Sept. 21, 2001


The University of Kentucky baseball program signed 15 student-athletes to a national letter of intent, head baseball coach Keith Madison announced today.

The 2001-02 signees are Steve Deaton (Lexington, Ky./Dunbar), Kyle Duff (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair), Andrew Levenson (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic), Chris Parsons (Mt. Vernon, Ky./Rock Castle County), Russ Rutherford (Knoxville, Tenn./Walters State Community College), Eric Shippy (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll), Caleb Stewart (Rush, Ky./Tyler Junior College/Boyd County), Justin Willett (Lebanon, Ky./St. Catherine Junior College/Marion County), Matt Dampier (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood), Jeff Archer (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny), Emory Davies (Louisville, Ky./Pleasure Ridge Park), Chris O’Dell (Lexington, Ky./Bryan Station), Craig Snipp (Louisville, Ky./Pleasure Ridge Park), Mike Ferris (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain), and James Rodriguez (Paris, Ky./Bourbon County).

Rutherford was named the junior college player of the year in Tennessee, while two other signees, Garrett Berger (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) and Travis Foley (Louisville, Ky./Butler), were selected in the Major League Baseball draft and have decided to play professional baseball.

Berger, rated as the 69th best high school prospect by Baseball America, has signed with the Florida Marlins after the team made him their second round selection. Foley, designated as the 57th top prospect, was chosen in the fourth round and recently signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians.


Steve Deaton, INF- “Steve is an outstanding young hitter, one of the top hitters in central Kentucky as a senior. He can play second or third base and also catches. He’s a good candidate for a redshirt in his first year to help him develop his defensive skills.”

Kyle Duff, LHP/OF- “Kyle is a dual player- can pitch and other positions – a very good outfielder, an extremely hard worker and has a chance to contribute as a freshman both as a pitcher and a hitter. Like most freshmen, needs to gain strength and experience to be a major contributor but that will come in time.”

Andrew Levenson, 1B- “Andrew is a young man who has always been impressive as a hitter, a guy who as gap-to-gap power, he has just as much power to right-center field as he does to left-center. He does a good job of hitting the ball where it’s pitched, doesn’t try to pull everything, he’s a great competitor and he’ll be competing for some playing time this year. We think he’s going to be a very special player before he leaves the University of Kentucky.”

Chris Parsons, 1B- “Chris is a left-handed hitter and is a player who has some power and great athletic ability. He was an outstanding quarterback in high school as well as an outstanding baseball player. A decision will be made at the end of the fall if he will be a redshirt or not but because we have a need for left-handed hitters, there is a decent chance he will not redshirt. It just depends on how he improves defensively and how he contributes during the fall.”

Russ Rutherford, SS/3B- “We are very fortunate to have Russ on our team. He has the ability to put up good offensive numbers for us and he’s also an outstanding defensive player. He’s a guy that as an infielder, really grows on you. He goes out and proves himself everyday, he’s looking good defensively in practice and I feel he’s going to make a major contribution to this team this spring.”

Eric Shippy, SS/2B- “Eric is an infielder as well as an outfielder who possesses good speed. He’s a guy that needs to fall in love with the weight room and gain some strength- if he can do that, he’ll be a dangerous combination of strength and speed that every coach likes to have on his team. We haven’t decided where Eric will contribute the most, right now he’s working almost exclusively as an infielder. We’ll make a decision on Eric at the end of fall practice whether he will redshirt or try to contribute this year.”

Caleb Stewart, OF- “Caleb is a player who has already been blessed with the combination of strength and speed. He has a very good arm from the outfield and for a big guy, runs very well. We feel that he is a leading contender to start in the outfield for us this year.”

Justin Willett, 3B- “Justin is a switch-hitter who has good defensive skills and hands, he’s going to compete and third base. We don’t know how much he’s going to contribute this year but because of his size and defensive skills, if he shows us potential as a hitter, he has a good chance to contribute a lot in his first year with us.”

Matt Dampier, C- “Matt is a catcher who has good size, but in order to catch at the Southeastern Conference level, he needs to get stronger. He will be a definite redshirt this year. Because he is a left-handed hitting catcher, we feel like he’s going to be a good player for us down the road.”

Jeff Archer, RHP- “Jeff is a hard-throwing right-hander who has great velocity for a freshman. He needs to continue in the development of his off-speed pitches and the only thing he needs to be a contributor to this team is experience. Hopefully, he’ll gain some experience early in the season and be a positive factor for us this year. He’s blessed with a good arm and he’s a competitor. We feel good about Jeff being able to help us a freshman.”

Emory Davies, C/1B- “Emory has good power from the left side which makes him a candidate to be a very important pinch-hitter or possibly compete for the designated hitter or first base spot in his freshman year. He’s been impressive in the early workouts and has a great work ethic – he has the strength and power to play as a freshman.”

Chris O’Dell, 1B/OF- “Chris is a big guy, between 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, right-handed hitter with outstanding power. He’s being looked at as an outfielder and a first baseman. His versatility and his power will allow him to get some quality at bats as a freshman.”

Craig Snipp, LHP- “Craig was one of our top recruits last year, he’s a young left-hander with a great feel for pitching. He not only has a good live fastball but he also has good command of his change-up and curve ball – because of that, he’ll be competing for one of the spots on our rotation this spring.”

Mike Ferris, OF- “Mike is an outstanding athlete and was one of the most highly recruited players, if not the most recruited, in the Cincinnati, Ohio area last year. He has exceptional power from the left side and will be competing for a starting position in the outfield this year as a freshman.”

James Rodriguez, RHP- “One of the top prospects in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a senior. He’s an outstanding athlete, good basketball player and exceptional baseball player. He has a very live arm and has nice velocity as a freshman. When he gains command and experience, we feel that he has a chance to be one of the top pitchers in the SEC in the future.”


Total Players: 15 (12 high school seniors, 3 junior college transfers)
States: 4 (Ky. – 9, Pa. – 2, Tenn. – 2, Ind. – 1, Ohio – 1)
Kentucky Cities Represented: Lexington – 3, Louisville – 2, Lebanon – 1, Mt. Vernon – 1, Paris – 1, Rush – 1)

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