LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For the sixth consecutive year, Kentucky baseball has brought in one of the top recruiting classes in the country, as the 2011 group of newcomers have been ranked as the 25th best class in college baseball, in rankings released by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are excited to welcome this group of newcomers into the UK athletics and UK baseball family,” UK fourth-year head coach Gary Henderson said. “This is a talented group of student-athletes that will have the ability to make an immediate impact on our club in 2012. They have been on campus for a few weeks now and we have been extremely impressed with their attitudes, work ethics and desire to compete. We are looking forward to getting them on the diamond and getting ready for the spring.”
The Wildcats have been ranked in the Collegiate Baseball top-40 recruiting rankings for six consecutive years, dating back to the group that Henderson and UK recruiting coordinator Brad Bohannon brought to campus in 2006 that eventual claimed the first Southeastern Conference Championship in program annals. Since that 2006 season, UK has enjoyed recruiting classes – spearheaded by Henderson (UK associate head coach and recruiting coordinator from 2004-07), Bohannon and fourth-year assistant coach Brian Green – ranked among the nation’s elite. UK’s class in 2008, Henderson’s first year as head coach, was ranked a school-record No. 4 by Baseball America and his second recruiting class in 2009 was tabbed No. 6 by Collegiate Baseball.
Kentucky’s class includes 15 newcomers, including four transfers for the 2012 season. Among the players UK has welcomed to campus, including junior college transfers in outfielder Zac Zellers (St. Louis, Mo.), southpaw Jerad Grundy (Johnsonburg, Ill.), righty Tim Peterson (Payallup, Wash.) and former Oregon right-hander Chris Garrison (Rocklin, Calif.), a 28th-round selection in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs. Grundy was a 42nd-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Florida Marlins.
In addition to the transfers, UK welcomes the top talent in the state of Kentucky, right-hander Chandler Shepherd (Louisa, Ky.), who was a 41st-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox. UK will also welcome Lexington Catholic righty Taylor Martin (Lexington, Ky.), who was a 41st-round pick by the Colorado Rockies. Freshman outfielder Austin Cousino (Dublin, Ohio) also comes with thick credentials, earning Baseball America first-team All-America honors and was a former standout for Team USA.
The Wildcats also have added talents like Zionsville, Ind., infielder Max Kuhn, who was drafted in the 24th-round by the Oakland Athletics before opting to attend UK. A.J. Reed (Terre Haute, Ind.), a 6-foot-4, 250-pound impact two-way talent was a 25th-round pick by the New York Mets in 2011 and catcher Greg Fettes (Madison Heights, Mich.), a 43rd-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft by the hometown Detroit Tigers, will help bolster the recruiting class.
The Wildcats return several standouts from 2011, including All-SEC third sacker Thomas McCarthy, who hit .411 in conference play and finished the year on a blistering 10-game hitting streak. In addition, UK starting pitchers Taylor Rogers and Corey Littrell return, as well as right-hander Trevor Gott, who was named Cape Cod League reliever of the year. Outfielders Lucas Witt and Brian Adams and slugging catchers Luke Maile and Michael Williams will help anchor the lineup, in addition to infielder J.T. Riddle.
UK Drafted Newcomers
Max Kuhn (24th round; Athletics)
• IF: Zionsville Community HS (Ind.)
A.J. Reed (25th round; Mets)
• LHP/1B: Terre Haute South (Ind.)
Chris Garrison (28th round; Cubs)
• RHP: Western Nevada CC (Nev.)
Taylor Martin (41st round; Rockies)
• RHP: Lexington Catholic HS (Ky.)
Chandler Shepherd (41st round; White Sox)
• RHP: Lawrence County HS (Ky.)
Jerad Grundy (42nd round; Marlins)
• LHP: Heartland CC (Ill.)
Gregory Fettes (43rd round; Tigers)
• C: Lamphere HS (Mich.)