A SURPRISE PLAYER FOR CARDS?
When asked what player could be a surprise this season, University of Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell had a tough time answering.
McDonnell said it was tough because “so many guys are older, have been here and put up some good numbers already.”
But the player who could be a sleeper is junior-college transfer Coco Johnson, a speedy 5-foot-11, 205-pound outfielder.
”Coco is just a little under the radar because he’s a junior-college guy,” McDonnell said. “He had a good fall and then he ran the 60 with (Adam) Engel and it was a 6.37. We knew he was fast, but we didn’t know he was that fast.
”His game is a little different. He shows you plus, plus speed in there.”
Johnson was a two-year standout at Central Arizona College and hit .387 with five home runs, 41 RBIs, 49 runs scored and 18 stolen bases in his second season. He helped Central Arizona to a runner-up finish in the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in 2011.
CARDS AND THE MLB DRAFT
The season hasn’t started but the Cardinals have a lot of preseason hype as a tam and several players have high individual hopes.
McDonnell said he has a “really solid junior class,” and noted as many as 10 players on the current roster could get drafted after the season.
”Could you have 10 guys get drafted?” McDonnell asked. “You hope so. The reason we had 10 drafted (after the 2010 season) was because we won 50 games. As coaches, we would rather (players) be All-American and get drafted high. We don’t want to kick anybody out the door but sometimes for guys to comeback as a senior it’s because they hit .220 and had an awful year and pressed.”
McDonnell said outfielder Adam Engel will be a high draft pick, while Nick Ratajczak, Cole Sturgeon, Coco Johnson, Chad Green, Zak Wasserman, Ty Young and Jeff Thompson are all guys who will likely get drafted.
He’s also expecting Jeff Gardner could with a big year, along with senior Matt Helms will also have an opportunity.
CARDS HAVE ‘GREAT’ LEADERSHIP
The Cardinals only have three seniors listed on the roster but McDonnell noted a lot of the juniors have played two seasons.
”We feel like there is great leadership,” McDonnell said. “The kids are mature, tough and competitive. We’re not worried about leadership at all.”
”My fear - and we have challenged them – is for all of those juniors not to get into the disease of ‘me.’ We have to make sure they play for the team.”
BASEBALL PROMOTIONS LISTED
U of L has released complete details of promotions the school will hold this season during home games at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Cardinals will have 36 home games at Patterson Stadium.
The home-opener will be Feb. 20 against Eastern Kentucky at 3 p.m. and feature pregame festivities and introductions prior to the first pitch. Also the first 300 fans will receive an exclusive 2013 U of L baseball schedule poster.
Here are other special events:
Hard Hat Giveaway – March 9 vs. Alabama – first 500 fans receive a hard hat toy in the game against Alabama.
Elementary School Day – March 13 vs. Purdue – U of L will be welcoming more than 30 area schools to the noon game.
MLB’s Pitch, Hit & Run – March 30 vs. Notre Dame – the PHR is free and get a chance to reach the National Finals.
Patriotic Game – April 12 vs. Elon – U of L baseball will salute the men and women of the Armed Forces and Louisville-area First Responders during the annual “Patriotic Game.”
Louisville Legends Game – April 27 vs. Georgetown – The program will turn back the clock to celebrate its more than 100 years of baseball history by honoring “Louisville Legends,” great teams and alumni before the game.
Cancer Awareness Night – May 8 vs. Indiana - Louisville will wear special black jerseys and hats featuring pink lettering during the game and fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of cancer awareness.
Free baseball – U of L will make 35 of 36 home games free admission with the lone exception the April 2 game against Kentucky. Tickets for that game will include a $10 reserved seating.
Special daily events include Budweiser Buck Night on Friday’s where fans can get Pepsi and beer for $1; BBQ on the Berm on Saturday’s where you can enjoy $3 burgers and drink specials; and Dr. Bizer’s Vison World Family Fun Day every Sunday that will include special events for the familes.