We continue the list today with number 8 in our countdown with senior LHP James Paxton from Kentucky. He is from Ladner, British Columbia and attended Delta Secondary School. As a senior, he earned a 1.70 ERA, a 7-1 record, with 65 strikeouts and 32 walks while pitching 50 innings. He also had a solid junior season as he notched a 1.51 ERA, winning 10 games and striking out 100 in 78 innings pitched.
As a freshman at Kentucky, he served as a true spot reliever, working in only 17 2/3 innings in his team leading 25 appearances. He had a 6.62 ERA, a 2-0 record and one save. His biggest issue was his control as he walked 16 and struck out 10 batters.
His sophomore season saw him start the season as a mid-week starter before settling in as the Saturday starter for the Wildcats. He ended up pitching in 17 games including 11 starts while earning a 4-2 record and a 2.92 ERA. His best game of the season was in an SEC Tournament clinching win over Ole Miss, hurling a complete-game shutout, striking out six and scattering seven hits. He spent the summer of 2008 in the Alaskan Baseball League where he appeared in four games with three starts. He finished the summer with a 1-0 record and a 2.25 ERA, working 16 innings, striking out 12 and allowing opponents to hit for a .179 average.
His junior season in 2009 saw him transition into the number 1 starter role with the Wildcats. He started 13 games, totaling a 5.86 ERA and a 5-3 record while pitching in 78.1 innings, while allowing 83 hits and 51 earned runs, walking only 20 and striking out a team-best 115. He was selected with the 37th overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays but did not come to an agreement so he will be returning for his senior season. He is the highest drafted college player to return for the 2010 season. Paxton is currently in a lawsuit with the NCAA and Kentucky which could end up influencing his eligibility for the 2010 season but I expect that it will be settled in the near future.
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