LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Having already had its class ranked No. 11 by Collegiate Baseball, the 2013 Kentucky baseball newcomer class has been tabbed No. 18 by Baseball America, it was announced on Thursday afternoon.
Kentucky was ranked No. 11 by Collegiate Baseball in late September, marking the seventh consecutive year the Wildcats have brought in a ranked class. Baseball America’s highly in-depth rankings are formulated after a staggering amount of 2012 MLB Draft coverage and consulting with coaches and scouts. Baseball America ranks the top-25 recruiting classes in the nation, with Collegiate Baseball ranking the top-40 classes.
UK’s stretch of ranked classes started after the Wildcats won the 2006 Southeastern Conference Championship. The highest classes in program history consisted of a No. 4 ranking by Baseball America in 2008 and a No. 6 ranking in 2009 by Collegiate Baseball.
“Kentucky's class is all about pitching and catching,” Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt detailed in the recruiting class breakdowns. “In (Kyle) Cody, (Matt) Pope and (Chase) Mullins, the Wildcats have three enormous pitchers with serious upside, though the best of the lot might be the 6-foot (Ryne) Combs, a very advanced three-pitch lefty in the mold of former Wildcat Chris Rusin.
“Combs commands an 87-91 fastball, a good 79-80 slider and a changeup that also has a chance to be better than average. The ultra-projectable Cody pitches off a fastball in the 87-92 range and mixes in a slurvy mid-70s breaking ball that needs refinement and a developing changeup. The biggest body in this collection of behemoths belongs to Mullins, who showed 87-92 mph velocity and a plus curveball before having Tommy John surgery that will sideline him in 2013. Pope is the most raw of the group but has tantalizing potential, with a 94-95 mph fastball and a power 12-to-6 hammer at 80 mph.”
The UK class features 13 true freshman talents, including pitchers RHP Kyle Cody (Chippewa Falls, Wis.), LHP Ryne Combs (Lexington, Ky.), RHP Tyler Cox (Lexington, Ky.), LHP Dylan Dwyer (Murray, Ky.), LHP Chase Mullins (Paris, Ky.) and RHP Matt Pope (Johnson City, Tenn.). Positionally, UK welcomes catcher Zach Arnold (Frankfort, Ky.), outfielder Kyle Barrett (Douglasville, Ga.), outfielder Dorian Hairston (Lexington, Ky.), catcher Casey Schroeder (Glandorf, Ohio), infielder Zack Storm (London, Ky.) and outfielder Storm Wilson (Science Hill, Ky.). UK also welcomes former quarterback Jacob Russell (Lawrenceburg, Ky.), who has sophomore eligibility.
“(Dylan) Dwyer is a thinner version of Combs, but with less feel for his changeup, more inconsistent fastball velocity, and a traditional 12-to-6 curve rather than a slider. The two catchers in this class complement each other well, as (Zach) Arnold is a polished defender with a light bat, while (Casey) Schroeder has more work to do behind the plate but a more advanced bat. Arnold can really catch and throw, and his swing works, but he needs to add strength. Schroeder is a switch-hitter with some pop, and he has the athleticism and solid arm to succeed behind the plate in time.”
All five of Kentucky’s signees that were drafted, elected to attend UK for their collegiate careers. A 6-foot-2, 190-pound Schroeder was UK’s highest drafted signee, going to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 21st round. Mullins was picked by the Texas Rangers in the 24th round and Arnold, a 6-foot-2 catcher out of Franklin County High School, was picked in the 27th round by the New York Mets, while Cody was picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 33rd round. Pope marked UK’s final signee drafted, going to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 38th round.
UK Recruiting Class Rankings (Since 2006 SEC Championship)
2006: No. 21
2007: No. 31
2008: No. 4 [school record]
2009: No. 6
2010: No. 16
2011: No. 25
2012: No. 11
• highest ranking among Baseball America OR Collegiate Baseball annual listings.
2012 BASEBALL AMERICA RECRUITING CLASS RANKINGS
5. North Carolina
8. Arizona State
11. Texas Christian
12. UC Santa Barbara
15. Texas A&M
16. South Carolina
17. Fresno State
19. Southern California
23. Cal State Fullerton