Notebook: 22 Former Stars in Professional Baseball in 2014

Oct. 16, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A total of 22 former Kentucky stars played affiliated minor league baseball or Major League Baseball in 2014, with Collin Cowgill, Logan Darnell, Scott Downs, Chris Rusin and James Paxton each playing in the big leagues. With four left-handed pitchers in the big leagues in 2014, UK had the most lefties of any school in the nation in MLB. Below is a breakdown of UK’s professional baseball stars.

Austin Cousino (2012-14) – Seattle Mariners (3rd round; 2014)
Short-Season New York-Penn League (Everett)

  • .266 (72-for-271), 17 2B, 3B, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 23-27 SB

Made his professional debut after winning his second consecutive gold glove for the Wildcats in 2014 … Named a Mid-Season All-Star in the Northwest League … Finished the year ranked fourth in the Northwest League in steals (23).

Collin Cowgill (2005-08) – Los Angeles Angels (5th round; 2008)
MLB (Angels)

  • .333 (65-for-260), 37 R, 10 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 4-4 SB

Helped the Angels to the American League Western Division Title and the best record in baseball … Has helped lead his team to a division title for the third time in four MLB seasons … Was hit in the face by a pitch on July 12, requiring surgery and forcing him to return on Aug. 5.

Logan Darnell (2008-10) – Minnesota Twins (6th round; 2010)
Triple-A International League (Rochester)

  • 7-6, 3.60 ERA, 23 APP, 19 GS, CG, 115 IP, 108 H, 49 BB, 90 SO

MLB (Twins)

  • 0-2, 7.13 ERA, 7 APP, 4 GS, 24 IP, 31 H, 8 BB, 22 SO

Made his MLB debut on May 6 with three perfect innings in relief vs. the Cleveland Indians … Returned to the big leagues for his first MLB start vs. the Chicago White Sox, working five innings, allowing seven runs and striking out seven in a matchup with CWS ace Chris Sale … Started five days later against CWS and Sale again, allowing four runs in four innings … Was a September call-up, making a start vs. the Angels, tossing 4.2 five-run innings, before working 4.1 innings and allowing three earned runs in a start at the White Sox … Worked a shutout innings vs. the Indians on Sept. 20 before concluding his MLB season on Sept. 21 with two shutout frames.

Scott Downs (1995-97) – Chicago White Sox/Kansas City Royals (3rd round; 1997)
MLB (White Sox)

  • 0-2, 6.08 ERA, 38 APP, 23.2 IP, 24 H, 15 BB, 22 SO

MLB (Royals)

  • 0-2, 3.14 ERA, 17 APP, 14.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 3 SO

Helped a team to the MLB postseason for the second consecutive year … Started the season with 38 appearances in relief for the White Sox, before the Royals picked him up for 17 appearances in the stretch run … Was left off the postseason roster for the Royals but has been in the dugout during the Kansas City run to the World Series.

Cameron Flynn (2011-12) – Miami Marlins (23rd round; 2012)
High Class-A Florida State League (Jupiter)

  • .247 (39-for-158), 5 2B, 2 3B, HR, 15 RBI, 2-2 SB

Battled injury during his third professional season, playing in 39 games in the Florida State League … Season ended on May 19 due to injury.  

Trevor Gott (2011-13) – San Diego Padres/Los Angeles Angels (6th round; 2013)
High Class-A California League (Lake Elsinore)

  • 2-4, 3.16 ERA, 29 APP, 16 SV, 31.1 IP, 28 H, 9 BB, 31 SO

Double-A Texas League (San Antonio/Arkansas)

  • 2-1, 2.76, 23 APP, 2 SV, 29.1 IP, 16 BB, 29 SO

The UK career/season record holder for saves … Was traded from the Padres to the Angels at the trading deadline, shining in double-A with the Angels over 13 outings … Had 16 saves in 29 games in high class-A.

Jerad Grundy (2012-13) – Oakland Athletics (10th round; 2013)
Short-Season Class-A New York-Penn League (Vermont)

  • 4-7, 4.08 ERA, 15 GS, 75 IP, 90 H, 16 BB, 51 SO

Joined Max Kuhn in the NY-Penn League with Vermont … Had a strong second season in the circuit, working 75 innings with just 16 walks and 51 strikeouts … Only allowed one or two runs over his six starts.

Max Kuhn (2012-14) – Oakland Athletics (13th round; 2014)
Rookie Arizona League (Athletics)

  • .250 (5-for-20), 2 R, 2 2B, HR, 6 RBI

Short-Season Class-A New York-Penn League (Vermont)

  • .277 (51-for-184), 26 R, 10 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 3-5 SB

Played in two rookie-level leagues in his professional debut, advancing to the NY-Penn League and playing in 52 games … Second-team All-SEC selection in 2014 finished with a .418 slugging mark.

Corey Littrell (2011-13) – Boston Red Sox/St. Louis Cardinals (5th round; 2013)
Low Class-A South Atlantic League

  • 5-5, 3.60 ERA, 19 APP, 18 GS, 100 IP, 101 H, 38 BB, 91 SO

High Class-A Florida State League (Carolina)

  • 0-2, 4.55 ERA, 5 GS, 31.2 IP, 45 H, 10 BB, 19 SO

Was traded at the deadline in his first full professional season, moving from the Red Sox to the Cardinals … Worked in 19 games in the South Atlantic League, before making five starts in the hitter friendly Florida State League.

Luke Maile (2010-12) – Tampa Bay Rays (8th round; 2012)
Double-A Southern League (Montgomery)

  • .268 (94-for-351), 19 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 1-2 SB

Continued his climb up the organizational depth chart behind the plate, serving as an everyday catcher in double-A in his third professional season … Made his second straight appearance in the Arizona Fall League in the offseason.

Alex Meyer (2009-11) – Minnesota Twins (1st round; 2011)
Triple-A International League (Rochester)

  • 7-7, 3.52 ERA, 27 GS, 130.1 IP, 116 H, 64 BB, 153 SO

Tied for the triple-A lead in strikeouts (153) in his second professional season … Made 27 starts in his triple-A debut, fanning 153 in 130.1 innings … Was preparing for a September call-up with the Twins but after working three innings in his final start of the year was shut down for the year as an injury precaution.

James Paxton (2008-10) – Seattle Mariners (4th round; 2010)
Triple-A Pacific Coast League (Tacoma)

  • 0-2, 4.85 ERA, 4 GS, 13 IP, 15 H, 7 BB, 16 SO

MLB (Mariners)

  • 6-4, 3.04 ERA, 13 GS, 74 IP, 60 H, 29 BB, 59 SO

Opened 2014 in the rotation for the Mariners, making two starts in April before missing the three months due to injury … Returned to the Mainers rotation on Aug. 2 with his record and ERA through his first eight career MLB starts marking the best in big-league history.

Tim Peterson (2012) – New York Mets (20th round; 2012)
Low Class-A South Atlantic League (Savannah)

  • 3-0, 2.05 ERA, 19 APP, SV, 30.2 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 44 SO

High Class-A Florida State League (St. Lucie)

  • 2-1, 5.70 ERA, 13 APP, 23.2 IP, 29 H, 12 BB, 26 SO

Shined in his second full professional season, working in 13 games in the Florida State League and 19 games in the South Atlantic League … After making three starts in 2013, returned strictly to the bullpen, with the one exception getting an out in a start in the double-A Eastern League.

Lance Ray (2010) – Minnesota Twins (8th round, 2010)
High Class-A Florida State League (Fort Myers)

  • .286 (18-for-63), 9 R, 8 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI

Double-A Eastern League (New Britain)

  • .208 (5-for-24), 4 R, 2 2B, 3B, 4 RBI

Injuries limited him to 26 games in 2014, eight in the double-A Eastern League and 18 in the Florida State League.

AJ Reed (2012-14) – Houston Astros (2nd round; 2014)
Short-Season New York-Penn League (Tri-City)

  • .306 (38-for-124), 22 R, 11 2B, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 2-2 SB

Low Class-A Midwest League (Quad Cities)

  • .272 (34-for-125), 21 R, 9 2B, 3B, 7 HR, 24 RBI

The unanimous national player of the year in 2014, made his professional debut with 34 games at each the rookie-level NY-Penn League and in his full-season debut in the Midwest League … Hit seven homers in the Midwest League and five in the NY-Penn League … Was named an All-Star in the rookie leagues by Baseball America.

J.T. Riddle (2011-13) – Miami Marlins (13th round; 2013)
Low Class-A South Atlantic League (Greensboro)

  • .280 (122-for-435), 65 R, 17 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 60 RBI, 5-6 SB

In his first full professional season, played in 103 games in the South Atlantic League … Made a return trip to face the Lexington Legends, collecting three RBI and two doubles in the three-game trip.  

Matt Reida (2011-14) – Tampa Bay Rays (Non-Drafted Free Agent)
Rookie Gulf Coast League (Rays)

  • .295 (46-for-156), 29 R,  8 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 9-11 SB

Made his professional debut with 42 games in the rookie Gulf Coast League, belting three homers and driving in 20 runs, stealing nine bags … Opened his pro career with one game in the independent leagues, before signing with the Rays.

Chris Rusin (2006-09) – Chicago Cubs (4th round, 2009)
Triple-A Pacific Coast League (Iowa)

  • 8-13, 4.31 ERA, 23 GS, CG, SHO, 146.1 IP, 163 H, 38 BB, 97 SO

MLB (Cubs)

  • 0-0, 7.11 ERA, 4 APP, 12.2 IP, 16 H, 5 BB, 8 SO

Highlight of the season came in a nine-inning no-hitter in triple-A on May 7 … Made four MLB appearances in relief, his first four career MLB relief outings, during 2014, despite not being awarded with the September call-up.

Taylor Rogers (2010-12) – Minnesota Twins (11th round; 2012)
Double-A Eastern League (New Britain)

  • 11-6, 3.29 ERA, 24 GS, CG, 145 IP, 150 H, 37 BB, 113 SO

Was regarded in Baseball America as the overlooked prospect in the Twins system, earning praise from the Twins front office as a potential front-line starting pitcher … Had his best professional season, earning 11 wins in 24 starts in double-A.

Chandler Shepherd (2012-14) – Boston Red Sox (13th round; 2014)
Short-Season New York-Penn League (Lowell)

  • 4-3, 4.05 ERA, 16 APP, 1 GS, 33.1 IP, 33 H, 8 BB, 35 SO

Made his professional debut after singing with the Red Sox in the 13th round … Appeared in 16 games with one start in the NY-Penn League, striking out 35 in 33.1 innings.

Micheal Thomas (2010-14) – Detroit Tigers (22nd round, 2014)
Short-Season New York-Penn League (Connecticut)

  • .136 (3-for-22), RBI

Rookie Gulf Coast League (Tigers)

  • .333 (3-for-9), 3 R, RBI, 1-1 SB

High Class-A Florida State League (Lakeland)

  • .118 (2-for-17), RBI

Bounced around three levels in his professional debut, seeing time in the NY-Penn League, the rookie GCL and the high class-A Florida State League.

Chad Wright (2009-11) – Detroit Tigers (9th round, 2011)
High Class-A Florida State League (Lakeland)

  • .249 (114-for-457), 62 R, 19 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 35 RBI, 9-12 SB

Won the Rawlings MiLB Gold Glove Award after repeating on the roster for the high class-A Lakeland Tigers for a second consecutive season.