baseball Edit

Four Cats selected after first 10 rounds of MLB Draft

Gold Glove shortstop Ryan Ritter was selected in the fourth round by the Colorado Rockies.
Gold Glove shortstop Ryan Ritter was selected in the fourth round by the Colorado Rockies. (Jeff Drummond/Cats Illustrated)

Four Kentucky baseball players and one of the Wildcats' signees have been selected through the first 10 rounds of this year's MLB Draft.

Shortstop Ryan Ritter was selected in the fourth round with the No. 116 pick overall by the Colorado Rockies. The other Wildcats selected on Monday included right-handed pitchers Tyler Guilfoil (8th round, Houston) and Sean Harney (8th, Tampa Bay), as well as infielder Chase Estep (9th, New York Mets).

Kentucky now has had 29 total draft picks under head coach Nick Mingione and his staff since 2017, including 19 in the top 10 rounds.

Ritter, a junior from Chicago, became the sixth UK player to win the prestigious Rawlings Gold Glove Award this season as the nation's top defensive shortstop. In his two years with the Cats, he batted .280 with 64 runs scored, 19 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, and 56 RBI. He was also 23-for-23 on stolen base attempts.

Guilfoil, a Lexington native, turned in arguably the best season in history by a Kentucky reliever. The junior right-hander had a 1.59 earned run average and six saves in 51.0 innings while striking out 14 batters per nine innings and holding opposing hitters to a .156 batting average. He had an even lower ERA (1.34) in 40.1 SEC innings.

Harney, a senior right-hander from Natick, Mass., led the team in wins in 2022 with five, a season after he had three wins and six saves. He went 5-4 with a 2.62 ERA and two saves in 65.1 innings pitched over 16 appearances (five starts). He was brilliant in his elimination game start in the SEC Tournament, a victory over No. 20 Auburn. He pitched seven shutout innings as UK became the first 12-seed to win a game at the SEC Tournament.

Estep, a Corbin, Ky., native, exploded on the scene this season. The junior utility player earned SEC and National Player of the Week honors, was voted Second-Team All-Midwest District by the ABCA and Rawlings and was invited the MLB Combine before the draft. He batted .302 with 57 runs, 17 doubles, 13 home runs, 49 RBI and stole 16 of 20 bases. He had 18 multi-hit games and reached safely in 54 of 59 games.

Signee Tommy Specht was selected in the sixth round by the Texas Rangers and now must decide whether to gin a professional contract or fulfill his commitment to UK.