Part 2: Recapping UK in Pro Baseball
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A staggering total of 29 former Kentucky baseball players played professional baseball during the 2011 season, including MLB standouts Joe Blanton, Collin Cowgill, Scott Downs and Brandon Webb. Below is the second part and final edition recapping the 29 UK players who played professional baseball in 2011, from the indy leagues to the big leagues.
Read all about the remaining UK players not mentioned in the first part of the series, including Blanton, Cowgill, Downs and Webb, in addition to Taylor Black, Jordan Cooper, Sean Coughlin, Antone DeJesus, Gunner Glad, Neiko Johnson, Braden Kapteyn, Nick Kennedy, Chris McClendon, James Paxton, Lance Ray, Chris Wade, Keenan Wiley and Chad Wright.
Andrew Albers (2005-08) signed in the offseason with the Minnesota Twins after spending a season in the independent leagues while recovering from injury. A native of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Albers played at two different levels in 2011, soaring as high as the Double-A Eastern League for the New Britain Rock Cats. In 35 games and seven starts, Albers posted an 8-2 record and a 2.16 ERA with four saves. In 95.2 combined innings, Albers walked only 14 and struck out 80. In high class-A with Fort Worth, Albers went 4-1, 1.55 ERA in 22 games and two starts, saving four games with only seven walks and striking out 46 in 52.1 innings. Following the MiLB season, Albers starred with Team Canada in the IABF World Cup and as the gold medal game winning pitcher in the Pan Am Games, tossing 6.2 innings with only one run allowed in the championship game, upsetting Team USA.
- UK CAREER: Albers appeared in 81 games with 31 starts, posting a 20-18 record with a 4.47 ERA, saving 12 games during his career. In 239.1 innings, Albers walked 77 and struck out 185. His best season for UK came as a closer in 2008 for the Wildcats, posting a 7-4 record and a 2.40 ERA, saving five games with 64 strikeouts in 56.1 innings.
Joe Blanton (2000-02) battled injury most of the 2011 MLB season, but returned late in the season to help the Philadelphia Phillies push into the 2011 MLB Playoffs. The highest drafted player in program history in 2002 as the 24th player selected in the MLB Draft, Blanton appeared in 11 games with eight starts for the Phillies, posting a 1-2 record and a 5.01 ERA, tossing 41.1 innings with nine walks and 35 strikeouts.
- UK CAREER: Blanton finished his junior season in 2002 with a 5-7 record and a 4.59 ERA in 14 starts with three complete games. He tossed 100 innings as a junior walking only 37 and fanning 133. Blanton picked up four saves in his career, including two as a freshman and two as a sophomore. As a freshman, Blanton made only one start in 19 games, tossing 50 innings with 44 strikeouts and a 5-0 record.
Michael Bertram (2003-06) played for the Erie SeaWolves in the Double-A Eastern League for 82 games in 2011, as a reserve infielder. Bertram, a native of Lexington, Ky., batted .258 (69-for-267) with 20 doubles, five homers and 30 RBI, stealing two bases in 2011. In 2010, Bertram played at the Double-A and Triple-A level, batting .251 with 13 homers and 67 RBI in 122 games.
- UK CAREER: Bertram completed a storied four-year career for the Wildcats in 2006 while leading UK to the SEC Championship with a .340 batting average as UK's everyday third baseman. Bertram had 16 doubles, five homers and 37 RBI during the 2006 championship season, posting a 21-19 walk-strikeout ratio. As a junior in 2005, Bertram hit .327 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers and 37 RBI. During his career, Bertram hit .312 in 192 games, with 37 doubles, three triples, eight homers and 107 RBI, stealing 12 bases. After the 2006 season, Bertram was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 39th round of the MLB Draft.
Taylor Black (2010-11) debuted in professional baseball in the Philadelphia Phillies system for the Williamsport Crosscutters in the New York-Penn League. Black appeared in 58 games at shortstop, batting .212 (39-for-184) with eight doubles, two triples, one homer and 17 RBI, stealing two bases.
- UK CAREER: UK's two-year starter at shortstop, Black finished his 2011 season having played and started 110 games for the Wildcats. In his career, Black hit .297 (121-for-407) with 22 doubles, two triples, 15 homers and 75 RBI, stealing 24-of-27 bases. As a senior, Black hit .319 (73-for-229) with 16 doubles, two triples, four homers and 38 RBI, swiping 12 bags. After transferring to UK for his junior season in 2010, Black hit .270 with 11 homers, 37 RBI and 12 steals. A 16th-round selection in the 2011 MLB Draft, Black finished his career with a .380 on-base percentage and a .472 slugging mark.
Chris Bisson (2007-09) played in 123 games in the high Class-A Midwest League with the Fort Wayne TinCaps. A native of Orleans, Ontario, Bisson hit .261 (109-for-418) with 11 doubles, five triples, two homers and 43 RBI, stealing 21-of-31 bases. Bisson drew 53 walks good for a .345 on-base percentage. After his season in low Class-A, Bisson joined Team Canada to its run through the IABF World Cup and the gold medal at the Pan Am Games. In his first international at bat, Bisson launched a homer.
- UK CAREER: Had a stellar three-year career for the Wildcats, batting .325 (157-for-483) in 131 games with 115 starts, totaling 24 doubles, four triples, seven homers and 91 RBI, stealing 48-of- 60 bases. Bisson's best year came as a sophomore in 2009, batting .360 (80-for-222) with two homers, 52 RBI and 13 stolen bases. A two-time All-SEC selection by the league coaches, Bisson hit .329 (69-for-210) with 12 doubles, one triple, five homers and 35 RBI, stealing 32-of-39 bases. After his junior season, Bisson was a fourth-round pick in the MLB Draft.
Sawyer Carroll (2007-08) excelled in the Double-A Texas League for the San Antonio Missions of the San Diego Padres organization. In 129 games for the Missions, Carroll - who earned All-Star accolades - hit .267 (123-for-460) with 24 doubles, six triples, 18 homers and 71 RBI. Carroll added 11 stolen bases, 61 walks and 68 runs scored.
- UK CAREER: Carroll completed a dynamic two-year career in 2008 with a 44-win season and a spot in the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional Championship game. During his two years, Carroll hit .386 (173-for-448) with 45 doubles, five triples, 22 homers and 139 RBI, stealing 16 bases. As a senior, after returning to school as a 16th-round pick as a junior, Carroll hit .419 (98-for-234) with 22 doubles, three triples, 19 homers and a school-record 83 RBI. In 2008, Carroll posted a 44-33 walk-strikeout ratio with a perfect 12-of-12 stolen bases, totaling a .782 slugging and a .514 on-base percentage.
Jordan Cooper (2009-11) was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 23rd round of the 2011 MLB Draft after his sophomore season. In his first 13 career professional games, Cooper posted a 1-4 record and a 5.06 ERA with three starts. Cooper hurled 37.1 innings, walking 14 and striking out 23.
- UK CAREER: In his two-year career with the Wildcats, Cooper was both a reliever and a starter. He started 20 games on the bump while recording a 7-7 mark in his two seasons as a Wildcat. During his freshman year, Cooper threw 58.1, striking out 35 batters. The Shelbyville, Tenn., native posted a 3-2 record and a 4.61 ERA as a sophomore, striking out 47 with 29 walks.
Sean Coughlin (2006-07) played in 77 games this summer in the independent Frontier League for the Southern Illinois Miners, earning All-Star accolades. Coughlin hit .242 (63-for-260) with 13 doubles, 11 homers and 49 RBI during the summer, adding a 37-30 walk-strikeout ratio and four stolen bases.
- UK CAREER: A two-year starter, Coughlin finished his UK career with a .355 average in 112 games and 107 starts. In his career he belted 29 doubles, three triples and 30 homers with 128 RBI. During a first-team All-America season behind the plate in 2007, Coughlin hit .344, with 16 doubles, three triples, 16 homers and 61 RBI. While leading UK to the 2006 SEC Championship as the everyday catcher, Coughlin hit .325 with 17 homers and 55 RBI, before being a 13th round MLB Draft selection in 2007.
Collin Cowgill (2005-08) had a breakout season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, advancing to the MLB roster and helping the Diamondbacks to the MLB Playoffs as the National League Western Division Champion. A native of Lexington, Ky., and a product of Henry Clay High School, Cowgill was a productive member of the Diamondbacks since his MLB debut after a prolific season in Triple-A Reno. In his first 36 games in spot-duty action as a fourth outfielder for the Dbacks, Cowgill hit .239 (22-for-92) with three doubles, one homer and nine RBI, swiping four bases. While at Reno, Cowgill was named the 2011 Pacific Coast League Rookie of the Year, while also starting in centerfield in the PCL All-Star Game as the leading vote getter. In 98 games for the Aces, Cowgill batted .354 (140-for-395) with 13 homers and 70 RBI, adding 24 doubles, eight triples and 30 stolen bases, earning PCL Rookie of the Year honors. Baseball America polled all the PCL managers, ranking Cowgill as the best defensive outfielder, most exciting player, best outfield arm and best baserunners in the circuit.
- UK CAREER: One of the more prolific winners in UK baseball history, Cowgill earned All- America honors as a junior, before being a fifth-round selection in the MLB Draft by the Diamondbacks. During his three seasons with the Wildcats, Cowgill batted .306 (171-for-558), in 165 games, with 166 runs, 35 doubles, 37 homers, 140 RBI and 32 stolen bases. While leading UK to the 2006 SEC Championship, Cowgill hit .298 with 16 homers and 61 RBI. After an injury-forced redshirt season in 2007, Cowgill teamed with fellow All-America outfielder Sawyer Carroll to spark UK to a school-record 44 wins in 2008, owning a .361 average with 19 homers, 60 RBI and 23 stolen bags.
Logan Darnell (2008-10) pitched over three different levels in 2011, reaching as high as the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats, the same team as former UK southpaw Andrew Albers. Over three levels, Darnell posted an 11-6 record and a 4.37 ERA, tossing 150.1 innings, walking 37 and striking out 90. Darnell dominated in low Class-A with a 2-2 record and a 3.78 ERA in six starts, before moving to the Florida State League in high Class-A.
- UK CAREER: Darnell completed his three-year career at UK in 2010 as a member of UK's weekend rotation and as a stopper out of the bullpen late in the year. A native of Joelton, Tenn., Darnell appeared in 57 games with 11 starts during his UK career, posting a 10-9 record and a 5.05 ERA. Darnell saved four games in his career - including three as a sophomore - tossing 137.1 innings, with 114 strikeouts. As a junior, Darnell made 11 starts and three relief outings, posting a 5-3 record and a 5.62 ERA. His highlight came in a 94-pitch, complete-game shutout at San Diego during the third weekend of his junior season, working four ground-ball double plays. At the end of his junior season, Darnell was selected in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Twins.
Antone DeJesus (2005-07) opened his independent league baseball career with the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings and the Edinburg Roadrunners. In 83 games, DeJesus batted .343 (113-for-329) with 24 doubles, five triples, two homers, 34 RBI and 24 stolen bases. During the 2011 offseason, DeJesus played in Puerto Rico for the Indio de Mayaguez in the Caribbean Winter League, leading the Indios to their 16th national championship with a game-winning hit in the Puerto Rican World Series.
- UK CAREER: A three-year starter in centerfield for UK, DeJesus completed his career in 2007, batting .328 (202-for-616) with 34 doubles, 11 triples, nine homers and 104 RBI, stealing 37-of-44 bases. DeJesus hit .344 as a freshman in 56 games, .323 during UK's 2006 SEC Championship season and .318 as a junior with a career-high 16 stolen bases. A 15th round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, DeJesus finished his career with a .434 on-base percentage, totaling 12 career outfield assists.
Scott Downs (1995-97) signed a free agent contract as one of the top relievers on the market during the offseason, inking with the Los Angeles Angels. In 60 games for the Angels, Downs posting a 6-3 record and a 1.84 ERA with one save. Downs, a native of Louisville, tossed 53.2 innings, allowing only 39 hits and 15 walks with 35 strikeouts. In his MLB career, Downs owns a 33-31 record and a 3.62 ERA in 439 games and 50 starts, saving 17 games.
- UK CAREER: A third-round pick in the 1997 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs, Downs completed his career in 1997 as UK's record holder in career and single-season strikeouts. A first-team All-SEC starter in 1997, Downs fanned 293 during his three-year career. As a junior, Downs went 7-8 with a 5.11 ERA in 17 games and 16 starts, owning a school-record seven complete games. Downs tossed 105.2 innings, walking 45 and striking out 99.
Gunner Glad (2009-10) opened his year in affiliated baseball as an undrafted free agent in the Minnesota Twins system, playing in the low Class-A Midwest League with the Beloit Snappers. Glad hit .175 (21-for-120) with five doubles, two homers and 11 RBI in 36 games before he was released. He then signed with the San Angelo Colts in the independent Frontier League, batting .185 (5-for-27) in seven games, with one double, one homer and one RBI.
- UK CAREER: Glad completed his two-year UK career with a three-run, go-ahead home run in his final UK at bat on the road at Georgia. In his career, Glad hit .323 (115-for-356) with 18 doubles, one triple, 21 homers and 83 RBI. As a senior, Glad hit .336 with 11 doubles, one triple, 12 homers and 45 RBI, playing first, second and third base, in addition to time in rightfield. As a junior, Glad hit .303 with seven doubles, nine homers and 38 RBI.
Scott Green (2005-08) appeared in 18 games in relief in the New York-Penn League and the Gulf Coast League as he returns from injury. A 6-foot-8, 240-pound right-hander, Green went 1-3 with a 5.21 ERA in his 18 rehab relief outings, posting one save in 19 innings, walking 11 with 13 strikeouts.
- UK CAREER: Green was a fixture out of the bullpen and in the rotation for the Wildcats during his career. A native of Louisville, Ky., Green appeared in 47 games with 15 starts during his three-year career, sitting out the 2006 SEC Championship season due to Tommy John surgery. Overall, Green went 10-8, 4.54 ERA during his career with six saves and 114 strikeouts in 117 innings. As a junior in 2008, after turning down the Red Sox as a 15th round pick, Green went 6-4 with a 4.76 ERA, saving two games in 56.2 innings, walking only 16 with 64 strikeouts. After his junior season, Green was drafted by the Tigers in the third round of the MLB Draft.
Neiko Johnson (2007-11) signed a free agent contract with the Houston Astros after his UK career in 2011. Johnson debuted in the New York-Penn League for the Tri-City ValleyCats. The Stone Mountain, Ga., native appeared in 57 games in his debut, batting .236 (43-for-182) with five doubles, one homer and 17 RBI, stealing 21-of-25 bases. Johnson totaled 30 runs and worked a 41-37 walk-strikeout ratio while playing mainly in the middle infield.
- UK CAREER: Johnson completed his five-year UK career with a .237 average (42-for-177) in 78 games and 47 starts, playing second and third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions. He finished his career with 11 doubles, three homers and 23 RBI, posting a 34-33 walk-strikeout ratio. As a senior Johnson entered the year coming off a dynamic summer in the Coastal Plains League and boasted 24 stolen bases in just 21 starts as a junior for UK. Known for a disciplined approach at the plate and as one of the top base runners in the SEC, Johnson batted leadoff for the first four games of the season, rotating between second base and rightfield. Off to a .308 (4-for-13) start, Johnson suffered a finger injury while sliding into second base at Morehead State. He missed the next 34 games due to the injury, returning for the Arkansas series. After returning from injury, Johnson batted .340 (16-for-47), despite having missed 34 consecutive games and not facing live pitching since Feb. 22. During the final 14 games of the year, Johnson started 13 consecutive games, belting seven doubles, two homers and 12 RBI. He drew nine walks and struck out only six times, totaling a .456 on-base percentage at the top of the UK lineup with three steals. Among his career highlights are a leadoff homer to open UK's midweek win over Indiana in 2011 and his first career homer against Monmouth in San Diego, Calif., in 2010. Johnson led off the bottom of the ninth inning of UK's game with Monmouth, having replaced UK All-America second baseman Chris Bisson after the star had broken his nose after getting hit by a pitch. Johnson worked a 10-pitch at bat before belting his first career homer to erase a one-run Monmouth lead.
Braden Kapteyn (2008-11) opened his professional career on the mound for the Boston Red Sox, despite being announced as a first baseman during his draft selection. Kapteyn appeared in 12 games with one start, striking out 22 in 14 inning with 14 walks and only nine hits allowed, owning a 12.21 ERA.
- UK CAREER: Kapteyn completed his UK career as a two-way standout for the Wildcats. Kapteyn appeared in 135 games at the plate with 130 starts, batting .304 (153-for-504) with 31 doubles, one triple, 16 homers and 97 RBI, stealing seven bases. On the mound, Kapteyn totaled eight saves in 55 relief outings, going 7-3 with a 6.15 ERA. In 71.2 innings, Kapteyn walked 38 and struck out 91. Kapteyn led UK at the plate in RBI as a junior, batting .300 with six homers and 42 RBI, before the Red Sox signed him as a 15th round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.
Nick Kennedy (2009-11) opened his professional career with the Lake County Fielders, owned by famed star Kevin Costner, in the independent North American Professional Baseball League. A sidearm right-handed reliever, Kennedy appeared in nine games with a 0-2 record and a 5.23 ERA with one save. In 10.1 innings, Kennedy walked only two and struck out 13, also registering two at bats at the plate.
- UK CAREER: A workhorse reliever for UK for three seasons, Kennedy appeared in 43 games over his career with a 4-2 record and a 4.35 ERA, totaling two saves. Tossed 60 innings in his career with 60 strikeouts. After appearing in two games in his UK debut season of 2009, Kennedy had season-ending surgery, returning to appear in 21 games in 2010 with a 4-1 record and a 4.21 ERA, fanning 42 in 36.1 innings. After appearing in 30 games with a 4.95 ERA in 20 innings as a senior, Kennedy signed to play independent league baseball with the Fielders.
Matt Little (2009-10) pitched in relief for the Tigers sytem at two levels, seeing six appearances for the Double-A SeaWolves and 28 outings for the high Class-A Lakeland Flying Tigers. Overall, Little appeared in 34 games with a 0-2 record and a 4.30 ERA, saving six games. In 37.2 innings, Little walked 20 and struck out 27.
- UK CAREER: After sitting out the 2009 season, Little emerged as a key reliever in 2010 for UK, appearing in 24 games with seven saves, a 2-2 record and a 4.93 ERA. Little tossed 42 innings for the Wildcats, allowing 41 hits and 24 walks, striking out 52. After the season, Little was a 31st-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft by the Tigers.
Chris McClendon (2008-09) again led his River City Rascals to the playoffs in the independent Frontier League, while manning third base. McClendon hit .332 (69-for-208) in 56 games during the summer, totaling 23 doubles, two triples, four homers and 34 RBI. A native of Lufkin, Texas, McClendon posted a 34-24 walk-strikeout ratio with seven steals, earning All-Star accolades.
- UK CAREER: A two-year starter at third base for UK, McClendon played in 78 games with 73 starts. He batted .308 (84-for-273) with 12 dobules, one triple, five homers and 42 RBI, stealing 10-of-14 bases. As a junior, McClendon excelled in 48 games, batting .346 with 11 doubles, one triple, three homers and 33 RBI. Despite battling injuries as a senior, McClendon made 26 starts in 30 games, batting .234, with two homers and nine RBI.
Marcus Nidiffer (2006-10) played for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the low Class-A Midwest League in the Los Angeles Angels organization. In 68 games, Nidiffer hit .230 (47-for-204) with 11 doubles, one triple, six homers and 24 RBI. A native of Bristol, Tenn., Nidiffer had a great professional debut in 2010 in the Astros system, batting .286 with 14 homers and 36 RBI in his first career 69 professional games.
- UK CAREER: Nidiffer completed an excellent five-year UK career in 2010 for the Wildcats, batting .320 (47-for-147) with seven doubles, 10 homers and 35 RBI. His 10-homer year was the second consecutive for the UK backstop, who launched 10 homers and hit .312 as a junior. Overall in his career, Nidiffer hit .284 (121-for-426) with 18 doubles, two triples, 25 homers and 84 RBI. Following his senior season, Nidiffer signed a free agent contract with the Astros, then signing a free agent deal with the Angels before the 2011 season.
James Paxton (2007-09) soared to the Double-A Jackson Generals in the Seattle Mariners system, also starring in the Double-A All-Star Game and the MLB Futures Game at Chase Field in Phoenix during MLB All-Star Weekend. Over two levels, during his professional debut, Paxton posted a 6-3 record and a 2.37 ERA in 17 starts, before the Mariners shut him down for the season in early August. Paxton tossed 95 innings, allowing only 73 hits with an eye-popping 131 strikeouts and a .215 opponent average. After going 3-3, 2.73 ERA in 10 low Class-A starts, Paxton skipped high Class-A to move to Jackson. In Jackson, he went 3-0, 1.85 ERA in seven starts, striking out 51 in 39 frames.
- UK CAREER: A first-round pick out of UK in 2009, Paxton appeared in 55 games with 24 starts, posting an 11-5 record and a 4.91 ERA. Paxton saved two games and tossed 148.1 innings, walking 61 and striking out 168. His best season came as a junior, when he emerged as one of the top pitchers in college baseball, with 115 strikeouts in 78.1 innings. As a sophomore, Paxton appeared in 17 games with 11 starts as mainly a midweek starter, posting a 4-2 record and a 2.92 ERA.
Lance Ray (2010) played for the low Class-A Beloit Snappers in the Midwest League. A native of Las Vegas, Nev., Ray played in 132 games for the Snapper, batting .253 (76-for-470) with 34 doubles, one triple, 16 homers and 74 RBI, stealing 10 bases.
- UK CAREER: Ray completed his one-year at UK in 2010 with a stellar season, leading UK with a .356 (42-for-118) average in 41 games. Ray added 11 doubles, one triple, 10 homers and 34 RBI, as the junior college product didn't crack the everyday lineup until the last half of the season. After his dynamic end to the year, Ray was an eighth-round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2010 MLB Draft.
Chris Rusin (2006-09) played at two levels in the Chicago Cubs system in 2011, advancing to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. Over the two levels, Rusin was used mainly as a starter, making two relief appearances in Iowa. Over 26 games and 24 starts in 2011, Rusin went 8-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 138.2 innings, walking 30 and striking out 95. In 15 Double-A starts in the Southern League, Rusin tossed 76 innings, walking 16 with 49 strikeouts.
- UK CAREER: A fourth-round pick out of UK in 2009, Rusin was a standout for the Wildcats, making 56 appearances with 45 starts. A native of Canton, Mich., Rusin went 23-11 with a 4.14 ERA in his career, tossing eight complete games in 302.1 innings, striking out 274. Rusin's best year came in 2008, leading UK to a school-record 44 wins and earning All-Southeastern Conference honors with a 6-3 record and 3.33 ERA.
John Shelby III (2004-06) was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays organization before the 2011 season, playing the year for the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits, with one game in Triple-A Durham. In 117 games for Montgomery, Shelby hit .248 (62-for-415) with 20 doubles, five triples, 16 homers and 52 RBI, stealing 7-of-11 bases.
- UK CAREER: Shelby had a stellar career for the Wildcats, cumulating in a fifth-round selection of the Chicago White Sox in the 2006 MLB Draft. A native of Lexington, Ky., and a product of Tates Creek High School, Shelby helped lead UK for a last-place finish in 2005 to the SEC Championship as a junior, also playing for Team USA before the 2006 season. A second-team All-SEC selection in 2006, Shelby led UK to 44 wins as a junior, batting .291 with 18 doubles, 18 homers and 56 RBI. During his 159-game UK career, Shelby hit .307, with 36 doubles, six triples, 33 homers and 131 RBI, stealing 42-of-54 bases.
Ryan Strieby (2006) played a full season for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens in the Tigers system, mainly manning first base with some leftfield. In 130 games in 2011, Strieby hit .255 (124-for-487) with 28 doubles, 19 homers and 76 RBI, posting a .341 on-base percentage.
- UK CAREER: Strieby became the first UK player to earn SEC Player of the Year honors after leading UK to the first SEC Championship in program history. The Seattle, Wash., native launched 20 homers and hit .343 in 61 games with a school-record 77 RBI and 22 doubles. After his 2006 campaign, Strieby was drafted in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Tigers.
Chris Wade (2007-09) opened his career in the independent Frontier League with the Windy City ThunderBolts. A native of Lexington, Ky., and an 11th round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft by the Florida Marlins, Wade played in 87 games in 2011, batting .253 (76-for-300) with 18 doubles, two triples, two homers and 28 RBI, stealing eight bases.
- UK CAREER: Wade played two seasons for the Wildcats, redshirting during the 2008 season. In 113 starts at shortstop, Wade hit .304 (123-for-405) with 34 doubles, one triple, 11 homers and 93 RBI, stealing 20-of-25 bases, earning second-team All-SEC honors at shortstop. As a freshman, Wade earned freshman All-America honors at shortstop, batting .296 with a league-leading 24 doubles, five homers and 51 RBI.
Keenan Wiley (2007-10) played the outfield at two different levels in the Atlanta Braves system, advancing to high Class-A Lynchburg in the Carolina League. Wiley hit .286 (114-for-399) over the two levels, with 12 doubles, seven triples, one homer and 29 RBI, stealing 22-of-28 bases. In his first 14 games in low Class-A, Wiley hit .293 (12-for-41) with Rome, before the promotion to Lynchburg, where he hit .285 (102-for-358).
- UK CAREER: A native of Richmond, Ky., Wiley completed a decorated five-year career for UK in 2010, before signing a free-agent contract with the Braves. Wiley played in 214 games with 189 starts in his career, batting .306 (230-for-751) with 25 doubles, three triples, 10 homers and 112 RBI, stealing 36-of-49 bases. Wiley hit .327 in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, before a .251 average as a junior with four homers and 24 RBI. During his senior season, Wiley hit .324 with seven doubles, one triple and four homers, driving in 37, with 14 steals. Wiley ranks fourth in UK history in games, seventh in games started, sixth in hits, second in sacrifice bunts (28) and 12th in stolen bases.
Brandon Webb (1998-00) attempted to return from a missed season in 2010 due to injury with the Texas Rangers organization. Webb, a native of Ashland, Ky., pitched in four games in Double-A for Frisco on his rehab tour, tossing 12 innings, walking six and striking out eight, his first innings since tossing just four frames in 2009 for the Arizona Diamondbacks and just removed from a 22-win MLB season in 2008.
- UK CAREER: Webb finished his UK career as an eighth-round selection in the 2000 MLB Draft. As a junior, Webb went 7-3 with a 4.58 ERA in 18 games and 16 starts, tossing 112 innings with only 41 walks and 123 strikeouts.
Chad Wright (2009-11) had an excellent professional debut in the rookie-level New York-Penn League for the Detroit Tigers as their ninth round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. Wright hit .261 (63-for-241) with nine doubles and 15 RBI in 69 games, stealing 17-of-21 bases and posting a stellar 41-28 walk-strikeout ratio.
- UK CAREER:A native of Paducah, Ky., Wright exited UK as one of the top performers in UK history, finishing his career just 66 hits shy of the UK all-time record. Wright hit .359 as a junior with team highs in hits (78), triples (three), walks (23) and stolen bases (16). Wright finished with a .544 slugging percentage and a .449 on-base mark, belting a career-high six homers with 40 RBI. A graduate of Heath High School, Wright ranked throughout the SEC stats, including eighth in average, seventh in slugging, seventh in on-base percentage, third in hits, 12th in doubles, sixth in triples, 21st in homers, seventh in total bases, third in hit by pitch and 10th in stolen bases. A 2010 Cape Cod League Summer All-Star, Wright owns a .339 (211-for-623) career average with 36 doubles, six triples, 12 homers, 100 RBI and 38 stolen bases in 155 games.