Ryan O'Hearn tied for the South Atlantic League lead in homers with 19 in 2015. (Photo - Mary Lay)

Ryan O’Hearn tied for the South Atlantic League lead in homers with 19 in 2015. (Photo – Mary Lay)

Several former Lexington Legends will be playing in the Arizona Fall League, where many of baseball’s top prospects – some of whom have already played in the major leagues – will get in some additional game competition following their regular season.

Pitchers Evan Beal (a 2015 Legend), Jake Newberry (2015, 2016) and Eric Stout (2015), first baseman Ryan O’Hearn (2015), third baseman Mauricio Ramos (2014), second baseman Corey Toups (2015) and outfielder Alfredo Escalera (2014, 2015) will all play for the Surprise Saguaros, one of six teams in the AFL.  The Saguaros are made up of prospects from the Kansas City, Boston, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Texas organizations.

The Saguaros’ best-known player is infielder Yoan Moncada, who made his major league debut with Boston this season.  The Cuban infielder signed with the Red Sox for $31.5 million in March of 2015.  He was assigned to the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox affiliate in the South Atlantic League, and made his U.S. professional debut against the Legends May 18, 2015 in Greenville.   On May 30, he hit his first home run against the Legends at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

Opening day for the Arizona Fall League is October 11.  The season ends November 17, and the championship game is scheduled for November 19.

Jose Altuve was a Lexington Legend in 2010. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Jose Altuve was a Lexington Legend in 2010. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Former Lexington Legend Jose Altuve is having another banner year for the Houston Astros.   Last night (Sept. 20) he got his 200th hit of the season.   As noted by Jake Kaplan in his story in the Houston Chronicle, the Astros have had four 200-hit seasons in their 55-year history – and Altuve has three of them.  (The other was by Craig Biggio, who had 210 hits in 1998.) Altuve had a major-league-leading 225 hits in 2014 and came back with an American League best 200 last year.

At age 26, he recently collected his 1000th major league hit.  Despite a recent slump, he’s leading the American League in batting at .336, and if he goes on to win the AL batting title, it would be his second.  And he’s not just a singles hitter.  Altuve has 24 homers and 94 runs batted in this season.

With the Legends in 2010, Altuve batted .308 with 11 home runs and 45 runs batted in in 94 games before being promoted.   He stole 39 bases in 53 attempts.

On June 12, 2010, Altuve had four hits in five at bats, including two homers, and also stole a base in the Legends’ 9-8 win over Delmarva in Lexington.

Roman Collins was Lexington's Player of the Month for August 2016 (Photo=-Mary Lay

Roman Collins was Lexington’s Player of the Month for August 2016 (Photo=-Mary Lay)

Matt Ditman had a 1.88 ERA in 10 August appearances. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Matt Ditman had a 1.88 ERA in 10 August appearances. (Photo-Mary Lay)

The Lexington Legends have won three South Atlantic League awards for 2016.   The Legends’ organization was recognized as the Club Merit Award winner, Gary Durbin was named General Manager of the Year, and Anne Mapson won the Female Executive of the Year award.

Details

Honors for August:  The Kansas City Royals selected Matt Ditman and Roman Collins as Lexington’s Pitcher and Player of the Month for August.

Ditman, 24, a right-handed relief pitcher, was 1-2 with a 1.88 earned run average in 10 appearances in the month of August.  In 14 and one-third innings pitched, he allowed 14 hits, five runs, three earned, and walked four batters while striking out 14.

Collins, 22, batted .297 with 30 hits in 101 at bats in 28 August games.  Of his nine home runs on the season, five came in August.  He also drove in 13 runs.

Juan Minaya pitched for the Legends in 2010 and 2011. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Juan Minaya pitched for the Legends in 2010 and 2011. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Two more former Legends received the call to the big leagues September 1.   Right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya, a Legend in 2010 and 2011, was called up by the Chicago White Sox.   Third baseman Hunter Dozier, Kansas City’s top pick in the 2013 draft who came to Lexington for 15 games late in the season that year, was added to the Royals’ active roster.

Minaya made his major league debut September 1 with a scoreless inning against Minnesota and came back with two scoreless innings against the Twins last night (Saturday).

Minaya, 25, was designated for assignment by Houston on June 14 of this year, meaning that within 10 days, he could be traded, claimed off waivers or released.   The White Sox claimed him June 22 and assigned him to their triple-A team in Charlotte, where he had a 4-3 record and a 3.38 earned run average in 17 appearances.  He struck out 28 batters and walked 10 in 26 and two-thirds innings before his call to the White Sox.

 

Hunter Dozier batted .327 in 15 games for the Legends in 2013. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Hunter Dozier batted .327 in 15 games for the Legends in 2013. (Photo-Mary Lay)

A native of the Dominican Republic, Minaya signed with Houston as an international free agent in June of 2009.  With Lexington at age 19 in 2010, Minaya was 4-12 with a 4.79 ERA.  In 2011, he was 1-5 with an ERA of 6.90.  But despite struggling with control issues (73 walks in 127 and two-thirds innings in 2010), he showed signs of potential with 76 strikeouts in 77 innings in 2011.

The Astros sent him back to short-season baseball with Tri-City of the New York-Penn League in 2012, and when he returned to class A in 2013, the Legends had switched affiliations from Houston to Kansas City.  He pitched at Houston’s new class A affiliate, Quad Cities, in 2013, moved on to advanced-A Lancaster and double-A Corpus Christi in 2014, and to triple-A Fresno in 2015.  He was pitching for Fresno again this year before the DFA move by the Astros in June.

Dozier, also 25, was the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft after an outstanding college career at Stephen F. Austin State.  After 54 games with Idaho Falls in 2013, he was assigned to Lexington, where he had 18 hits in 55 at bats (.327) with six doubles and nine runs batted in in 15 games.

Dozier moved on to advanced-A Wilmington and double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2014 and to Northwest Arkansas again in 2015.  This year, he played in 26 games for Northwest Arkansas before moving to triple-A Omaha, where he was batting .294 with 15 homers and 54 RBI in 103 games before getting the call to the Royals.

With the callups of Minaya and Dozier, the total of former Legends who have reached the major leagues is now at 70.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legends' starter Julio Pinto allowed one hit in six innings Friday in his final start for 2016. (Photo - Mary Lay)

Legends’ starter Julio Pinto allowed one hit in six innings Friday in his final start for 2016. (Photo – Mary Lay)

Lexington starter Julio Pinto and relievers Yunior Marte and Gabe Cramer combined on a one-hit shutout as the Legends blanked the Hickory Crawdads 1-0 Friday night in Hickory.

Pinto struck out  seven batters and walked two , and allowed only a fifth inning single to Ti’Quan Forbes.

Marte retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth, and Cramer pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

The Legends scored the game’s only run in the top of the fifth inning.  Brandon Dulin led off with a single, moved to second on a one-out walk to Marten Gasparini and scored on a single by Ben Johnson.

Pinto (2-4) got the win.   Hickory starter Emerson Martinez (0-6) took the loss.

Game two of the four-game series will be played Saturday night at 7 p.m.

Pitching matchups for the remainder of the four-game series (Lexington starter listed first):

Saturday:  A.J. Puckett (1-3, 4.05) vs. Christian Torres (2-2, 1.40)

Sunday, 5 p.m.:  Nolan Watson (3-11, 7.70) vs. Luke Lanphere (2-2, 4.13)

Monday, 1 p.m.:  Gerson Garabito (2-10, 4.94) vs. Jonathan Hernandez (10-9, 4.69)

The Lexington Legends will close out their home season with a single game Tuesday night and a doubleheader Wednesday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. The brief homestand offers one last opportunity for fans to take advantage of discounts on beer, Pepsi products, hot dogs and pizza, as well as a chance to bring the dog to the ballpark one more time.  In addition, former University of Kentucky basketball Wildcat Nerlens Noel will make a special appearance Wednesday.

The Legends, class A affiliate of the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals, will take on the Augusta GreenJackets, class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

The schedule:

Tuesday, August 30:  Legends vs. Augusta , 7:05 p.m. On Tuesday night, the Legends will offer beer and Pepsi products for one dollar each, and hot dogs will sell for 25 cents each.   It’s also the final Pepsi Bark in the Park Night for 2016. A two-dollar donation at the gate for each dog will benefit the Scott County Humane Society.

Wednesday, August 31: Legends vs. Augusta, doubleheader, first game begins at 5:05 p.m. The Legends and GreenJackets will play two seven-inning games on Fan Appreciation Night. Hunt Brothers Pizza will be sold at half price.

Noel, who played for Kentucky in 2012-13 and is now with the Philadelphia 76ers, will throw a ceremonial first pitch before the start of the second game of the doubleheader.

“It’s hard to believe that the season is coming to an end,” said Legends President/CEO Andy Shea, “but we want our fans to come out for two more nights of fun at the ballpark and allow us to say thanks for their support all year long.”

Pitching matchup for Tuesday night:   Right-hander Gerson Garabito (2-9, 5.22) will start for the Legends.   Right-hander Heath Slatton (1-3, 3.00) will go for the GreenJackets.  The game can be heard on ESPN Sports Radio 1300 or on TuneIn beginning at 6:50 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Karl-Anthony Towns, captain of the winning team, hoisted the trophy as both teams gathered for a picture on the Whitaker Bank Ballpark mound following the Coach Cal Celebrity Softball Classic. (Photo-Gary Durbin)

Karl-Anthony Towns, captain of the winning team, hoisted the trophy as both teams gathered for a picture on the Whitaker Bank Ballpark mound following the Coach Cal Celebrity Softball Classic. (Photo-Gary Durbin)

The Legends welcomed University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari and a host of sports celebrities to Whitaker Bank Ballpark Sunday for the first Coach Cal Celebrity Softball Classic.

Proceeds benefited flood relief efforts in Louisiana.

“Coach Cal’s commitment to our community and to those in need is truly second to none,” said Legends President/CEO Andy Shea. “It is a true inspiration seeing everything he does for Kentucky and for those around the world who need assistance.”

The softball game represented the first time on a baseball field in years for some of the participants, as noted in Jerry Tipton’s story in the Herald-Leader and on Kentucky.com, but Karl-Anthony Towns, the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2015-16 after a standout season at UK in 2014-15, seemed right at home on the diamond.

Towns won the Home Run Derby competition, and not only did he clear the temporary softball fence with regularity, he also reached the baseball bleachers with one clout.

Watch it all on the Legends video on YouTube.  (Towns takes his first round of Home Run Derby cuts at 45:53).

Roman Collins had two hits, drove in two runs and scored two runs in the Legends 6-4 win over West Virginia Thursday night. (Photo - Mary Lay)

Roman Collins had two hits, drove in two runs and scored two runs in the Legends 6-4 win over West Virginia Thursday night. (Photo – Mary Lay)

Roman Collins and Xavier Fernandez each drove in two runs and the Lexington Legends took a 6-4 win over the West Virginia Power Thursday night in Charleston.

The Legends won despite giving up 13 walks.  The Power left 13 runners on base, and had one hit in 13 at bats with runners in scoring position.

Collins and Fernandez each had two hits for Lexington.

The Power won two out of three games in the series.

Legends’ notes, heading into the three-game weekend series against Delmarva in Salisbury, Maryland:

Among the leaders:  Second baseman D.J. Burt is tied for third in the South Atlantic League in stolen bases with 37 and fourth in runs scored with 71.

Hot in August:  With two more RBI Wednesday night at West Viriginia, Burt has driven in 15 runs in 21 games in the month of August.  For the season, he leads the Legends with 56 RBI, despite batting first or second in the lineup in all of his 116 games played.

Puckett honored by SAL:  Legends right-hander A.J. Puckett was named SAL Pitcher of the Week for August 15-21.   In his one start,  He pitched five no-hit, no-run innings in the Legends’ 8-2 win over Hagerstown  in the second game of a doubleheader August 21 in Lexington.  He struck out four batters and walked one.

Vs. Shorebirds:  Delmarva won two out of three games in a series in Lexington May 4-6.  infielder Travis Maezes hit two homers and had four RBI in the series for Lexington.

Revised rankings:  Five current Legends are included in mlb.com’s most recent listing of top 30 prospects in the Kansas City Royals’ organization.   Catcher Chase Vallot is ranked seventh; pitcher Nolan Watson is 12th;  pitcher Scott Blewett is 13th;  shortstop Marten Gasparini is 14th; and pitcher A.J. Puckett is 17th.

Tonight’s pitching matchup:  Right-hander Yunior Marte (6-7, 4.00 ERA) will go for the Legends; right-hander Ofelky Peralta (7-5, 4.12) gets the start for the Shorebirds.

A.J. Puckett was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for August 15-21.  (Photo-Mary Lay)

A.J. Puckett was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for August 15-21. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Lexington Legends right-hander A.J. Puckett has been named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for August 15-21, league President Eric Krupa announced Monday.

Puckett made one start for the Legends during that period.  He pitched five no-hit, no-run innings in the Legends’ 8-2 win over the Hagerstown Suns in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday, August 21 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.  He struck out four batters and walked one.

Video:  Puckett gets last out in fifth inning Sunday

The win was Puckett’s first as a professional.   After an outstanding college career at Pepperdine, he was chosen in the second round of the June 2016 first-year player draft by the Legends’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals.   Puckett was the first player chosen in the draft by the Royals, who did not have a first round pick in 2016.

After signing with Kansas City, Puckett made two starts with the Arizona League Royals before being moved up to Lexington July 2.

With the Legends, Puckett is 1-2 in nine starts with an earned run average of 3.09.

“It’s great to have A.J. Puckett with the Legends,” said Legends President/CEO Andy Shea.  “He’s an outstanding pitching prospect, and has been a great representative on and off the field.”

Right-hander Nolan Watson gets the start in the first game of the doubleheader Sunday. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Right-hander Nolan Watson gets the start in the first game of the doubleheader Sunday. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Let’s play two:  The Legends will play their ninth doubleheader of the season today (Sunday) as a result of a rainout Saturday night.  The first of two seven-inning games against the Hagerstown Suns will begin at 1:05 p.m.

The Legends have a 6-10 record in doubleheader games this season.

 

Pitching matchups (Lexington pitcher listed first):

Game one:  Right-hander Nolan Watson (2-10, 8.11) vs. RH Jefry Rodriguez (7-9, 4.80)

Game two:  RH A.J. Puckett (0-2, 3.49) vs.  LH Grant Borne (3-1, 2.76)

The Legends and Suns will wrap up the four-game series Monday night.  Game time is 7:05 p.m.

The Legends will go on the road for three games at West Virginia and three games at Delmarva before returning to Whitaker Bank Ballpark for the final three home games of the season against Augusta – a single game Tuesday, August 30 at 7:05, and a doubleheader Wednesday, August 31 at 5:05.

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