3-pitch Cody returns for senior year with Omaha in mind

NOTE: The final of a 16-part series of individual feature stories, leading up for No. 25 Kentucky’s 2016 season opener at Wofford on Feb. 19. Today, wrap up the series with senior Kyle Cody.    

Dustin Beggs | Storm Wilson | Zach Arnold  | Zach Logue | Marcus Carson | Zack Brown | Connor Heady | Dorian Hairston | Riley Mahan | JaVon Shelby  | Bo Wilson | Evan White  | Dylan Dwyer | Logan Salow | Zach Strecker 

When Kentucky right-hander Kyle Cody got to Lexington in 2013, he worked almost exclusively off a fastball.

This was just fine, because it’s a very good fastball.

A 6-foot-7, 245-pound flamethrower, Cody was the Wisconsin Gatorade High School Player of the Year as a senior in Chippewa Falls, Wis., where he was drafted in the 33rd round in 2012. 

Since he joined the Kentucky program, Cody has been a fixture on the UK pitching staff. His hard work and dedication has led to legitimate development of a second and third pitch, adding a devastating breaking ball and a quality change-up to his arsenal, which is of course highlighted by that upper 90s fastball.

“I have gained control of my three pitches,” Cody said about his pitch development over four years. “When I got here I barely had a secondary pitch. I have a really good out pitch now. I did not even have a change up in high school, but now I can throw one in a 2-1 count. It makes the game a lot easier and lowers my pitch count.”

As a freshman, Cody established himself as a weekend starter late in the year, sporting a 3-3 record and a 4.84 ERA in 57.2 innings.

Cody battled a minor injury that limited him to relief midway through his 2014 season. He missed a month, before returning to a fastball-only relief role as he worked his way back to 100 percent. Nonetheless, Cody finished with a 4-0 record and a 2.84 ERA, with five saves to lead the team.

After serving as the starting pitcher in the 2014 Cape Cod League All-Star Game, Cody entered 2015 off a dynamic summer. He got off to a strong start, which featured seven no-hit innings in week three, earning Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.

“The seven inning no-hitter against Nebraska-Omaha stands out,” Cody said. “It is probably the best outing in my career.”

After a tough stretch over six outings in late March and April, Cody turned it around. He rolled off three dominating starts to end the year and push the Wildcats into the postseason. He carried a shutout into the ninth inning vs. Georgia, fired 5.2 innings vs. No. 5 Vanderbilt and worked seven shutout innings in a series rubber match at Missouri.

As a draft-eligible junior with a coveted fastball and frontline frame, Cody was picked in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft, going No. 72 overall to the Minnesota Twins.

After a negotiating with the Twins during the summer, Cody elected to return to Kentucky for his senior season. He joins fellow righty Dustin Beggs as a senior to return to school after being drafted, and gives UK its second consecutive season with the same rotation.

With its weekend starters returning, Kentucky enters the season ranked No. 25 by Baseball America. The starters and a veteran bullpen will be tested throughout the year and will be leaned on to provide leadership to some young talents on the pitching staff.

“Last year I was a little more immature,” Cody said. “I was not ready for that role. This year we have a group of guys that want to lead more and that makes me want to lead more too. The younger guys want to follow and it makes it easy.”

Cody has formed a quality relationship with Henderson after working with the pitching mind for four years. As a senior, there has been a unique trust and bond formed.

“He has really been laid back and let me make my own adjustments,” Cody said. “We have a good relationship. We trust each other and we can communicate about anything. If I feel something during a game, I can tell him what tendencies I see and he gives me feedback about it.”

UK’s senior standout is poised for a strong season but has only team-focused goals in mind.

“The most important to me is working nonstop to be the best team UK has ever had, and going to Omaha,” Cody said. “That is where I think we are headed.”

SEASON TICKETS NOW ON SALE
Fans can begin purchasing new season tickets and single-game tickets for the 2016 Kentucky baseball season.

For more information on UK baseball tickets, contact the Kentucky ticket office at (859) 257-1818 or visit UKathletics.com/tickets.

2016 Season Tickets:
$55 – Reserved Seating
$35 – General Admission