LEXINGTON, Ky. Former Kentucky star second baseman J.T. Riddle finished his first return trip to Lexington with two hits, including the game-tying RBI triple in the eighth inning, leading his Greensboro Grasshoppers to a 3-2 win over the Legends, on a pleasant Thursday night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
The 2010 Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball out of Frankfort’s Western Hills, Riddle went 2-for-5 on Thursday to help the Grasshoppers complete the sweep of the Legends, while starting at shortstop for the second consecutive game. It marked the first trip to Lexington for Riddle as a professional and his first three games in his collegiate town since a midweek UK win over No. 16 Indiana on May 14, 2013.
In the midst of his first full professional season, Riddle has hit .264 (61-for-231) in 55 games for the Grasshoppers, playing at third base and in the middle infield. The former Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball out of Western Hills, Riddle has nine doubles, two triples, four homers and 32 RBI. He has sported a 19-19 walk-strikeout ratio, stealing three bases.
Over the three-game series in Lexington, while playing with a significant amount of family and friends in attendance, Riddle collected four hits, including a 2-for-4 series opener, with a triple, two walks and two RBI. On Thursday, Riddle’s triple in the eighth inning erased a one-run Legends lead and sparked the comeback win for the Grasshoppers.
A 6-foot-3 left-handed hitter, Riddle had a decorated three-year career for the Wildcats from 2011-13, before signing with the Marlins in the 13th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.
In his UK career, Riddle played in 168 games with 161 starts, batting .283 with 28 doubles, three triples, nine homers and 83 RBI, stealing 16 bases. As a sophomore, Riddle hit .279 with 12 doubles, one triple, five homers and 38 RBI. As a freshman in 2011, Riddle started at second base and rightfield, hitting .288 with nine doubles, three homers and 25 RBI. A dynamic defender, Riddle’s final season in Lexington came in 2013, starting all 55 games at second base. He finished 2013 with a .283 average with seven doubles, two triples, one homer and 20 RBI, stealing six bases, sporting a 22-14 walk-strikeout ratio. Defensively, Riddle led all Southeastern Conference second baseman in defensive assists, running up a streak of not committing errors for 358.1 consecutive innings, while making 121 consecutive starts in the middle infield.
After six UK players were drafted or signed a professional contact in 2014, UK has now had a program-record 39 players drafted or sign a pro contract in the six-year tenure of the Gary Henderson era. Since Henderson and UK recruiting coordinator Brad Bohannon arrived on campus in 2004, UK has had a record 61 players drafted or sign a professional contract.
After signing with the Marlins out of the draft in 2013, Riddle spent his first professional season in the New York-Penn League, playing in 59 games and hitting .243 with 10 doubles, two homers and 18 RBI.