Matt Little, Signees Conclude UK in MLB Draft

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Matt Little was drafted in the 31st round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft by the Detroit Tigers, going 943rd overall, it was announced Wednesday afternoon.

Kentucky finished the 2010 MLB Draft on Wednesday with a total of six players drafted, marking the second-most drafted players in program history. UK had a school-record seven total players drafted in the 2008 MLB Draft, following a school-record 44-win season. Twice in program history, UK has had six players drafted, also getting six players picked following UK’s 2006 Southeastern Conference Championship season.

UK had a total of three players drafted in the top eight rounds and over the last three seasons has had a total of nine players drafted in the top 10 rounds, including a program-best seven players drafted in the top 10 rounds over the last three seasons. In 2008, UK had Scott Green (third), Sawyer Carroll (third) and Collin Cowgill (fifth) all drafted in the top five rounds and in 2009, James Paxton was drafted in the first round and Chris Rusin was selected in the fifth round.

Junior second baseman Chris Bisson, a native of Orleans, Ontario, was selected first amongst the UK players, going in the fourth round (124 overall) to the San Diego Padres. Paxton, a native of Ladner, British Columbia, and a former UK left-handed pitcher, was picked in the fourth round by the Seattle Mariners (132). Junior southpaw Logan Darnell, a native of Joelton, Tenn., was picked in the sixth round by the Minnesota Twins (195) and junior outfielder Lance Ray (265) was selected by the Twins in the eighth round. Junior shortstop Taylor Black, a native of Easley, S.C., was picked in the 28th round by the St. Louis Cardinals (859) and Little rounded out the draft as a 31st round selection of the Tigers (943).

In addition to the current and former UK players drafted, UK had a total of six players from its November signing class drafted in the 2010 MLB Draft. Right-hander Blake Perry, a native of Danville, Ky., was picked in the sixth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks (181) and infielder/right-handed pitcher J.T. Riddle, a native of Frankfort, Ky., was picked in the 35th round by the Boston Red Sox (1,073). Also in the 35th round, Lexington, Ky., native and Lexington Christian Academy product Tyler Oliver, was selected by the Washington Nationals (1,046). In the 43rd round, Trinity product and Louisville, Ky., native, left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell was selected by the Washington Nationals (1,286) and in the 47th round infielder Matt Reida, a native of Russiaville, Ind., was drafted by the Chicago White Sox (1,418).

A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Little has spent two seasons in Lexington after transferring to Kentucky in January of 2009. In his first season on the mound in 2010, Little emerged as UK’s primary late-inning closer, blistering through the early portion of the schedule and earning a spot on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Pitcher of the Year watch list, an award annually given to the top hurler in college baseball. All told in 2010, Little appeared in a team-high 24 games out of the bullpen, totaling a 2-2 record and a 4.93 ERA, ranking second in UK single-season history with seven saves in 13 chances. In 2010, Little tossed 42 innings and allowed just 41 hits, walking 24 and striking out 52. Through the first nine appearances of his UK career, Little was unhittable, opening up with a 1-0 record a 0.48 ERA and four saves. Without the six missed save chances, Little had a 1-0 record and a 2.30 ERA in 18 relief outings, posting seven saves in 31.1 innings, allowing only 20 hits and 15 walks, striking out 43.

Little, 22, had several highlights in 2010, including a gutsy win in a UK seven-run comeback against Monmouth in San Diego, where the UK right-hander came on with UK trailing by seven and tossed four shutout innings with a career-high nine strikeouts as UK rallied for the walk-off win, earning NCBWA National Player of the Week accolades. Little had a solid outing in his first career SEC appearance, going 2.1 innings to close out the UK win over Ole Miss on March 21, allowing only one hit, one walk and striking out four. In another gutty performance, Little picked up the win in relief at Auburn, tossing four innings, allowing five hits and two unearned runs, not issuing a walk as UK won a back-and-forth affair at the eventual SEC Western Division champions. Little had a big save in a UK 2-1 win over No. 4 South Carolina late in the SEC season, going the final 2.1 innings, allowing two hits and no walks, striking out two.