BluGrass Baseball Week Three Weekend Preview

College Baseball

It’s time for the Week three weekend preview. Check out storylines to watch in a tournament-heavy slate of weekend games for Kentucky colleges:

Matchup of the week: University of Kentucky @ Rice

UK heads to Houston this weekend for the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. On Friday the Cats face No. 21 Rice and preseason national player of the year favorite Anthony Rendon. UK head coach Gary Henderson tabbed sophomore left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers to the mound versus the Owls. Rogers doesn’t have a decision on the season but has a 3.55 ERA in 12 and two-third innings on the season. Rendon, who Baseball America ranks as the No. 1 prospect in the 2011 draft, is batting .429 with two home runs, seven RBI and 12 runs scored in 10 games.

Tournament Spotlight No. 1: Houston College Classic

Henderson and the Cats have the rare opportunity to play a weekend series at a MLB stadium in front of a national audience. National baseball writers as well a plethora of scouts will be on hand to see Rendon and UK top draft prospect Alex Meyer. Henderson decided not to send Meyer to the mound on Friday for the matchup with Rendon everyone hoped to see, but he will start versus Houston on Saturday. On Sunday sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper will take the mound versus Utah.

Tournament Spotlight No. 2: College of Charleston Classic

Western Kentucky University will head to South Carolina for the second consecutive weekend, this time for to face No. 18 College of Charleston, New York Tech and Auburn. WKU will look to rebound from a disappointing showing at the Baseball at the Beach Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S. C., during which the team went 1-2. Head coach Chris Finwood will send sophomore ace Tanner Perkins to the mound on Friday versus College of Charleston, freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman to the mound on Saturday versus New York Tech and sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Haydel to the mound on Sunday versus Auburn.

Tournament spotlight No. 3: University of Tennessee Tournament

Morehead State University will head south to Knoxville, Tenn., to play in the UT Tournament versus Indiana, Bradley and Tennessee. On Friday the Eagles will send redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Josh Schneider to the mound versus Indiana and Lexington native Chad Martin. PLD alum Martin is 0-0 with a 2.16 ERA in three relief appearances on the season. On Saturday Morehead St. senior right-handed pitcher Trey Smith will face Bradley, and on Sunday freshman left-handed pitcher Noah Smallwood will face Tennessee.

Tournament spotlight No. 4: Memphis Classic Tournament

Eastern Kentucky University heads to Memphis, Tenn., this weekend for a three-game appearance in the Memphis Classic. The Colonels will face Southern Illinois on Friday, Memphis on Saturday and Oral Roberts on Sunday. Expect sophomore right-handed pitcher Anthony Bazzani to get the Friday start for EKU, though head coach Jason Stein has not yet announced his weekend rotation.

Out-of-state Ky. collegians playing Ky. colleges: RHP Chad Martin (Indiana), C/OF Wes Wilson (Indiana), C Ty Downing,  SS Zach Osborne (Tennessee), RHP Casey Lucchese (College of Charleston), RHP Chase Joiner (Memphis)

Morehead St. will face a quartet of Kentucky high school alumni in the University of Tennessee Tournament in the form of Indiana catchers Wes Wilson and Ty Downing and right-handed pitcher Chad Martin and Tennessee shortstop Zach Osborne. Martin, a PLD alum, will start versus Morehead St. on Friday. Wilson, a Bryan Station alum, is batting .278 in six games, and Downing, a Greenwood alum, is batting .333 in five games. Osborne, a PRP alum, is batting .438 with three RBI and four runs scored on the season. College of Charleston closer Casey Lucchese, a PLD alum, will look for his first save of the season versus WKU. Joiner is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

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Wright selected to USA national team; Ketucky collegians named summer league all-stars

College Baseball

Links from around Kentucky college baseball:

  • University of Louisville sophomore infielder Ryan Wright has been selected to the 22-man 2010 Team USA Collegiate National Team.
  • University of Kentucky and Lexington Hustlers right-handed pitcher Joe Devine was named an all-star in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.
  • Lexington native Wes Wilson (Indiana), Morehead State University outfielder Cameron Flynn, Morehead St. and Hustlers infielder Travis Redmon, and Lexington native and Hustlers outfielder Justin Riddle were also named GLSC all-stars.
  • Georgetown College outfielder Tyler Fisher was named a New York Collegiate Baseball League all-star.
  • UK catcher Michael Williams was named a all-star in the New England Collegiate baseball League.

Draft Preview: Ky. Alumni

Major League Baseball

Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

The Major League Baseball amateur player’s draft kicks off tonight with the first round in primetime so we’ll spend the day preview Kentucky players that might hear their names called at some point in the 50-round draft. First we’ll look at alumni of Kentucky high schools playing elsewhere in college baseball and players that have spent some time at a Kentucky college who figure to be drafted:

First Round Talent

  • The crown jewel of the Kentucky draft class is without a doubt Pleasure Ridge Park alumni Zack Cox, currently a third baseman for the University of Arkansas. Cox is ranked by many as the best college bat in the entire draft and should last no longer than the first 10 picks. Several mock drafts have him going to the Mets at No. 7 overall. Since Cox is a draft-eligible sophomore he is considered a tougher sign than your average top-ten pick and could be pushed back to college if a team isn’t willing to meet his reportedly high contract demands.
  • Since former University of Kentucky senior left-handed pitcher James Paxton was drafted in the supplemental first round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010, Paxton has been busy. First he shocked the baseball world by returning to UK for his senior season, then he became the subject of an NCAA investigation after comments from a Blue Jays official in a Canadian newspaper implicated him of violating the NCAA’s no-agent rule, sued UK for holding him out of competition and finally left school to prepare for this year’s draft in the independent American Association. After all that, Paxton appears likely to end up where he started as a supplemental-round pick. He could slide to the second round after missing so much time and would need to grant his home-country Blue Jays permission to draft him for a second consecutive year.

Other prospects of note:

  • Danville native and former Eastern Kentucky University pitcher Patrick Cooper was selected in the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 34th round in 2009, but opted to follow through with his commitment to Bradley University, where he struggled at times as a junior. Cooper was a Cape Cod League All-Star last summer and could improve his draft status to the first 10 rounds after improving down the stretch for Bradley. In his last three starts Cooper, a right-handed pitcher who touched 93 mph with his fastball in the Cape, surrendered just four earned runs in his last three starts.
  • Paducah native and Michigan St. junior shortstop Jonathan Roof will look to follow his two brothers, Eric and Shawn, into professional baseball. Roof was an All-Big Ten shortstop for Michigan St. in 2010 and profiles as an excellent defender. Baseball America projects Roof to go somewhere around the 10th round.

Eligible Juniors

  • RHP/INF Damon McCormick — St. X — Valparaiso
  • C Wes Wilson — Bryan Station — Indiana

Eligible Seniors

  • LHP David Vicini — Lexington Catholic — Austin Peay
  • LHP Jack Snodgrass — Bowling Green HS — Austin Peay
  • RHP Tyler Gatrell — Boyd County — Marshall
  • RHP Chad Edwards — Reidland — Middle Tennessee