The start of baseball season is just a day away and the University of Louisville team has a lofty preseason ranking with some major expectations for the season.
The Cardinals have some key veterans returning but also have a few newcomers who play key roles with the Cardinals. U of L will open on Friday at 3 p.m. in Clearwater, Fla., against Alabama State.
Cardinal Authority takes a look at the top newcomers on the roster:
1. Tyler Fitzgerald, infielder: A top 100 prospect in the country last season and the Illinois Player of the Year, Fitzgerald will get the start on opening day at third base. He's a true shortstop but the staff feels like they must get him on the field. The next star from the state of Illinois on the Louisville baseball team? We think so.
2. Justin Lavey, infielder: The third baseman from Kenosha, Wisc., is right in the mix for playing time as the season starts. Lavey has a cannon for an arm and has shown early on that he can do the job at the plate.
3. Michael McAvene, pitcher: The right-hander from Indianapolis Roncalli is getting the start on Sunday this weekend. So, that's how deep the newcomer talent pool is that he's No. 3 on our list. Dan McDonnell has compared McAvene to a young Kyle Funkhouser. Sounds good.
4. Logan Wyatt, DH/Infielder: The biggest position player of the newcomers at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He's going to get plenty of at-bats after a solid fall and early spring. Has a ton of power.
5. Nick Bennett, pitcher: The 6-foot-4 lefty from Cincinnati is another pitcher the staff is really high on heading into the season. Bennett was in the mix for the final weekend spot and should get some starts in the mid-week spot.