Nov. 22, 2002

Coach Keith Madison announced Friday the signing of five student-athletes who will attend the University of Kentucky and play baseball for the Wildcats.

Mike Breyman (Cleveland, Ohio/Rend Lake College) will join the Wildcats in January of 2003, while Billy Grace (Mishawaka, Ind./Penn), Brad Rose (Knoxville, Tenn./Walters State), Eric Saffell (Bluefield, W.Va./Princeton) and John Shelby (Lexington, Ky./Tates Creek) have returned letters of intent to begin at UK in the 2003-04 academic year.

“We are very pleased with the five student-athletes coming to Kentucky,” Madison said. “This is a quality class. All five players signed this fall have the chance to contribute right away.”

Breyman was a second-team junior college All-American at Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill., as he hit .390 and drove in 35 RBIs last spring. The Cleveland, Ohio, native’s 18 home runs ranked fifth in the nation as he was voted all-region and first-team All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference. He led the Warriors to a 30-20 record in 2002 and cracked three home runs in his final game as Rend Lake lost 10-9 to Wabash Valley in the junior college regional. Selecting UK over Southwest Missouri State and LSU, Breyman is eligible to join the Wildcats in January will likely start at first base, outfield or designated hitter.

“Mike was one of the most prolific power hitters in junior college last spring,” Madison said. “He’s a pure power hitter and not just a pull hitter – he can hit home runs to all fields. He’s also very athletic and a good defensive first baseman who also can play the outfield.”

Grace is one of the leading hitters in Indiana prep baseball, as the left-handed outfielder batted .477 with 12 home runs, 54 RBIs and posted a slugging percentage of .972 as a junior at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind. He was selected first-team 4A all-state and earned first-team All-Northern Indiana Conference honors. Voted to the NABF all-star team, Grace was awarded Penn’s “Golden Glove” and garnered MVP honors of the Northern Indiana Conference. He chose UK over Vanderbilt, Purdue and Illinois State and will graduate from Penn’s honors program.

“Billy provides a need that we have for a quality left-handed hitter in our lineup,” Madison said. “We feel that he can make an immediate contribution as an outfielder and a hitter. He’s one of the best high school hitters in Indiana. Not only will he help us as a hitter, but he’s a fine defensive outfielder as well.”

Rose, a Knoxville, Tenn., native, is a right-hander who posted an unblemished 10-0 mark as a freshman at Walters State College last spring. He made 14 appearances, 11 starts and struck out 76 batters while walking 26 with a 2.75 ERA in 72 innings pitched. He was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft and chose the Wildcats over Tennessee and Alabama.

“Brad could be the best junior college pitcher in state of Tennessee,” Madison said. “He was outstanding as a freshman at Walters State going 10-0 in 2002. He definitely has the potential to come in and take Scott Wade’s place in our rotation. We’re excited to have him at Kentucky.”

Saffell hails from Bluefiled, W.Va., and was a second-team all-state selection at Princeton High School. He hit .389 as a junior with four home runs while recording a 4-2 record on the mound in 37 innings. He chalked up an impressive 53-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio en route to first-team all-conference honors and hit .377 with 14 home runs and 74 RBIs for his summer team Beckley Bash American Legion Post 32. As a sophomore in 2001, Saffell was voted honorable mention All-State and first-team all-conference. He chose UK over West Virginia and James Madison.

“Eric is a quality left-handed hitter with good power,” Madison said. “He’s a line-drive hitter but also has the gap-to-gap power that makes him dangerous at the plate. He is a first baseman-outfielder that has the potential to hit in the middle of our lineup as he progresses in his career.”

Shelby is the son of former major leaguer John Shelby whose career spanned from 1981-91 with stints in Baltimore, Los Angeles and Detroit. A local product from Lexington’s Tates Creek High School, Shelby was a first-team all-city selection at shortstop in 2002 and is a strong candidate for Kentucky’s Mr. Baseball in 2003.

“John is an outstanding athlete,” Madison said. “He’s a young man who can be a stellar player for the Wildcats. He comes from a baseball family and has a lot of savvy for a young man his age. He possesses a passion for the game and he’ll be a candidate for the Commonwealth’s Mr. Baseball as a senior.”

Kentucky will begin its 107th year of collegiate baseball when it travels to Deland, Fla., to face Maryland on Feb. 14, 2003 in the Stetson Tournament. First pitch of the 2003 season is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.

Kentucky Baseball Signees for 2004 Baseball Season

Name Position B/T Ht. Wt. Hometown/Previous School
Mike Breyman 1B/OF L/L 6-3 240 Cleveland, Ohio/Rend LakeBilly Grace OF L/L 5-10 185 Mishawaka, Ind./PennBrad Rose RHP R/R 6-5 200 Knoxville, Tenn./Walters StateEric Saffell 1B/OF L/L 6-1 190 Bluefield, W.Va./PrincetonJohn Shelby INF R/R 5-10 165 Lexington, Ky./Tates Creek

– UK –

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