LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A year after posting a school-record 44 wins and after hauling in the fourth-best recruiting class in the nation, the Kentucky baseball program has received letters of intent from seven players for the 2010 season, head coach Gary Henderson announced Friday.
“We're excited about this group,” Henderson said. “Going into the summer, our two priorities were to improve our pitching depth and to keep the best players in the state of Kentucky at home, and we felt like we did just that. All of these kids are extremely projectable and we expect them to be very good players in the Southeastern Conference. This group, along with the 2008 class (our current freshmen), should enable us to continue to compete for an SEC Championship annually."
The class is highlighted by six of the better pitchers in the nation and one of the top catchers in the high school ranks. Jordan Cooper, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander from Shelbyville, Tenn., is rated as the top pitcher in the state of Tennessee and the 81st-best high school prospect in the nation by Baseball America. Cooper heads a talented crop of pitchers, including Ohio County two-way product Sam Kidd, Colorado lefty Taylor Rogers, and two of the best arms in the Chicago area – 6-foot-5 left-hander Jon Carlson and Walter Wijas. In addition, UK signed the top junior college prospect in Illinois and the 13th-best junior college prospect nationally in righty Joe Devine. UK also signed the top prospect in the state of Kentucky, Covington Catholic backstop Luke Maile.
Maile, one of the top catching prospects in the nation and Maxpreps.com All-American as a junior, comes to UK from Covington Catholic High School. Maile, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound backstop, has established himself as one of the top catchers in the nation, earning first-team All-State honors in 2008. Maile, whose father played football at Kentucky in the 1980’s and grandfather was an All-American basketball player at LSU, hit .554 with six homers and 40 RBI as the Covington Catholic lead-off man in 2008.
“Luke is the top prospect in Kentucky,” Henderson said. “He is a strong, smart leader who plays with a tremendous amount of poise and confidence. Luke is an outstanding student who will be a very good player for us.”
Kidd, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound pitcher, led Ohio County to the district title in 2008, posted a 0.88 ERA and a 9-2 record, striking out 97 in 64 innings. A two-way player, Kidd hit .527, with eight doubles, two homers and 30 RBI, stealing eight bases in 2008.
“We expect Sam to be a very good two-way player,” Henderson said. “Sam is a legitimate pitcher/hitter talent, is an extremely good competitor and an outstanding student-athlete.”
Cooper, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander from Shelbyville, Tenn., is regarded as the top pitching prospect in Tennessee by Baseball America. Cooper posted a 5-2 record while collecting 48 strikeouts and an impressive 1.31 ERA in 2008.
“Jordan is a tremendous athlete who has excellent arm strength and a quality second pitch,” Henderson said. “We are extremely excited about Jordan, who has the potential to help us early in his career.”
Rogers comes to Lexington as one of the top pitchers in the state of Colorado, earning first-team All-State honors as a junior in Littleton, Colo. Tabbed as the top left-handed pitcher in the state by pgcrosschecker.com, Rogers earned a 1.98 ERA and a 5-2 record, while striking out 82 batters in 53 innings during 2008.
“Taylor is a late-blooming athlete with tremendous potential,” Henderson said. “Taylor has a frame to add additional size and strength. He has an above-average moving fastball and a solid curveball.”
Devine, a 6-foot-2 right-hander, is rated as the 13th-best junior college prospect and the best in the state of Illinois. Devine, who led Wabash Valley to a 40-15 record and the 2008 GRAC Championship, posted a 7-2 record and a 2.83 ERA in 67 innings, striking out 60, walking 20 and allowing 49 hits, earning first-team All-Conference accolades.
“Joe is an extremely talented Kentucky native who has the ability to step in and contribute very early in his career,” Henderson said. “Joe has an outstanding frame and we expect him to only get better.”
Carlson, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound southpaw, is a veteran of the Perfect-Game National Showcase in Minnesota. Carlson led his high school club to the MSL East Championship, totaling two saves and a 3-1 record, striking out 59 in 50.2 innings.
“Jon is a very talented left-handed pitcher from Illinois,” Henderson said. “He has a strong body, a very good slider, is a very good competitor and is a very good student.”
Wijas, a 6-foot-3 righty, comes to UK from Conant High School, striking out 40 in 28 innings in 2008. Wijas, the single-season ERA record holder at Conant High School, posted a 6-1 record and a 0.42 ERA in 33 innings, striking out 66 as a sophomore.
“Walter is one of the best pitchers in the state of Illinois,” Henderson said. “He has a strong body and has outstanding movement on his fastball.”
Jon Carlson, LHP, 6-5, 200 (Rolling Meadows, Ill., Rolling Meadows High School)
A participant in the Perfect Game National Showcase in Minneapolis, Minn. … Named All-Conference and All-Area in 2008 … Led Rolling Meadows High School to the 2008 MSL East Championship … As a junior this past spring, he went 3-1 with two saves, while striking out 59 in 50.2 innings … Coached by Jim Lindeman … A three-year member of the “B” Honor Roll.
Full name is Jonathon David Carlson … Born on March 7, 1991 in Arlington Heights … Has an older brother, David (20).
Henderson on Carlson …
“Jon is a very talented left-handed pitcher from Illinois. He has a strong body, a very good slider, is a very good competitor and is a very good student.”
Jordan Cooper, RHP, 6-3, 190 (Shelbyville, Tenn., Shelbyville Central High School)
The No. 1 pitching prospect in the state of Tennessee and the 81st best prospect in the nation by Baseball America … Participated for Team Tennessee in the Junior Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Okla. … Was on the New York Yankees team at the East Coast Professional Showcase in Lakeland, Fla. … Was on the Oakland Athletics team at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif. ... Earned all-district honors as a junior … Led baseball team to the district championship and basketball team in 2008 to the district title.
Born on Feb. 16, 1990 in Shelbyville, Tenn. … Son of Gary and Cathy Cooper … Has two brothers, Matt (24) and Cory (23) and a sister, Sydney (10).
Henderson on Cooper …
“Jordan is a tremendous athlete who has excellent arm strength and a quality second pitch. We are extremely excited about Jordan, who has the potential to help us early in his career.”
Joe Devine, RHP, 6-2, 180 (Mount Carmel, Ill., Wabash Valley College)
Rated as the 13th-best junior college prospect in the nation and the best in Illinois by pgcrosschecker.com … Led Wabash Valley to a 40-15 record and the 2008 GRAC Championship … Named first-team All-Conference … Earned a 7-2 record and a 2.83 ERA in 67 innings, striking out 60, walking 20 and allowing 49 hits.
Henderson on Devine …
“Joe is an extremely talented Kentucky native who has the ability to step in and contribute very early in his career. Joe has an outstanding frame and we expect him to only get better.”
Sam Kidd, RHP/OF, 6-2, 170 (Hartford, Ky., Ohio County High School)
Second-team All-State selection as a junior and participant in the KHSAA Junior East/West game … While leading Ohio County to the district title in 2008, posted a 0.88 ERA and a 9-2 record, striking out 97 in 64 innings … Earned a 7-1 record and a 1.88 ERA in 52 innings, striking out 62 during 2007… Hit .527 eight doubles, two homers and 30 RBI, stealing eight bases in 2008 … In 2007, hit .337 with five doubles and 27 RBI, stealing nine bags … Owns school records for wins, strikeouts and ERA … Named academic honorable mention from 2006-08 … Played football junior season.
Full name is Samuel Wallace Kidd … Born on Nov. 30, 1990 in Owensboro, Ky. … Son of Don and Evelyn Kidd … Has a sister, Amanda (22) … Father played baseball at Delta State University.
Henderson on Kidd …
“We expect Sam to be a very good two-way player. Sam is a legitimate pitcher/hitter talent, is an extremely good competitor and an outstanding student-athlete.”
Luke Maile, C, 6-3, 200 (Crestview Hills, Ky., Covington Catholic High School)
First-team All-State as a junior, Maile is considered the top prospect in the state of Kentucky … Maile, the two-time Northern Kentucky Player of the Year was named a first-team All-American by MaxPreps.com as a junior, after hitting .554 with 62 hits, 62 runs scored, six homers and 40 RBI, while hitting leadoff for Covington Catholic … Played for the Chicago White Sox team at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., and for the Kentucky Colonels during the 2008 summer … As Covington Catholic’s cleanup hitter in 2007, hit .486 with eight homers and 66 RBI … Owns school records for season batting average (.554), RBI (66), runs scored (62), totaling the second-most walks (37) and hits (62) in program history … The career record holder for batting average, triples and RBI, ranking third in hits, second in doubles, fourth in homers, second in runs scored, third in walks and seventh in at bats … Named the team MVP in 2007-08 … Named all-state in 2007 and 2008, earning Cincinnati Enquirer All-Star honors in 2008 … Helped lead Covington Catholic to a region runner up finish in 2007 and 2008 … Has played four years of basketball and two seasons of golf … Coached in baseball by Bill Krumpelbeck … Has earned the Mt. St. Joseph College writing award and the Northern Kentucky University writing award while maintaining a 3.2 GPA.
Born Feb. 6, 1991 in Edgewood, Ky. … Has four siblings, brothers Ben (14) and Jack (9) and sisters Abby (15) and Caroline (11) … Mother and father attended Kentucky, with father, Rich, played football at UK from 1986-87 … Grandfather, Dick Maile, was an All-American basketball player at LSU.
Henderson on Maile …
“Luke is the top prospect in Kentucky. He is a strong, smart leader who plays with a tremendous amount of poise and confidence. Luke is an outstanding student who will be a very good player for us.”
Taylor Rogers, LHP, 6-3, 170 (Littleton, Colo., Chatfield Senior High School)
First-team All-State as a junior in 2007 while playing at Chatfield Senior High School in Littleton, Colo. … Earned a 1.98 ERA and a 5-2 record, while striking out 82 batters in 53 innings … Tallied one save in 2007, while leading team to the state final four … Coached by Mike Yansak … Played for the Colorado Slammers during the fall of 2008 … Has played basketball for four seasons and football as a freshman.
Born, Dec. 17, 1990 in Denver, Colo. … Has a twin brother, Tyler (17) …Son of Scott and Amy Rogers.
Henderson on Rogers …
“Taylor is a late-blooming athlete with tremendous potential. Taylor has a frame to add additional size and strength. He has an above-average moving fastball and a solid curveball.”
Walter Wijas, RHP, 6-3, 200 (Elk Grove Village, Ill., James Conant High School)
One of the top pitchers in the state of Illinois, Wijas posted a staggering 0.76 ERA and a 2-1 record while striking out 40 in 28 innings in 2008 for Conant High School … As a sophomore, earned a 6-1 record and a 0.42 ERA, working 33 innings, with 66 strikeouts … Owns the single-season ERA mark at Conant … Hit .482 with seven doubles, two homers and 17 RBI as a sophomore and .419 with four doubles and 11 RBI as a freshman … Coached by Jerry Song … Played for the McHenry County Hurricanes during the summer of 2008.
Born Feb. 13, 1991 in Chicago, Ill. … Son of David and Patricia Wijas … Has one brother, Kevin (10) and two sisters, Kate (15) and Bridget (14).
Henderson on Wijas …
“Walter is one of the best pitchers in the state of Illinois. He has a strong body and has outstanding movement on his fastball.”