Matt Rice bats for WKU: BluGrass Baseball photo
While Louisville native Zack Cox and Danville native Blake Perry signed professional contracts before Monday’s midnight draft signing deadline, 16 other Kentucky draftees did not and will head to college in the coming weeks. UK shortstop Taylor Black, UofL outfielder Stewart Ijames, WKU right-handed pitcher Rye Davis, NKU left-handed pitcher David Middendorf and WKU catcher Matt Rice were the Kentucky collegians who elected to return to school rather than sign deals with their professional clubs. Lexington native Casey Lucchese, the Cubs’ 39th round pick, will return to the College of Charleston for his senior season in 2011.
Ohio high school right-handed pitcher Dace Kime, the Pirates’ eight-round pick, was the highest drafted Kentucky player to choose college and will attend the University of Louisville this fall. UofL signee Chad Green, an Illinois right-handed pitcher and Blue Jays 37th round pick, also will play for the Cards in 2011. (Update 8/23: This item has been updated to correct previous error about UofL signee Joel Bender, who did sign with Reds)
Mr. Kentucky Baseball and Western Hills High School infielder/right-handed pitcher J. T. Riddle, the Red Sox’ 35th round pick; Lexington Christian Academy outfielder Lucas Witt, the Dodgers’ 38th round pick; and Trinity High School left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell, the Nationals’ 42nd round pick, will each play for the University of Kentucky in 2011 rather than sign pro deals. UK out-of-state commitments Jonathan Bobea, a New York right-handed pitcher and Angles’ 19th round pick, and Matt Reida, an Indiana infielder and White Sox 47th round pick, will also suit up for the Cats in 2011.
Hopkinsville High School right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman, the first Kentucky high schooler selected in the 2010 draft as the Royals 32nd round pick, will follow through on his commitment to Western Kentucky University. Former Boone County High School outfielder Ronald Cotton, the White Sox’ 45th round pick, will play for the University of Cincinnati next season. In all 31 of 48 players with Kentucky ties selected in the 2010 draft have signed professional contracts as well as six non-drafted free agents. Former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton, the Mariners’ fourth-round pick, has yet to sign a pro deal but wasn’t restricted by the Monday deadline as he pitched in independent ball in 2010.
With the weekend deadline for MLB draft picks to sign looming, several of the Kentucky high school prospects selected in the 2010 appear ready to head to college. Ohio prep left-handed pitcher and University of Louisville signee Dace Kime, the eighth round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, told Tim McDonough of The Crescent-News in Defiance, Ohio, that he would follow through on his committment to UofL instead of signing with the Pirates. “The more I waited around (for the Pirates) and the more I was around Louisville, the more persuaded I became to go to school,” Kime told McDonough. “My mom didn’t know about my decision, my dad (Jay Kime) didn’t know about my decision, I just made it and let Louisville know I was coming. Then I told my parents.”
Similarly Mr. Kentucky Baseball, J. T. Riddle, the Western Hills High School shortstop/pitcher and Boston Red Sox 35th round selection, told Linda Younkin of The State Journal in Frankfort he would follow through on his commitment to the University of Kentucky. “After being drafted there was some thought about not going [to UK], but the Red Sox had come back and said that where my shoulder was injured they couldn’t offer what I was asking and so that really put that down the drain, and I just decided to go on to UK,” Riddle told Younkin. In July the Courier-Journal also reported Trinity High School right-handed pitcher Corey Littrell, the Nationals’ 42nd round pick and Louisville Slugger player of the year, would attend UK.
Indiana prep infielder Matt Reida, the White Sox 47th round pick, told the Kokomo Tribune in Indiana after the draft he was likely following through on his commitment to UK and has given no indication to the contrary since. Boone County High School outfielder Ronald Cotton, the White Sox 45th round pick, committed to play collegiate ball at the University of Cincinnati in July, one month after the draft. I’ve found no media reports about the status of Hopkinsville High School right-handed pitcher and WKU signee Justin Hageman, Lexington Christian Academy outfielder and UK signee Lucas Witt or UofL signees Joel Bender and Chad Green. Since each of those players was drafted after the 25th round the chances of them attending school are good.
The Kentucky high school player who appears most likely to sign a professional contract is Danville native Blake Perry, a right-handed pitcher who signed with UK but was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth round. Perry told The Advocate-Messenger in late July he still had no idea whether he would sign or not, but he figures to garner a six-figure signing bonus if he choses to go to Arizona. Earlier this week Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported the Diamondbacks were still working to sign Perry.
Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo
We’re just over three weeks from the Aug. 16 deadline for Major League teams to sign their non-college senior draft picks, so I thought we’d look at the remaining Kentucky draftees who have yet to sign. Remember over-slot deals aren’t announced until the deadline so some of these players may have agreed to deals that haven’t been announced yet:
- 3B — Zack Cox — Louisville (University of Arkansas) — 1st Round — St. Louis Cardinals
- LHP — James Paxton — University of Kentucky (Ind. League) — 4th Round — Seattle Mariners
- RHP — Blake Perry — Danville (Pendleton Academy, Fla.) — 6th Round — Arizona Diamondbacks
- RHP — Dace Kime — Ohio HS (University of Louisville Signee) — 8th Round — Pittsburgh Pirates
- LHP — Joel Bender — Ohio HS (UofL Signee) — 27th Round — Cincinnati Reds
- SS — Taylor Black — University of Kentucky — 28th Round — St. Louis Cardinals
- OF — Stewart Ijames — UofL — 29th Round — New York Yankees
- RHP — Justin Hageman — Hopkinsville High School — 32nd Round — Kansas City Royals
- SS — J. T. Riddle — Western Hills High School — 35th Round — Boston Red Sox
- RHP — Rye Davis — Western Kentucky University — 36th Round — Cleveland Indians
- RHP — Chad Green — Illinois HS (UofL Signee) — 37th Round — Toronto Blue Jays
- OF — Lucas Witt — Lexington Christian Academy — 38th Round — Los Angeles Dodgers
- RHP — Casey Lucchese — Lexington (College of Charleston) — 39th Round — Chicago Cubs
- LHP — Corey Littrell — Louisville Trinity — 42nd Round — Washington Nationals
- LHP — David Middendorf — Northern Kentucky University — 44th Round — New York Yankees
- OF — Ronald Cotton — Boone County High School — 45th Round — Chicago White Sox
- INF — Matt Reida — Indiana HS (UK Signee) — 47th Round — Chicago White Sox
- C — Matt Rice — WKU — 50th Round — New York Yankees
Rice has already gone on record with his intentions to return to WKU for his senior season, but the final destinations for the other players are at least relatively uncertain. It’s probably safe to assume most of the high schoolers drafted in the later rounds will follow through on their college commitments, barring a team paying way over the slot recommendation to sign them.
Austin Kearns; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
We did this last summer, but with Monday’s announcement that Western Hills shortstop J. T. Riddle had been named the 2010 Mr. Baseball it’s always fun to look back on previous Mr. Baseballs and see where they are today. Check out the list below with each player’s most recent baseball affiliation:
- 2010: J. T. Riddle (Western Hills) — Riddle has signed to play college ball at the University of Kentucky in 2011 and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 35th round of the 2010 MLB draft.
- 2009: Luke Maile (Covington Catholic) — Maile is a rising sophomore at UK and was 7-25 with three home runs and six RBI in limited action as a freshman.
- 2008: Zack Cox (Pleasure Ridge Park) — Spent 2010 as a sophomore at Arkansas where he was named an All-American by several outlets after batting .429. Cox was the first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2010 MLB draft.
- 2007: Ben Revere (Lexington Catholic) — Revere was the Minnesota Twins’ first round pick in 2007 and has done nothing but hit in his Minor League career. Revere is currently batting .307 with 21 stolen bases for the AA New Britain Rock Cats and was named the fifth best prospect in the Twins’ system by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season.
- 2006: Nathan Adcock (North Hardin) — After three and one-half mediocre season in the Seattle Mariners’ organization Adcock was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009 as part of the Jack Wilson trade. Adcock is having his best season to date in 2010 for the high A Bradenton Marauders where he is 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 13 starts.
- 2005: Chaz Roe (Lafayette) — Roe was the Colorado Rockies’ first-supplemental round pick in the 2005 MLB draft and has worked his way through the Minor Leagues to AAA. Last year was Roe’s best season to date when he went 7-3 with a 3.15 ERA for AA Tulsa, but he has struggled so far in 2010 to the tune of a 5-7 record and 5.86 ERA in hitter-friendly AAA Colorado Springs.
- 2004: Collin Cowgill (Henry Clay) — Cowgill was a standout in his four seasons at UK and has continued to excel in professional baseball after the Arizona Diamondbacks took him with their fifth-round pick in 2008. Named the ninth best prospect in the D’Backs farm system by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season, Cowgill is batting .280 with five home runs and 43 RBI for AA Mobile this season.
- 2003: Josh Ellis (Paul Laurence Dunbar) — While older brother A.J. Ellis has carved a niche for himself as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ backup catcher this season, Josh is still working his way through the Diamobacks system after the team selected him in the 11th round of the 2007 draft. Ellis is 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA in 18 relief appearances between AAA Reno and AA Mobile this season.
- 2002: Brad Corley (Pleasure Ridge Park) — Corley was the Pirates second-round pick as an outfielder in 2005 and was named the tenth best prospect in the team’s system by Baseball America entering the 2008 season. Corely’s career stalled after that honor. and he hasn’t advanced past AA since. He was acquired by Colorado in 2009 and is currently playing for short-season Tri-City as he attempts to become a full-time pitcher.
- 2001: Jeremy Sowers (Ballard) — Sowers was the Indian’s first-round pick in 2004 out of Vanderbilt University and has appeared in 72 games over parts of four season with the Indians. Sowers is 18-30 as a MLB starting pitcher, and he is currently struggling to the tune of a 1-4 record and 6.49 ERA as a left-handed reliever for AAA Columbus.
- 2000: Spencer Graeter (Ballard) — Greater batted .307 with 14 home runs and 98 RBI in four seasons for UK from 2001-2004 but never appeared in affiliated ball.
- 1999: Joe Blanton (Franklin-Simpson) — Blanton has appeared in two World Series and even earned a victory in game four of the Philadelphia Phillies World Series win in 2008. Blanton is just 2-5 with a 6.96 ERA in eight starts for Philadelphia this season, but is 65-59 with a 4.34 ERA in seven MLB seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Phillies.
- 1998: Austin Kearns (Lafayette) — Kearns won a job as a reserve outfielder with the Cleveland Indians in Spring Training and has worked his way into a starting role. On the season Kearns is batting .288 with seven home runs an 32 RBI. In nine MLB seasons, Kearns has batted .258 with 112 home runs and 454 RBI with the Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals and Indians.
- 1997: Scott Hodges (Henry Clay) — Hodges was the Montreal Expos’ first-round pick in 1997 and spent nine seasons in the Minor Leagues appearing as high as AAA. In 2005 he was diagnosed with lymphoma, ending his career.
- 1996: Aaron McGlone (Greenup Co.) — McGlone batted .345 with eight home runs and 51 RBI for UK in 2000, but never appeared in affiliated ball.
- 1995: Brad Wilkerson (Apollo) — Wilkerson spent parts of eights season in the Major Leagues, batting .247 with 122 home runs and 399 RBI for the Expos, Washington Nationals, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. He retired in 2008 before briefly making a comeback with the Phillies during Spring Training this season only to announce his retirement for good.
- 1994: Scott Downs (Pleasure Ridge Park) — Downs was the Chicago Cubs’ third-round pick in 1997 out of UK, and has spent parts of ten season in the big leagues. Over the past four seasons he has carved out a niche as one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2010 he is 2-5 with a 3.34 ERA in 34 games for the Blue Jays.
- 1993: Dion Newby (Harrison Co.) — Newby played collegiately at North Alabama but never appeared in affiliated ball.
- 1992: Shon Walker (Harrison Co.) — Walker was the Pirates first-round pick in 1992 and last appeared in affiliated ball in 1998 at High A Lynchburg.
- 1991: Trever Miller (Trinity) — Miller’s long Major League career is still going strong as a left-handed reliever in the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen. Miller is 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 25 games for the Cardinals this season and is 18-16 with a 4.17 ERA over 12 MLB seasons. Miller was the Detroit Tigers’ first-round pick in 1991.
- 1990: Darren Burton (Pulaski Co.) — Burton was the Royals’ fifth-round pick in 1990 and last appeared in affiliated ball at AA Altoona in 2001. He spent parts of six seasons in AAA.
- 1989: Tab Brown (St. Xavier) — Brown was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1989 and spent at least two seasons in the Braves’ organization.
Check out the first and second Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association All-State teams:
- Brock Downey — Murray High School
- Justin Hageman — Hopkinsville High School
- Kyle Gibson — Henderson County High School
- Cole Isom — Christian County High School
- Cole Sturgeon — Owensboro Catholic High School
- Ty Downing – Greenwood High School
- Shane Waldrop — Warren Central High School
- Brandon Alphin — Bullitt East High School
- Corey Littrell – Trinity High School
- John Fidanza – Ballard High School
- Kyle Cornett – Eastern High School
- Brian Doering – Manual High School
- Jared Martin — Harrison County High School
- Trevor Gott — Tates Creek High School
- J.T. Riddle — Western Hills High School
- Lucas Witt — Lexington Christian Academy
- Louie Helmburg — West Jessamine High School
- Duran Elmore — Danville High School
- Tyler Saltsman — Grayson County High School
- Mikey Scott — Grayson County High School
- Matt Bowles — Bullitt East High School
- Taylor Banks — Pleasure Ridge Park
- Ryan Messex — Louisville Male High School
- Matt Spalding — St. X
- Spencer Drake — Eastern High School
- Corey Bays — Henry Clay High School
- Eric Standafer — Shelby County High School
- Austin Pugh — Conner High School
- Brice Smallwood — Dixie Heights High School
- Logan Dailey — Harrison County High School
- Taylor Martin — Lexington Catholic High School
- Evan Stephens — Lexington Christian Academy
- Aaron Watts — McCreary Central High School
- Noah Smallwood — West Jessamine High School
- Chandler Shepherd — Lawrence County High School
- Gavin Miller — Pikeville High School
You can see the honorable mention team with player’s from each region here.
For the second consecutive season a University of Kentucky signee has been named Mr. Kentucky Baseball by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association. Western Hills High School shortstop J. T. Riddle, who was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 35th round of the 2010 MLB draft, was named Mr. Baseball Monday after a season in which he batted .514 with seven home runs, 62 RBI and 20 stolen bases as a senior. Riddle also pitched for Western Hills and went 8-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 61 innings pitched on the mound. UK freshman catcher Luke Maile was named 2009 Mr. Baseball. Trinity pitcher Corey Littrell, Henderson County catcher Kyle Gibson, Tates Creek pitcher/infielder Trevor Gott, Bullitt East pitcher/infielder Brandon Alphin and Hopkinsville pitcher/shortstop Justin Hageman were finalists for the award.
State champion Harrison County High School head coach Mac Whitaker was named KHSBCA’s coach of the year. Whitaker led Harrison County to its fourth state championship under his reign and a 36-4 record. Check back later for the entire KHSBCA All-State team.
The Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association released its latest top 25 poll on May 6. Lexington Catholic is holding steady in the No. 1 spot as the regular season winds down but several teams can challenge the Nights. Check out the most rankings below with each team’s total points listed and number of first place votes in parentheses:
1. Lexington Catholic — 218 — (16)
2. Eastern — 200 — (4)
3. Lexington Christian — 194
4. St. Xavier — 159
5. West Jessamine — 156 — (2)
6. Apollo — 155
7. Pleasure Ridge Park — 150
8. Tates Creek — 144
9. Harrison County — 122
10. Male — 114
11. Trinity — 108
12. Western Hills — 105
13. Elizabethtown — 97
14. DeSales — 96
15. Henderson County — 93
16. Lafayette — 88
17. DuPont Manual — 85
18. Central Hardin — 73
19. Franklin County — 70
20. Madison Central — 64
21. Russell County — 63
22. George Rogers Clark — 55
23. Mercer County — 50 — (1)
24. Butler — 44
25. Glasgow — 43
The Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association has released its latest top 25, and two Lexington teams headline the rankings. No. 1 Lexington Catholic and No. 2 Lexington Christian will face off Tuesday in one of the biggest games of the high school season. For more information about the showdown check out Adam Revelette’s preview for Examiner.com here.
KHSCBA Top 25
- Lexington Catholic (22) — 786 pts.
- Lexington Christian (3) — 701 pts.
- Eastern (4) — 640 pts.
- Pleasure Ridge Park (1) — 619 pts.
- West Jessamine (7) — 600 pts.
- St. Xavier (4) — 591 pts.
- Tates Creek (1) — 518 pts.
- Apollo (2) — 453 pts.
- Harrison County (1) — 392
- Male — 367
- Trinity — 263
- Henderson County — 252
- Franklin County — 248
- Lafayette — 244
- Elizabethtown (1) — 240
- Ballard — 217
- Glasgow — 197
- Dupont Manual (1) — 190
- Central Hardin — 166
- Bullit East — 134
- Western Hills — 127
- Butler — 114
- Mercer County — 108
- Danville (1) — 99
- Bryan Station (1) — 96
Earlier today we linked Perfect Game USA‘s underclassmen high school All-American teams. Perfect Game partnered with Rawlings Sporting Goods to release the senior All-American team a few weeks ago, but several Kentucky high schoolers and in-state college signees were honored, so the list is still worth passing along. I’ve included those players with school and college commitment below, but you can see the full team here.
3rd Team All-American
- LHP Corey Littrell — Trinity — University of Kentucky
- C Jake DePew — Granite City (Ill.) — University of Louisville
- RHP Kim Dace — Defiance (Ohio) — UofL
High Honorable Mention
- RHP Patrick Maronde — Lexington Catholic — Coastal Carolina
- LHP Joel Bender — Oak Hills (Ohio) — UofL
- INF Alex Chittenden — Lawrence Central (Ind.) — UofL
- RHP Chad Green — Effingham (Ill.) — UofL
- P Jeffrey Thompson — Floyd Centrall (Ind.) — UofL
- RHP Trevor Gott — Tates Creek — UK
- OF Gavin Patton — IMG Academies (Fla.) — UK
- RHP Blake Perry — Danville, IMG Academies (Fla.) — UK
- SS Matt Reida — Russiaville (Ind.) — UK
- OF G. J. Strauss — Chesterfield (Mo.) — Western Kentucky University
Hit the jump for players honored on regional teams
The first of our fall signing period class breakdowns comes this afternoon with the most recent release. The University of Kentucky signed nine in its fall class, so we’ll start here and work down based on number of signees. Below are all nine player in the class with 2009 statistics and a quote from UK Head Coach Gary Henderson. You can see the complete release here.
RHP/INF Trevor Gott — Tates Creek High School
- .382 batting average, 1.12 ERA, All-City 2009
- Henderson: “Trevor is a good athlete and has tremendous arm strength. He had a lot of success in his baseball career at a young age and we have watched him for a long time. His body is beginning to get some strength, which is going to help him tremendously on the mound.”
LHP Corey Littrell — Trinity High School
- 13-2, 0.72 ERA, 141 SO, 111 IP
- Henderson: “Corey has an advanced ability to pitch for his age. He can already command his fastball and he has a very good change-up that he can throw for a strike. We expect him to pitch early and often during his UK career. He is a serious competitor that we have a chance to build a staff around. He will need to make the same adjustments that they all do but I expect him to compete for innings immediately.”
INF Paul McConkey — Knoxville, Tenn.
- .482, 8 HR, 37 RBI
- Henderson: “Paul has a very good feel to hit and he can play all three infield spots. He also plays the game with a lot of confidence and poise. That is hard to find in a 17-year old. He is an extremely good competitor who is serious about being a great baseball player. His attitude and make-up are strong. He will bring an approach that will make those around him better.”
OF Gavin Patton — South Charleston, W.V.
- .418, 3 HR, 39 RBI @ IMG Academy in Florida
- Henderson: “Gavin already looks like a SEC outfielder, he’s big, strong and moves well for his size. He brings a combination of speed and power that is hard to come by. We are very excited about him becoming a Wildcat. He plays extremely hard, competes at a high level and will bring an energy to our club that fans and teammates will enjoy.”
RHP Blake Perry — Danville, Ky.
- 5-0, 0.95 ERA, 63 SO, 44 IP (Summer League)
- Henderson: “Blake has good body control and feel to pitch for a large-frame pitcher. He shows solid command of three pitches and falls into the category of very projectable. He wants to be an outstanding pitcher and I anticipate him being a great worker. He has tremendous potential and we are excited to watch him develop.”
RHP/INF J. T. Riddle — Western Hills High School
- .478, 2 HR, 11 RBI — 3-3, 1.64 ERA
- Henderson: “J.T. is a gifted athlete that is talented enough to be a two-way player in the SEC. He is like most kids we get in that he needs to develop more strength. J.T. has a good swing, moves well defensively and is clearly a talented pitcher. He has had a lot of success in everything he has done in high school. We are glad to have him with us and are eager to see how he develops.”
INF Matt Reida — Russiaville, Ind.
- .429. 3 HR, 17 RBI
- Henderson: “Matt is a tremendous competitor. He brings a seriousness and a level of competitiveness that will put him in the center of our club immediately. Matt brings very good baseball skills, great feel for the game and a winner’s presence. He will eventually be a leader, an outstanding leadoff hitter and a middle-infield presence for our club.”
INF Dallen Reber — St. George, Utah
- .407, 7 HR, 30 RBI
- Henderson: “Dallen brings a winner’s personality and a lot of athleticism. He is an absolute winner with very good baseball skills. He is the type of kid that other kids like to be around. He has a combination of strength, speed and skills that we are very excited to bring to our program.”
OF Lucas Witt — Lexington Christian Academy
- .377, 4 HR, 20 RBI
- Henderson: “Lucas is an outstanding athlete and an every better young man. He has had a lot of success in both baseball and football at the high school level. He brings with him the knowledge of what it takes to be successful. He is a great competitor, knows how to work and he will make those around him better. We are very excited to see how he develops once he devotes himself to baseball full-time.”