LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Several Kentucky baseball standouts have been listed among the top prospects in their respective summer collegiate leagues by Baseball America and Perfect Game USA, including Jeff Boehm, Austin Cousino, Trevor Gott, Corey Littrell, Taylor Martin, Paul McConkey, A.J. Reed, J.T. Riddle, Chandler Shepherd and Lucas Witt.
So., OF/LHP Jeff Boehm – No. 27 in PGCBL (Perfect Game)
Summer Stats: .328/.414/.426, 11 2B, HR, 21 RBI, 19 BB, 22 SO, 4-5 SB
Sophomore outfielder Jeff Boehm was named the 27th-best prospect in the Perfect Game League, while teaming with fellow UK standouts Chandler Shepherd, Taylor Martin and Thomas Bernal on the Amsterdam Mohawks. Boehm played both ways for Amsterdam, totaling 11 doubles in 36 starts, with one homer and 21 RBI. Boehm also pitched in five games in relief, striking out seven in six innings. Boehm was named to the PGCBL Rising Stars, consisting of collegiate freshmen team at the conclusion of the summer.
So., CF Austin Cousino – No. 12 on Team USA (Baseball America), No. 13 (Perfect Game)
Summer Stats: .351/.479/.459, 4 2B, 5 RBI, 8 BB, 8 SO, 3-4 SB
The 2012 SEC Freshman of the Year, Austin Cousino led the USA Collegiate National Team with his .351 average. Cousino paced USA to the bronze medal at 2012 Honkbal Week in the Netherlands and Baseball America tabbed him the 12th-best prospect on the club and Perfect Game ranked him 13th-best.
“The 5-foot-10, 178-pound Cousino has sneaky pop in his compact lefthanded swing, but he employed more of a contact approach with wood this summer,” Baseball America detailed in its prospect breakdown. … “He generally handles the bat well and is a good bunter. Cousino is a solid-average or slightly better runner, but his speed plays up because of his instincts. He is a plus defender with an average arm in centerfield, where he eventually beat out (Cal State Fullerton centerfielder Michael Lorenzen) for the everyday job. As an undersized gamer without plus speed or power, Cousino might project as an extra outfielder in the big leagues, but he does have tools and he has the makeup to get the most out of them.”
Jr., RHP Trevor Gott – No. 41 in CCBL (Perfect Game)
Summer Stats: 0-1, 2.35 ERA, 7 APP, 4 SV, 7.2 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 10 SO
Junior Trevor Gott got off to another dynamic start in the Cape Cod League as the top closer in the circuit, before returning to Lexington with a minor injury after seven appearances. Gott notched four saves, giving him 17 saves in the CCBL in the last two years, as the righty led the league in saves in 2011. Gott’s only damage came in his final appearance of the summer, where he suffered the minor injury and returned to Lexington. Without that last outing, Gott worked seven shutout innings with only three hits allowed and one walk, striking out nine. In one outing, Gott picked up a save in needing only nine pitches to strike out the side.
Jr., LHP Corey Littrell – No. 22 in CCBL (Baseball America), No. 35 (Perfect Game)
Summer Stats: 1-2, 5.06 ERA, 7 GS, 32 IP, 34 H, 11 BB, 45 SO
Junior southpaw Corey Littrell finished his summer ranked sixth in the Cape Cod League in strikeouts, fanning 45 in 32 innings, walking only 11. Littrell, who earned All-SEC honors as UK’s Sunday starter in 2012, made eight starts total in the CCBL for Harwich, including one playoff start. In his first start of the summer, Littrell tossed four hitless innings with eight strikeouts. Following his 2012 collegiate season, Littrell earned the Rawlings Gold Glove award, given to the nation’s top defensive pitcher. He was ranked as the 22nd-best prospect in the circuit by Baseball American and the 35th-best prospect by Perfect Game.
“Littrell’s 45-11 K-BB ratio in 32 innings provided a better indication of his upside than his 5.06 ERA,” Baseball America reported in its prospect breakdown. “He’s an athletic 6-foot-3, 195-pounder who commands his 88-93 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and flashes a plus slider. He also throws a curveball for strikes and blends in a changeup.”
So., RHP Taylor Martin – No. 9 in PGCBL (Baseball America)
Summer Stats: 3-2, 3.71 ERA, 9 GS, 51 IP, 51 H, 21 ER, 19 BB, 49 SO
Martin joined UK teammates Chandler Shepherd, Jeff Boehm and Thomas Bernal on the Amsterdam Mohwaks, eventually winning the league championship. Martin was ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the Perfect Game Collegiate League. He made nine starts during the summer with a 3-2 record and a 3.71 ERA, tossing 51 innings with 49 strikeouts.
“Another young, talented Wildcat arm, Martin was selected by the Rockies in the 41st round in 2011 out of Lexington, Ky.,” Baseball America detailed in its prospect breakdown. “This summer, Martin went 3-2, 3.71 with 49 strikeouts to 19 walks in 51 innings and was second in the league with 19 strikeouts looking. Mostly a thrower back in high school, Martin has learned quality under UK coach Gary Henderson’s tutelage. He has a great pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, and has plenty of projection remaining. He’s athletic and has a good idea how to set hitters up. He locates an 87-90 mph fastball very well for his age and mixes in a quality, sharp breaking ball. His biggest need right now is to just continue developing a changeup, which he’s shown some feel for, but the pitch lags behind his other two offerings. He’s a big-time competitor and received good marks for his makeup.”
Jr., IF Paul McConkey – No. 24 in NECBL (Perfect Game)
Summer Stats: .358/.405/.567, 11 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 8 BB, 29 SO, 4-4 SB
For the second consecutive summer, Paul McConkey tore up pitching in the New England Collegiate League. A native of Knoxville, Tenn., McConkey was named the 24th-best prospect in the NECBL by Perfect Game. He hit .358 in the regular season, earning all-star honors and second-place in the NECBL home run derby. McConkey finished with 11 doubles, one triple, four homers and 22 RBI.
So., LHP/1B A.J. Reed – No. 34 in CCBL (Perfect Game)
Summer Stats: 3-0, 2.21 ERA, 7 GS, 36.2 IP, 42 H, 7 BB, 38 SO; .176/.317/.176, 2 RBI, 7 BB, 13 SO
Two-way star A.J. Reed, who joined Austin Cousino as the only consensus freshman All-America honorees in program history, dominated the Cape Cod League on the mound in the summer. He was named the 34th-best prospect in the league by Perfect Game. Reed went 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA in seven regular-season starts, striking out 38 in 36.2 innings. Reed finished 13th in the CCBL in strikeouts, while also playing in 11 games at the plate and mustering 34 at bats.
Jr., IF J.T. Riddle – No. 75 in CCBL (Perfect Game)
Summer Stats: .232/.278/.344, 7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 28 SO, 1-2 SB
Junior infielder J.T. Riddle had a good summer for Orleans in the Cape Cod League, most remarkably leading the league in defensive assists from his second base position. Riddle played in 38 games and totaled 27 runs scored, despite getting off to a slow start. Riddle paced the league with his 135 assists, showcasing his tremendous defensive range and ability to make jaw-dropping plays throughout the season.
So., RHP Chandler Shepherd – No. 1 in PGCBL (Baseball America), No. 2 (Perfect Game)
Summer Stats: 9-0, 10 GS, 1.73 ERA, 67.2 IP, 64 SO
A first-team summer league All-America by Perfect Game, the PGCBL Pitcher of the Year and the top prospect in the circuit by Baseball America, Shepherd had a dominating summer in leading Amsterdam to the league crown. In his 10 starts and 11 appearances, including postseason, Shepherd went 9-0 with a 1.73 ERA, striking out 64 in 67.2 innings pitched.
“A five-sport varsity letterman at Lawrence County High, Shepherd was the top high school prospect in the state of Kentucky entering the 2011 draft,” Baseball America detailed in the prospect breakdown. “As a sophomore in 2009, the righthander tossed a state-record 46 consecutive scoreless innings, but had Tommy John surgery and missed his entire junior year. The White Sox took a flier on him in the 41st round in 2011, but Shepherd honored his school commitment and split time as a midweek starter and long reliever for the nationally ranked Wildcats. He went 3-1, 3.83 in 56 innings and burst onto the scene after shutting out No. 9 Arkansas and top-ranked Louisiana State in a pair of three-plus-inning relief outings. Shepherd has further impressed this summer—leading the league in wins (seven), ERA (1.31) and opponents' batting average (.154) while striking out 50 and walking 12 in 55 innings for the league champs. At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Shepherd has all the ingredients scouts look for in a pitcher—quality stuff, a smooth delivery, and projection. Shepherd commands a 91-93 mph fastball with running life and also mixes in an above-average breaking ball, though his changeup is a work in progress.”
Jr., OF Lucas Witt – No. 33 in Coastal Plains League (Perfect Game)
Summer Stats: .264/.296/.318, 4 2B, 3B, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 11 SO, 6-6 SB
Junior outfielder Lucas Witt played in two summer leagues in 2012, including the Northwoods League and the Coastal Plains League. Witt was ranked as the 33rd-best prospect in Coastal Plains League, while starring at all three outfield spots for Asheboro. A native of Lexington, Ky., Witt played in six games for the La Crosse Loggers in the Northwoods League, before shifting to Asheboro. Witt finished with 28 starts in the Coastal Plains League, with four doubles, one triple and five RBI, stealing six bags and totaling three outfield assists with his strong, accurate arm.
OTHER TOP UK SUMMER PERFORMERS
While UK had a bevy of players among the top prospects listing, several other UK stars had great summers, including Jerad Grundy, Max Kuhn, Matt Reida, Walter Wijas and Zac Zellers.
Grundy, who elected to return to UK for his senior season after being picked by the Minnesota Twins in the 2012 MLB Draft, played for Orleans in the Cape Cod League. He made five starts and seven appearances, tossing 30.1 innings with 32 strikeouts and just nine walks. Grundy started his first five appearances and moved to the bullpen after deciding to return to UK for 2013. His best outing came in a five shutout, one-hit inning game on June 24, walking two and striking out four.
Reida, a native of Russiaville, Ind., was a key member of the Harwich potent offensive attack during the summer in the Cape Cod League. UK’s everyday shortstop in 2012, Reida ranked third in the CCBL in defensive assists, behind teammate J.T. Riddle. Reida finished with a .258 average in 41 games, with four doubles, two triples, three homers and 16 RBI, stealing eight bases. On July 16, Reida had a 5-for-6 game with a double.
Wijas, a senior right-hander, was a dominating set-up man for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the Cape Cod League. He appeared in 16 games in relief, with a 1-0 record and a 0.92 ERA, notching one save. Wijas tossed 19.2 innings, allowing only 12 hits and six walks, striking out 13. He allowed his only two runs all summer in one outing on June 24 and rebounded to throw shutout outings in his final 12 appearances. Without his one game allowing runs, Wijas worked 16.2 innings with a 0.00 ERA in 15 outings, allowing 10 hits and striking out 12.
Zellers, a senior outfielder, played in 18 games in the Cape Cod League with Wijas’ Hyannis Harbor Hawks. The 6-foot right-handed hitter hit .217 with a double and two homers, stealing nine bases.
RUSIN TO MAKE SECOND CAREER MLB START; COWGILL CALLED UP TO ATHLETICS
Former Kentucky stars Collin Cowgill and Chris Rusin were added to MLB rosters during the expanded September call-up period, with Rusin scheduled to start for the Chicago Cubs at the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET at Nationals Park.
A native of Lexington, Ky., Cowgill has played in 32 games with the Athletics in 2012, batting .271 with a double, homer and nine RBI, stealing three bases and owning a .343 on-base percentage. He has been in the Pacific Coast League since suffering an injury and going on the MLB disabled list. In the PCL, Cowgill – the 2011 PCL Rookie of the year – has hit .254 with 17 doubles, one triple, four homers and 37 RBI in 61 games, stealing eight bases. Cowgill is expected to add depth to the Athletics as they push for a playoff spot. Last year, Cowgill helped lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to the National League Western Division Title, earning a spot on the playoff roster.
Rusin, a native of Canton, Mich., made his MLB debut vs. the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in August, filling a rotation spot for the trade-crippled Cubs. Rusin tossed five one-hit innings in a loss, allowing one run after it bounced off his foot with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Rusin carried a perfect game into the fourth, before allowing the run, also notching a triple and a line-drive in his first MLB at bats. With the three bagger, Rusin became the first pitcher to triple in his first at bat in franchise history and was the first MLB pitcher to triple in his first at bat was Bob Muncrief in 1948. The last Cubs player to triple in his first career at bat was Dan Rohn in 1983.