James Paxton Tabbed Top Senior in College Baseball

DURHAM, N.C. -- Kentucky left-handed pitcher James Paxton has been rated as the top senior in college baseball and four other UK players have been honored in the Baseball America early draft preview, it was announced.

Paxton is among five UK players who were honored by Baseball America in their preseason draft preview. In the preview, Baseball America ranks the top 100 college prospects available in the 2010 MLB Draft and the top 50 prospects by class.

A 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior, Paxton was mentioned twice in the rankings, listed as the 21st-best prospect available in the top-100 listing and the top senior available in the draft. UK junior left-hander Logan Darnell was tabbed as the 81st-best prospect available in the draft and junior infielder Chris Bisson ranked as the 98th-best prospect available.

In the class-by-class rankings, UK sophomore right-hander Alex Meyer ranked as the fifth-best sophomore in college baseball. Freshman Taylor Rogers, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound left-handed pitcher, ranked as the 22nd-best freshman in college baseball.

Paxton is coming off a 2009 season that saw him breakout on the draft map, with the Ladner, British Columbia, native going in the supplemental first round of the 2009 MLB Draft, marking UK’s first, first-round MLB Draft selection since World Series Champion Joe Blanton in 2002. Paxton ranked third in the NCAA in strikeouts per nine innings, fanning 13.22 hitters per nine innings pitched. In 13 starts, Paxton tossed 78.1 innings, totaling 115 punch-outs.

Darnell, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior, totaled a 5-6 record and a 4.50 ERA in a team-high 28 appearances out of the bullpen in 2009. A native of Joelton, Tenn., Darnell has been tabbed as the 85th-best prospect in college baseball by the College Baseball Blog and as the 87th-best prospect by Perfect Game.

A second-team All-Southeastern Conference selection at second base in 2009 by the league coaches, Bisson led UK in nearly every statistical category a year ago, including games played (53), at bats (222), average (.360), runs (49), hits (80), triples (three), walks (20), RBI (52) and defensive assists (133). A native of Orleans, Ontario, Bisson had a breakout summer in the Cape Cod League, where he stole 36 bases in 42 games, leading the league and setting a Cotuit Kettlers club record.

A 6-foot-9, 220-pound right-hander, Meyer ranks as the fourth-best sophomore pitcher in the NCAA and the fifth-best sophomore overall, a year after ranking sixth in the NCAA with 12.06 strikeouts per nine innings. Meyer started 11 games and appeared in 13 as a true freshman totaling 80 strikeouts in 59.2 innings.

Rogers, a native of Littleton, Colo., was a 37th-round draft pick in 2009 by the Baltimore Orioles. The southpaw has been ranked as the 57th-best prospect available in the 2012 MLB Draft by Perfect Game and is considered by Baseball America as a candidate for a first-round selection in 2012.

Kentucky opens its 106th season at the Caravelle Resort Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C., facing off with Virginia Tech Friday in the opener at noon ET. Saturday, UK will face West Virginia at 11 a.m. ET and on Sunday will face the host and 12th-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at 3 p.m. ET. All games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network, with Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the Friday and Saturday games on WGVN 1580-AM and Sunday’s game on WLAP 630-AM.