There have been 280 Major League Baseball players born in the state of Kentucky, where the Louisville Bats, Triple-A affiliate of the Reds, call home. The Bluegrass State ranks 19th for states with the most MLB player births. Minor league baseball in Kentucky dates back to the early 20th century, after the Louisville Colonels’ eight-year run as a big-league club in the National League from 1892-99.
In this article, we rank the 15 best MLB players that were born in Kentucky:
15: Corey Hart born in Bowling Green, 1982 played 2004-15
Hart went to Greenwood HS in Bowling Green before being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2000. He had a very successful time in Milwaukee, making two all-star games. He had a pair of 30-homer seasons, and hit 154 homers in a Brewers uniform.
14: Gus Weyhing born in Louisville, 1866 played 1887- 1901
The only player to appear on this list that played in the 19th century, Weyhing was a right-handed pitcher who played 14 pro seasons. His 264 wins are the most among Kentucky-born pitchers. Apparently he wasn’t afraid to pitch inside: His 277 hit-by-pitches are the most all-time.
13: Tyler Clippard born in Lexington, 1985 played 2007-pres.
The right-handed reliever made two all-star games as a set-up man for the Washington Nationals in 2011 and ’14. His career ERA in 578 innings is 2.88, with a 44-30 record and 54 saves. He saved a career-high 32 games in 2012 as the DC’s closer, and has also spent time with the Yankees, Athletics, Mets, and D’Backs.
12: Brandon Webb born in Ashland, 1979 played 2003-09
If Webb had stayed healthy, he’d probably rank much higher on this list, but he only pitched in six full big-league seasons. The University of Kentucky Wildcat was outstanding when he was on the field, going 87-62 with a 3.27 ERA in 198 career starts. He won the NL Cy Young in 2006, and went 22-7 in 2008 when he made his third and final all-star game.
11: Mark Reynolds born in Pikeville, 1983 played 2007-pres.
Reynolds is playing with his 7th franchise in 2016, but his best days came as a Diamondback in 2007-10. His 239 home runs are 2nd-most among Kentucky-born players, and his 123 in an Arizona uniform makes the franchise top five. His best year came in 2009, when he hit 44 home runs, 102 RBI, with 22 stolen bases.
10: Gus Bell born in Louisville, 1928 played 1950-64
The Louisville-born outfielder is the first Cincinnati Red to appear on the list, playing for the Redlegs from 1953-61. He made four all-star games with Cincinnati, knocking in 100 or more runs on four different occasions. His 206 HR and 942 RBI are both 5th for Kentucky-born hitters.
9: Dan Uggla born in Louisville, 1980 played 2006-15
Uggla is the only second baseman in MLB history to have four 30-homer seasons, three with the Marlins and a career-high 36 with the Braves. He made three all-star games and won the NL Silver Slugger for second base in 2010. His 154 home runs as a Marlin were a franchise-best until Giancarlo Stanton passed him in 2015.
8: Mike Greenwell born in Louisville, 1963 played 1985-96
“Gator” played his entire 12-year career with the Red Sox, hitting a lifetime .303 as Boston’s left fielder. He had a spectacular 1988, smacking 192 hits, 22 home runs, 119 RBI, and hitting for a .325 average. He finished second in the AL MVP voting to the Athletics’ Jose Canseco.
7: Travis Fryman born in Lexington, 1969 played 1990-2002
Fryman was one of the best third basemen in the 1990s to early 2000s. He made five all-star games in 13 seasons split between the Tigers and Indians. His 1,022 career RBI and 345 doubles place him 2nd among KY-born players, with his 223 home runs ranking fourth.
6: Bobby Veach born in St. Charles, 1888 played 1912-25
Born in the small town of St. Charles, Veach became one of the best hitters in the pre-Ruth dominated American League. Among KY-born hitters, he owns the most doubles (393) and RBI (1,169), and ranks 2nd in hits (2,063) and triples (147). His primary team was the Tigers, played 12 seasons with them from 1912-23.
5: Paul Derringer born in Springfield, 1906 played 1931-45
Derringer was a great pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds from 1933-42, a run that included six all-star bids. He was one of the top starters on the 1940 World Series team, winning 20 games that year in a league-leading 37 starts. He went 223-212 with a 3.46 ERA for his career, and also earned 29 saves.
4: Jay Buhner born in Louisville, 1964 played 1987-2001
Buhner’s 310 career home runs are the most among Kentucky-born players in MLB history. He owns three of the four 40-homer seasons (1995-97) for KY-born hitters, with Mark Reynolds (#11 on this list) owning the other. The Yankees traded the powerful right fielder as a prospect to the Seattle Mariners in 1988, where he ended up finishing with the third-most homers in team history.
3: Earle Combs [HOF] born in Pebworth, 1899 played 1924-35
The starting center fielder and leadoff hitter on the famous Murderer’s Row Yankees teams of the 1920s attended Eastern Kentucky University before his MLB days. Combs led the league in triples three times, including a career-high 23 for the famous 1927 Yankees. He owns a .325 lifetime AVG, the best among KY-born players in the modern era. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1970.
2: Jim Bunning [HOF] born in Southgate, 1931 played 1955-71
Bunning had a spectacular 17-year career mainly spent with the Tigers and Phillies. He won 224 games (2nd-most for KY-born pitchers) with a 3.27 lifetime ERA. He made nine all-star games (most for KY pitchers) and pitched the seventh perfect game in MLB history on June 21, 1964. Bunning was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996, and was a United States Senator in Kentucky from 1999-2011.
1: Pee-Wee Reese [HOF] born in Ekron, 1918 played 1940-58
The number one spot on the list of greatest MLB players born in Kentucky goes to Harold Henry “Pee-Wee” Reese. The longtime Dodgers shortstop made 10 consecutive all-star games (most All-Star games for any KY-born player), and served in World War II forcing him to miss the 1943-45 seasons entering his prime. He leads all KY-born hitters in hits (2,170), runs (1,338), and walks (1,210). He finished top-10 in NL MVP voting on eight occasions, and played in seven World Series for Brooklyn. He had his jersey number (1) retired in 1984, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame that same year.
For a full registry of MLB players born in Kentucky, you can visit: http://www.baseball-reference.com/bio/KY_born.shtml
Baseball is over a month into the season already, and a number of former Louisville Bats have made an impact with their big-league clubs. While it’s still just May, let’s take a look at the best former Bats player at each position so far in the 2016 MLB season.
Catcher – Dioner Navarro – White Sox (62 games in 2012 with the Bats)
Veteran catcher Dioner Navarro signed a one-year deal to play for the White Sox in 2016, making them his seventh MLB team. Navarro is hitting only .208 for Chicago through 24 games, but his 12 RBI is in the top five among AL catchers.
First Baseman – Joey Votto – Reds (137 games in 2007, ‘12, ‘14)
The perennial all-star first baseman isn’t off to one of his hottest starts (hitting .229 in April), but has rebounded quickly in May, posting a .447 on-base percentage through nine May games. Votto leads all active major leaguers with his .422 career OBP and ranks fourth with a .952 career OPS, trailing only Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Trout. Despite his early struggles, Votto earns a place on the All-Bats Team with 20 walks (12th in the NL) and a .360 on-base percentage that is due to increase.
Second Baseman – Brandon Phillips – Reds (2 games* in 2014)
The 15-year veteran second baseman only played for the Bats in two rehab games in 2014, but the crop of second basemen for the early May All-Bats team was very limited. Phillips has continued his sensational offensive consistency in 2016, smacking six homers (2nd among NL second basemen) and six doubles (T-3rd). He also had a four-game home run streak from May 4-7, hitting .438 (7-for-16) with 5 home runs and 9 RBI.
Shortstop – Zack Cozart – Reds (213 games in 2010-11)
In his tenth season in the Reds organization and his sixth at the big-league level, Cozart looks to be a breakout candidate in the National League. He’s had a strong start to 2016, batting .340 with an OPS of .910 (both 3rd among NL shortstops) through his first 25 games. Cozart ranks 2nd among NL shortstops in doubles (10), trailing only St. Louis’s Aledmys Diaz with 11.
Third Baseman – Todd Frazier – White Sox (246 games in 2009-12)
On December 16, Cincinnati sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox in a deal that also involved the Dodgers. Frazier isn’t hitting for average out of the gate in 2016, but his 10 home runs rank him 2nd in the American League as of May 10, trailing only Seattle’s Robinson Cano (12 homers). The power doesn’t stop there: Frazier’s 30 RBI place him 2nd in the AL, despite his .218 batting average.
Left Field – Adam Duvall – Reds (25 games in 2015)
The Louisville product appeared on an MLB opening day roster for the first time in 2016, starting in left field for the Reds. Duvall has started off nicely, hitting six homers and slugging .538 (8th among NL outfielders). He came to Cincinnati at the 2015 Trade Deadline in a deal that shipped starting pitcher Mike Leake to San Francisco.
Center Field – Billy Hamilton – Reds (123 games in 2013)
Coming off back-to-back 50-plus stolen base seasons, Billy Hamilton hasn’t gotten off to his blazing 2014-15 starts, but his seven steals through 29 games still places him 3rd in the National League. The real story with Hamilton in 2016 has been his glove. According to Fangraphs, he ranks 2nd (4.1) among NL outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved, trailing only Pittsburgh’s Gregory Polanco (5.8).
Right Field – Jay Bruce – Reds (104 games in 2007-09)
The former first-round pick in 2005 and longtime Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is back to his old self in the run production category, totaling 21 RBI through his first 29 games. After posting pedestrian (for him) RBI totals the past two seasons (66, 87), Bruce looks to regain his 2011-13 form (97, 99, 109, respectively). If the Reds slugger plays 157 games in 2016 like he did last year, he’s on pace to register 27 homers and 113 RBI.
Designated Hitter – Edwin Encarnacion – Blue Jays (110 games in 2005-07, ’09)
The former Reds slugger has the second-most home runs (157) in Major League Baseball behind only Baltimore’s Chris Davis (167) since 2012. Encarnacion has continued to supply power in 2016 for Toronto, leading all AL first basemen in RBI with 26 (6th total in the AL), and also tied in the AL for the most games played with 35.
Starting Pitcher – Johnny Cueto – Giants (8 starts for the Bats in 2007, 2011)
When the Reds traded Cueto to the Royals in 2015, he struggled down the stretch with a subpar 4.76 ERA in 13 starts. Cueto managed to earn a World Series ring in 2015, then went on to ink a six-year deal worth $130 million with San Francisco. About a quarter-way into the season, Cueto’s handled the contract-jitters extremely well, posting a 4-1 record and 3.02 ERA in his first seven starts.
Starting Pitcher – Mat Latos – White Sox (4 starts in 2014)
Some wrote off Mat Latos after a dismal 2015 campaign which saw him play for three different franchises (the Marlins, Dodgers, and Angels), going 4-10 with a 4.95 ERA and potentially ruining his upcoming free agency. The White Sox signed Latos to a low-risk one-year, $3 million pact and, a couple months into the season, have reaped the rewards. Latos has started off 2016 with a stellar 5-0 record and 2.62 ERA in six starts.
Starting Pitcher – Edinson Volquez – Royals (17 starts in 2010-11)
Volquez started the defending world champion Royals’ home opener in 2016, tossing six scoreless innings and earning the win. Like his former teammate Johnny Cueto, who spent four seasons together in Cincinnati, Volquez also won a ring last season. He’s been solid in 2016, going 3-3, 3.89 in seven starts.
Starting Pitcher – Raisel Iglesias – Reds (6 starts in 2015)
The fourth starter on the All-Bats team at this point in the season is Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias. The righty (1-1) has a 3.49 ERA through five starts, to go along with 29 strikeouts (2nd on the Reds) and only seven walks.
Starting Pitcher – Brandon Finnegan – Reds (8 starts in 2015)
Finnegan leads Reds pitchers in innings pitched (39.0), games started (seven), and quality starts (four). The 23-year-old also carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a start at Chicago on April 11. He’s posted a 4.15 ERA with 28 strikeouts for the Reds this year.
Relief Pitcher – Zach Duke – White Sox (26 games in 2013)
The lone relief pitcher on the list is White Sox lefty Zach Duke. The former starter was a relief pitcher for the Reds in 2013, and has been used as an almost-everyday reliever for Chicago in 2016. His 20 appearances lead all of Major League Baseball, as he’s posted a 2.63 ERA with 13 strikeouts and 3 walks in 13.2 innings.
Jermaine Curtis was named the International League Player of the Month for April. Curtis was not aware he had received this honor until the day it was given to him. “I was shocked and overwhelmed. I actually found out from Ryan [Ritchey, Director of Media and Public Relations],” said Curtis. “I am still at a loss for words. “
Curtis gets a little pep in his step every time he looks at his numbers on the scoreboard, compared to others. “I put a bat on the ball and found some holes. I am grateful for every at bat,” said Curtis. To him it’s just that simple putting a bat to the ball and finding those holes on the field to get a good at bat.
Last year Curtis started off slowly and in July2015 he got on a hot streak before getting injured. His batting average was .273 in 2015, but already this season Curtis is off to a great start with a .364 batting average as of May 3rd. Curtis brought up that last year he was behind the game, in terms of his batting average, but this year he is ahead of the race. “Just the last few games I have not been seeing the ball too well, but I can still say I have that little cushion for myself,” said Curtis.“So when I do get it going again it’s going to keep going.”
The Louisville Bats have not had an International League Player of the Month since June of 2009 when pitcher Homer Bailey won the award. With this Player of the Month honor, Curtis hopes that this will help him get promoted to the Reds. “I hope this brings a little something to my name and gets me a little help,” he commented. ”It’s a great accomplishment to be able to get that award.”
Curtis gives credit to his teammates for receiving the honor. “If they aren’t getting on base and not getting those hits, none of this would have happened,” said Curtis. “Yes I got the player of the month, but my team contributed a lot to that.”
Bats Broadcaster Nick Curran joined Media Relations Assistant Paul Taylor to chat about the Bats’ recent hot streak, going 7-3 in their last 10 games. They also talk about Jermaine Curtis, who is off to a torrid start at the plate, and pitchers Tim Adleman and Josh Smith, who are a combined 4-1 on the season.
The International League, along with all other full-season minor leagues from Low-A to Triple-A, held Opening Day last Thursday, April 7th. As of this writing (April 12th, 10 am), that’s the only day your Louisville Bats have played a game. Due to snow, rain, sleet, and extremely cold temperatures in Toledo, the Bats could not play Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
So, Delino DeShields took his club to Columbus to play three games before coming home on Thursday. But, last night (Monday), a strong line of thunderstorms postponed the game, forcing a double header Wednesday afternoon.
Bats’ pitcher Stephen Johnson summed it up best:
Do the baseball gods ever want the @LouisvilleBats to play? ☔☔☁
— Stephen Johnson (@StephenJohnsun) April 11, 2016
Well, Stephen, the forecast for the first couple home games is looking great- with highs this weekend potentially reaching into the 80s.
But enough about the warm weather-let’s talk about winter in Toledo and how bad weather has affected not only the Bats, but also the rest of the International League.
As of April 12th at 12 noon, just five teams have played the full slate of five games- four of them in the South Division: Charlotte, Durham, Gwinnett, and Norfolk. Pawtucket has also played to a 2-3 record through their first five games.
Louisville and Toledo have played just the opener, the fewest in the league, while division rivals Columbus and Indianapolis have only played twice-and that was a doubleheader on Sunday.
Here’s a little bit of math to show you just how much the weather has messed with the schedule the first five days of the league calendar:
With 14 teams in the league, there are seven games scheduled on a given night, with six scheduled last night (Indy and Toledo had a scheduled off day-go figure!). So, that adds up to 34 total games possible in the first five games. According to the Minor League Baseball stat portal, there have been 13 gate openings lost due to weather. That amounts to just over 38% of the games scheduled to this point.
It is important to note that Syracuse and Lehigh Valley were scheduled to open the season with four games in New York. However, due to field conditions, all four were postponed, and two of those games were moved to Lehigh Valley. They played a double header on Friday that was not open to the public, with Syracuse playing as the home team.
— Louisville Bats (@LouisvilleBats) April 9, 2016
The Bats and MudHens have not announced make up dates for the three games lost due to the snow. Louisville returns to Toledo three more times this season, so there will be extra baseball scheduled sometime soon.
Think warm thoughts, Bats fans, and we’ll see you Thursday night for Opening Night at Louisville Slugger Field. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
Numerous former Louisville Bats have been making their marks on the 2015 MLB Postseason with their current clubs. With the Division Series round wrapping up tonight in Los Angeles, let’s take a look at how they’ve done so far.
Johnny Cueto (8 games with Louisville in 2007 and 2011)
Last night, Johnny Beisbol finally gave the Royals the outing they dreamt about when they acquired him from the Reds at the trade deadline. In the ALDS’ decisive Game 5 Wednesday night at The K, he allowed just two runs on two hits with no walks and eight whiffs in eight innings as the Royals eliminated the upstart Astros with a 7-2 win. The performance was much better than his start in Game 2, where he allowed four earned runs over six innings and took the no-decision in the Royals’ 5-4 win. The win last night was the first of his Postseason career after three winless starts for the Reds in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
Edwin Encarnacion (110 games from 2005-07 and in 2009)
What else can you say about Edwin besides he crushes baseballs? The Blue Jay went 6-for-18 (.333) against the Rangers in the ALDS, including multi-hit performances in three of the five games. He scored three runs and drove in three, including one each on a monster solo homer to tie Game 5 at 2-2 in the bottom of the 6th. (A lot of stuff happened after that and the Blue Jays defeated the Rangers 6-3 to advance to the ALCS, but we won’t go into too much detail. There was weird stuff, a long delay, stuff thrown on the field, a bunch of errors, benches clearing a couple of times and a very manly three-run homer by Joey Bats that included an epic bat toss… yeah, toss, not flip.) Encarnacion also walked five times in the ALDS, three of them intentionally, and struck out just once. 2015 marks his first career Postseason appearance.
Josh Hamilton (11 games in 2011)
The 2010 AL MVP struggled in his return to the Postseason with the Rangers, going just 3-for-18 without scoring or driving in a run in the ALDS. He struck out five times and recorded just one walk. Despite five straight All-Star years that included three Postseason berths in his first stint with Texas, Hamilton is now just a .202 career hitter in 42 total Postseason games.
Edinson Volquez (17 games in 2010 and 2011)
Volquez started for the Royals suffered the loss in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Astros, surrendering three runs on five hits and four walks despite striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings. He is now 0-3 in three career Postseason starts (one each the with Reds, Pirates and Royals) with a 8.76 ERA, but he will start Game 1 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays Friday at Kauffman.
Travis Wood (34 games from 2009-11)
Wood made three appearances for the Cubs out of the pen in the NLDS against the Cardinals, two of them scoreless. In all, he allowed one earned run in 3 2/3 innings with no walks and four strikeouts and earned the win in Game 2. 2015 is Wood’s second appearance in the Postseason after also appearing in one game and throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings for the Reds in the 2010 NLDS against the Phillies.
Didi Gregorius (48 games in 2012)
Gregorius went 1-for-3 in the Yankees’ AL Wild Card Game loss to the Astros at Yankee Stadium on October 6, the first and only Postseason game of his young career.
Chris Denorfia (174 games in 2005 and 2006)
Denorfia came off the bench for the Cubs in the NL Wild Card Game and all four NLDS games against the Cardinals. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk at the plate. 2015 marks his first career Postseason action.
Yasmani Grandal (4 games in 2011)
Grandal is 1-for-8 with a pair of RBI in two starts for the Dodgers against the Mets in the NLDS. Grandal is battling a sore shoulder and the Dodgers say he is “50-50” to start the decisive Game 5 tonight at Chavez Ravine. 2015 marks his first career Postseason action.
Dioner Navarro (62 games in 2012)
The 2012 Bats All-Star registered one start and one pinch-hit appearance for the Blue Jays in the ALDS. In his Game 3 start at Globe Life Park, he went 1-for-4 with a double and run scored in Toronto’s 5-1 win. 2015 marks his third trip to the Postseason after helping the Rays advance to the World Series in 2008 (where he went 6-for-17) and appearing in two games for the Reds in 2012.
David Ross (12 games in 2007 and 2008)
Ross earned the start in Game 1 for the Cubs against the Cardinals’ John Lackey, but went 0-for-2 at the plate in the Cubs’ 4-0 loss. This is Ross’ sixth time in the Postseason (Dodgers in 2004, Red Sox in 2008, Braves in 2010 and 2012 and Red Sox in 2013 when he earned a World Series ring).
Drew Stubbs (126 games in 2008 and 2009)
Stubbs saw limited action for the Rangers in the ALDS, appearing as a defensive replacement in three games and striking out as a pinch hitter in Game 4 in his only plate appearance.
Also of note: Delino DeShields
Not a former Bat, but the son of current Bats manager Delino DeShields, Junior went 7-for-24 (.292) in his first career Postseason action for Texas, scoring four times and knocking in a pair. Three of his seven hits were doubles and he also stole a base before the Rangers before they fell at the hands of the Blue Jays.
Ryan and Robert wrap up the Bats’ 2015 campaign in the season’s final episode of The Bats Weekly Podcast.
In the season’s penultimate episode of the Bats Weekly Podcast, Ryan and Robert talk September call-ups, Robert Stephenson’s road struggles and what to look for over the final week of the season.
When he was acquired from the Giants on July 31 in a trade for right-hander Mike Leake, outfielder Adam Duvall led all of Minor League Baseball with 26 home runs.
Duvall, a Louisville native and Butler High School graduate, who also played collegiately at both Western Kentucky University (2007) and the University of Louisville (2009-2010), went deep in his first at-bat as a Bat and three more times in his first 12 games with Louisville this season.
Despite going homerless in his last 49 at-bats with Louisville, and batting .189 in 25 games as a Bat, the Reds recalled Duvall before Monday’s game in Chicago. Although Duvall was not in the starting lineup, he was tabbed for a pinch-hit opportunity in the top of the sixth and made the most of his first at-bat as a Red.
The Louisville native’s two-run home run gave Cincinnati a 7-5 lead, and helped push the Reds to an eventual 13-6 win over the Cubs.
The home run also capped an impressive stretch of debuts for Duvall. Last night’s blast was the fourth consecutive team debut in which Duvall has gone yard. He hit a home run off Mike Leake in his first at-bat as a Giant, on July 26, 2014, then hit a walk-off homer in this season’s opening game with the Sacramento River Cats (Triple-A San Fransisco) on April 9, before homering in his first at-bats with both Louisville and Cincinnati.
Duvall, however, wasn’t the only former Bat to go yard for Cincinnati last night, as Reds shortstop Eugenio Suarez hit a two-run blast two batters before Duvall’s blast.
Right-hander Michael Lorenzen was also recalled by Cincinnati, and started Monday’s game against the Cubs. Lorenzen allowed five earned runs on six hits and one walk with six strikeouts in four and two-thirds innings.
Lorenzen was on the hook for the loss when he was pulled with the Reds down 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth, but he did not factor in the decision as Suarez and Duvall combined to put the Reds ahead in the sixth.
In his most recent stint with Louisville, Lorenzen made three starts going 2-1 as he allowed just three earned runs on 14 hits and four walks with seven strikeouts over 24 innings.
With September 1 now upon us, and the MLB rosters expanding, hopefully Duvall won’t be the last Bat to make an impression in his debut with Cincinnati this season.
Bats radio voice Nick Curran joins Ryan and Robert to talk Bats baseball and broadcasting on this week’s edition of the Bats Weekly Podcast.