If you’re from around here you’re probably either a Cincinnati Reds fan or a St. Louis Cardinals fan. And if you’ve been under a rock the past several weeks, there is good news! The Reds have clinched the NL Central already — they became the first team to win their division in all of Major League Baseball. Division rival St. Louis appears to have a firm grasp on the second NL Wild Card and figures to hold on to their four-game lead over the Dodgers. All of us here in Kentucky, stuck between Ohio and Missouri, will have plenty of MLB action this October.
But now even closer to home, Kentucky baseball figures to have another great spring, after Collegiate Baseball newspaper named the 2013 class 11th-best in the nation and fifth-best in the Southeastern Conference. Highly-ranked recruiting classes are becoming the norm for UK baseball; since winning the SEC in 2006, the Cats have had a No. 4 and No. 6 class in 2008 and 2009, before dipping down to No. 16 and No. 25 in 2010 and 2011. Now an 11th-ranked class in 2012 gets the Cats back on pace.
Kentucky brings in five players who were drafted by MLB teams out of high school, including catchers Zach Arnold and Casey Schroeder, and pitchers Chase Mullins, Kyle Cody and Matt Pope. Joining these fabulous five freshmen who chose to forego signing with a professional team, are nine others. Seven of whom are native Kentuckians.
The mighty SEC piled up in the rankings. Other conference teams that appeared were: Vanderbilt (No. 1), LSU (No. 4), Florida (No. 7), South Carolina (No. 10), Texas A&M (No. 13), Georgia (No. 14), Alabama (No. 16), Auburn (No. 22), Arkansas (No. 26), Mississippi State (No. 37), and Ole Miss (No. 39). Louisville checked in at No. 35 in the rankings.
Adding an 11th-best recruiting class on top of a team that returns plenty of talent from last year’s 45-win season — including Austin Cousino, A.J. Reed, Corey Littrell and Jerad Grundy — Kentucky should certainly have another special run come spring time.