(Photo of Michael Kirian: Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - More preseason honors continue to roll in for the Louisville baseball program, as five Cardinals were named to the Perfect Game/Rawlings 2021 Preseason All-American Team on Tuesday.
Third baseman Alex Binelas & left-handed reliever Michael Kirian were named to the First Team, Jared Poland was named to the Second Team as a utility selection, and catcher Henry Davis & outfielder Levi Usher landed on the Third Team.
Louisville not only had the most selections across all three teams, but was the only program to have multiple First Team selections. No other program had more than three selections.
This is the second preseason honor for Binelas, Kirian, Davis and Usher, as all four were named to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Preseason All-American Team last month. Louisville was also tabbed as the No. 11 team in the country by CBN in their 2021 Preseason Poll
Binelas might have missed most of the shortened 2020 season with a hamate injury, but he had long announced his presence by then. He hit .291 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 2019, earning numerous Freshman All-American honors and a spot on the All-ACC Second Team.
A mainstay in the bullpen, Kirian has had a phenomenal two-year stretch since his freshman year. Last season, he allowed just two baserunners in 6.1 innings, while striking out 11 and allowing a single walk. Over the last two seasons, he has posted a 1.41 ERA in 32 appearances, with 53 strikeouts in 38.1 innings and 11 saves.
Poland has proven his worth both at the plate and on the mound. In just 32 at-bats last season, he hit five extra base hits and seven RBI, hitting .281 overall. On the mound, he has made 21 appearances with 32 strikeouts in 25.0 innings in his two seasons at Louisville.
Davis had a solid freshman year behind the dish, but his production skyrocketed during his sophomore campaign. He hit .372 with 13 RBIs and a team-best three home runs. His slugging percentage of .698 and OPS of 1.179 also led the team.
Coming over from Kirkwood Community College, Usher was a difference maker from day one. He hit .411 to lead all qualified batters (2 PA/G, 75% of games played) and tied Luke Brown for the most stolen bases with 11.
The Cardinals finished the 2020 season with a 13-4 record, and were ranked as high as the No. 2 team in the country at the time of the season's cancellation due to COVID-19. They had previously been tabbed as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation and were also voted by league coaches as the favorite to win the ACC.
You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on Twitter:
Facebook - @LouisvilleOnSI