Chris Rusin; Photo: UK Athletics
Highlights from Thursday Kentucky MiLB action:
- The Louisville Bats slugged four home runs en route to an 11-7 win over Charlotte. First baseman Yonder Alonso, designated hitter Juan Francisco, outfielder Chris Dickerson and outfielder Wladimir Balentein each homered for the Bats.
- Lexington Legends closer Kirk Clark set the new Legends career and single-season saves record with his 22nd save in a 3-2 win over Rome. Right-handed pitcher Jose Cisnero earned the win after surrendering two runs in six innings.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods couldn’t over come and early 5-1 deficit after two innings in a 8-7 loss to Quad Cities. First baseman Ryan Wiegand and right fielder Gabe Cohen each homered for the Hot Rods.
- Former UK left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin earned his fourth win of the season for high A Daytona after surrendering three runs in six innings. Rusin struck out six and walked none.
- Former UK right-handed pitcher Zach Dials was promoted to AA Harrisburg where he surrendered one run in two-thirds of an inning in his debut.
- Former UofL right-handed pitcher and 2010 Nationals draftee Neil Holland earned his second win of the season with three scoreless innings for short-season Vermont.
- Former UofL infielder and 2010 Rays draftee Phil Wunderlich was 3-5 with two doubles and a run scored for short-season Hudson Valley.
- Former WKU outfielder Chad Cregar was 2-4 with a double, three RBI and a run scored for low A Greensboro.
- Former NKU outfielder Jake Shaffer homered for the second consecutive game and drove in three runs for high A High Desert.
- Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere scored three times, tallied two hits and stole a base for AA New Britain.
- London native Jon Townsend slugged his fifth home run of the season, drove in two runs and scored twice for high A Rancho Cucamonga.
- Lexington native Josh Ellis picked up his second win of the season after two scoreless innings of relief for AA Mobile.
Juan Francisco; Photo by mwlguide via Flickr
Highlights from Monday Kentucky MiLB action:
- Right-handed pitcher Matt Maloney surrendered just one unearned run in six innings to lead the Louisville Bats to an 11-2 blowout win over Charlotte. Shortstop Zach Cozart, third baseman Juan Francisco, outfielder Wladimir Balentein and catcher Wilkin Castillo each homered in the game for Louisville.
- The Bowling Green Hot Rods scored three runs in the eighth inning to earn a 7-5 come-from-behind win over Peoria. Designated hitter Cody Rogers homered and right fielder Brett Nommensen was 3-4.
- The Lexington Legends were off Monday.
- Former UK infielder and 2010 Padres draftee Chris Bisson was 3-4 for short-season Eugene.
- Former UK outfielder/first baseman and 2010 Twins draftee Lance Ray slugged his first professional home run for low A Beloit.
- Former UofL outfielder and 2010 Rangers draftee Joshua Richmond reached base five times via four walks and a single for short-season Spokane. He scored twice and drove in one run. In four professional games, Richmond is 5-13 (.385) with five RBI and four runs scored.
- Former UofL right-handed pitcher and 2010 White Sox draftee Thomas Royse took a no decision for rookie-level Great Falls after surrendering four runs in six innings. Royse struck out seven and walked none.
- Boyd County native and 2010 Royals NDFA Tyler Gatrell picked up his sixth save of the season for the rookie-level AZL Royals and still hasn’t surrendered an earned run in his professional career over 10 appearances.
We’ll run down the standouts from May for each of the Kentucky Minor League teams, starting with the Louisville Bats:
Hitter of the month: INF Drew Sutton
- Stats: 25-66 (.379), 2 HR, 15 RBI, 12 R
- Honorable Mention: Wladimir Balentein, Chris Valaika, Daniel Dorn, Luis Terrero, Corky Miller
Pitcher of the month: RHP Sam LeCure
- Stats: 3-1, 2.21 ERA, 5 GS, 29 SO/6 BB, 36.2 IP
- Honorable Mention: Travis Wood, Matt Maloney, Chad Reineke, Enerio Del Rosario
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.