NOTE: The fourth of a 16-part series of individual feature stories, leading up for No. 25 Kentucky’s 2016 season opener at Wofford on Feb. 19. Tuesday, learn about Kentucky sophomore southpaw Zach Logue.
Strike-throwing southpaw Zach Logue a versatile weapon
Brent Ingram, UK media relations | ONLINE: bit.ly/1Xh5yCt
When Kentucky right-handed pitching stars Dustin Beggs and Kyle Cody turned down the 2015 MLB Draft and elected to return to school for their senior seasons in July, it was huge boost to the program.
Combined with junior righty Zack Brown, it allowed the Wildcats to return their entire weekend rotation for 2016.
There was one consequence of the return of the seniors however, it bumped sophomore southpaw Zach Logue out of the potential 2016 weekend rotation, after he showed signs of brilliance as a freshman.
“Sure,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said when asked if Logue was going to be in the rotation before the return of Beggs and Cody. “Then you are wondering who the third one is going to be. Just from that standpoint in and of itself, I am going to be a much better pitching coach then I would’ve been if those two (Dustin Beggs and Kyle Cody) were playing professional baseball. That is the nature of what we do and how it works. But absolutely, and (Zach) will be moving forward.”
The ultimate team player, Logue welcomed the return of the veteran righties.
“Obviously for the program it is great that Dustin and Kyle came back,” Logue said. “They add experience and some really quality arms to our staff. For me, I am just trying to do anything I can to help the team. Obviously, I would love to be a weekend starter, but this year if it means coming out of the bullpen, throwing midweek games, or anything like that – we have a team that can make a real push in the postseason – I am just glad to help that.”
A product of Mason, Ohio, Logue showed a versatile ability to fill any role on a pitching staff as a freshman in 2015. Over 19 appearances, Logue made three starts with a save, a 2-2 record and a 5.18 ERA. He threw 33 innings, allowing 38 hits and only seven walks, striking out 24.
He had several strong outings, including his first career win in midweek action in the home opener, allowing a run in 6.2 innings. But after allowing 12 runs over three outings to end March, Logue was scuffling to figure out his most successful role on the staff.
With UK traveling to Arkansas in a crucial series in conference play, Logue was called on in relief in the rubber match at Baum Stadium. He worked 4.2 innings to keep UK in the game.
“Arkansas was definitely that moment for me,” Logue said on his key outing as a freshman. “I had struggled a little bit before that. But I was able to go out there and give us four strong innings and get some of the best hitters in the nation out. I was able to walk away from that series with a lot more confidence.”
Following the season, Logue starred in the Perfect Game Collegiate League. He was named the PGCBL Pitcher of the Year, owning an 8-0 record and a 2.21 ERA in 10 starts. He fanned 55 in 57 innings, with his last seven starts all going as quality outings.
“The summer was very important to my development,” Logue said. “I had a lot of fun up there with Riley (Mahan), Brad (Schaenzer) and guys from other schools. It was real important for me to go out there and get all of the reps that I needed to throw my offspeed, figure out the rhythm of the game and develop all of my pitches.”
As a high school star at Moeller in Cincinnati, Logue teamed in the PGCBL with UK sophomore shortstop Riley Mahan, his childhood best friend. Mahan also had a breakout summer, earning the starting shortstop job in the PGCBL All-Star Game.
“Riley and I have been playing on the same team since at least eighth grade and sporadically before that as well,” Logue said. “I’ve always just kind of had Riley back there behind me at shortstop. It is real comfortable for me to have him back there and it was great to have him back there over the summer. For each other, we are someone that we can go to if we are struggling. It is always a safe place for us to go and it is also great to share this experience with my best friend as well.”
The relationship between Logue and Mahan, and even sophomore first baseman Evan White – a product of Gahanna, Ohio – is a unique aspect of Kentucky’s program.
Another bond that has blossomed over the two years Logue has been on campus has been the relationship with Henderson, his knowledgeable pitching coach.
“Coach Hendu and I have a pretty tight relationship,” Logue said. “He knows that I work hard and am coachable. And if he tells me something I am going to try and incorporate it what I am doing. He knows he can trust me, with classes and everything, so that furthers the relationship. He knows he can have an honest conversation with me. He doesn’t have to sugar coat anything. He can just tell me what we need to do and how we are going to work towards getting better.”