Oct. 30, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. — With the success of the Kentucky baseball program over the last several seasons, there has been an influx in talented prospects coming through Lexington. and Cat Scratches breaks down the 2009 minor league seasons for UK alumni in professional baseball.

Andy Green
Singing as a free agent with the New York Mets, Andy Green spent most of his 2009 minor league season recovering from an injury sustained sliding head first into first base. Green put together good numbers for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons upon his return, getting a short call-up with the Mets in the big leagues. The native of Lexington, Ky., hit .261 for the season with five homers, 29 runs scored and 22 RBI. The second baseman also posted an on-base percentage of .346 with a slugging percentage of .379 with an OPS of .726. The 2005 Baseball America Triple-A All-Star saw action in four games in the majors with the Mets, gathering a hit and a base-on-balls. For his minor league career, Green is a .298 hitter with 61 home runs and 391 RBI.   

Antone DeJesus
Moving up the ladder in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, the team that drafted him in the 16th round of the 2007 Draft, former Kentucky outfielder Antone DeJesus played well for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals this summer. Playing in 75 games primarily as the fourth outfielder, DeJesus ended the season with a batting average of .299 including one homer and 19 RBI. The native of Cleveland, Ohio, posted an on-base percentage of .356 and stole four bases on the year. His best month came in June, when he hit .306 with 10 runs scored and an on-base percentage of .390. The lefty also hit left-handing pitching well, posting a .279 average against southpaws on the season. DeJesus is a career .252 hitter with a .385 on-base percentage in the minors.  

Caleb Stewart
A native of Ashland, Ky., Caleb Stewart spent his 2009 minor league season with the Double-A Binghamton Mets. The corner outfielder ended the season with a .225 batting average using three homers and 14 doubles to gather in 16 RBI. Stewart ended the season with an on-base percentage of .355 with 32 walks and 46 hits. He also scored 32 times, including 14 times in the month of August, his best month at the plate all season. In August, Stewart hit .280 with an on-base percentage of .416 and six of his 10 RBI. The 2007 Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star ends his sixth season in the minors with a total batting average of .260 along with 65 long balls and 272 RBI.

Collin Cowgill
Only one year removed from an extremely successful career at Kentucky, slugger Collin Cowgill took big steps in his progress to becoming a major league player with a good performance at High-A ball for the Visalia Oaks. Playing in 61 games and posting a batting average of .277, the Lexington, Ky., native, finished in the top five on the team in home runs (six), stolen bases (11), on-base percentage (.373), slugging percentage (.445), OPS (.819) and triples (five). Cowgill was on a tear to open the season, posting monster numbers in the month of April, before suffering a hand injury that ended his season. Cowgill posted a .311 average, with five doubles, three triples, four homers and 18 RBI in April. He also slugged a remarkable .622 in April with an on-base percentage of .422. Cowgill’s bat came alive late as well, as the outfielder posted a .310 average in his last 10 games along with two doubles, four RBI and two stolen bases. Cowgill’s season will continue soon, as he will be playing in the Winter Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

John Shelby
Considered one of the top prospects in the Chicago White Sox organizations, John Shelby made a very nice transition to Double-A this past season posting impressive numbers in a pitchers ballpark that Shelby played at as a UK standout. Playing for the Birmingham Barons, a team considered the most talented minor league team in baseball, Shelby gathered a .243 batting average with 32 doubles, three triples, 10 homers, 49 RBI and 30 stolen bases. The native of Lexington, Ky., finished second on the team with doubles, fifth RBI and first in stolen bases. The center fielder hit left-handed pitchers extremely well on the season, posting a .326 average against southpaws with five roundtrippers and 20 RBI. Shelby played in 115 games for the Barons, who finished first in the Southern leagues south division.

Michael Bertram
Getting his first shot at Double-A ball, Michael Bertram took full advantage of the opportunity posting excellent numbers in 33 games for the Erie SeaWolves. With Erie, Bertram collected a .285 batting average with seven doubles, three triples, eight homers and 30 RBI. Before moving to Erie, the Lexington, Ky., native, hit .281 with 10 homeruns and 47 RBI in 82 games with the High-A Lakeland team. Bertram, drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 39th round in 2006, has played in the minors for four years posting an overall .272 average with 29 homers and almost 200 RBI. 

Ryan Strieby
Playing with former teammate Michael Bertram in Erie, Ryan Strieby played exceptional baseball all year for the SeaWolves being named Eastern League Player of the Week once and a Mid-Season All-Star. The first baseman/left fielder hit .303 in 86 games posting an incredible 19 homers, 18 doubles and 58 RBI. Along with those impressive totals, Strieby had an on-base percentage of .427 while slugging .565. The native of Seattle, Wash., hit over the .300 mark against lefties and righties on the season. His best month of the year was in July, when he posted a remarkable .362 average and an on-base percentage of .434. Strieby, who has played on a team with Bertram since arriving at UK in 2006 and earning SEC Player of the Year honors, battled injury over the last month of the season and with Miguel Cabrera blocking Strieby’s path to the Tigers in the future, a transition has begun to move him to left field, adding to his versatility. Expect to see Strieby dangled by the Tigers as trade bait if they can’t find a spot for him on the Big League club in 2009.   

Sawyer Carroll
The recent great Kentucky outfielder Sawyer Carroll, played for three teams during the 2009 season, moving his way up the ladder and growing ever closer to the big leagues. With every team he was with, Carroll posted a batting average well over .300. Carroll started the season in Class A, then moved to Advanced-A, and eventually ended the season with Double-A San Antonio. In 28 games in Class-AA, Carroll posted a .317 average with five doubles, three triples and one homer. The native of Stillwater, Okla., also had 14 RBI and an on-base percentage of .440. For the season combined, the outfielder posted a .317 average with eight homers, 40 doubles, nine triples, 96 RBI and nine stolen bases. Carroll was also named throughout the year as a Midwest League Player of the Week, Midwest League All-Star Game Top Star and a Midwest League mid-season All-Star.   

Scott Green
Pitching in 32 games with the Lakeland Flying Tigers in the Advanced-A Florida State League, pitcher Scott Green posted a 3-4 record with a 3.25 ERA and a team high 11 saves this season. Green worked 36 innings allowing 42 hits, 21 runs, 13 earned and three homers while striking out 35 and only walking 14. Green pitched exceptional on the road for the Flying Tigers, posting a 1.65 ERA in 15 games. The native of Dayton, Ohio, did not allow a home run on the road this season where opponents hit only .200 against him. The UK great also was lights out in the month of May, gathering a 0.90 ERA eight games posting a 2-0 record. Green also suffered a season-ending injury and will be looking to rebound in 2010.

Sean Coughlin
Sean Coughlin, a former UK All-American slugger, made great strides up the minor league system this past season starting the year in Advanced-A ball and eventually ending the season in AA. For the year, Coughlin hit .287 with 15 doubles, 11 homers and 40 RBI. The first baseman also posted an on-base percentage of .396 while slugging .468. Coughlin’s best hitting came in Class-AA when he hit .304 with eight doubles, seven homers and a remarkable on-base percentage of .432. The native of Arizona and left-handed hitter, pounded left-handed pitching all year posting a .333 batting average with a .469 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .692. Coughlin tore the cover off the ball in the month of June, posting an amazing .384 batting average with five doubles, six homers and a .509 on-base percentage. Coughlin was awarded this summer with the honor of being named a Southern League mid-season All-Star.  Coughlin also suffered from injury issues towards the end of the season.

Tyler Howe
Playing in the New York Mets organization, catcher Tyler Howe played in 22 games in the Rookie league for the Kingsport Mets. Howe hit .245 with four doubles, one roundtripper and eight RBI on the year. The native of Clinton, Iowa, had an impressive on-base percentage of .519 and hit well with the bases empty, gathering a .333 mark. Howe also pitched 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball for the Mets this season, only allowing one hit over the four innings worked. 

Zach Dials
Starting the season in Advanced-A with the Dunedin Blue Jays, former UK star Zach Dials ended the season with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. At New Hampshire, Dials went 1-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 24 games. The native of Wabash, Ind., allowed 24 hits, 13 runs, 10 earned, one homer and 20 walks in 28.2 innings of work. Dials struck out 18 for the Fisher Cats and recorded one save. Combined this season, Dials went 1-6 with a 2.76 ERA allowing 18 runs, 15 earned and one homer in 49 innings of work. Dials, a right-hander, was awesome versus left-handed batters, posting a 1.86 ERA and only two earned runs in 9.2 innings of work. He also struck out nine lefties on the year.  

Chris Rusin

After being drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round of the 2009 June draft, left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin moved quickly out of rookie ball and into the class-A shortened season this past season. In two games in the rookie league, including playing with several 16-year old prospects behind him defensively, Rusin hurled five innings allowing just one hit and no runs, giving him an immediate promotion to the Class-A team. With the Class-A Boise Hawks, Rusin went 0-4 in eight starts. The native of Canton, Mich., allowed 14 runs, 12 earned and one homer while walking nine. He ended the season with a 3.48 ERA and 27 strikeouts. Combined, Rusin finished the season with a 3.00 ERA in 10 games. Rusin was dominate against left-handed batters with a 0.00 ERA allowing only six hits and no runs in 4.2 innings against lefties.  Expect Rusin to move quickly through the Cubs system in 2010.

Chris Wade

Drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 11th round of the 2009 MLB Draft, former Kentucky shortstop Chris Wade played in 47 games with the Class-A short season Jamestown Jammers this season after a successful stent in the rookie leagues. In Class-A, Wade posted a .277 batting average with an on-base percentage of .356. The native of Lexington, Ky., hit six doubles, three triples and drove in 18 RBI for the Jammers. Wade played one game in the rookie league, gathering a double and a walk. The middle infielder and former freshman All-American stole five bases on the year and 24 runs scored.

Clint Tilford

Pitching in 12 games in his first year in the Colorado Rockies organization, Kentucky product Clint Tilford posted a 7.15 ERA only allowing three homers and 27 strikeouts. The native of West Paducah, Ky., played for two teams during the season, the rookie league Casper Ghosts and the Class-A short season Tri-City Dust Devils. Tilford pitched in one game with Tri-City and 11 with the Ghosts. With the Ghosts, the hard throwing righty posted a 6.94 ERA giving up 32 runs, 27 earned in 35 innings pitched.   

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