BOZICH: Which Cards, Wildcats Are Closest To Big Leagues? - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: Which Cards, Wildcats Are Closest To Big Leagues?

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Four seasons into his pro career, former Card third baseman Chris Dominguez is hitting close to .300 for the Giants' top farm club. Four seasons into his pro career, former Card third baseman Chris Dominguez is hitting close to .300 for the Giants' top farm club.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Indiana University catcher Josh Phegley makes his move to the major leagues Friday, joining the Chicago White Sox.

That sent me to a minor league baseball web site to answer this question:

Who are the former University of Louisville and Kentucky baseball players closest to making their major-league debuts? Each program has sent a string of players into professional baseball over the last decade, several as high draft picks.

I made a list of five guys from each school. I did not include players who have already been promoted to the major leagues and then returned to the minors – like Trystan Magnuson of U of L or Chris Rusin of Kentucky.

Here goes:

                                 LOUISVILLE

1. Chris Dominguez, third base/outfield, Giants, Class AAA Pacific Coast League – The Giants aren't sure what to think about Dominguez, a guy they drafted in the third round four years ago. He still hasn't been moved to the 40-man roster, which means the Giants would have to do some shuffling to promote him.

Dominguez, 26, started at third base, moved to the outfield and now he's back at third base, where his big-league progress is blocked by Pablo Sandoval. That's a problem but he could be packaged in a trade. His batting average is up to a career high .295, but the Giants would like more than 24 extra base hits in about 280 plate appearances from a power position.

2. Adam Duvall, third base, Giants, Class AA, Eastern League – Duvall started the season atop my list after his strong 2012 performance, but an injury cost him about a month of time this spring. He hasn't had an easy time.

He's delivered 24 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs in 201 at bats, but needs to upgrade his on-base percentage from .321. He's also blocked by Sandoval. A trade could help him, too.

3. Neil Holland, pitcher, Nationals, Class AA, Eastern League – Looking for a sleeper pick? Here is your guy. The Nationals could use a bullpen arm for the stretch run – and Holland has 41 strikeouts with only 11 walks in 32 innings. He's just 24. I like his chances.

4. Tony Zych, pitcher, Cubs, Class AA, Southern League – Considering he was drafted in the fourth round two years ago and the Cubs are desperate for pitching, Zych should be higher on his list. His fastball soars into the high 90s.

But the Cubs are using him in middle relief, which is not a great sign for a minor-league pitcher. His strikeout-to-walk ratio 26/17 in 24 1/3 innings needs work. Zych won't be 23 until next month, and as a high draft pick he's got time to develop.

5. Justin Amlung, pitcher, Cubs, Class A Midwest League – He's split his six decisions and is allowing less than one hit per inning. But his earned run average (4.57) is high, and Amlung needs to cut on back his walks because he's not a high strikeout pitcher.

                          KENTUCKY

1. James Paxton, pitcher, Mariners, Class AAA, Pacific Coast League – The Mariners are waiting for Paxton to deliver one prolonged dominating stretch so they can summon him to Safeco field.  Seattle gave him a $942,500 bonus when Paxton signed two years ago.

He's a powerful left-handed starter, who averages more than a strikeout per inning, but is still working on his control. When that comes, look for Paxton to join the Mariners' rotation. Seattle expects him to fill the second spot in the rotation after Felix Hernandez one day soon.

2. Alex Meyer, pitcher, Twins, Class AA, Eastern League – Meyer has not pitched because of shoulder soreness since June 1, but his MRI was clean and he's in Florida preparing for his return.

He's shown the ability that convinced the Nationals to draft him in the first round two years ago, striking out 73 in 61 innings. He just needs more time and polish.

3.  Logan Darnell, pitcher, Twins, Class AAA, International League – Darnell made the jump from Class AA ball to Rochester last month, so he's only a step away. He's a minor-league starter who will probably work out of the bullpen in the major leagues because his strikeout numbers are below average.

4. Andrew Albers, pitcher, Twins, Class AAA International League – Albers has been knocking around the minor leagues since 2008, surviving Tommy John elbow surgery and an organization change from the Padres

He'll be 28 in October, but Albers is pitching the best baseball of his career, striking out 86 in 99 innings while winning eight of his first 11 decisions. The Twins could use another pitcher.

5. Taylor Rogers, pitcher, Twins, Class A, Florida State League – Anybody else believe the Twins like pitchers from UK? Rogers has won seven of nine decisions since his promotion to high-A ball early in the spring.

He's a lefty so he'll get a long look – and will probably need one because he's only averaging one strikeout every two innings. 

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