Jacob Bodner had a 2-0 record with three saves for the Lexington Legends in 2016. (Photo by Mary Lay)

Jacob Bodner greeted young fans at the Legends’ caravan stop in his hometown of Danville, Ky.

Danville native Jacob Bodner, who pitched for the Lexington Legends in 2016, is more than ready for baseball in 2017.

The unusually warm weather through the winter months has helped, but even more important is having a full year of experience as a professional, including his first spring training in 2016.

“Just being able to get outside and throw – that alone can give you the itch, but having the full off-season and knowing what to expect makes you want to get back out there,” said Bodner, who was a special guest at the Legends’ recent pre-season caravan stop in Danville.  “Last year, I didn’t know what to expect going into spring training.  I was a little more nervous, but this year I’m ready to go.”

Bodner pitched for Boyle County High School before moving on to Xavier University.  He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 27th round of the June 2015 draft.  In his first professional assignment, he was 2-0 with an 0.77 earned run average in 16 appearances with rookie-level Burlington of the Appalachian League in 2015.

Assigned to class A Lexington for the start of the 2016 season, Bodner recorded a save on opening night.  In all, he made seven appearances with the Legends and had a 2-0 record with three saves before being promoted May 16 to advanced-A Wilmington of the Carolina League.

He hit a rough period there, but recovered.

“There was about a three-week stretch where I was getting hit around a little bit, and control-wise, I wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Bodner said.   “Hitters were able to capitalize on that.  In rookie ball and sometimes in A ball, I might have gotten away with a hit or two, but in high-A, I was giving up a couple of runs.”

He credits his pitching coach at Wilmington, Charlie Corbell, for helping him get back on track for a strong finish.  In August, the final full month of the season, he made seven appearances and had a 1.74 ERA.

With his second spring training approaching, he’s feeling a different kind of nervous energy.

“I have those ‘pre-game jitters,’” he said.  “But I’m ready to get on the mound and throw.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob Bodner had a 2-0 record with three saves for the Lexington Legends in 2016. (Photo by Mary Lay)

Pitcher Jacob Bodner, a Boyle County graduate and a former Lexington Legend, will be a special guest at the Legends annual pre-season caravan stop in Danville Monday, February 13.

Bodner, who pitched in college at Xavier University before being drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2015, was 2-0 with three saves in seven appearances for the Legends in 2016.  He was promoted to advanced-A Wilmington of the Carolina League May 16.

Bodner and Legends representatives will be at Mallard’s Restaurant, 1001 Ben Ali Drive Suite 3, Monday from 4:30 p.m. to  6 p.m., and fans are invited to stop by and register for items to be given away, including autographed Royals’ memorabilia and Legends tickets.   Bodner will be available for pictures and autographs, as will the Legends’ Big L.   Joe Mathis of Z-105 will broadcast live from Mallard’s,  and fans are also encouraged to interact through social media.

The Legends open their 2017 home season Thursday, April 13 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark when they take on the West Virginia Power, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Game time is 7:05 p.m.

For ticket information, visit www.lexingtonlegends.com or call (859) 422-7867.

 

Mauricio Ramos, who played third base for the Legends in 2014, is on the Colombia roster for the World Baseball Classic. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, a two-time American League batting champion and a 2010 Lexington Legend, and right-handed pitcher Gabe Cramer, who was with the Legends in 2016, are among eight former Legends players who are on rosters for the World Baseball Classic. Rosters were released Wednesday night.

Sixteen teams will compete for the WBC championship. Pool play begins March 6, and the championship game is set for March 22 at Dodger Stadium.

The former Legends on WBC rosters include:

Colombia – Right-handed pitcher Dayan Diaz, who led the Legends with 19 saves in 2012, and pitched in the majors for Cincinnati in 2016; and infielder Mauricio Ramos, who hit nine homers and drove in 54 runs for the Legends in 2014.   Ramos played for double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2016.

Israel –  Cramer, who was 3-2 with 57 strikeouts in 43 and one-third innings with the Legends in 2016; and left-hander Jake Kalish, who had a 2.38 earned run average in five appearances with the Legends in 2016 before being promoted to advanced-A Wilmington of the Carolina League.

Mexico –Left-handed pitcher Fernando Abad, who has pitched with five major league teams and is currently with the Boston Red Sox. Abad struck out 94 batters in 78 innings with the Legends in 2008.

Puerto Rico – infielder-outfielder Enrique Hernandez, who is currently with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played in 62 games for the Legends in 2011, with two homers and 17 runs batted in.

                VenezuelaAltuve, who batted .308 with 11 homers and 45 runs batted in for the Legends in 2010 and reached the majors the next year; and right-handed pitcher Arcenio Leon, who pitched for Lexington in 2009 and 2010 and had a record of 8-6 in 67 appearances over those two seasons. Leon signed a free agent contract with Detroit Tigers in October of 2016.

“This is a great indicator of the diverse backgrounds of Legends players,” said Jesse Scaglion, Legends’ director of corporate sales and a follower of the WBC. “Congratulations to all the former Legends who will be in the World Baseball Classic. We enjoyed watching them play for the Legends, and it will be fun to follow their progress.”

 

###

New Legends manager Scott Thorman was the manager at Burlington of the Appalachian League for the past two seasons.  The Appalachian League is a short-season league, with a 70-game season that begins in late June.   For many players, it’s the first stop in their professional career after being selected and signed in the first-year player draft, which is

New Legends manager Scott Thorman played for the Atlanta Braves in 2006 and 2007.

held each year in early June.   Others begin in the Gulf Coast League in Florida or the Arizona League before moving up to the Appalachian League.  In the low minors, both life experience and baseball experience can vary widely.

“That’s one of the biggest challenges at that level,” Thorman said in a recent interview after being named Legends manager for 2017.  “In rookie ball you have players with a wide range of backgrounds from all over the world.  You have players that have been in pro ball for two or three years coming up from Florida or Arizona leagues, and then you have guys with college degrees who are coming to their first year of pro ball.  Sometimes the only thing these kids have in common is baseball.”

A manager and his coaches work with the players at getting better on the field, but that involves more than just baseball fundamentals.

“You try to bring them together and get them playing well, but you also want them to learn how to be a professional,” Thorman said.  “They have to learn how to take care of their bodies and how to play the game at a professional level, where everything speeds up.”

Every different level is another adjustment, he says.  Most Legends players are in their first year of full-season (140–game schedule) minor league baseball.

“It’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint, so that will be a bit of an adjustment for me,” Thorman said.  “I also played in the South Atlantic League for Macon in 2002.  I do have an appreciation for the league and the travel, and for the first season of full-season baseball.”

Meet the manager on Inside Scoop

New Legends manager Scott Thorman will be a guest on the Inside Scoop show Sunday at noon on ESPN Sports Radio 1300, WLXG-AM and wlxg.com.

Scott Thorman is the new Legends manager. (Waterloo Region-Record/Burlington Royals)

Caravan starts Monday

The Legends annual pre-season caravan gets rolling next week with stops in Lexington, Cynthiana and Mt. Sterling.

At each stop, fans are invited to visit.  The Legends will have items to give away, including tickets to a home game.  The Legends’ Big L or Pee Wee will be available for photographs, and live radio broadcasts will originate from each location.

               Monday, January 30 – Lexington   5 p.m.- 7 p.m.  Raising Cane’s, 2555 Nicholasville Road, Lexington.  Former major league pitcher Jeff Parrett will join the caravan for this stop.  ESPN SportsRadio 1300, WLXG-AM, will broadcast live.

               Thursday, February 2 – Cynthiana  8-9 a.m. Biancke’s Restaurant, 102 S. Main Street, Cynthiana.  Legends’ staffers will be guests on the Coffee Break program on WCYN-AM.

                Friday, February 3 – Mt. Sterling  10:30 a.m. – noon, McDonald’s, 642 Northview Drive, Mt. Sterling.  Live radio coverage will be provided by WMST, Mt. Sterling.

Other stops later include Richmond, February 8; Campbellsville and Columbia, February 9; Jackson, February 15; London, February 16; and Maysville, February 20; and more will be added.

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Edwards, a native of Gilbertsville, Kentucky and a 2014 Legend, is among Kansas City’s top pitching prospects. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Kentuckian and former Lexington Legend Andrew Edwards is moving ever closer to making his major league debut.   A right-handed relief pitcher, Edwards, a native of Gilbertsville who pitched for Western Kentucky University, was with the Legends in 2014.  He was 3-5 with one save in 22 appearances with Lexington, including six starts, and has continued to make progress through the Kansas City Royals system.   He is now on the Royals 40-man roster after spending most of 2016 at triple-A Omaha.

With spring training approaching, Edwards is rated at number 21 in MLB.com’s list of top 30 Royals prospects.  The comments there note that his fastball regularly hits 94-96 mph after sitting at 91-93 during the 2015 season.

Edwards was selected by Kansas City in the 19th round of the 2013 first-year player draft.  After pitching in 2013 for Burlington of the Appalachian League and Wilmington of the Carolina League, Edwards began the 2014 season with the Legends, working in the same ballpark where, five years earlier, he had taken the mound for Marshall County in the state high school baseball tournament.

Royals pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training in Surprise, Arizona on February 14.

Scott Thorman, who was the manager at Burlington of the Appalachian League for the last two seasons, will be the manager of the Lexington Legends in 2017. (Photo: Waterloo Region-Record/Burlington Royals)

Scott Thorman will be the manager of the Lexington Legends in 2017.   He’ll be joined in Lexington by bench coach Glenn Hubbard, pitching coach Mitch Stetter,  hitting coach Jesus Azuaje, athletic trainer Saburo Hagihara and strength and conditioning coach Jon Ervin.   Thorman, Azuaje, Hagihara and Ervin are all new to the Legends.   Stetter returns for his second season, and Hubbard will be in his fourth season with Lexington.

Field staff appointments were announced Tuesday (Jan. 10) by the Legends’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals.  Full story

Xavier Fernandez threw out 44 runners attempting to steal in 2016.

Chase Vallot and Xavier Fernandez, who handled most of the catching duties for the Lexington Legends in 2016, are among 22 non-roster invitees to major league spring training with the Kansas City Royals.  In all, nine former Legends are in the non-roster invitee group that will report to Surprise, Arizona in February, along with players on the Royals’ 40-man roster.  The 40-man roster includes 15 more former Legends.  The Legends are entering their fifth year as a Royals’ class A affiliate.

Vallot, 20, was chosen by the Royals in the Competitive Balance Round of the 2014 first-year player draft, and was the 40th overall choice in the draft.   After hitting 13 home runs with 44 runs batted in in 80 games with the Legends in 2015, he returned to Lexington in 2016 and hit 13 homers with 40 RBI in 82 games overall.  He was behind the plate for 53 games in 2016. Vallot was chosen to be the starting catcher for the Southern Division in the South Atlantic League All-Star game, but was unable to play due to injuries suffered when he was struck in the face by a pitch on June 14.   He was sidelined until July 20.

 Vallot’s walk-off HR Aug. 8

Fernandez, 21, caught in 71 games for the Legends last season and appeared in 92 games in all.  He hit nine homers and drove in 42 runs.  Fernandez threw out 44 runners attempting to steal, the third best total in the league.

Fernandez’ sliding catch

 

“Chase and Xavier both had excellent years for the Legends in 2016,” said Legends President/CEO Andy Shea.  “It’s great that they’ll get an opportunity to work with the major league players in spring training.  With each passing year, we’re seeing more former Legends moving up the ladder in the Royals’ organization, and that’s always exciting.”

 

Catcher Chase Vallot is ranked sixth among Kansas City Royals prospects by mlb.com. (Photo – Mary Lay)

Other former Legends among the non-roster invitees are pitchers Luke Farrell (a Legend in 2014) Eric Stout (2014) and A.J. Puckett (2016), first baseman Ryan O’Hearn (2015), infielders Corey Toups (2015) and Humberto Arteaga (2013,’14, ’15), and outfielder Alfredo Escalera (2014, ’15).

Former Legends on the Royals’ 40-man roster include pitchers Scott Alexander (2013), Miguel Almonte (2013), Andrew Edwards (2014), Jake Junis (2014), Kevin McCarthy (2014, ’15), Alec Mills (2013-14), Matt Strahm (2015) and Kyle Zimmer (2015);  catcher Cam Gallagher (2013); infielders Hunter Dozier (2013), Raul Mondesi (2013) and Ramon Torres (2013, ’14);  and outfielders Samir Duenez (2014, ’15, ’16) Terrance Gore (2013), and Bubba Starling (2013).

 

 

 

 

Brandon Barnes played for the Legends in 2008 and 2009.

Two former Lexington Legends will be with new organizations when spring training opens next month.

Veteran major league outfielder Brandon Barnes, who was with the Legends in 2008 and 2009, signed a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins in December.  The agreement includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Right-handed pitcher Sam Lewis, who pitched for the Legends in 2016, was traded January 3 by the Legends’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals, to the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Peter O’Brien.

Barnes was a sixth round pick of the Houston Astros in 2005.  In 2008, he played in 87 games for the Legends, then a Houston affiliate, and batted .241 with two homers and 19 runs batted in.  He returned to Lexington in 2009 and played in 57 games and batted .264 with five homers and 25 RBI before being promoted to advanced-A Lancaster.   He reached the majors with Houston in 2012 and was with the Astros through 2013 before being traded along with pitcher Jordan Lyles, a former Lexington teammate, to the Colorado Rockies.  Barnes was released by the Rockies in September  2016.

Barnes is known as an outstanding defensive outfielder, and his catches have been frequently featured in MLB highlights, such as this one from June 24, 2014.

Lewis signed with the Royals as a non-drafted free agent in August 2012.   After pitching for Idaho Falls in 2012, Burlington in 2013 and Idaho Falls again in 2014, he missed the entire 2015 season due to elbow surgery.  He joined the Legends June 27, 2016, and in 12 relief appearances, had a 1-1 record with an earned run average of 1.11. In 24 and one-third innings, he struck out 24 batters and allowed just 15 hits.  He was promoted to advanced-A Wilmington August 16.

 

Brian Buchanan, who managed the Legends in 2013 and 2014, will be on the Kansas City Royals' major league staff in 2017.  (Photo-Mary Lay)

Brian Buchanan, who managed the Legends in 2013 and 2014, will be on the Kansas City Royals’ major league staff in 2017. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Former Lexington Legends manager Brian Buchanan will join the major league coaching staff of the Kansas City Royals in 2017.  The Royals announced today (Dec. 19) that Buchanan has been named assistant hitting coach for the major league team.

Buchanan served as the Lexington manager in 2013 and 2014.

He joined the Royals’ minor league coaching ranks in 2010.  He was the manager at Idaho Falls of the Pioneer League in 2010 and 2011 and at Kane County of the class A Midwest League in 2012.  The Legends, who are in the South Atlantic League, became the Royals’ class A affiliate after the 2012 season.

Buchanan moved on from Lexington to manage the advanced-A Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League in 2015, and was the hitting coach at double-A Northwest Arkansas of the Texas League in 2016.

Buchanan, an All-American at the University of Virginia, was selected by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 1994 first-year player draft and played in the major leagues with Minnesota (2000-02), San Diego (2002-04) and the New York Mets (2004).

 

« Older entries