Players from Morehead State, Louisville, Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky and Kentucky have been selected as pre-season All-Americans.
And we haven’t even gotten to the Lexington Legends yet. But read on.
The Redlegs are coming! The Redlegs are coming!
The Reds Winter Caravan is scheduled for 14 stops in four states over four days, Jan. 28-31. Three separate caravans will tour simultaneously. Stops open to the public are free, and at each stop two tickets for the Reds 2010 opener (April 5 vs. St. Louis) will be raffled.
Two of the caravans will visit Kentucky. The Southern tour includes Lexington and the Western stops begin with Louisville.
Caravan representatives will take questions from fans and, as long as time permits, sign autographs. A member of the 1990 World Series championship team will be at each stop.
Lineups for the three caravans follow.
NORTHERN — 2008 Gold Glove winner Brandon Phillips; 2009 Southern League all-star and Reds Minor League Player of the Month for June, shortstop Zack Cozart; Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman; broadcaster and former Reds pitcher Chris Welsh; Vice President and Assistant General Manager Bob Miller; former Reds outfielder Glenn Braggs; and mascot Gapper.
Scheduled caravan stops (Jan. 28-31):
SOUTHERN — Thursday, 2:30-4:30 p.m., Charleston (W.Va.) Towne Center, and 5:30-8:30 p.m., Huntington (W.Va.) Mall. Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati); Sunday, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Fayette Mall (Lexington).
WESTERN — Thursday, 5:30-8 p.m., Louisville Slugger Museum (Louisville). Friday, 1:30-3 p.m., College Mall (Bloomington, Ind.), and 5:30-7:30 p.m., Castleton Square Mall (Indianapolis). Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Stoops Automotive (Muncie, Ind.), and 3-5:30 p.m., National Museum of the United States Air Force (Dayton, Ohio). Sunday, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Millett Hall (Oxford, Ohio).
NORTHERN — Thursday, 5:30-8 p.m., Grand Central Mall (Marietta, Ohio/Parkersburg, W.Va.). Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., The Market on State (Athens, Ohio); Saturday, 5-7:30 p.m., Lima (Ohio) Mall; Sunday, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Polaris Fashion Place (Columbus, Ohio).
Guys who go Ping! at the plate
Ping!Baseball.com has tabbed Morehead State SS Drew Lee and Louisvillle DH (and 3B) Phil Wunderlich as pre-season second-team All-Americans. Eastern Kentucky 3B Jayson Langfels, Kentucky 2B Chris Bisson and Western Kentucky C Matt Rice are on the third team.
Lee, a senior out of Montgomery County, set the Morehead record for hits (86), batting .413, with 17 homers and 67 RBI last season. He led the Ohio Valley Conference with 159 total bases. Lee is a third-team pick on the Pre-season Louisville Slugger team.
The Eagles open their season Feb. 19 with a four-game series at Mercer.
Wunderlich, a junior from Downers Grove, Ill., led U of L with a .367 batting average last season. He hit 18 doubles, 18 homers and 78 RBI for the Big East champions. He also is a third-team pre-season pick by Louisville Slugger and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
The Cardinals open their season Feb. 19, the start of a three-game home series against Bowling Green.
Langfels won the OVC batting title last season with a .441 average. The Lafayette High School grad also led the country in run production, averaging 1.67 RBI per game, and was one of two sophomores named first-team all-OVC. The Lexington native’s 72 RBI for the season ranks third all-time at EKU. He hit six triples, giving him a two-year total of 14, already an EKU career record. He led EKU in homers last season with 12, including a pair of walk-off blasts.
The Colonels open play Feb. 26 with a three-game series at Western Carolina.
Bisson, a junior from Canada (Orleans, Ontario), led UK last season in batting (.360), runs (49), hits (80), triples (3), RBI (52), total bases (101), walks (20) and assists (133). He also was 13-for-15 in stolen-base attempts, with a .414 on-base percentage and .455 slugging percentage. Last summer, he led the Cape Cod League in stolen bases with 36 over 42 games.
Bisson also is an All-Canadian pre-season pick by the Canadian Baseball Network.
The Wildcats begin play Feb. 19 in the Caravelle Resort Invitational at Myrtle Beach, S.C. First up will be Virginia Tech, followed by games against West Virginia and Coastal Carolina.
Rice, a junior from Johnson City, Tenn., helped Western Kentucky to the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title in 2009, hitting .390 with 10 homers and 72 RBI. He had a 31-game hitting streak.
Rice also is an NCBWA pre-season first-team pick.
The Hilltoppers open play Feb. 19 with a three-game home series against Kent State.
Answering a call to the bullpen
In case you missed it, the Lexington Legends will have a new pitching coach in 2010.
Travis Driskill, who filled the role last season, had been ticketed to return. The Houston Astros promoted Driskill to Class AA Corpus Christi after Stan Boroski, who had been with the Hooks, was hired last month by the Tampa Bay Rays for their major league staff.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Aponte was a pitcher in the Astros organization, debuting in 1976. He reached the AAA level with Charleston (W.Va.) in 1977 and with Tucson in 1980 and ’81.
Aponte began coaching in the Astros system later in 1981. He managed Houston’s team in the Dominican Summer League from 1993 through 1999.
*Speaking of Legends, Astros RHP Chris Sampson who avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a deal worth $815,000 plus bonuses. Sampson, 31, was 4-2 in 49 relief appearances in 2009 with a 5.02 ERA (31ER/55.1IP) with three saves, 21 walks and 33 strikeouts. … OF Jordan Parraz came to terms with the Kansas City Royals on a one-year deal. … Former Legends C Lou Santangelo has been invited to Houston’s big-league spring training camp as a non-roster player. Astros pitchers and catchers begin workouts at Kissimmee, Fla., on Feb. 20. Position players join workouts Feb. 24. … The Astros begin play in the Grapefruit League on March 4, facing the Nationals.