Baseball Notebook: Burns, Meyer, Rusin Among Top College Prospects

Feb. 15, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Coming off a school-record 122 wins the last three seasons, the 19th-ranked Kentucky baseball team has been selected to finish fourth in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division by Baseball America.

In its annual preseason college preview, Baseball America breaks down the SEC in detail, tabbing Georgia the Eastern Division champ and LSU the Western Division champion. In the preview, an all-conference team is selected, as well as a projection of NCAA Tournament teams, including UK and eight from the SEC. Among the SEC teams predicted to make the NCAA tournament were LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Vanderbilt.

In the SEC preview, released earlier in the preseason, UK was tabbed for a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Division. 

Kentucky opens its season on Feb. 20 in Conway, S.C., in the Caravelle Resort Tournament, hosted by No. 23 Coastal Carolina. UK will face Troy on Friday at 1 p.m. ET to open the season, with the game broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with Dick Gabriel on the call.

C-Micah Gibbs, So., Louisiana State (.322-2-35, 16 2B). 1B-Rich Poythress, Jr., Georgia (.374-15-75, 22 2B). 2B-Ross Wilson, So., Alabama (.295-15-47). 3B-Josh Adams, So., Florida (.330-8-51, 11 SB). SS-D.J. LeMahieu, So., Louisiana State (.337-6-44, 10 SB). OF-Kentrail Davis, So., Tennessee (.330-13-44); Blake Dean, Jr., Louisiana State (.353-20-73); Matt den Dekker, Jr., Florida (.333-8-48 20 SB). DH-Hunter Morris, So., Auburn (.351-11-49).

SP-Trevor Holder, Sr., Georgia (8-4, 4.41, 98 IP/68 SO); Mike Minor, Jr., Vanderbilt (7-3, 4.28, 103 IP/101 SO); Drew Pomeranz, So., Mississippi (4-3, 4.16, 71 IP/81 SO). RP-Scott Bittle, Sr., Mississippi (7-1, 1.78, 8 SV, 71 IP/130 SO).

Player of the Year: Kentrail Davis, of, Tennessee.

Pitcher of the Year: Mike Minor, lhp, Vanderbilt.

Chris Rusin Named 20th-Best College Senior
Senior southpaw Chris Rusin, a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection as a starting pitcher in 2008, has been tabbed the 20th-best senior in college baseball, Baseball America released in its annual college preview.

Rusin, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder from Canton, Mich., had a career year in 2008, becoming UK's first, first-team All-SEC pitcher since MLB setup man Scott Downs turned the trick in 1997. Rusin posted a 3.33 ERA and a 6-3 record in 2008, posting quality starts in 9-of-13 assignments. Rusin finished the season with a 1.1-inning start in the opener of the Ann Arbor NCAA Regional, allowing five runs, while battling injury that forced him to miss his previously scheduled start in the SEC Tournament. Throw out his NCAA Tournament start - the worst statistical outing of his dazzling three-year career - and the lefty posted a 2.84 ERA and a 6-2 record in 82.1 innings, with his ERA inflating above 3.00 only after his 13th and final start of the year.

"There are several things (that make Chris Rusin effective), one is that he throws a lot of strikes," UK head coach Gary Henderson detailed during UK's preseason media day. "Secondly, the ball moves and moves about three ways. That is the same thing that allows a major league pitcher to be successful is that the ball moves all over the place but stay in the strike zone and Chris is great at that. He is just a very poised and confident competitor. He has had a lot of success, expects to be successful and we are glad that we get to work with him for another year."

In 2008, Rusin did not get much run support as the marquee Friday night starter, with his two-regular-season losses coming in complete-game performances on the road, two games that saw Rusin strikeout out 18 and allow only five runs (at Auburn, at Vanderbilt). On the road in 2008, Rusin finished with a 2.63 ERA in 37 innings, with 33 strikeouts in five starts. Rusin's SEC numbers were even more impressive than his overall totals, finishing with a 3.29 ERA and a 4-2 record in 68.1 innings.

A member of the Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year Watch List, Rusin was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics.

Burns, Meyer among Baseball America's listing of Top Freshmen in Nation, SEC
Kentucky freshmen Andy Burns and Alex Meyer have been named among the top 50 freshmen in the nation, with Meyer selected the No. 2 and Burns the No. 29 freshmen in college baseball, included in the Baseball America college preview.

Meyer, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound right-hander, was also named the top freshman in the talent-rich Southeastern Conference, with Burns checking in as the 10th-best freshman in the conference. Burns, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound middle infielder joined Meyer on the Alfac High School All-America team last season before earning top-prospect status in the Northwoods Collegiate Summer League.

Burns, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., was a 25th round MLB Draft choice in 2008 by the Colorado Rockies. Rated as the No. 38 high school prospect before his senior season, Burns earned his second consecutive Colorado State Player of the Year honor in 2008, batting .488 with 45 runs, 10 homers and 34 RBI, en route to All-America honors from Aflac, Louisville Slugger and the American Baseball Coaches Association.

Meyer, a 20th-round MLB Pick in 2008 by the Boston Red Sox out of Greensburg, Ind., was tabbed the fifth-best high school prospect before his senior season by Baseball America. Meyer finished his 2008 campaign with a bevy of High School All-America honors, including Aflac and Louisville Slugger, and Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year accolades. In 51 innings in 2008, Meyer posted an 8-0 record and a 0.95 ERA, striking out 108.

The two highly-touted player comprised a school-record fourth-ranked recruiting class in 2008, a class that included high school All-Americans Cory Farris (OF/C), Michael Williams (C) and Braden Kapteyn (INF/RHP), in addition to Burns and Meyer. The touted All-Americans will not be the only 11 immediate-impact newcomers, as Gunner Glad (UT/RHP), submarine right-hander Nick Kennedy, Sean Bouthilette (RHP), William Campbell (1B/OF), Chad Wright (OF) and Chase Greene (RHP) all expect to contend for playing time.