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  • Kentucky Tops 2018 MLB Draft with School-Record 13 Selections


    The program’s 21 draftees the past two years are the most of any school in nation

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Seven Kentucky players were selected on the final day of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft, bringing the three-day total to 13, the most of any program in the country. The Wildcats also have the most total picks the past two seasons with 21 draftees.

    The 2018 total set a new program-record for most draftees in a single year, shattering the previous mark of nine. Coupled with eight in 2017 the program has two more than any other school in the past two drafts. Additionally, UK now has had 12 players drafted in the first 10 rounds over the past two seasons, which also ranks as the highest total in the country.

    The Wildcats drafted included: RHP Sean Hjelle (2nd round, San Francisco), OF Tristan Pompey (3rd, Miami), C/1B Kole Cottam (4th, Boston), RHP Zach Haake (6th, Kansas City), INF/OF Luke Heyer (8th, LA Dodgers), 2B Luke Becker (9th, San Diego), RHP Justin Lewis (12th, Arizona), SS Trey Dawson (15th, Houston), RHP Chris Machamer (16th, Boston), C Troy Squires (23rd, Toronto), OF Ben Aklinski (32nd, Philadelphia), RHP Alec Maley (32nd, Washington) and LHP Andrew Miller (40th, Miami).

    The Cats taken on Wednesday were:

    JUSTIN LEWIS (Arizona Diamondbacks; 12th Round, No. 369)

    A fourth-year junior with degree in hand, Lewis was selected in the 12th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. This was the third time Lewis has been drafted, having gone in the 19th round of the 2014 draft (San Diego) and the 11th round of the 2017 draft (Tampa Bay).

    The 6-foot-7, 205-pounder from Suwanee, Georgia, had a tremendous career in Lexington, capped by a 2018 season that was better than his raw statistical numbers suggest. Lewis went 7-3 in 12 starts with a 4.33 earned run average in 72.2 innings. He struck out a career-high 92 hitters for 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings and allowed just 63 hits.

    During a five-start stretch in SEC play, Lewis was a virtuoso in going 4-0 with a 1.42 earned run average in 31.2 innings. More importantly, he was a stabilizing force in the final game of SEC series, as UK has won all five of those games to either win a series or avoid being swept.

    For his career, Lewis went 15-7 in 50 appearances (28 starts) with a 3.62 ERA and four saves. He struck out 189 hitters in 194.0 innings and ranks seventh on UK’s career hits per nine innings allowed chart (7.65) and ninth in career winning percentage (.682). Opposing batters hit just .227 off him during his career.

    TREY DAWSON (Houston Astros; 15th Round, No. 462)

    Human highlight reel Trey Dawson grabbed the Houston Astros’ attention and became the defending World Series champion’s 15th round selection. Dawson had previously been drafted out of high school in the 32nd round of the 2014 draft by the Detroit Tigers.

    The 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior from Hurricane, West Virginia, started 55 of the Cats’ 56 games at shortstop and was a consistent threat at the bottom of the batting order while also proving to be a premier defender. He batted .280 for the season with 42 runs, nine doubles, one triple, three home runs, 19 RBI, 39 walks, seven steals and an on-base percentage of .416. He was even better in SEC play, batting .316 with an OPS of .858.

    CHRIS MACHAMER (Boston Red Sox; 16th Round, No. 490)

    Sophomore right-hander Chris Machamer, who was eligible for the draft based on the age requirements, was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 16th round, joining teammate Kole Cottam as part of the storied franchise’s draft class.

    The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder from North Canton, Ohio, had an excellent season as the Cats’ closer, piling up 10 saves in 23 appearances while also going 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 35.1 innings. The 10 saves rank third on UK’s single-season saves list, just two shy of the school record. For his career, Machamer is 4-1 with 11 saves and a 3.12 ERA in 47 appearances. He is sixth on the UK career saves list and has held opponents to a miniscule .191 batting average.

    TROY SQUIRES (Toronto Blue Jays; 23rd Round, No. 686)

    A testament to commitment and hard work, Squires was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 23rd round after arriving at UK as a high school catcher turned walk-on bullpen catcher. He will leave ranking third in career sacrifices (35), ninth in career hit by pitch (30) and with both the fourth and fifth-best single-season sacrifices marks (14, 2018 and 13, 2017).

    Squires, a 5-foot-11, 200-pounder from Elizabethtown, Ky., earlier this season was named National and SEC Player of the Week for his performance in a career week that culminated in a series win over No. 3 Texas Tech. He also was a Second-Team All-SEC selection on 2017, his first as a full-time starter.

    Squires recently was inducted into Kentucky Athletics’ Frank G. Ham Society of Character, which honors Wildcats who have shown an extraordinary commitment to academic excellence, athletic participation, personal development, career preparation and serving as a role model and is one of 10 finalists for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award.

    For his career, Squires hit .264 with 73 runs, 25 doubles, six home runs, 88 RBI, 52 walks and eight stolen bases in 154 games.

    BEN AKLINSKI (Philadelphia Phillies; 32nd Round, No. 947)

    Centerfielder Ben Aklinski was selected in the 32nd round by the Philadelphia Phillies, the fourth transfer from a junior college to be selected off the Wildcats’ roster this year. Aklinski is renowned for his defense, having won a Gold Glove at Phoenix (Az.) College in 2017 before not making an error in 152 chances this season.

    The 5-foot-11, 210-pound junior from Phoenix had a terrific season, hitting .304 while starting all 56 games in centerfield for the Cats. He scored 39 runs, had 65 total hits, 10 doubles, one triple and six home runs with 42 RBI, 30 walks and six stolen bases.

    ALEC MALEY (Washington Nationals; 32nd Round, No. 971)

    Right-handed reliever Alec Maley was drafted by Washington in the 32nd round after a two-year career at UK where he flashed plus velocity and pitched in a variety of situations. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior from Round Rock, Texas went 1-0 in 32 career relief appearances, striking out 24 in 28.1 innings. He also was lights out with the Baltimore Redbirds of the Cal Ripken Summer League in 2017 where he was named an all-star after going 1-0 with two saves and a 1.42 ERA in 13 appearances.

    ANDREW MILLER (Miami Marlins; 40th Round, No. 1197)

    Left-hander Andrew Miller sat out the 2018 season as a transfer from Maryland but was sensational for the Terrapins in 2017, posting a 1.96 ERA and three saves in 20 appearances. He allowed just nine hits in 18.1 inning and struck out 17. He is slated to pitch for the Chatham Anglers in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      My thoughts (from a pretty simple guy).

      1. I've been happy with Kentucky baseball talent for years. We've managed to get solid players capable of playing with the best.

      2. Some of the players have been developed through the program to the point where they weren't considered professional talent, but became such through the program. That's a credit to UK.

      3. We have other good talent remaining and coming. Unfortunately, pitching dominates success (usually) and losing Hjelle, Lewis, Haake and Machamer (assuming we do--as I expect we will) may be a hit. Then again, there are other players on the roster and coming up that are supposed to be as good or better, such as Ben Jordan from OLIVE HILL (that time I got it right), the kid that transferred in from Maryland, and perhaps our most talented pitcher on the roster this year, Zach Thompson, who is currently 2nd all-time in fewest hits allowed per 9 innings among all Kentucky pitchers FOREVER. That's an amazing stat, and he has a possibility of lowering it next year as a junior.

      4. Nick Mingione has to develop a better system for his pitchers. Maybe we didn't have the depth, maybe we did, but we cannot afford to lose a player, and have it be an automatic-loss when his slot comes around. After Thompson went down, we lost 7 straight starts that his replacement made. Want to know why we had a 13-17 record? Heck, we go 2-5 in that slot when he goes down, and we're 15-15, and may be hosting a regional.

      5. I am still a bit concerned about recruiting. While I know we have some good talent coming in, I was a bit surprised they weren't getting bites in the MLB draft. Justin Lewis was drafted 3 times. I really wanted to see our high school recruits drafted after the 20th round, so that they could see they could improve their stock by going to college, but obviously possession possible professional talent. That didn't happen.

      6. On the other hand, our 2017 recruiting class was ranked # 9 nationally by Baseball America, and # 7 by Perfect Game. We signed 16 high school All-Americans in that class, and nine JUCOs (8 of the JUCOs were ranked among the top 150 JUCOs in the nation). Kentucky probably had the # 1 JUCO recruiting class in the nation; I can't imagine anyone having anything better. A lot of those players will remain for next year, although we relied on several in this year's class already, and some were drafted.

      7. I haven't focused on next year's team yet and the roster. We had 39 players on the roster this year; losing several quality players will hurt, but won't necessarily be devastating, if we can replace the pitching. Again, I haven't really focused on next year yet; I do not recall our recruiting class this year being stellar, and I actually took a quick look and couldn't find a news release on the 2018 signing class.