Rogers leads top-15 recruiting class for Bat Cats



A coach at a summer baseball tournament in Florida for recruiting happens to meander through the ranks of countless pitchers throwing bullpen sessions.

But then the coach stumbles across a certain pitcher who strikes his eye. The coach watches, his presence unknown to the hurler on the mound. He looks. He judges.

After watching 15 pitches, he acts. He decides to arrange a visit with the player. Maybe he could end up being a scholarship player. Maybe he could be something special.

It was a moment like this that played out in UK’s recruitment of freshman pitcher Taylor Rogers. And it’s moments like these that allowed UK head coach Gary Henderson to bring in his second top-15 recruiting class in as many years at the helm of the program.

“There’s a lot of talent in this class, especially on the pitching staff,” junior second baseman Chris Bisson said. “Coach Henderson, Coach (Brad) Bohanon, they do a good job of bringing in great kids. It means our program is growing and becoming more known.”

The 2010 class is loaded with young, talented arms. Rogers, a 37th-round draft choice of the Baltimore Orioles, was ranked as a top-10 prospect in the nation in the incoming freshman class by Baseball America.

Rogers is joined on the pitching staff by freshman Jordan Cooper, the top-ranked pitcher from Tennessee. He was chosen in the 17th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both are expected to factor into the rotation this year.

“It’s easier to get that freshman pitcher time,” Henderson said. “What you hope is by giving them opportunities, they grow from it and get better.”

Rogers and Cooper are joined in the recruiting class by catcher Luke Maile, the top recruit in Kentucky, and shortstop Taylor Black, a junior-college transfer who made his first start Feb. 19 in the Cats’ season opener against Virginia Tech in the Caravelle Resort Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. As for how much of an immediate impact the class as a whole can have, that’s anyone’s guess, Henderson said.

The players are just as unsure of the coach. Rogers said he hasn’t gotten any indication of exactly how much playing time he will see. Maile sees himself in a similar situation.­

“The coaches keep it vague,” he said. “They haven’t given me any promises, nothing is in stone. They just tell me to be ready. But it’s a good thing. It keeps competition open.”

Henderson has earned a reputation for being a top recruiter with two straight stellar classes.

“In recruiting, you attract the type of people you want to attract,” Henderson said. “Not just anybody gets to be a part of this club.”

Those who do, though, are expected to work hard and be prepared to seize any opportunities presented to them. Henderson said that’s a task these freshman are well-equipped to handle.

“It’s a very mature group of freshmen,” Henderson said. “There are some guys who will end up being very good leaders of our program.”

Rogers named SEC Freshman of the Week

Southpaw pitcher Taylor Rogers was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week for his performance in UK’s 6-0 victory over West Virginia in the Caravelle Resort Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Rogers pitched 7.2 scoreless innings and threw first-pitch strikes to 25-of-29 batters faced. Rogers allowed only six hits and one walk while striking out two.