We are a couple of days late with our look back at Kentucky baseball in 2010, but hopefully you can spare one more retrospective with this look at the year’s best highlight from each level of baseball in the Bluegrass State.
MLB Highlight: Corey Hart completes breakout season
Bowling Green native and Greenwood High School alum Corey Hart batted .283 with 31 home runs, 102 RBI, 91 runs scored and 158 hits in 2010 for the Milwaukee Brewers. Along the way Hart started for the National League in the MLB All-Star Game, signed a three-year contract extension and participated in the home run derby. Hart recorded career highs in home runs, RBI and runs scored in 2010 and finished the year in the running for Kentucky’s best MLB hitter.
One-time Louisville Bats Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto named MLB MVPs.
MiLB Highlight: Kipnis caps season with AAA playoff cycle
One-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis ended an impressive 2010 season by hitting for the cycle for the Columbus Clippers after being promoted to AAA for the team’s playoff run. Kipnis batted .307 with 16 home runs, 74 RBI and 96 runs scored across two levels during the regular season. Kipnis finished his college career as an all-American after transferring to Arizona State and has certainly followed through on the promise that led Cleveland to select him in the second round of the 2009 draft. Kipnis enters 2011 with a chance to make the Indians’ MLB roster out of Spring Training.
Non-drafted free agents Richie Rowland, Marcus Nidiffer and Tyler Gatrell excel in professional debuts.
College Highlight: UofL wins second consecutive Big East title
The University of Louisville clinched its second straight Big East Conference championship with a double-header sweep of Notre Dame on May 23. The Cards were eliminated from the NCAA tournament one win shy of the super regional, but were on cloud nine after outscoring the Fighting Irish 23-6 in the championship-clinching series. UofL sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright put together an All-American season, and the Cards boasted a state-high 10 MLB draftees.
Murray St. first baseman Wes Cunningham completes All-American season.
High School Highlight: Harrison County wins fourth title
Freshman starting pitcher Jordan Martin led Harrison County High School to its fourth KHSAA baseball championship with a complete-game championship-clinching win. The champions defeated Butler County High School 2-1 to win the title and ended the season on a 24-game winning streak. Harrison County placed two players on the KHSBCA all-state teams and three players on the KHSAA All-Tournament team during the state playoffs. Junior outfielder Eric Sanders was named the MVP of the state tournament.
Honorable Mention: Western Hills shortstop J. T. Riddle wins “Mr. Baseball.”
Yesterday we looked at the hitting and pitching leaderboards for full-season Kentucky minor leaguers in advance of the BluGrass Baseball MiLB awards post. If you saw that post you already know former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer was named the rookie of the year, but looking at the statistical leaders among players that made their professional debuts in 2010 is still helpful.
The 2010 MiLB season is over for all but a handful of Kentucky minor leaguers still active in the playoffs, so it is time for the BluGrass Baseball 2010 MiLB awards.
Hitter of the year: OF Jake Shaffer (High A High Desert)
Former NKU outfielder and Walton native Jake Shaffer excelled during his first full professional season in 2009 but brought his game to a new level in 2010. Shaffer led all Kentucky minor leaguers in batting average (.336), on-base percentage (.388) and slugging percentage (.511). The left-handed batter spent all but three games of 2010 at High Desert and slugged nine home runs, drove in 78 runs and scored 58 times.
Honorable Mention: Former UK outfielder, turned second baseman, Jason Kipnis finished second to Shaffer in batting average (.307), on-base percentage (.386) and slugging percentage (.492) and led Kentucky minor leaguers with 96 runs scored…Former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill slugged 16 home runs, drove in 83 runs and scored 89 times…Former UofL infielder Chris Dominguez led the state with 21 home runs and 101 RBI.
Pitcher of the year: RHP Nathan Adcock (High A Bradenton)
Elizabethtown native Nathan Adcock has struggled since being drafted out of North Hardin High School in 2006, but came into his own this season. Adcock finished the season 11-7 with a 3.38 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 141 and one-third innings. The right-handed pitcher ranked among the top five Kentucky MiLB pitchers in ERA, strikeouts, batting average against, wins and innings pitched.
Honorable Mention: LCA alum Robbie Ross was 12-11 with a 3.58 ERA and 111 strikeouts…Former UK left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin was 6-4 with a 3.11 ERA in an injury-shortened season…One-time Madisonville resident Matt Klinker was 11-10 with a 3.79 ERA between AA Carolina and the Louisville Bats.
Rookie of the year: C/1B Marcus Nidiffer (Short-season Tri-City)
Former UK catcher and 2010 Astros non-drafted free agent Marcus Nidiffer spent his debut season proving he deserved to be selected in the 2010 draft. In 69 games between rookie Greeneville and short-season Tri-City, Nidiffer batted .286 with 14 home runs, 36 RBI and 40 runs scored. Nidiffer’s 14 home runs ranked fifth among all Kentucky MiLB players, including full-season ones.
Honorable Mention: Former UofL infielder Phil Wunderlich led Kentucky rookies with a .330 batting average…Former UK left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell was 2-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 11 games for rookie-level Elizabethton…Boyd County native Tyler Gatrell saved 13 games for the GCL Royals
In the second leaderboard post we’ll look at the top statistical pitching performers from around Kentucky MiLB action. Remember comparisons across leagues are difficult, so this leaderboard should be considered a starting point for examining the best performances from Kentucky minor leaguers this season.
Kelly Thesier of MLB.com reports Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere was rewarded for persevering through an injury-marred season with a MLB promotion Saturday.
Boyd County native and 2010 Royals NDFA Tyler Gatrell was named to the Arizona League postseason all-star team after leading the league with 12 saves.
Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reports several Mariners executives weren’t aware of the extend of former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke‘s legal trouble when the team acquired him in the Cliff Lee trade. Lueke “pleaded no contest last year to a charge of unlawful imprisonment with violence against a woman who was at his apartment in Bakersfield, Calif. in May 2008,” Baker writes.
Mike Osborne of Voice of America profiles the Hillerich family, who made a name for themselves making Louisville Slugger baseball bats.
The Louisville Bats dropped consecutive games for the first time since the end of June and were shutout first the first time since July 1 with a 1-0 loss to Columbus. Left-handed pitcher Matt Maloney surrendered just one run in six innings of relief of Travis Wood.
Great Lakes scored five runs in the top of the ninth inning to break open a tied game and hand the Bowling Green Hot Rods a 10-5 loss. Shortstop Tyler Bortnick was 2-6 with a home run.
The Lexington Legends‘ game with the West Virginia Power was rained out.
In his second game for short-season Tri-City, former UK catcher and 2010 Astros NDFA Marcus Nidiffer was 3-4 with two home runs, five RBI and two runs scored.
Former UK outfielder and 2010 Twins draftee Lance Ray was 3-4 with a double for low A Beloit.
Former UK catcher Sean Coughlin slugged his fifth home run of the season for AA Mobile.
Former UofL left-handed reliever and 2010 Cardinals draftee Bob Revesz earned his third win of the season for rookie-level Johnson City.
Former UofL infielder and 2010 Rays draftee Phil Wunderlich was 3-4 with two doubles for short-season Hudson Valley.
Former WKU infielder Wade Gaynor was 3-6 with two doubles, two RBI and one run scored for low A West Michigan.
Former NKU right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones earned his ninth win of the season after surrendering one run on five hits in seven innings for high A Winston-Salem.
One-time Madisonville resident Matt Klinker picked up his 10th win of the season for AA Carolina with seven innings of one-run ball. Klinker struck out seven and walked none.
Paducah native Michael Broadway picked up his third win of the season for AAA Gwinnett.
Boyd County native and 2010 Royals NDFA Tyler Gatrell picked up his first career win for the rookie-level AZL Royals.
Right-handed pitcher Chad Reineke led the Louisville Bats to a 5-2 win over Norfolk. Reineke surrendered just four hits and struck out four in six innings to move to 8-7 on the season.
Delmarva scored eight runs over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to blow open the game en route to a 9-1 win over the Lexington Legends. Right-handed pitcher Jose Cisnero fell to 6-6 on the season despite surrendering just three runs on three hits in six innings.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods scored five runs in the top of the ninth inning but surrendered three runs in the bottom half of the inning to suffer a 6-5 loss to Fort Wayne. Shortstop Tyler Bortnick slugged his seventh home run of the season.
Former UofL catcher and 2010 Giants draftee Jeff Arnold was 3-4 with two home runs, three RBI and two runs scored for short-season Salem-Keizer.
Former UK catcher Marcus Nidifferhomered for the second straight game and for the tenth time this season for rookie-level Greeneville.
Former UofL first baseman and 2010 Rangers draftee Andrew Clark tallied three hits and scored twice for short-season Spokane.
Former WKU infielder and 2010 Phillies draftee Matt Payton was 3-5 with a run scored for the rookie-level GCL Phillies.
Former EKU infielder Neil Sellers slugged his fourth home run of the season for AAA Lehigh Valley.
Former Kentucky Wesleyan right-handed pitcher Cory Wade earned his third win of the season for AAA Albuquerque.
Former Union College right-handed pitcher Marty Popham earned his fifth win for high A Kinston after striking out 10 in five scoreless innings.
Boyd County native and 2010 Royals NDFA Tyler Gatrell earned his ninth save of the season for the rookie-level AZL Royals.
We’ll start the July awards series by looking at the best performances from alumni of Kentucky schools across Minor League Baseball:
Hitter of the month: OF Collin Cowgill (AA Mobile)
Lexington native and former UK outfielder Collin Cowgill batted .327 with five home runs, 16 RBI and 16 runs scored in July. While Cowgill didn’t led Kentucky alumni with a .945 OPS in July and ranked second in home runs and third in runs scored. Cowgill’s .571 slugging percentage led Kentucky alumni for the month.
Honorable Mention: Jake Shaffer, Wes Cunningham, Drew Lee, Tyler Kuhn, Marcus Nidiffer, Adam Duvall, Andrew Clark, Phil Wunderlich, Wade Gaynor
Pitcher of the month: LHP Robbie Ross (High A Bakersfield)
LCA alum made his high A debut in July and finished the month 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts for Bakersfield. Ross struck out 21 and walked eight in 23 and one-third innings. His three wins led all Kentucky alumni for the month.
Honorable Mention: Tyler Gatrell, Thomas Royse, Nathan Jones, Daniel Calhoun, Chris Rusin, Neil Holland, Justin Marks
The Louisville Bats pounded out 11 hits behind recently demoted Cincinnati Reds right-handed pitcher Micah Owings en route to an 8-3 win over Gwinnet. Owings surrendered just one run on one hit in three innings, and shortstop Zack Cozart, third baseman Juan Francisco, right fielder Daniel Dorn and catcher Corky Miller each homered for Louisville.
The Lexington Legends tallied seven hits but couldn’t score a run in a 3-0 loss to Savannah. Right-handed pitcher Tanner Bushue took the loss despite surrendering just two runs in six innings and striking out six batters.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods pitching was no match for the Cedar Rapids offense in a 7-2 loss to the Kernels. Third baseman Julio Cedeno was 2-4 with a run scored for the Hot Rods.
Former UK catcher and 2010 Astros NDFA Marcus Nidiffer slugged his eighth home run of the season, drove in three runs and scored twice for rookie-level Greeneville.
Elizabethtown native Nathan Adcock earned his eighth win of the season after holding Dunedin scoreless for six innings on just two hits for high A Bradenton.
Louisville native and 2010 Astros draftee Jason Chowning picked up his first professional win with three scoreless innings of relief for short-season Tri-City.
Boyd County High School alum and 2010 Royals NDFA Tyler Gatrell earned his eighth save of the season for the rookie-level AZL Royals and still hasn’t surrendered an earned run in his professional career over 13 and one-third innings.
Former UK outfielder Antone DeJesus was 3-4 with a walk, run scored and one RBI for AA Springfield.
Former UofL infielder Chris Dominguez was 3-4 with a double, run scored and RBI for low A Augusta.
Former EKU infielder Neil Sellers was 3-4 with a double and two RBI for AAA Lehigh Valley.
Ballard High School alum Jeremy Sowers earned just his second win of the season for AAA Columbus with two scoreless innings of relief Sunday.
Paducah native and 2010 Rangers draftee Jonathan Roof was 2-5 with three RBI and one run scored for low A Hickory.