Kentucky has landed its sixth-consecutive Top 25 recruiting class, according to preseason rankings released Tuesday by Baseball America.
The Wildcats came in at No. 25 this season, one of an eye-popping nine SEC programs in the rankings. They were No. 18 last season. Each of Gary Henderson's classes has earned a Top 25 ranking during his time as UK head coach, including a No. 4 class in 2009 and a No. 6 class in 2010.
“We are excited about our newcomer group for 2014,” Henderson said in a statement released by UK Media Relations. “(Assistant coaches) Brad (Bohannon) and Brian (Green) do a really great job of finding our needs throughout the roster and identifying the type of student-athlete we want in our program.
"We are in the midst of fall practice now and are enjoying making daily progress with our group. It is going to be another exciting spring and we can’t wait to get going on the field in 2014.”
The Cats brought in 16 newcomers for its 2014 roster, including seven position players and nine pitchers. UK’s class consists of six junior college transfers and 10 high school standouts.
Robert Ziegler, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound native of Defiance, Ohio, is UK’s highest rated newcomer, tabbed before the draft as the No. 207 prospect available.
Connor Heady, a native of Prospect, Ky., and a veteran of the USA Baseball 18-Under National Team, was ranked No. 287 by Baseball America, and right-handed pitcher Zack Brown, a native of Seymour, Ind., was tabbed No. 385 before the draft by Baseball America. A 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, Brown was a 38th round pick by the Chicago Cubs in the 2013 MLB Draft.
UK also welcomes a familiar name to the program in the form of infielder/outfielder JaVon Shelby, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound product of Lexington’s Tates Creek High School. He is the brother of former All-SEC outfielder John Shelby (2004-06) who helped lead the Cats to the SEC championship in 2006. Their father, John Shelby, was an 11-year MLB veteran who won two World Series rings.
Junior college signees include right-handed pitchers Spencer Jack (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Andrew Nelson (Omaha, Neb.), and junior college outfielder Ka’ai Tom (Kaneohe, Hawaii) - the first-ever Hawaiian born player in UK history. Marcus Carson, a speedy outfielder and native of London, Ky., also helps bolster the UK recruiting class.
UK Recruiting Class Rankings (Since 2006 SEC Championship)
2007: No. 21 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 23 (Baseball America)
2008: No. 31 (Collegiate Baseball)
2009: No. 4 [school record] (Baseball America)
2010: No. 6 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 15 (Baseball America)
2011: No. 16 (Collegiate Baseball)
2012: No. 25 (Collegiate Baseball)
2013: No. 11 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 18 (Baseball America)
2014: No. 25 (Baseball America)
Top 25 Recruiting Classes
3. South Carolina
4. Oklahoma State
5. Oregon State
9. Mississippi State
12. Cal State Fullerton
17. Texas Christian
18. Florida State
22. Loyola Marymount
24. Southern California