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.

J.D. Martinez, now with the Detroit Tigers, was the South Atlantic League MVP in 2010 as a Lexington Legend. Photo by Lexington Legends/Mary Lay

J.D. Martinez, now with the Detroit Tigers, was the South Atlantic League MVP in 2010 as a Lexington Legend.
Photo by Lexington Legends/Mary Lay

Milestones for former Legends:

J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers, a Legend in 2010 and the Most Valuable Player in the South Atlantic League that year, hit his 100th major league home run August 14.

Teoscar Hernandez, who was with the Legends for eight games in 2012, homered in  his first major league game.

August 12  after being called up by the Houston Astros.  Hernandez homered in his first at bat for the

Teoscar Hernandez homered on his first at bat as a Legend in 2012. (Photo- Mary Lay)

Teoscar Hernandez homered on his first at bat as a Legend in 2012. (Photo- Mary Lay)

Legends August 26, 2012, and also made a running catch in center field September 1 to help preserve a no-hitter by Chris Devenski, the only nine-inning no-hitter by an individual pitcher in Legends history.  Devenski  was called up to Houston earlier this year.

 

Raul Mondesi, a Legend in 2013, hit his first major league home run August 16 for the Kansas City Royals.

In 2015, he became the first player in baseball history to make his major league debut in a World Series game.

Raul Mondesi was a South Atlantic League All-Star at age 17 with the Lexington Legends in 2013. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Raul Mondesi was a South Atlantic League All-Star at age 17 with the Lexington Legends in 2013. (Photo-Mary Lay)

D.J. Burt was 4-for-4, including a grand slam, in Wednesday's game. (Photo-Mary Lay)

D.J. Burt was 4-for-4, including a grand slam, in Wednesday’s game. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Legends second baseman D.J. Burt had four hits in four at bats Wednesday, including a game-tying grand slam in the seventh inning.   Burt, who had a total of five RBI in the game, was the subject of a story by Danny Wild of milb.com.  Asheville’s Sam Hilliard hit a two-out, two-run triple in the ninth inning to break the 6-6 tie, and Tourists won the game 8-6.

Series opens in Augusta:  The Legends are on the road through Sunday for a four-game series against the South Atlantic League Southern Division leaders, the Augusta GreenJackets.   Right-hander Scott Blewett (6-11, 4.64) will start for the Legends in the opener.  Left-hander Grant Watson (3-6, 4.61) will start for Augusta.

The Legends’ next homestand will begin Tuesday night and will include a three-game series against West Virginia and four games against Hagerstown.

Scott Blewett of the Legends is the only South Atlantic League pitcher with two complete games this season.

Scott Blewett of the Legends is the only South Atlantic League pitcher with two complete games this season.

Legends notes going into Saturday night’s game against Hickory at Whitaker Bank Ballpark:

Start to finish:  RHP Scott Blewett is the only SAL pitcher with two complete games this season.   Both of the CG’s were in seven-inning games and both were against Hagerstown – a victory at Hagerstown May 28 and a loss in Lexington June 24.

Second half surge:  With three more hits last night, catcher Xavier Fernandez is hitting .350 (35 for 100) since the All-Star break with six homers and 22 runs batted in.

Vs. Crawdads:  Hickory holds a 6-3 advantage in the season series.  The Legends’ catchers are leading  the Lexington offense in the season series.  Xavier Fernandez is batting .368 (7 for 19) against the Crawdads, and Chase Vallot is at .346 (9 for 26).

The series against Hickory wraps up with Sunday afternoon game.  First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m.  The Legends will remain at home to play a four-game series against the Asheville Tourists.  There will be a doubleheader Monday night, with the first of two seven-inning games to begin at 5:35 p.m. and single games Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. and Wednesday afternoon at 12:35 p.m.

The Legends' Gerson Garabito has a 2.67 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break. (Photo - Mary Lay)

The Legends’ Gerson Garabito has a 2.67 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break. (Photo – Mary Lay)

Back from a 3-4 road trip to Charleston and Rome, the Lexington Legends are back at home through Wednesday August 10 for eight games in seven days at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

The Hickory Crawdads, an affiliate of the Texas Rangers, are in Lexington for a four-game series starting tonight (Thursday).   The Asheville Tourists, an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, will be in for four games Monday through Wednesday, including a doubleheader Monday night to make up a game that was rained out in Asheville July 6.  The Legends do not make another trip to Asheville this season, so the game will be made up in Lexington.

Pitching matchups (Lexington pitcher listed first):

Thursday, 7:05 p.m. – Gerson Garabito, 2-6, 4.53 vs. Luke Lanphen (3-3, 3.52 with Spokane of the Northwest League; making his first start for Hickory).

Garabito has shown significant improvement in the second half of the season. In six starts since the All-Star break, he is 2-2 with a 2.67 earned run average.

Friday, 7:05 p.m. –  Emilio Ogando (6-9, 3.71) vs. Joe Palumbo (6-3, 2.34)

Saturday, 6:35 p.m. –   Scott Blewett  (6-10, 4.46) vs. Jonathan Hernandez (8-8, 5.03)

Sunday, 2:05 p.m. –  Nolan Watson (2-9, 7.88) vs. Blake Bass (4-2, 2.92)

Recognized by Royals:  Left-hander Emilio Ogando and outfielder Ben Johnson have been named Lexington’s Pitcher and Player of the month for July by the Legends’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals.   For the month, Ogando had a 2-1 record with a 1.74 ERA in five appearances, including four starts.  In 31 innings pitched, he struck out 30 batters and walked six.   Johnson batted .272 for the month (22 for 81) with eight doubles, two homers and 15 runs batted in.

 

Matt Strahm struck out 38 batters in 26 innings for the Legends in 2015.

Matt Strahm, who made 14 appearances with the Legends in 2015, made his major league debut with the Kansas City Royals Sunday.

Left-hander Matt Strahm, who started the 2015 season with the Lexington Legends, made his major league debut with the Kansas City Royals Sunday.  He recorded one out and gave up a hit and a run in a relief appearance against the Texas Rangers.  In a story in the Kansas City Star, Royals manager Ned Yost said he thought Strahm “threw the ball well.”

Strahm spent some time with the big league team in spring training this year.   After he was sent back to minor league camp, which had been expected, he recalled the opening of the 2015 season, when he was continuing his comeback after being sidelined for all of 2013 and most of 2014 due to elbow surgery.

Strahm made 14 appearances for Lexington in 2015.  He was 2-1 with a 2.08 earned run average and struck out 38 batters in 26 innings.

Strahm becomes the 67th former Legend to play in the major leagues.

 

Emilio Ogando had a 1.74 ERA in the month of July. (Photo-Mary Lay)

Emilio Ogando had a 1.74 ERA in the month of July. (Photo-Mary Lay)

On to Rome:  The Legends’ road trip continues tonight (Monday) in Rome with the opener of a three-game series against the Braves.

Pitching matchups (Lexington pitcher listed first):

Monday, 7 p.m. – Nolan Watson (2-9, 8.11 ERA) vs. Touki Toussaint (3-7, 4.32).

Tuesday, 7 p.m.  – A.J. Puckett (0-1, 263) vs. Kolby Allard (0-3, 6.26)

Wednesday, 1 p.m. – Glenn Sparkman (0-1, 8.64) vs. Patrick Weigel (7-4, 2.77)

The Legends will begin a seven-game homestand Thursday night with the opener of a four-game series against Hickory.  Asheville will be in town for a doubleheader Monday night August 8 and single games Tuesday, August 9 and Wednesday, August 10.  2016 schedule

July numbers:  Left-hander Emilio Ogando had a 2-1 record in five July appearances, including four starts.  His earned run average for the month was 1.74, and in 31 innings pitched, he struck out 30 batters and walked six.  In his last start, he worked six and two-thirds innings Saturday night at Charleston and allowed just one hit.  Mack Burke wrote about Ogando’s performance in a story on MiLB.com.

First baseman Brandon Dulin batted an even .300 (30 for 100) in July.  Catcher Xavier Fernandez hit .297 (19 for 64) with two homers and 10 runs batted in, and second baseman D.J. Burt stole 10 bases in 11 attempts.  Burt is fourth in the South Atlantic League with 32 steals for the season.

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