LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Former Kentucky baseball standout and Lexington native John Shelby has been tabbed as the eighth-best prospect in the Chicago White Sox Organization, Baseball America announced.
Shelby, a Tates Creek High School product, had a monster season in his first full campaign as a professional, playing for the Kannapolis Intimidators of the Class A South Atlantic League. A fifth-round pick in 2006 by the White Sox, Shelby finished the year as the team leader in batting average, hitting at a .301 (147-of-488) clip. In 122 games in 2007, Shelby scored 83 times, reached on 35 doubles, nine triples, 16 home runs, and drove in 79 RBI, while swiping 19 bases.
Shelby, whose father John “T-Bone” Shelby is a former big league outfielder and current Baltimore Orioles first-base coach, exploded out of the all-star break, batting .322 with 13 homers, and 53 RBI after the mid-season break. Rated as the best athlete in the 2006 White Sox draft class by Baseball America, Shelby ran up a 24-game hit streak near the end of the season and finished with a current five-game streak at the end of the year.
“Shelby's bat was the primary reason Chicago drafted him, and he continued to hit in low Class A,” Baseball America contributor Phil Rogers said. “He flashed his power, compiling 60 extra-base hits, while getting on base enough to project as a possible No. 2 hitter. He runs well and shows signs of making a successful transition to center field after playing mostly second base in college and in his first pro season. He's a solid worker and teammate.”
During his three-year career at Kentucky, Shelby helped UK to its first Southeastern Conference Championship in school annals, batting .291 with 18 home runs during the historic 2006 season. A second-baseman in college, Shelby has made a transition from middle infield to center field for the White Sox, utilizing his speed and athleticism as an above-average tool.
Shelby joined 2006 SEC Player of the Year Ryan Strieby as the highest drafted duo in Kentucky baseball history in 2006, as Strieby went in the fourth round and Shelby followed as a fifth-round pickup.
“The White Sox have moved Shelby slowly, and he'll probably open 2008 in high Class A,” Rogers details when discussing the White Sox’s future plans with Shelby. “But if he continues to hit, he could get a look in Double-A before the season is over and could reach Chicago by the end of 2009.”