Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

July 27, 2013

UK’s Shepherd ready for spotlight

Former Lawrence County ace ready to play in Cape Cod League All-Star Game

Kyle Hobstetter
The Independent

YARMOUTH, Mass. — Kentucky pitcher Chandler Shepherd just keeps adding milestones to his already stellar career.

The Louisa native — who was runner-up for Kentucky’s Mr. Baseball in 2011 — was named to the Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game.

The 2013 version of the All-Star Game will be today at 4:30 p.m.  

This is the second time Shepherd has been named to a Collegiate League All-Star team, after grabbing honors in the Perfect Game Collegiate League last season.

“It’s just a big honor and I’m pretty excited about it,” Shepherd said. “Playing in a league like the Cape Cod league and being considered one of the best players — it’s just a huge honor. And it’s also motivation.

The 6-foot-2 right-hander has dominated the competition while helping the Harwich Mariners to a 18-16-1 record in the Eastern Division.

At the break, Shepherd is second in the league in earned run average at 0.87. He’s also tallied 27 strikeouts in 31 innings and holds a 2-2 record on the year.

And while his numbers look good, Shepherd said the best part about playing in the Cape Cod League is getting to play against the best competition in the county.

“It’s been great because you test yourself against the best players,” Shepherd said. “Plus you get to play a bunch of baseball. You use every day to just try and get better and just enjoy it while you’re out here.

“Everyone wants to play. And there are great players and every one can play so you’re getting better. There are scouts at every game that come up to you after the game ... it’s just very beneficial to play here.”:

Along with testing himself against the best college players in the country, the Kentucky Junior also has been around major league scouts all summer.

In 2012, 253 players who were featured in the Cape Cod League played on Major League Baseball rosters.

Notable names who played in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game include Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants, Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays, Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies and Justin Masterson of the Cleveland Indians.

Shepherd, who out of high school was selected in the 41st round of MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox, said he knows a lot of eyes will be on him when he takes the mound today.

“It will be just an inning,” Shepherd said. “I hadn’t really thought about it until recently. And you want to show scouts what you can bring to them every day. I want to help my team win so hopefully it will be a quick inning.”

In his sophomore season at Kentucky, Shepherd made 26 appearances, 25 in relief, and amassed a 5-0 record with a 2.77 ERA and 39 strikeouts.

The Wildcats started the season strong, going 20-5 with a season-high nine-game winning streak. But a 10-20 finish and a first round loss in the SEC Tournament to Ole Miss ended the season on a sour note.

“It was pretty disappointing,” Shepherd said. “I thought we had it a team that could make it pretty far in the postseason, but sometimes you can’t control these things. We’re going to look to come back next year and make it farther.”

Other SEC teams represented in the All-Star game will be Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia along with a player from Louisville, one of Kentucky’s top rivals.

Heading into his junior season, facing top competition during the summer is big in Shepherd’s preparation to take the mound for the Wildcats.

“Every day you’re on a baseball field, it’s going to benefit you,” Shepherd said. “The way I look at it, every day is a chance to get better. By the time I get back to school, I want to be better than the year before. That’s my goal.”

The Cape Cod league All-Star Game will be played at Red Wilson Field. The game will be televised on Fox College Sports.   

KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at khobstetter@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2658.