the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a
detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District
of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will
list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best
tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2
players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.
Kentucky State-by-State List
2011 Kentucky Overview
Louisville Drive Impressive Talent Surge in State Ranks
has witnessed a significant upsurge in baseball talent in recent
years—and, by extension, growing widespread interest in the game at
the grassroots level—and most of it stems from vastly-improved
college programs at Kentucky and Louisville. Beginning in 2006, both
schools set and subsequently tied school records for wins in a season
over the next three years, and the Cardinals then eclipsed their own
mark with 50 wins in 2010.
no season has electrified the local fan base more than 2012 as the
Wildcats are easily on pace, with a 41-11 record in mid-May, to
shatter their existing record of 44 wins in a season, and possibly
shoot for 50 themselves. It would be just the latest record to fall
this season for the resurgent Wildcats, who went a mere 25-30 (8-22
in Southeastern Conference play) in 2011, only to open the current
season with a school-record 22 straight wins (one shy of the SEC
record for consecutive victories) on their way to posting the best
record in the conference entering the final weekend.
record streak included three straight close wins over defending
College World Series champion South Carolina to open SEC play, which
elevated the team to No. 1 in the country in select college-baseball
polls, an unprecedented accomplishment for the school—though it may
have been overshadowed a bit at the time by the run towards a
national championship that the Wildcats hoops squad was making.
Nonetheless, the South Carolina series attracted record crowds to
UK’s Cliff Hagan Stadium, and capacity crowds have been the norm
much of the season.
only have Kentucky and Louisville been winning at a steady clip on
the field, but they are impacting the draft in ever-increasing
ways—and are chiefly responsible for Kentucky producing easily the
greatest number of draft picks in state history in the last two years
alone (28 in 2011, 31 in 2010), compared with just six selections
overall as recently as 2005. Neither school is expected to produce a
first-rounder like the Wildcats did a year ago with righthander Alex
Meyer, just the fifth college first-rounder in state history, but the
two schools could produce as many as six or seven picks between them
in the first 10 rounds this year, most of them pitchers.
year’s haul, though, may pale in comparison to the impact that
Kentucky and Louisville are expected to have on the next two drafts
as both clubs, especially the Wildcats, have been fueled this season
in large measure by underclassmen. Sophomores Corey Littrell (8-0,
2.22) and Jeff Thompson (9-2, 3.64) lead the Wildcats and Cardinals,
respectively, in wins, while sophomore closer Trevor Gott (3-0, 2.79,
9 SV) tops the Wildcats in saves. All are potential first-rounders a
year from now. Additionally, freshman outfielder Austin Cousino
(.343-9-38) leads Kentucky in hitting, while lefthander/first baseman
A.J. Reed (.298-3-39; 4-1, 3.00) has been one of the nation’s top
first-year two-way players.
by the surge in baseball popularity at the college level, the
Kentucky high-school ranks have been gaining in stature at an
ever-increasing rate, too. This year’s talent may not quite match a
historically-rich and deep 2008 Kentucky prep crop, but the state has
two contrasting high-end arms in Henry Clay’s 6-foot-1 righthander
Walker Buehler and Bourbon County’s 6-foot-9 lefthander Chase
Mullins. If signability was not a significant obstacle, for Buehler
in particular, he could work his way into the back end of the first
round (and may still do), and Mullins wouldn’t be far behind him.
The prep crop overall, while impressive, may not end up having a
player that signs a pro contract this year if Buehler and Mullins are
deemed too risky from a signability standpoint to warrant being
drafted in the early rounds.
year from now, Kentucky could produce the best prep talent in state
history in Woodford County High’s fireballing righthander Clinton
Hollon, who could conceivably challenge former Morehead State
lefthander Drew Hall’s 28-year-old state record as the highest
draft pick ever in the state. Hall was the fourth player selected in
the 1984 draft.
in a nutshell:
Signable high-school talent.
(1-to-5 scale): 4.
HIGH SCHOOL TEAM:
ON THE RISE: LUKE MAILE, c/1b, University of Kentucky. Maile
topped Kentucky in homers as a sophomore with nine, but it barely
registered with scouts as he was generally viewed as a player without
a position. No player has fueled Kentucky’s electric 2012 season
more than Maile, though, and he not only leads the Wildcats with 11
homers and 46 RBIs, but he has done a lot to change the perception
scouts had of him. He has been a better defender behind the plate,
and such a force to reckon at the plate that he has emerged as a
CARD: Brian Adams, of, University of Kentucky.
Easily the player with the greatest upside on the Kentucky roster,
Adams has never devoted his energy to baseball as he is a wide
receiver on the Wildcats football team. Through Kentucky’s first 52
games this spring, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Adams found regular
playing time tough to come by as he had just 28 at-bats. But in a
late-spring workout for scouts, he ran 6.3 seconds in the 60,
showcased a powerful arm from the outfield and blasted numerous
tape-measure shots (with wood) in an impressive round of BP. If he
can secure more playing time down the stretch, especially in the
Southeastern Conference, and carry his depth of tools into game
conditions, Adams could surge up draft boards. He has also indicated
he would forego playing his final year of football at Kentucky if the
right baseball offer came along.
OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Kentucky Connection:
Zach Isler, rhp, University of Cincinnati (Attended high school in
Clinton Hollon, rhp, Woodford County HS, Lexington.
Austin Cousino, of, University of Kentucky.
Drew Hall, lhp, Morehead State University (1984, Cubs/1st round, 3rd pick).
Strieby, 1b, University of Kentucky (Tigers/4th round).
Revere, of, Lexington Catholic HS, Lexington (Twins/1st round, 28th pick).
Friedrich, lhp, Eastern Kentucky University (Rockies/1st round, 25th pick).
Paxton, lhp, University of Kentucky (Blue Jays/1st round, 36th pick).
Royse, rhp, University of Louisville (White Sox/3rd round).
Meyer, rhp, University of Kentucky (Nationals/1st round, 23rd pick).
School Players Drafted/Signed:
Adams, of, University of Kentucky.
Luke Maile, c/1b, University of Kentucky.
Luke Maile, c/1b, University of Kentucky.
Brian Adams, of, University of Kentucky.
Richie Rodriguez, ss, Eastern Kentucky University.
Walker Buehler, rhp, Henry Clay HS, Lexington.
Walker Buehler, rhp, Henry Clay HS, Lexington.
Amlung, rhp, University of Louisville.
PROSPECTS, GROUPS ONE and TWO
GROUP ONE (Projected
ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)
1. WALKER BUEHLER,
rhp, Henry Clay HS, Lexington
wasn't considered a potential early-round draft candidate before the
2012 season started. At a very slender 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds,
Buehler’s delivery and over-the-top arm stroke had plenty of effort
prior to release, and while his raw stuff was firm with a fastball
that touched 92 mph and a nasty downer curve, it wasn’t seen as
nasty enough for teams to tempt buying him out of a Vanderbilt
scholarship. The temptation factor has largely changed over the past
two months, however, as Buehler’s stuff has improved across the
board and his pitchability has gained new-found appreciation. Buehler
has topped out at 96 mph on a number of occasions this spring, and
generally pitched in the 91-94 mph range. His curve has also evolved
into one of the best breaking pitches in the 2012 draft class, with
power velocity at 79-81 mph and a tight 12-to-6 break. Buehler’s
fading changeup is a solid third pitch, and his ability to repeat his
delivery adds deception without hurting his command and ability to
mix pitches. Buehler had some of his best stuff in a heavily-scouted
May 1 faceoff with 2013 top prospect Clinton Hollom, throwing four
shutout innings in a game that was eventually cancelled by rain. He
has also benefitted this spring from scouts trekking to Lexington to
see fellow lefthander Ryne Combs, the third-ranked prep talent in the
state, not to mention all the talent assembled at the University of
Kentucky. It’s safe to say now that the early-season dismissal of
Buehler as an unsignable talent has been significantly revised to a
point where he is a potential late first-round/supplemental
first-round candidate, where he would most likely be signable—though
a team in that range may have to exceed its assigned cap value to get
him under contract.
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