When you mention top-15 recruits committing to Kentucky, most people would assume you’re talking about a young basketball star looking to enter John Calipari’s system. It’s another player; another cog in his dribble-drive offense wanting a fast track to the NBA. But baseball coach Gary Henderson is hot on Cal’s coat tails in recruiting the best of the best.
Considered one of the top pitching coaches in college baseball, Coach Henderson is stocking up on arms for his 2013 class. He has experience recruiting on the big SEC stage, and his hard work is finally starting to pay off. Henderson spent five years at Kentucky as the recruiting coordinator and pitching coach before becoming the head coach in 2009. Judging by the results of his 2013 class thus far, young players know that Henderson is the man.
It has flown under the radar in the mainstream Lexington media that we have a top-five baseball prospect right here in our own backyard. Woodford County’s Clinton Hollon is the best pitching prospect available for 2013, according to ESPN and the No. 3 overall recruit in the class. Back in late May he gave Kentucky a verbal commitment. Hollon has blown Major League scouts away with his fastball that has been clocked as high as 97 mph. It is going to be tough to keep the MLB dollar signs from making his decision on whether to play in college for three seasons, or begin his professional career.
Potentially joining Hollon in Lexington will be Trevor Clifton, a 6-foot-4, 180 pound senior at Heritage High School in Maryville, Tennessee. He committed to Kentucky Tuesday, giving the Cats their second top right-handed pitching prospect. Clifton has been clocked with a fastball in the upper 90’s and struck out 57 batters in just 33 innings of work during his junior season. He is rated the sixth-best pitching prospect for 2013 and No. 11 overall in the class.
His commitment means the Cats now have two of the best arms available in their next recruiting class, and if they both decide to develop their mechanics under one of the best pitching-minded coaches in Gary Henderson rather than head to the MLB farm systems early, Kentucky baseball is setting up to be an SEC regular in the post season.