Pitcher Jordan Lyles will become the newest member of the Lexington Legends Hall of Fame.
Lyles, a right-hander who set the Legends’ single-season strikeout record with 167 in 2009, reached the major leagues with Houston in 2011, and is now a member of the Astros’ starting rotation. A native of Hartsville, South Carolina, Lyles was a first-round choice by Houston in the 2008 draft.
The induction ceremony will be held Friday, August 30 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark before the Legends play the West Virginia Power. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. The Hall of Fame ceremony will begin at 6:45. The Astros are playing in Houston that night, so Lyles will not be present.
Lyles, who was 18 years old when he pitched for the Legends, had a record of 7-11 with an earned run average of 3.24. In addition to setting the strikeout mark, he led the team in starts with 26 and innings pitched with 144 and two-thirds.
“Even as an 18-year-old in 2009, Jordan’s big-league potential was evident as he posted a solid ERA on his way to dominating opposing hitters and setting the Legends single-season strikeout record,” said Legends General Manager Seth Poteat. “No surprise he reached the big leagues a short time later, and we’re thrilled to induct him into the Legends Hall of Fame.”
Members of the Legends Hall of Fame include:
Josh Anderson - elected 2005
Josh Anderson became the first Kentuckian to play for the Lexington Legends in the 2004 season. The former Eastern Kentucky University All-American was known for his risk-taking style on the base paths. Anderson terrorized the South Atlantic League pitchers in 2004 setting Lexington Legends club records with a .326 average and 48 steals in just 73 games. Anderson's signature moment came on April 25, 2004 with Houston Astros General Manager Tim Purpura in attendance. "The Colonel", as Josh was known, tied a Minor League Baseball record by going six for six against Greensboro. Anderson also scored five runs and stole four bases in the Legends 13-6 win.
John Buck - elected 2005
John Buck was the anchor of Lexington Legends 2001 South Atlantic League Championship team. The quiet leader brought a rare blend of firepower and intellect to the Legends. Offensively, Buck was a handful, smashing 22 home runs and driving in 73 runs. Buck's biggest contribution was the guidance and calming influence on a pitching staff that went on to post the SAL's third best ERA of 3.10. On July 21, 2001, J. B. made his most distinguishing performance of the season, drilling a first inning grand slam, and returning to the plate in the second inning and connecting on a three-run homer giving him seven RBI in two swings in the Legends win over Charleston, West Virginia.
J.J. Cannon - elected 2006
J.J. Cannon was the first manager of the Lexington Legends. He led the inaugural team to a minor league best record of 92-48 and a South Atlantic League title in 2001. For his excellence, he was named minor league baseball's top manager by industry magazine Baseball Weekly. During his 2 years at the helm, Cannon completed a career record of 177-107. His 177 wins and .623 winning percentage rank as the best of any Legends manager.
Felix Escalona - elected 2005
Felix Escalona was a steadying force on a Lexington Legends team that won 96 games and a South Atlantic League Championship in 2001. Escalona was among the top players in the SAL and was honored for achievements by being named to the SAL Post-Season All-Star team. Felix holds the record for most doubles in one season by a Legend with 42 and ranks among the top five in six different single season categories. On April 4, 2002, Felix Escalona became the first Legend to make it to Major League Baseball when he made his debut with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Mike Gallo - elected 2007
Mike Gallo was one of the best relievers in Lexington Legends history. Gallo's knee- buckling curve ball helped the Legends win 81 games in the South Atlantic League in 2002. Gallo posted a 4-4 record with eight saves in 42 games and his stingy 1.83 ERA is the fourth lowest in Legends history. Gallo rapidly advanced through the Houston farm system and made his Major League debut for the Astros on July 2, 2003.
Tommy Manzella – elected 2011
Manzella batted .275 with 22 doubles, seven homers, 43 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 99 games with Lexington. He batted .319 in the month of May, .313 in June, and finished strong with a .327 mark in August. He had five three-hit games and went four-for-four at Lakewood June 14. An outstanding fielder, he participated in 57 double plays with the Legends.
Mike Nannini – elected 2012
A key player on the Legends South Atlantic League championship team of 2001, Nannini, a right-handed pitcher, compiled a record of 15 wins and five losses, and averaged seven strikeouts and one walk per game. His season records for victories and innings pitched (190.1) still stand, and his four complete games were matched only by Daniel Stumpf this season.
Hunter Pence – elected 2009
Pence played 80 games for the Legends in 2005 and batted .338, a team record for a single season. He also hit 25 home runs, and shared the single-season mark in that category with Beau Hearod, who hit 25 in 2004. The mark was broken in 2009 by Brian Pellegrini, who hit 27 homers Pence broke into the majors with the Houston Astros on April 28, 2007.
Wandy Rodriguez - elected 2008
Wandy Rodriguez anchored the Legends’ pitching staff in 2002. The left-hander led the team in wins (11), games started (28), innings pitched (159 1/3) and strikeouts (137). He is still among the Legends’ all-time leaders in several statistical categories. Rodriguez made his major league debut with the Houston Astros May 23, 2005. In 2007, he led Astros’ pitchers with 158 strikeouts and compiled a home ERA of 2.94. He recorded at least nine wins in each of his first four major league seasons, including a 9-7 mark in 2008. He appeared in two games for the Astros in the 2005 World Series.
Kirk Saarloos - elected 2006
Kirk Saarloos came to Lexington Legends in June 2001 and quickly established himself as the pre-eminent closer in the South Atlantic League. Saarloos saved 11 games for the Legends while compiling an ERA of 1.17 in just 22 games. Saarloos made his major league debut on June 18, 2002 as the second Legend to make it to the major leagues, the first to play for the Legends parent club the Houston Astros.
Alan Stein - elected 2005
Persistence, dedication and personal sacrifice have paid off for Alan Stein and his beloved Lexington, Kentucky. It had been his dream for over 20 years to bring the best of professional baseball to Central Kentucky. Alan poured his tremendous energy and enthusiasm into turning his dream into a reality. The success of the Lexington Legends has made him a national leader in the sports industry and follow a long history of personal and business success. In addition, he is well known nationally for his volunteer efforts and humanitarian work with countless charitable, civic and service organizations.
Charley Taylor - elected 2005
Lexington's early success can be traced back to the foundation laid by Legends coach Charley Taylor. During the first four campaigns, the native Kentuckian's pitching staff ranked among the South Atlantic League's top four three times, leading the league in ERA in 2002. Under Taylor's guidance, three former Legends have already realized their dreams of making it to Major League Baseball. Taylor's exceptional teaching style is a combination of personal experience, dedication, and technology, all aimed to help his players reach their potential.
Jon Topolski - elected 2005
Jon Topolski was the driving force behind a team that won 96 games and a South Atlantic League Championship in 2001. "Topper" led the Legends in more ways than just in his traditional leadoff spot in the batting order. The left fielder led the SAL in hits (158) and RBI (96), and was fifth in the league in home runs (24). Topolski's prominent moment came on the biggest stage. In game two of the first round of the South Atlantic League Playoffs, Topolski hit a 451-foot home run to break up a 6-6 tie with Hagerstown and help ice the Northern Division Championship.
J.R. Towles – elected 2010
Towles batted .346 with five homers and 23 RBI in 45 games for Lexington in 2005 and came back with a .317 average, 12 homers and 55 RBI in 81 games in 2006. He also stole 11 bases for the Legends in 2005 and 13 in 2006, and won the South Atlantic League All-Star Home Run Derby in 2006.
Tommy Whiteman - elected 2007
Tommy Whiteman displayed an uncommon blend of powerful offense and near flawless defense at shortstop while playing for the Legends during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Whiteman helped lead the Legends to the 2001 South Atlantic League Championship while finishing 2nd in the SAL in batting with a .319 batting average. Whiteman was named the SAL player of the week three times and still holds four career batting records including career home runs (28) and career Triples (10). His sixteen game hit streak is tied for the longest in Legends history.
Ben Zobrist – elected 2009
A shortstop with the Legends, Zobrist has played shortstop, second base and all three outfield positions in the majors. He played in 68 games for the Legends in 2005, batting .304. He was traded by Houston to the Tampa Bay organization in 2006, and made his major league debut with the Rays (then the Devil Rays) on August 1 of that year. He appeared in the World Series with Tampa Bay in 2008.