UK Baseball '10-A Too Early Preview Part 1

The SEC is the most powerful baseball conference in America, and UK (28-26, 12-18 Southeastern Conference) finished the season in ninth-place, just half a game behind eighth-place Vanderbilt for the final spot in the SEC tourney. All eight teams that made the SEC tourney also made the NCAA tournament. Let's take a peek at what the 2010 season holds for UK in this first of a three part series.

Part 1 - Pitching.

Although the Wildcats finished ninth in the SEC this year, it wasn't for lack of starting pitching, as arguably the Cats fielded the strongest weekend starting rotation in the league in Senior Chris Rusin, Junior James Paxton, and freshman Alex Meyer. The Cats had a school-record 523 strikeouts, eclipsing the previous school record of 502 punch-outs, set during the 1995 campaign.

Rusin, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound native of Canton, Mich., fanned 108 in 94.1 innings in his final year of eligibility for the Cats. Paxton, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound native of Ladner, British Columbia, led the club with 115 strikeouts in just 78.1 innings, and has already been pegged to go No. 20 overall in the first-round of the 2009 MLB Draft in a mock draft conducted and released by Baseball America in the June 1 issue.

That leaves Meyer, a 6-foot-8, 205-pounder to assume the lead role for the Cats next season. Meyer finished with 80 strikeouts in 59.2 innings, allowing only 53 hits and a .239 opponent batting average. Meyer, tabbed the second-best freshman in college baseball in the preseason by Baseball America, ranked seventh in college baseball with 12.06 strikeouts per nine innings.

Ready to step up for the Cats in the 2010 season are a number of underclassmen waiting for their opportunity, as well as a couple of transfers who were required to sit out this season.

Left-handed sophomore Logan Darnell led the 2009 Cats in appearances, and will be expected to step up and challenge for a starting role next season. Darnell was 5-5 with a 4.23 ERA, fanning 44 in 43.2 innings in 27 appearances.

Freshman Braden Kapteyn appeared 23 times for the Cats, and held a 5-0 record with a 6.06 ERA. Kapteyn knocked out 42 batters in only 32.2 innings this season, an average of nearly 12 strikeouts per 9 inning game.

Wildcats really like Commonwealth native Sean Bouthilette, a 6'2 right handed freshman from Elizabethtown. Bouthilette did not see much action in the 2009 campaign while getting his feet wet, but went 2-1 in limited action.

Senior-to-be Clint Tilford was the Wildcats most reliable midweek starter, starting eight games on the season with a 1-4 record and a somewhat misleading 7.14 ERA.

Also expected to be in the mix are sophomore Mike Kaczmarek (1-1, 5.11 ERA), junior Tyler Henry (0-3, 4.91 ERA, 20 appearances), and two stellar transfers, Matt Little and Bryce Robinson.

Little is a 2008 signee who will be eligible in January 2010, after enrolling in January 2009. Little was named the sixth-best prospect in the Coastal Plains League during the 2008 summer in which he showcased a high-velocity, mid-90's fastball.

Robinson is a 6'1, 180 pound southpaw transfer from Georgia Tech. One of the top freshmen in the nation, Robinson was named the No. 99 high school prospect in the nation a year ago. After transferring from Georgia Tech in January 2009, will be eligible in January 2010.
Stay tuned for Part 2 - Regular players coming later this week.

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