Baseball Notebook: Rusin Signs with Chicago Cubs

July 1, 2009

CHICAGO -- Former Kentucky standout starting pitcher Chris Rusin has signed to play professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs, he announced Wednesday.

"It is a great experience for me to get drafted by such a historic franchise as the Chicago Cubs," Rusin said. "They don't have too many left-handed pitchers in their organization so hopefully if I do my part, I will be able to move up the ladder quickly."

Rusin, who was selected 140th overall in the fourth round of the 2009 MLB Draft, went 7-4 for Kentucky in 2009 with a 4.20 ERA. The native of Canton, Mich., pitched four complete games on the year, including a complete game six hitter against 2009 College World Series Champion LSU Tigers.

"Coach Henderson and the Kentucky coaching staff helped me develop a ton as a person and as an athlete," said Rusin. "I thank them for all that they have done for me. They have prepared me well for my future in baseball and for me to play as long as possible."

For his four-year career, the 2008 first-team All-SEC member has the second most strikeouts in Kentucky history (274) and ranks tied for fourth for the most games started in a single career at Kentucky (45). A 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, Rusin also ranks among the school career leaders in wins (2nd; 23) and innings pitched (3rd; 302.1). Rusin had a breakout season in 2008, earning a 6-3 record and a 3.33 ERA, becoming UK's first, first-team All-SEC starting pitcher since Toronto Blue Jays closer Scott Downs in 1997.

"My coaching staff and I are extremely happy for Chris to get the opportunity to continue his baseball career," said UK head coach Gary Henderson. "Chris has meant a lot to this program over the last four years. He was a great competitor for the Wildcats who led by example, worked very hard and improved his game every year. He had a presence and a poise that we would like all of our players to have. There is no doubt in my mind he will be successful in professional baseball. We wish him the best as he moves forward with his career."

Rusin was a major part of the Kentucky pitching staff in 2009 that set an all-time strikeout record for a single season. Kentucky pitchers posted 523 strikeouts this season, beating the old mark of 502.

Rusin becomes the fifth Kentucky player in the last three seasons who was drafted after their junior season but decided to return to school to improve their draft status. Former Kentucky catcher Sean Coughlin was drafted 42nd in 2006 but after another season at Kentucky was drafter in the 13th round in 2007. In 2008, three Kentucky players improved their draft status. Kentucky All-Americans Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill along with hard throwing pitcher Scott Green each moved up 10 rounds in the draft. Carroll was drafted in the 18th round in 2007 but third in 2008, Cowgill was drafted 29th in 2007 but fifth in 2008 and Green was drafted 15th in 2007 but third in 2008. In the 2008 MLB Draft, Rusin was drafted in the 23rd round by the Oakland Athletics, improving his draft status by 19 rounds.

He has joined the Mesa Cubs, a rookie league team in Mesa, Ariz. He is expected to join the roster immediately following results of a physical.

TILFORD PICKS UP WIN IN FIRST APPEARANCE

CASPER, Wyo. -- In his first career professional appearance Sunday, former Kentucky right-hander Clint Tilford threw three innings of work, allowing only one earned run and gathering the first win of his career for the Casper Ghosts in the Rookie Pioneer League.

"It was great to get in and get my feet wet last night and just help my team get its first win," Tilford said. "We have a very talented team and I am just enjoying getting to know different players from all over the world."

The native of West Paducah, Ky., faced 13 batters in the game only allowing two runs on two hits, one an RBI double and the other a RBI triple. Tilford (1-0) struck out a team-high four batters on the night, giving up one walk and hitting a batter.

Suiting up with Tilford on the Ghosts are fellow SEC alumni, including former Florida outfielder Avery Barnes and former Georgia All-SEC catcher Bryce Massanari.

SUMMER LEAGUE UPDATE

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky junior pitcher Matt Little and freshman pitcher/infielder Braden Kapteyn have both had a successful start in summer league ball this season.

Little, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., threw 2.1 innings on June 25, allowing no runs on two hits while walking only one and striking out three. Little came in the game in the fifth inning getting the final out with two runners on to stop a rally. On the season, Little has pitched 11.2 innings, striking out 11 batters. Little, who transferred to UK in January of 2009 from Louisburg College, is playing for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the prestigious Cape Cod League. Last summer, Little was named the sixth-best prospect in the Coastal Plains League in the summer of 2008 by PGcrosschecker.com.

Kapteyn, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound right hander, has been pitching brilliantly this summer for the Amsterdam Mohawks in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. In his last appearance, on June 25, the freshman went six scoreless innings allowing one hit, while striking out 10 and only walking three. Previous to that outing, Kapteyn pitched on June 16, going six scoreless innings allowing one hit and striking out 13.

On the season, Kapteyn has an ERA of 1.29 with a 3-1 record. The native of Lansing, Ill., has made four appearances this season, all starts, throwing 21 innings allowing only seven hits, three earned runs, while striking out an impressive 33 batters. Of the seven hits allowed this summer, only two were extra base hits, with one being a double and the other a home run. Offensively on the summer, Kapteyn has hit .321 (17-for-53) in 13 games, adding two doubles, one homer and seven RBI, stealing 4-of-4 bases. In 2009 on the mound for UK, Kapteyn charted a team-high four saves and a 5-0 record, notching a 6.06 ERA in 23 relief appearances. In 32.2 innings as a freshman, Kapteyn struck out 42 and walked 16. Offensively for UK in 2009, Kapteyn hit .319 in 37 games, leading UK with 11 doubles, adding four homers and 27 RBI.

Also playing in the Cape Cod League for UK are sophomore shortstop Chris Wade, an 11th round MLB Draft pick by the Florida Marlins in the 2009 June draft, catcher Marcus Nidiffer, and 2008 Cape Cod League All-Star outfielder Keenan Wiley. Wade is hitting .260 (13-for-50) in 13 games, adding one double and one triple, driving in three RBI and stealing 3-of-5 bases. Wiley, a three-year starter in centerfield for UK, has hit .208 (10-for-48) in 13 games, while Nidiffer has batted .160 (4-for-25) in seven games, adding two RBI.

UK pitcher Sean Bouthillette, playing on the same team as Kapteyn and UK outfielder Cory Farris in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, has also excelled, posting a 1.80 ERA and a 1-2 record in four starts for Amsterdam. Bouthilette , a native of Elizabethtown, Ky., tossed a gem Tuesday night, going seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one walk, striking out four. Farris, a native of Florence, Ky., has hit .296 (16-for-54) in 13 games for Amsterdam, adding two doubles, one triple, one homer and five RBI.

CARROLL NOTCHES FOUR HITS IN 33-18 WIN FOR LAKE ELSINORE

ADELANTO, Calif. -- Former Kentucky first-team All-American outfielder Sawyer Carroll charted four hits, a home run and three RBI as part of a 4-for-7 performance, in a 33-18 slugfest win last Sunday for high class A Lake Elsinore Storm.

In just his fourth career game at the high class A level, Carroll batted 4-for-7, with four runs scored, one double, one homer, three RBI and a walk. The game saw a total of 51 runs scored and 58 hits totaled, with the High Desert Mavericks committing five errors.

Carroll was among three former SEC players hitting 3-4-5 in the order for Lake Elsinore, as he hit third and played right field. Former South Carolina third baseman James Darnell hit fourth, while the 2008 NCAA home run champ, former LSU first baseman Matt Clark hit fifth. Clark batted 5-for-6 with seven runs scored, a triple, two homers, five RBI and two walks.

In 2009 at two class A levels, Carroll has batted a combined .316 (86-for-272) in 72 games, totaling 21 doubles, two triples, six homes and 47 RBI, drawing 43 walks and stealing 14-of-19 bases.