LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With the Louisville baseball program heading into the offseason, one of the first orders of business after summer assignments is roster management. More specifically, figuring out what players you will and will not be losing to the MLB Draft.
Like last year, the 2022 iteration of the draft will be 20 rounds long, but this is not due to ramifications from COVID-19. Instead, as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement signed earlier this year, the MLB Draft is getting a permanent reduction from 40 rounds to 20.
Despite this, Louisville will still be losing a sizable amount of talent to the draft, as they typically have every year in the Dan McDonnell era. Below are the Cardinals most likely to hear their name called sometime between July 17 and July 19, sorted by category:
Likely Early Departures
Measurables: 6-1, 220
2022 Stats (64 games, 226 AB): .310/.470/.686, 23 HR, 62 RBI, 16 2B, 50 BB
Unless Rushing suffers a major slide down draft boards, and gets a much lower slot value from the team that selects him than anticipated, don't expect to see him back in a Louisville uniform. One of just two UofL players to be invited to the MLB Draft Combine, the All-American is projected to be a top-50 draft pick.
Position: Left-Handed Pitcher
Measurables: 6-3, 200
2022 Stats (26 APP, 0 GS): 3.38 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 37.1 IP, 44 K, 22 BB, 31 H, .228 AVG, 11 SV
Prosecky was the other Cardinal to receive an invite to the MLB Draft Combine, and while he's not as highly regarded as Rushing, it's almost a guarantee that he's gone. The closer is regarded as a top-250 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com.
Position: Third Baseman
Measurables: 6-0, 195
2022 Stats (64 games, 269 AB): .312/.427/.591, 19 HR, 69 RBI, 14 2B, 2 3B, 51 BB, 11 SB
Not only was the Trinity product consistant all year long, he had some big moments in the postseason as well, including a two-homer day in the second of three Louisville Regional games vs. Michigan. Baseball America has him as the No. 411 overall prospect in the draft.
Position: Right-Handed Pitcher
Measurables: 6-0, 215
2022 Stats (17 APP, 15 GS): 3.46 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 83.1 IP, 103 K, 32 BB, 79 H, .245 AVG
Formerly a two-way player, Poland opted to stick with pitching, and never looked back. Not only did he develop into a reliable option in the rotation, he became Louisville's ace towards the end of the season, and is now regarded as the No. 387 prospect in the draft by Baseball America.
Potential Late Rounders
Position: First Baseman
Measurables: 6-2, 210
2022 Stats (63 games, 221 AB): .267/.337/.475, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 7 2B, 3 3B, 18 BB, 6 SB
Bianco was able to rebound from his down 2021 campaign to turn into a clutch nine-hole hitter, but it might not have been enough to warrant a draft pick. While he does hit for both contact and power well, and is a solid defender, he is the embodiment of the "jack of all trades, master of none" idiom.
Position: Left-Handed Pitcher
Measurables: 6-0, 185
2022 Stats (25 APP, 8 GS): 3.57 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 70.2 IP, 70 K, 32 BB, 61 H, .226 AVG, 4 SV
Out of Louisville's crop of underclassmen who will most likely get selected during the draft, Kuehner has the highest probability of returning to the Cardinals. He had an up-and-down start to 2022 as a starter, but found much more success when he came out of the bullpen.
Position: Left Fielder
Measurables: 6-2, 225
2022 Stats (61 games, 233 AB): .305/.399/.504, 18 HR, 61 RBI, 14 2B, 32 BB
Masterman's go-ahead home run in the Louisville Regional elimination game will go down as one of the biggest postseason moments in program history. Unfortunately, despite being named Louisville Regional MVP and having good overall numbers, his lengthy power slump heading into the NCAA Tournament likely cost him a draft pick.
Position: Center Fielder
Measurables: 6-0, 210
2022 Stats (50 games, 195 AB): .285/.362/.455, 7 HR, 49 RBI, 15 2B, 3 3B, 25 BB, 36 SB
Usher departs Louisville as one of the fastest players and most prolific base stealers in program history. But while he was able to improve on his abysmal 2021 season, his issue with consistency at the plate could ward off some teams. However, his elite defense and base running might be enough for a team to take a flyer on him.
(Photo of Dalton Rushing: Chris Jones - USA TODAY Sports)
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