The Kentucky baseball team is coming off the most successful two-year run in its 103-year history and coach John Cohen likes the depth he sees in his upcoming team.
"I think we have more depth now than we've had in the past," Cohen said. "We've gotten some much-needed help, especially in the infield."
The Wildcats return nearly all of their roster from the 34-win season in 2007, including their three best players, sluggers Sawyer Carroll
, Collin Cowgill
, and Scott Green. The trio all backed away from the major league draft, and potentially fat contracts, to return to the team for 2008. Green, a 6-8 right-handed pitcher who packs a 95-mph fastball, was recently named as 12th best prospect in college baseball by Baseball America. Carroll hit .350 with a Southeastern Conference leading 23 doubles in 54 games in 2007. Cowgill, an outfielder who redshirted last season, finished the 2006 season ranked second on the team in RBI (62) and runs scored (61) and batted an astounding .380 with two outs, making him the team's best clutch performer.
"It's big from the leadership standpoint," Cohen said. "When you're dealing with young men, turning down a significant amount of money to be a part of something special really gives credibility to our (lineup) card and our program. Those guys have been great."
During fall workouts, Cohen said his team worked on its defense, especially around the bases. "That was our Achilles heel last season," Cohen said. "We just didn't defend in the infield like we wanted to.
"We're in good position, but we need to stay healthy," Cohen concluded. "I think this is the most talented team we've had since I've been at the University of Kentucky."
And the future bodes well beyond 2008. The Bat Cats recently signed one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, including five of the top 50 rated prospects.
"We are losing a significant amount of at-bats and innings after the upcoming season," Cohen said, "and it was important to sign a group that could step in immediately and have success in the best conference in college baseball, and we did just that."