LEXINGTON - University of Kentucky junior standouts Austin Cousino, A.J. Reed and Chandler Shepherd have been ranked among the top-100 college players available for the 2014 MLB Draft in a preseason listing by Baseball America, it was announced.
Cousino was ranked as the No. 97 player in college baseball, with Reed ranking No. 85 and Shepherd No. 70. With three players listed among the top 100, Kentucky ranks second in the nation, behind only Texas, Oregon State, Virginia and N.C. State, with each school represented by four players among the nation’s top 100. Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU and Vanderbilt were Southeastern Conference schools with three players ranked.
A native of Dublin, Ohio, Cousino has hit .288 (103-for-469) over his two-year career, with 32 doubles, three triples, 15 homers and 68 RBI, stealing 29-of-31 bases and sporting a .396 on-base percentage. Cousino, the first two-year member of the USA Collegiate National Team in program history, won the 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove as the nation’s top defensive centerfielder. As a sophomore in 2013, after entering the season as the SEC Preseason Player of the Year by Baseball America, Cousino batted .249 (52-for-209) with 12 doubles, one triple, six homers and 27 RBI, swiping 14 bags. In 2012, Cousino became the first player in UK history to be named SEC Freshman of the Year, batting .319 (83-for-260) with 20 doubles, two triples, nine homers and 41 RBI, stealing 15 bags.
Reed, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound left-handed pitcher/first baseman, enters the 2014 season as a preseason All-America selection by Louisville Slugger and Collegiate Baseball. The junior is coming off a year as UK’s Friday-night starter and No. 3 or No. 4 hitter in the lineup, earning first-team All-SEC honors. A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed has hit .290 (120-for-414) with 17 doubles, two triples, 17 homers and 95 RBI in his two-year career at the plate. On the mound in his career, Reed has appeared in 30 games with 19 starts, sporting a 7-11 record and a 3.44 ERA in 136 innings, walking just 24 and striking out 103. In 2013, Reed led UK in producing runs, owning a .280 average (60-for-214), with eight doubles, two triples, 13 homers and 52 RBI. On the mound as a sophomore, Reed made 14 series-opening starts, with a 2-8 mark and a 4.04 ERA, walking just 15 in 82.1 innings, striking out 52. In 2012, Reed became the first consensus freshman All-America selection in UK history, batting .300 (60-for-200) with nine doubles, four homers and 43 RBI and owning a 5-3 record and a 2.52 ERA on the mound in 16 games and five starts. After his freshman season, Reed ranked fourth in the Cape Cod League in ERA and following his sophomore campaign, he played in the Cape and also with the USA Collegiate National Team.
A native of Louisa, Shepherd enters the season off an all-star summer in the Cape Cod League, after serving as UK’s primary relief ace as a sophomore in 2013. In his two-year career, Shepherd has an 8-1 record and a 3.30 ERA in 44 games and 10 starts, notching one save in 111.2 innings, walking 33 and striking out 72. As a sophomore, Shepherd led UK with 26 appearances, going 5-0 with a 2.77 ERA in 55.1 innings, walking 17 and striking out 39. He finished the year with a streak of 9.2 consecutive scoreless innings over his last five appearances, allowing just three singles. Over his last 11 outings of the year, he had a 3-0 record and a 0.44 ERA. After the 2013 season, Shepherd went to the Cape, where he earned all-star honors and was in the mix for the ERA title with a 0.87 mark entering his final start. During his freshman season, Shepherd went 3-1 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 games and nine starts, saving one game in 56.1 innings, walking 16 and striking out 33. He started the 2012 NCAA Gary Regional Championship game vs. No. 25 Kent State, carrying a shutout, in a tie game, into the eighth inning. During the 2012 summer, Shepherd was named the Perfect Game Collegiate League Pitcher of the Year.
Kentucky will open the 2014 season versus Virginia on Feb. 14 in Wilmington, N.C., also facing off with host UNC Wilmington and VMI during the three-day, season-lidlifting event.