2019 Preseason Top 25 Preview: No. 11 Louisville
Last Year: 45-19 (18-12 ACC); reached regional final.
Final Ranking: NR.
Head Coach (record at school): Dan McDonnell (554-222, 12 years).
Top 100 Draft Prospects: 1B Logan Wyatt (No. 34).
The Good News: Louisville will head into the 2019 season with a core of experienced offensive players that should make them very competitive. Leading the way offensively will be juniors Logan Wyatt, Tyler Fitzgerald and Jake Snider. In past seasons, Louisville has relied on talented pitching staffs, and even though the offense is expected to be strong, the Cardinals once again have very capable options on the mound. Led by lefthanders Nick Bennett and Reid Deitmers and righthanders Bobby Miller and Bryan Hoeing, Louisville has several talented options on staff. Add in the fact that Louisville brought in the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the country, and coach Dan McDonnell will have a deep, skilled roster to work with this year. Louisville will head into the 2019 season with a core of experienced offensive players that should make them very competitive.
The Bad News: Louisville has had an impressive run of premier closers, including the Burdi brothers—Nick and Zack—Lincoln Henzman and Sam Bordner. This year, the Cardinals have an opening at the back of their bullpen and will need to find someone to take over that role early in the season. Righthander Michael McAvene could be the answer thanks to his power arm, but he was limited to just 10.1 innings last year as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals have options in lefthander/outfielder Adam Elliott and righthander Shay Smiddy. Sorting out the bullpen roles will be imperative for pitching coach Roger Williams.
Player To Know: Tyler Fitzgerald, SS.
Fitzgerald has always impressed with his potential and is coming off a strong summer in the Cape Cod League. If he can carry that momentum into the spring and take a step forward as a junior, he will add another dynamic bat to Louisville’s lineup. Fitzgerald is a physical shortstop with soft hands and above-average speed. As a sophomore he stole 23 bases, and this year he will once again be a key threat on the base paths for an always aggressive baserunning team. Early on, Fitzgerald figures to hit in the leadoff spot, where he seems to be the most comfortable; with the capability of moving to the three-hole if needed. Look for Fitzgerald to improve on his power numbers this season as well.
Path To Omaha: Under the leadership of McDonnell, Louisville has always had talented teams and the 2019 version should be no different. A deep and impressive junior class will be the key to this team’s overall success. That class has in its first two seasons at Louisville experienced a little bit of everything. As freshmen, they rolled through home regionals and super regionals to reach the College World Series. As sophomores, they experienced another side of it when they traveled to the Lubbock Regional and lost to host Texas Tech. It’s a group that is very close-knit and well-connected. Add the fact that there is talent and experience throughout the lineup, a highly ranked recruiting class that will add depth to the roster and a pitching staff that features good upside and it’s easy to see Louisville making a strong postseason push.
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|2B||Jared Poland||Fr. HS -- Indianapolis|