Most college baseball teams would love to have a couple of players vying for the team's MVP honors during a season.
Louisville coach Dan McDonnell has another problem - well it's not really a problem. The Cardinals have a roster loaded with talent, including five potential All-Americans who could lead the way for the Cardinals this season.
The season begins on Friday at 3 o'clock against SIU-Edwardsville. So Cardinal Authority decided to break down the race to the Cardinals' MVP honors and look at the five leading candidates.
All five of these players have received some sort of preseason All-American honors.
- Brendan McKay, Sophomore, Pitcher/1B: I was going to put Corey Ray in the top spot after hearing he is going to bat leadoff, but several news outlets have McKay as one of the leading candidates for National Player of the Year. He's such a special player and last year was named as the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year. He will be the Cardinals' starter on Saturday's and will be the cleanup hitter. He won't play as much first base this season but will be in the lineup each and every day. His numbers should be better than a year ago.
- Corey Ray, Junior, Outfielder: Just the thought of him in the leadoff spot is crazy because he not only is the team's best base stealer but he's the best hitter and arguably has the most power. He can do it all and I can't imagine that opponents are going to want to see him in that top spot. Ray is projected as a top 10 pick in the June Amateur Draft.
- Kyle Funkhouser, Senior, Pitcher: How crazy is that? A first-round draft pick turns down at least $1.7 million to return for his senior season and he isn't considered the best player on his team. Funkhouser is a stud and his number will be better than last year when at times he struggled with his control. I'm told all of his pitchers are better and that his mindset is at an all-time high. The kid can deal and will get the ball on Friday nights as the top starter for the second straight season and primarily the top pitcher for a third consecutive season.
- Zach Burdi, Junior Pitcher: Just as vrazy as Funkhouser is the fact that Louisville could have the reliever of the year and he not be the MVP of the team. The hard-throwing right-handed pitching Burdi was 6-1 with nine saves and a 0.92 ERA last season in 20 relief apperances. He should have a dominant season like his brother - Nick - did two years ago before getting drafted.
- Nick Solak, Junior, 2B: On any other team, Solak is the dude. But for the Cardinals he's just another steady, all-around solid player who is an All-American by several outlets. Solak hit .324 and had 18 stolen bases last season and has been sensational in the postseason two years in a row. It wouldn't be a shock to see him lead the team in hitting.
As you can tell, the Cardinals have a ton of talent. It should be a lot of fun to track this team as the season goes on.