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Former Cats shine in Minor League Baseball

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The hunt for October is in full swing for Major League Baseball, and most teams know their place for the fast-approaching post season. A handful of others are in the wildcard race and trying to make up ground, and still a few more (like us Reds fans) are holding out hope the division can still be clinched. With six former Wildcats in the big leagues, the 21 in the minor leagues have already put a close on their seasons. Let’s take a look at some highlights of those guys.

Andrew Albers (Wildcat from 2005-08) — Triple-A: Rochester Red Wings (Minnesota Twins)

Andrew Albers ranks among the all-time leaders in wins, saves, and innings pitched at Kentucky. He posted a 20-18 record with a 4.47 ERA in his UK career and struck out 185 batters. This season was the best of his young professional career, and earned him a big-league call up with the Twins. He has made eight starts in the bigs and posted a 2-3 record with a 3.81 ERA. The best is yet to come for this promising left hander.

James Paxton (Wildcat from 2007-09) — Triple-A: Tacoma Rainers (Seattle Mariners)

A 1st-round pick in 2009 by the Toronto Blue Jays, James Paxton was a blockbuster name while at Kentucky. He pitched in 55 games for the Cats with an 11-5 record and a 4.91 ERA. This season in Triple-A, Paxton finished with an 8-11 record in 26 starts with 145.2 innings pitched. He collected 131 strikeouts to 58 walks, and his efforts earned him an MLB call-up earlier this month. He has pitched in two games for the Mariners, going six innings a piece, surrendering a total of one run and just six hits to eight strikeouts.

Sawyer Carroll (Wildcat from 2007-08) — Double-A: Mobile BayBears (Arizona Diamondbacks)

A true Wildcat legend, Sawyer Carroll is, and one of the key pieces to helping build the UK baseball program in the SEC. He batted .386 in his career with 45 doubles, 22 homers, and 139 RBI as a Wildcat, and went on to be drafted by the Padres in 2008 in the 3rd round. In Double-A this season, Carroll hit .280 in 22 games, as he spent a good part of this season lighting it up in an independent league. Carroll had been up and down the Padres farm system, and most recently had his contract purchased by the D-Backs just a couple of months ago.

Alex Meyer (Wildcat from 2009-11) — Double-A: New Britain Rock Cats (Minnesota Twins)

The former 2nd round draft pick out of Kentucky, Alex Meyer had a stellar career in Lexington as one of the premier right handed pitchers in the SEC. As a junior, Meyer cranked up a 7-5 record with a 2.94 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 101 innings. In 2013 Meyer was involved in a trade between the Nationals and the Twins which sent him to Minnesota and centerfielder Denard Span to Washington. The Twins are in rebuilding mode, and Meyer is now among the top prospects in their farm system. He has a bright future ahead that could involve he and Albers in the rotation soon. Keep an eye out, as the Twins might become Big Blue Nation’s team before long.

Alex Meyer pitches for the Rock Cats in 2013 — Photo via Kevin Pataky (MiLB)

Brian Adams (Wildcat from 2010-12) — Low Class-A: Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres)

The former two-way player between baseball and football at Kentucky, Brian Adams finished his career at UK with a .312 batting average with 13 doubles, four homers, 29 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. This season in Low-A ball, Adams appeared in 100 games, where he batted .211 with 17 doubles, six homers, 45 RBI, while swiping 17 bases. He was an 8th-round pick by the Padres in 2012, and he has a long way to go before advancing through the organization.

Luke Maile (Wildcat in 2010-12) — Low Class-A: Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays)

A permier power hitter for the Wildcats, Luke Maile was an All-SEC catcher and helped UK to its school record 45 wins in 2012. He batted .295 in 139 games during his career, and collected 23 doubles, 34 homers, and 93 RBI. This season he was named the top defensive catcher in the Midwest League by the circuit of coaches. He played in 95 games, batted .283, and knocked in 49 runs. Maile is as a reliable a backstop as they come; unfortunately his season was cut short in mid-August thanks to an injury.

Braden Kapteyn (Wildcat from 2009-11) — Low Class-A: Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox)

A top two-way player for the Cats, Braden Kapteyn posted a 7-3 record as a pitcher with a 6.15 ERA in 71.2 innings while walking 38 and striking out 91. At the dish, he hit .304 with 31 doubles, 16 home runs, and 97 RBI. This season in the minors, he pitched 10 games of relief before retiring from baseball. He says he missed being away from his wife and young daughter, and he now works in a sales position for a heavy equipment company in Lexington.

Corey Littrell (Wildcat from 2011-13) — Class-A Short Season: Lowell Spinners (Boston Red Sox)

As one of the top pitchers in program history, Corey Littrell finished his UK career with a 21-13 record and an astounding 2.74 ERA. He was drafted in the 4th round of the MLB Draft, and 2013 was his first as a professional. He appeared in 12 games for the Spinners, working on a strict pitch count. He pitched 31 innings and worked a 1.74 ERA while striking out 30 batters. Pitchers often have a long hard road to the big leagues, but Littrell is going to make it happen. No question he has the talent to do it.

These are just a few of the Wildcats playing minor league ball. Others include Chris Bisson: 2007-09, Double-A San Antonio Missions (Padres); Collin Cowgill: 2005-08, Triple-A Salt Lake City Bees (Angels); Logan Darnell: 2008-10, Low Class-A Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins); Trevor Gott: 2011-13, Low Class-A Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres); Jerad Grundy: 2012-13, Class-A Short-Season Vermont Lake Monsters (Athletics); Tim Peterson: 2012, Low Class-A Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets); Alex Phillips: 2011-12, Class-A Short-Season Connecticut Tigers (Tigers); Lance Ray: 2010, High Class-A Fort Meyers Miracle (Twins); J.T. Riddle: 2011-13, Class-A Short-Season Batavia Muckdogs (Twins); Chris Rusin: 2006-09, Triple-A Iowa Cubs (Cubs); and Chad Wright: 2009-11, High Class-A Lakeland Flying Tigers (Tigers).

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR