July 18, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Several Kentucky standouts are starring in summer collegiate leagues, eight former UK stars have opened up their professional careers and UK was a “winner” in college baseball after the 2012 MLB Draft signing deadline. Get all the details in this UK baseball summer notebook.
KENTUCKY A WINNER AT MLB DRAFT SIGNING DEADLINE
With the MLB Draft signing deadline on July 13, Kentucky got huge news when southpaw starter Jerad Grundy elected to return for his senior year and all five of UK’s freshman signees that were drafted elected to attend Kentucky instead of signing professional contracts.
Kentucky’s signing deadline day was honored among the tops in the nation by Baseball America and Perfect Game USA. UK’s five signees who will attend Kentucky include catcher Zach Arnold, 6-foot-6 righty Kyle Cody, 6-9 left-hander Chase Mullins, catcher Casey Schroeder and 6-6 right-hander Matt Pope.
In the Perfect Game story on “valuable college returners”, national writer Kendall Rogers details the top 10 college returners, listing Grundy among standouts like Mark Appel (Stanford), Ryan Tella (Auburn), Tanner Mathis (Ole Miss) and Raph Rhymes (LSU). Rogers details that Grundy’s return combined with the return of sophomore southpaw Corey Littrell, “gives UK one of the nation’s better one-two-punches.”
Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt gives a detailed breakdown of the MLB Draft Deadline “winners and losers”, listing Kentucky among the winners.
UK had a school-record nine players selected in the 2012 MLB Draft, giving UK a record total of 51 players drafted or to sign a professional contract since UK won the 2006 Southeastern Conference Championship, an average of 7.29 players per season.
MAILE BELTS FIRST PROFESSIONAL HOMER
Former UK catcher Luke Maile launched his first professional home run on Tuesday in the short-season New York-Penn League as a member of the Hudson Valley Renegades.
A native of Crestview Hills, Ky., Maile has hit .256 during his first 24 professional games with four doubles, one homer and 11 RBI, owning an 18-17 walk-strikeout ratio and stealing one base. Maile was an eighth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays after an All-SEC season behind the plate for the Wildcats. In 2012, Maile hit .319 with 13 doubles, 12 homers, 51 RBI and nine steals.
REIDA CHARTS FIVE-HIT GAME
Kentucky sophomore shortstop Matt Reida had a career game on Monday in the Cape Cod League, batting 5-for-6 with a double for Harwich.
A native of Russiaville, Ind., Reida was a member of the Brooks Wallace Watch List in 2012, given to the top shortstop in college baseball. The 5-11 standout has hit .299 in the CCBL, with three doubles, two triples, two homers and nine RBI, stealing four bases.
MEYER DAZZLES IN RETURN TO LEXINGTON, PROMOTED TO HIGH A
Former Kentucky star right-hander Alex Meyer made his final start in low class A for the Hagerstown Suns at the Lexington Legends on Saturday night. Following the start, Meyer was promoted to high class A Potomac.
A native of Greensburg, Ind., Meyer finished his first 18 professional starts with the Suns owning a 7-4 record and a 3.10 ERA, tossing 90 innings and striking out a circuit-leading 107. The 6-foot-9, 220-pounder allowed 68 hits and 34 walks, holding opponents to a .210 average. Over Meyer’s last 10 starts, the standout owned a 5-1 record and a 1.92 ERA, striking out 63 in 51.2 innings.
A first-round pick of the Washington Nationals in the 2011 MLB Draft, Meyer entered the start at the Legends fresh off an appearance in the MLB Futures Game as part of the All-Star Game festivities. Meyer tossed six shutout innings in the win at Lexington, with UK head coach Gary Henderson, assistant coach Keith Vorhoff and strength coach Ryan DeVriendt in the stands, to support the former UK All-SEC righty. Meyer allowed only four hits and struck out nine without allowing a walk vs. the Legends.
KUHN ON FIRE IN NORTHWOODS LEAGUE
Freshman infielder Max Kuhn got off to a sluggish start in the highly competitive Northwoods League, experiencing wooden bats for the first time in his career.
A native of Zionsville, Ind., Kuhn exploded out of the transition with a 4-for-5 game on July 8, starting an eight-game hitting streak and quickly erasing a .177 batting average.
A former 24th-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics, Kuhn has hit .258 in 30 games, with three doubles, two homers and 17 RBI.
UK PITCHERS AMONG CAPE COD LEADERS
With nine players in the Cape Cod League or on Team USA, Kentucky is tied for the nation’s lead. The Wildcats had five pitchers in the CCBL to open the summer and standouts Grundy, Corey Littrell and A.J. Reed rank among the tops in the league.
Littrell, who was named second-team All-SEC as UK’s star Sunday starter in 2012, ranks sixth in the CCBL in strikeouts (29). A native of Louisville, Ky., Littrell has made five starts for Harwich, striking out 20 in his 21 innings pitched, owning a 1-0 record and a 5.14 ERA.
Grundy has appeared in five games with four starts for Orleans, owning a 1-2 record and a 4.70 ERA. A native of Johnsburg, Ill., Grundy worked 23 innings, allowing 22 hits and six walks, striking out 22.
Reed has made four starts with a 1-0 record and a 1.83 ERA, tossing 19.2 innings, allowing 19 hits and three walks, striking out 21. Reed is coming off seven shutout innings at Brewster, allowing only four hits and no walks, striking out eight for Harwich.
WIJAS BECOMES KEY MIDDLE RELIEVER IN CAPE
UK junior right-hander Walter Wijas is enjoying a breakout summer in the Cape Cod League, performing splendidly as a middle reliever for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks.
Wijas, a native of Elk Grove, Ill., has appeared in 11 games in relief, with a 1-0 record and a 1.32 ERA. Wijas (pronounced: WHY-jus) has tossed 13.2 frames, walking three and striking out 10.
UK MIDDLE INFIELD DUO LEADS CAPE IN DEFENSIVE ASSISTS
The Kentucky baseball middle-infield duo of Reida – UK’s shortstop – and second baseman J.T. Riddle helped UK own one of the top defensive units in college baseball in 2012, with the Wildcats setting new school records for fielding percentage.
The two UK middle-infield standouts have starred in the Cape Cod League during the summer, with Reida hitting leadoff and playing shortstop for the Harwich Mariners and Riddle hitting No. 3 in the order and playing second base for the Orleans Firebirds. While both have starred at the plate in the Cape, the most startling statistic is that Riddle leads the Cape Cod League in defensive assists (86), while Reida ranking second (69).
Riddle, who also ranks fifth in the CCBL in runs scored, and Reida have showcased tremendous defensive range throughout the summer, helping their clubs to the tops of the league standings. Reida had a great defensive year in 2012, ranking second in the SEC in assists, with his 195 assists ranking third-most of any UK infielder in program history.
Offensively, Riddle has hit .257 in 25 games as the three-hole hitter for Orleans. He owns seven doubles, two triples, two homers and 11 RBI.
CATCHING UP ON PRO DEBUTS
Eight former Kentucky stars have made their professional debuts since signing as draft picks in the 2012 MLB Draft.
While Maile belted his first professional homer on Tuesday night, former UK standouts Brian Adams, Cameron Flynn, Thomas McCarthy, Tim Peterson, Alex Phillips, Taylor Rogers and Michael Williams have also each opened their pro careers.
Adams, a former two-sport standout for the Wildcats, has hit .321 in his first 12 professional games for the Eugene Emeralds in the Northwest League. The 6-4, 220-pounder has two doubles, three homers and seven RBI, stealing 4-of-5 bases. His standout game to open his career game on June 24, when he went 4-for-5 with a double, two homers and five RBI.
A native of Lexington, Ky., Flynn has hit .231 in his first 19 professional games for the Jamestown Jammers in the New York-Penn League. The Henry Clay product has four doubles, one homer and 12 RBI.
McCarthy, a native of Corvallis, Ore., has opened his first 15 professional games with the Great Falls Voyagers in the Rookie Pioneer League. The former first-team All-SEC third sacker has hit .231 with three doubles and four RBI in his professional debut.
After helping Kentucky form one of the nation’s top bullpens in 2012, including UK owning a 40-0 record when leading after seven innings, Peterson has appeared in four games in relief to open his professional career. The native of Payallup, Wash., owns a 1-0 record and a 2.57 ERA for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York-Penn League, tossing seven innings with two runs allowed.
A 6-4 southpaw out of Tenino, Wash., Phillips has appeared in seven games in relief for the Connecticut Tigers in the New York-Penn League. Phillips has tossed 10.2 innings, allowing seven hits and two walks, striking out seven.
A native of Littleton, Colo., Rogers has made five starts to open his professional career with the Elizabethtown Twins in the Rookie Appalachian League. A 6-3, 170-pounder has a 1-1 record and a 1.88 ERA, tossing 24 innings, allowing 17 hits and four walks, striking out 29.
Williams, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., has opened his first 20 professional games with the Hudson Valley Renegades on the same club as Maile. Williams has hit .189 to open his career with three doubles, one triple and 10 RBI.
COUSINO LEADS TEAM USA IN NETHERLANDS
Austin Cousino became the third UK player to be named to the USA National Team during the season and is starring for the USA in Cuba and in the Netherlands.
A native of Dublin, Ohio, Cousino has hit .310 in his first 13 games for Team USA, with three doubles, five RBI, seven runs, seven walks and three steals. Cousino ranks third on the team in average, second in steals and third in hits. The 2012 SEC Freshman of the Year has a .447 on-base percentage and a .861 OPS. In a 2-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the Netherlands on Wednesday morning, Cousino drew a walk to leadoff the top of the eighth inning of a 0-0 game, scoring the game-winning run on a double from Georgia shortstop Kyle Farmer.
BOEHM, MARTIN, SHEPHERD LEAD AMSTERDAM IN PERFECT GAME LEAGEUE
The Amsterdam Mohawks have a major Kentucky flare in the Perfect Game League this summer, as UK standouts Jeff Boehm, Chandler Shepherd and Taylor Martin are currently on the Mohawks and Thomas Bernal played in 12 games to open the summer for Amsterdam.
A native of Lansing, Ill., Boehm has starred in the middle of the order for the Mohawks, hitting .376 in 26 games, with 11 doubles, one homer and 17 RBI, owning a 165-16 walk-strikeout ratio and stealing three bases.
Shepherd, a native of Louisa, Ky., and the top prospect in the state last year, has a 5-0 record and a 1.35 ERA in six starts. Shepherd, who turned in a heroic 10.2 innings in a two-day span during the NCAA Tournament, has tossed 40 innings, allowing 25 hits and six runs, walking five and striking out 36.
A native of Lexington, Ky., Martin has made seven starts for Amsterdam, owning a 2-2 record and a 4.58 ERA. A 6-4 right-hander, Martin has hurled 37.1 innings, allowing 40 hits and 15 walks, striking out 35.