Kentucky Wildcats Baseball Season Opens on February 13


Earlier this week UK Baseball hosted their annual preseason media day prior to the opening of the Kentucky Wildcats baseball season on February 13.

The Wildcats will be without mainstays AJ Reed, Austin Cousino, and Chandler Shepherd this season as all three went pro after the 2014 season following the 2014 MLB Draft. Junior right-handed pitcher Kyle Cody was named to the third-team preseason All-America selection by Baseball America. With the Wisconsin native being honored, it marks the third consecutive season in which a member of the UK Baseball team was honored with a preseason All-America selection. Cody was previously honored by Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball with preseason honors in December.

“That was big for me,” Cody said of his Cape Cod League experience this summer. “Having a really good summer gave me a lot of confidence coming back here. It was just a really cool experience for me. I got a lot of exposure over the summer and that was really cool and just gave me a lot confidence.”

The home opener won’t take place until February 25 when the Cats host Morehead State. In the meantime, the team will open against Ball State in Wilmington, N.C. next Friday. After three games in North Carolina, the Cats travel across the country for four games in California.

Coach Gary Henderson addressed the big elephant in the room on media in how the team replaces Reed, who was drafted by the Houston Astros.

“Well I am not sure that you are going to replace AJ with one guy,” Henderson said. “And clearly we are going to have a different team offensively. You know we were old and strong last year. We had several kids who were physical. We will have a different club and you can win a lot of different ways in baseball which is one of the great things about it. But I think it is pretty safe to say that we are not going to lead the league in home runs or have the home run leader in the program this year and that’s fine. But you figure out somebody else who could just as effective on Friday nights as AJ was. That’s always a hard task in our league for everybody but we’ve got several talented kids to do that and then obviously we’re not going to have the same power. Evan White is a very good player and is going to play first base well. Last year we had a combination mostly of Thomas and AJ at first base. And Evan is going to be equal to what they were able to do defensively and then he’ll take the same path of growth that you need to take offensively. Offensively in our league it is a tough road for freshman but he will do well. Some ups and downs but he’ll grow as the season goes and by April he’ll be a legitimate threat. But you don’t replace AJ with one guy. The last time I had a guy like that was 98. And I’ve have more than most so that’s a tough one.”

Henderson wasn’t the only one talking about the team replacing Reed.

“For that I feel like we have done a good job of replacing that aspect,” senior infielder/catcher Thomas Bernal said about replacing the leadership that AJ Reed brought to the team. “I’m not talking about hitting home runs; you can’t replace a guy that hit 23 home runs, and a guy that had great leadership and work ethic. But we have done a good job replacing that aspect.”