14 strikeouts compared to just one walk.
New York Mets: Relief pitcher
- No one in the Mets bullpen has really stepped up this Spring so Louisville Male alum Sean Green remains firmly in the mix for an Opening Day spot despite a 6.75 ERA and eight walks compared to four strikeouts this spring.
Cincinnati Reds: Utility reserve
- Despite an early camp injury, non-roster invitee and St X alum Chris Burke is still hanging on to a big league Spring Training spot. Burke is batting just .188 in eight games, so he’ll have to sell the Reds on his defensive versatility to avoid spending 2010 in his hometown with the Bats. 2009 Louisville Bat Drew Sutton is still in the mix.
- Candidates: Burke, Sutton, Aaron Miles, Paul Janish
Hit the jump for the concluded competitions.
Todd Wellemeyer; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Spring Training games are officially underway, making today an excellent chance to examine what BluGrass Baseball players are battling for specific roles on major league squads and roster spots. I’ve outlined relevant battles I can think of below, but feel free to include any you would add in the comments section.
Toronto Blue Jays: Closer
- University of Kentucky and PRP alum Scott Downs is in a three-way battle for the Blue Jays closer position. Toronto manager Cito Gaston has said he might use a closer-by-committee approach if none of the three candidates step up. Downs saved nine games in 13 opportunities last season.
- Other candidates: Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg
St. Louis Cardinals: Fifth Starter
- 2009 Louisville Bats starting pitcher Ben Jukich is in Cardinals camp as the team’s Rule 5 pick. Jukich must be on the 25-man roster all season for the Cardinals to avoid giving him back to the Reds, so he may be given added chance to make the team out of camp. If he doesn’t earn a starting spot he could be considered for a left-handed reliever spot.
- Other candidates: Rich Hill, Mitchell Boggs, Kyle McClellan
Los Angles Dodgers: Right-handed reliever
- Kentucky Wesleyan alum Cory Wade is looking to regain his spot in the Dodgers bullpen one year after shoulder pain led him back to AAA. Wade is in an open competition for a right-handed setup role after Ronald Belisario’s visa trouble getting into the country, but he would probably take a spot in middle relief if it means leaving the minors.
- Other Candidates: Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, Charlie Haeger
Hit the jump to see more spring position battles.
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.
- 3) — RHP Jordan Lyles — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 4) — RHP Sammy Gervacio — 2005/2006 Lexington Legends
- 6) — RHP Ross Seaton — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 8 — OF Jay Austin — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 11) — SS Tommy Manzella — 2006 Lexington Legends
- 12) — RHP Daniel Meszaros — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 14) — LHP Fernando Abad — 2008 Lexington Legends
- 15) — RHP Matt Nevarez — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 19) — RHP Arcenio Leon — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 20) — C/OF Koby Clemens — 2006/2007 Lexington Legends
- 21) — OF Brian Bogusevic — 2006 Lexington Legends
- 23) — RHP Evan Englebrook — 2005 Lexington Legends
- 25) — OF Collin DeLome — 2008 Lexington Legends
- 26) — LHP Polin Trinidad — 2007 Lexington Legends
- 27) — RHP Henry Villar — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 28) — RHP Ashton Mowdy — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 29) — LHP Brad Dydalewicz — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 30) — RHP Kyle Greenwalt — 2009 Lexington Legends
- 27) — LHP Justin Marks — University of Louisville
Toronto Blue Jays
- 1) — RHP Zach Stewart — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 7) — RHP Josh Roenicke — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 20) — RHP Daniel Webb — Ashland, Ky. (Blazer)
- 22) — RHP Trystan Magnuson — University of Louisville
- 22) — LHP Richard Sullivan — Louisville, Ky. (Ballard)
St. Louis Cardinals
- 27) — LHP Ben Jukich — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 9) — OF Collin Cowgill — University of Kentucky
San Francisco Giants
- 18) — 3B Chris Dominguez — University of Louisville
- 31) — C Craig Tatum — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 24) — RHP B. J. Rosenberg — University of Louisville
- 7) — LHP Robbie Ross — Lexington, Ky. (LCA)
Tampa Bay Rays
- 4) — LHP Matt Moore — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
- 6) — SS Tim Beckham — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
- 10) — RHP Nick Barnese — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
- 13) — RHP Joe Cruz — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
- 26) — LHP Frank De Los Santos — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
- 29) — C Jake Jefferies — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
- 31) — OF Keyong Kang — 2009 Bowling Green Hot Rods
- 1) — INF/OF Todd Frazier — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 2) — 1B Yonder Alonso — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 4) — OF Chris Heisey — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 5) — 3B Juan Francisco — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 7) — LHP Travis Wood — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 8 — LHP Matt Maloney — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 12) — SS/2B Chris Valakia — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 14) — RHP Logan Ondrusek — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 19) — RHP Enerio Del Rosario — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 22) — LHP Pedro Viola — 2009 Louisville Bats
- 2) — LHP Christian Friedrich — Eastern Kentucky University
- 24) — RHP Chaz Roe — Lexington, Ky. (Lafayette)
Kansas City Royals
- 19) — OF Jordan Parraz — 2007 Lexington Legends
- 11) — 1B Ryan Strieby — University of Kentucky
- 24) — 3B Wade Gaynor — Western Kentucky University
- 28) — RHP Scott Green — University of Kentucky
- 5) — OF Ben Revere — Lexington, Ky. (Lex Cath)
Chicago White Sox
- 25) — OF John Shelby — University of Kentucky
- 26) — RHP Nathan Jones — Northern Kentucky University
Sawyer Carroll; Photo: UK Athletics
Jonathan Mayo and Lisa Winston of MLB.com have picked their minor league offensive and pitcher of the year winners for each of the 30 major league franchises. As you might expect, several include information about BluGrass Baseball players, and I’ve passed those along below.
- EKU alum Christian Friedrich was named the Rockies best minor league pitcher.
- Lexington Christian Academy alum Ben Revere was named the Minnesota Twins offensive player of the year.
- UK alum Sawyer Carroll was named co-offensive player of the year in the San Diego Padres system.
- MLB.com selected 2009 Louisville Bats Chris Heisey and Travis Wood as the Reds’ player and pitcher of the year.
- Lexington Legends ace Jordan Lyles was named the Astros’ pitcher of the year, and former Legend Koby Clemens was named the offensive player of the year in the Houston Astros’ system.
- Bowling Green Hot Rods ace Matt Moore is mentioned among the lower level prospects in the Tampa Bay Rays’ system that will likely contribute down the road.
Chris Heisey; Photo via Flickr
Baseball America has released its top 10 prospects list for the Cincinnati Reds, and the Louisville Bats ran away with most of the honors. Players who appeared in Louisville this season made up four of the top five slots, and six of the top ten. No. 1 prospect Todd Frazier recorded 63 at-bats in Louisville after spending most of the season with AA Carolina. Here’s a look at the Bats’ players in the top ten and a snippet of analysis. The list is subscriber only, so to get the full Baseball America experience you’ll have to sign up there. (Full list)
#1) 2b/OF Todd Frazier
- Frazier batted .302 with two home runs an 9 RBI in 16 games with the Bats, and .292 with 16 home runs and 77 RBI on the season.
- BA: “Frazier’s initial big league opportunity would seem to more likely come at third base or left field. He’ll head to Triple-A Louisville in 2010 for some final polish.”
#2) 1B Yonder Alonso
- Alonso made a brief appearance with the Bats during the International League playoffs and batted .292 with nine home runs and 52 RBI between three levels this season.
- BA: “Alonso likely will spend all or most of 2010 in the minors, but his bat could hasten his path.”
#4) Chris Heisey
- Heisey earned a spot in the prestigious Futures Game during the MLB All-Star game during a season in which he batted .314 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI and .278 with nine home runs and 37 RBI in Louisville.
- BA: “If the Reds part ways with arbitration-eligible Johnny Gomes, Heisey could compete for a spot in a left-field platoon with Chris Dickerson.”
#5) 3B Juan Francisco
- Francisco batted .295 with 27 home runs and 93 RBI in 2009 before earning a September callup to September. In Louisville, he batted .359 with five home runs and 19 RBI.
- BA: “Third base currently belongs to Scott Rolen, so Francisco will spend 2010 in Triple-A, and he may see more time in left field.”
#7) LHP Travis Wood
- Wood was the Reds’ best minor league pitcher in 2009, going 13-5 with 1.77 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 167.2 innings pitched. In Louisville, Travis was 4-2 with a 3.14 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 48.2 innings pitched.
- BA: “Wood will go into spring training with a chance to make Cincinnati’s rotation.”
#8) LHP Matt Maloney
- Maloney was 9-9 with a 3.08 ERA in 23 minor league games in 2009 and went 2-4 with a 4.87 ERA in seven major league starts. Maloney struck out 158 in 190.2 innings.
- BA: “Maloney will head into spring training as a candidate for the back of the Reds’ rotation. His ceiling isn’t much higher than that…”