Bisson, Darnell & Ray Selected In Amateur Draft

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Kentucky junior second baseman Chris Bisson (pronounced: BEES-own) has been selected by the San Diego Padres in the fourth round with the 124th overall pick of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft, it was announced Tuesday afternoon.

A native of Orleans, Ontario, Bisson was the highest UK player drafted in 2010 and after going in the fourth round marks the third consecutive year Kentucky has had a player drafted in the top five. Kentucky has now had a player drafted in the top five rounds seven times in the last three seasons, marking a program best, dating back to the 1965 MLB Draft.

Bisson was joined in the top-five rounds in the 2010 MLB Draft by former UK left-handed pitcher James Paxton, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Seattle Mariners with the 132nd overall selection.

The 50-round draft continues throughout on Tuesday with rounds 2-30 and concludes with rounds 31-50 on Wednesday. Coverage is available on the MLB Network and MLB.com.

During his three-year UK career, Bisson emerged as one of the top middle infielders in college baseball, becoming the first UK player to earn back-to-back All-SEC honors in over 10 years, dating back to catcher John Wilson earned All-SEC accolades in 1999 and 2000. In 2009 and 2010, Bisson was selected second-team All-SEC at second base by the league coaches.

As a true freshman playing in the rugged SEC, Bisson was forced into action with injuries striking UK senior third baseman Chris McClendon in 2008. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder played in 27 games with 13 starts, batting .157 (8-for-51) with three doubles, four RBI and three stolen bases. UK entered the 2009 season unsure as to its starter at second base with All-SEC standout Ryan Wilkes departing following 2008. Bisson took control of the spot, leading UK in nearly every statistical category. In 2009, Bisson batted .360 (80-for-22) with 49 runs scored, nine doubles, three triples, two homers and 52 RBI, stealing 13-of-15 bases.

In 2010, Bisson solidified himself as one of the top players in the nation, entering the season as a preseason All-America selection by Baseball America. In 51 games and 50 starts in 2010, Bisson batted .329 (69-for-210) with 12 doubles, one triple, five homers and 35 RBI, stealing an SEC-leading 32 bases in 39 attempts. Bisson, who ran up two 12-or-more-game hitting streaks in 2010, reached base safely in 49 of 51 games played and with his 32 steals, became the first UK player to steal 30 or more bases since Chad Green stole a school-record 55 bases in 1995. Was prolific throughout the season on the base paths, going through a seven consecutive game stretch with a stolen base, swiping 11 total bases in that span. In a win at Auburn, Bisson stole a career-best four bases. After jumping out to a hot start to open the season, Bisson was hit on the nose by a 1-2 fastball in a March 6 game against Monmouth in San Diego, breaking his nose and requiring surgery. Bisson showed tremendous toughness to return after just a five-game period, returning for a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth inning of a game with Murray State. Before the injury, Bisson was batting .378 (14-for-37) with 10 runs, two doubles, one triple, two homers and 10 RBI. After the injury and while playing with a facemask at the plate and a face shield at second base for 15 games, Bisson batted .317 (19-for-60) with two doubles, no triples or homers and eight RBI.

Last summer, Bisson improved upon his status as a prospect with a strong showing in the prestigious Cape Cod League, leading the league in stolen bases with 36 steals in his 42-game summer and batting .269 (36-for-164). With 36 steals, Bisson equaled the Cotuit Kettlers club record and with over 30 steals, became just the fourth player in the Cape in the last 10 years and the third in the last nine years to steal 30 or more bases during a summer. Of the three other CCL players to steal 30 or more bases in the last 10 years, two have advanced to the big leagues.

A 6-foot-4, 210-pound native of Ladner, British Columbia, Paxton was drafted in the first round in 2009 by the Toronto Blue Jays but did not sign with the Blue Jays at the August 15, 2009 signing deadline, electing to prepare for the draft in the non-affiliated independent minor league baseball in Grand Prairie, Texas. In his three-year UK career, Paxton started 24 games and appeared in 55, posting a 5-3 record and a 4.91 ERA. In 148.1 career innings, Paxton posted two saves, allowed 149 hits, 61 walks and 168 strikeouts. In 2009 for UK, Paxton struck out 115 in 78.1 innings, posting a 5.86 ERA in 13 starts.

Kentucky junior southpaw Logan Darnell has been selected in the sixth round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins with the 195th overall pick and UK junior outfielder Lance Ray has been selected in the eighth round by the Twins with the 255th overall pick, it was announced Tuesday afternoon.

A native of Joelton, Tenn., Darnell and Ray are the fourth UK players to be drafted in the first eight rounds in the 2010 MLB Draft, joining fourth-round selection of the San Diego Padres Chris Bisson, a junior second baseman, and former UK pitcher James Paxton, a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Mariners. UK pitching signee Blake Perry, a native of Danville, Ky., was the first UK signee selected, going in the sixth round to the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 181st overall selection.

With Darnell and Ray’s selection, UK has now had nine players drafted in the top 10 rounds over the last three seasons, including a program-best seven players in the top five rounds over the last three years. In 2008, UK had Scott Green (third), Sawyer Carroll (third) and Collin Cowgill (fifth) all drafted in the top five rounds and in 2009, Paxton was drafted in the first round and Chris Rusin was selected in the fifth round.

A 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty, Darnell has appeared in 57 career games for UK and started 11, totaling a 10-9 record with four saves and a 5.05 ERA. In 137.1 career innings, Darnell has allowed 156 hit, walking 62 and striking out 114.

In 2010, Ray led UK at the plate, batting .356 (42-for-118) with 29 runs, 11 doubles, one triple and 34 RBI in 29 starts and 41 total games. Ray drew a total of 20 walks and struck out just 21 times, stealing two bases.

In 2010, Darnell entered the season as a member of the weekend starting pitching rotation for the first time in his career, after appearing in 43 games out of the bullpen the first two seasons of his career. Darnell made 11 starts to open the season, before coming out of the bullpen for the final three outings of the year. All told in 2010, Darnell tossed 73.2 innings, posting a 5-3 record and a 5.62 ERA, saving one game. Darnell allowed 92 hits and walked 28, striking out 55. The best outing of Darnell’s career came in his third career start at San Diego, a team ranked in the top 20 to end the season. The lefty tossed a complete-game shutout against the Toreros, outdueling eventual 2010 second-round MLB Draft pick and USD left-handed ace Sammy Solis. Darnell needed just 90 pitches – 70 for strikes – to blank USD in his third career start.

As a freshman Darnell appeared in 15 games, posting a 4.08 Era in 17.2 innings, allowing only 11 hits and walking 14 with 12 strikeouts. In 2009, Darnell was relied upon as a late-inning reliever appeared in a team-high 28 games, posting a 5-6 record and a 4.50 ERA, saving three games. Darnell tossed 46 innings as a sophomore, walking 20 and striking out 47.

A native of Las Vegas, Nev., Ray emerged as one of the top hitters in college baseball late in the 2010 season. After having offseason wrist surgery, Ray – a junior college transfer from Western Nevada College – slumped at the plate early, batting .182 entering an April 9 game against Alabama in Lexington. UK turned to Ray off the bench in a pinch-hitting role and Ray delivered a game-winning RBI single with two outs. After that pinch-hit RBI single, Ray was a fixture in the lineup, playing in 24 games with 22 starts in the final 26 UK games, batting .424 (36-for-85) with 24 runs, 10 doubles, one triple, nine homers and 30 RBI, drawing 16 walks and striking out just 14 times. A 6-foot-1, 200-pounder, Ray finished the season on a 21-game starting streak, batting .418 (33-for-79) with 22 runs scored, nine doubles, one triple, eight homers and 28 RBI, drawing 16 walks and striking out just 13 times over the streak. In SEC play alone, Ray hit .371 (26-for-70) with six doubles, seven homers and 21 RBI.

In 2010, Ray had several highlights late in the season, including a 4-for-5 game at Indiana, coming a single shy of hitting for the cycle. In the game at IU, Ray scored four runs, totaled five RBI, hit two homers, had a double and a triple and drew two walks. Later in the week, Ray belted a walk-off home run against No. 20 LSU to give UK a series-opening win, a three-run homer off LSU All-American closer Matty Ott in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave UK the come-from-behind win. The homer was Ray’s second three-run homer of the game, going 2-for-4 with three runs scored in the contest.


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