April 4, 2020

Nidiffer Inks Deal With Astros

June 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Good things do come to those who wait.

The 2010 Major League Baseball draft came and went. Three days and 50 rounds passed. Twelve Wildcats from the University of Kentucky heard their names called.  Former Webster Yankee, Marcus Nidiffer, waited patiently. When he did not hear his name, Nidiffer remained calm.The omission surprised a few people, but the University of Kentucky catcher knew he still had a chance to play professional baseball.

“They knew they were going to sign me because I was a senior,” said Nidiffer. “It’s like wasting a draft pick by using it on a senior. Older players don’t have any leverage. They know you can’t go back to college and play.”

Despite knowing all this, the Bristol, Tennessee native experienced some anxiety. “I was scratching my head,” mentioned Nidiffer when discussing his reaction to not hearing his name called.

“My parents were bummed at first. They started talking to me about what I was going to do after baseball.”

Nidiffer will have to postpone those plans for life after baseball.  The Houston Astros contacted Kentucky’s backstop of the last three years and signed him to a free agent deal over the weekend.

“They asked me when I could be ready,” said Nidiffer. “I told them I am ready right now. We signed the deal right there. I talked to the A’s and Twins, but both those teams were beating around the bush. The Astros gave me an offer, and I went with it.”

Nidiffer will start the season with the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League when play starts on June 22nd. “Greeneville is only about an hour from home,” mentioned the 23-year old.  “I’ll definitely catch some home cooking and get some laundry done.”

“Everybody leaves Saturday for assignments,” said Nidiffer from Florida where all rookies reported. “I am looking forward to it. I am in the system. That’s all I need.”

Nidiffer started 121 games over the last three Kentucky campaigns hitting .284 with 25 home runs, 84 RBI and 91 runs scored. He finished his career at Kentucky with a .512 slugging percentage. In 2010, Nidiffer hit .312 with 10 round trippers and 32 RBI including a walk-off grand slam in his final home at-bat.

Combine his offensive numbers with a .987 fielding percentage and Nidiffer earned a spot on the prestigious Johnny Bench Award Watch List for the top catcher in the nation.

“Out of high school, I wasn’t that good,” noted Nidiffer who was a red-shirt his freshman season. “I was able to pass people up with hard work.”

The hours improving his game included time spent playing in wood-bat leagues such as the New York Collegiate Baseball League.

“I was out of my element,” said Nidiffer when thinking back to his arrival in New York. “They gave me an opportunity to get better. I am thankful for that. I met so many players and coaches that I still keep in touch with today. It’s a great league.”

Nicknamed “KB” (short for Kentucky Blue) by then-assistant coach and current head coach, Dave Brust, Nidiffer made 28 starts with the 2007 Yankees. After a slow start, he finished with eight extra-base hits including three home runs and 12 RBI. This after a season in the SEC where the red-shirt freshman earned just six at-bats.

“Looking back, I played a lot in summer leagues,” said Nidiffer. “That is where my game started to come together.”

“KB” played the Valley League in 2008 finishing as the league’s 14th best prospect of the summer. He culminated his summer collegiate career playing with the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League.

Nidiffer joins Pat Urckfitz, another former Webster Yankee, in the Astro system. After making seven appearances in the NYCBL with ‘08 Yankees, Urckfitz signed with Houston.  He came out of the bullpen on 15 occasions for Greeneville fanning 23 in 19 innings of work while notching an ERA of 1.40. The southpaw finished 1-0 with three saves for the campaign. In 2009, Urckfitz  led the Lexington Legends’ of the Class A South Atlantic League in appearances (42) and saves (13). In 49 innings of work Urckfitz compiled a 4-1 record with a 2.57 ERA while striking out 42 and walking 13. Urckfitz earned Legends’ Pitcher-of-the-Month honors for May ‘09 going 1-0 with four saves with 0.71 ERA for the month.

Currently, Urckfitz pitches with the Lancaster Jethawks of Class A Advanced California League. He is on a roster that includes other former NYCBLers, Ashton Mowdy (Geneva ‘07) and Shane Wolf (Elmira ‘07).

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