Former UK Star Ryan Strieby Hits Two Homers in Season Debut

April 10, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Former Kentucky standout first baseman Ryan Strieby opened his 2009 minor league season with a bang in the class AA Eastern League, belting two homers and adding four RBI in his season debut Wednesday for the Erie SeaWolves.

Strieby, the 2006 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and third-round MLB Draft pick of the Detroit Tigers, opened his first game in class AA with a 2-for-4, two runs scored, two homers and four RBI game Wednesday. Strieby, a 6-foot-6, 235-pound righty, followed that game up with a 2-for-4 game Thursday, adding a double and an RBI. A year ago, Strieby was named the Detroit Tigers Minor League Player of the Year, batting .278 (117-for-421) with a league-high 29 homers and 94 RBI, despite missing the final month of the season with a minor injury.

Strieby was one of eight former UK players to make their season professional debuts, with several more former Wildcats preparing for action in the coming days. In fact, among the eight players to star their respective seasons, seven were hitters who all charted a hit in their opener. Only one hitter, former slugger Caleb Stewart, did not tally multiple hits, as Steward added a double and two runs scored.

Former first-team All-America outfielders Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill each notched multiple-hit openers, with Cowgill starting at high class A California League, suiting up with the Visalia Rawhide, alongside former UK catcher Sean Coughlin. The Lexington, Ky., native and Henry Clay High School product batted 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI, three runs scored and two walks in the opener. Carroll, a 6-foot-4 215-pound left-handed hitter out of Henryetta, Okla., batted 2-for-3 with two RBI and two walks for the class A Midwest League’s Fort Wayne TinCaps. Carroll exited his two-year UK career as the all-time record holder in career batting average, boosted by his .419 batting average in 2008, the best average recorded in the SEC since the 2001 season.

Coughlin, a 2007 first-team All-American backstop, joined Cowgill on the Rawhide, batting 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the season-opener.

Rated as a top-10 prospect in the Chicago White Sox system in 2008 by Baseball America, Lexington native John Shelby also started strong with the class AA Birmingham Barons in the Southern League, finishing 2-for-5 with a walk in his opener. Standout infielder Michael Bertram, a Lexington native, also had a sparkling debut, batting 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk for the high class A Lakeland Flying Tigers of the Florida State League. Stewart, a UK letter winner from 2002-04, batted 1-for-3 in his season-opener, going 1-for-7 in the second game, hitting a solo home run.

Pitcher Zach Dials, a key reliever during UK’s program-first SEC Championship in 2006, worked two scoreless innings in the opener for his class AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats, walking one and striking out one.

Former UK players Antone DeJesus, Scott Green, Tyler Howe, Andy Green, Greg Dombrowski and Andrew Albers are all expected to begin the 2009 season in the minor leagues. Pitchers Joe Blanton, Scott Downs and Brandon Webb have suited up with the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks to open the 2009 MLB season. Last season, Blanton was a part of the World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies, becoming the first former Wildcat hurler to claim a win on the mound in the Fall Classic.