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Louisville Baseball Preview: Batting Lineup

Louisville loses a ton of veterans and star players. Stowers and Mann now lead a team full of young hitters that are looking to step up in bigger roles.

2017 NCAA Division I Men's Baseball Super Regional: Kentucky v Louisville Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

While Louisville has a strong and talented pitching lineup, they will have to replace a ton of veterans in their batting order. Three of their four main outfielders have graduated, while stars like Brendan McKay, Drew Ellis and Devin Hairston are all gone to the pros.

However, Louisville returns three players with 30+ starts, who will lead a young group of players expected to fill big roles right away.

Key Returning Players: OF Josh Stowers (Jr.), IF Devin Mann (Jr.), SS Tyler Fitzgerald (So.)

Outfielder Josh Stowers figures to be the leadoff hitter for Louisville, giving them a well-rounded player at the top of the order. He had a breakout 2017, finishing with a .313 batting average and .507 slugging (both third on the team behind McKay and Ellis). Stowers was perhaps Louisville’s best batter in the postseason, hitting .600 in the NCAA Regional and .346 throughout the College World Series. He also had a team-high 22 stolen bases and had a bevvy of amazing catches in the outfield, making him a potential All-ACC candidate.

Devin Mann also returns as a three-year starter in the program. He’ll be a steady bat in the middle of the order, and provides veteran leadership (83 career starts) with the infielders. Mann was selected as a second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America, with a .268 batting average, eight home runs, 11 doubles and 44 RBI last season.

Making the transition from third base to shortstop, Tyler Fitzgerald (.208 batting, six doubles, 11 RBIs) made 36 starts last year and will add some experience to the lineup. Replacing an elite defender like Devin Hairston will be key to Louisville having another solid fielding year.

Newcomers to Watch: OF Drew Campbell (So.), OF Ethan Stringer (R-Fr.), C Zach Britton (Fr.), 3B Justin Lavey (So.)

Head coach Dan McDonnell has had a lot of success recently with recruits from southern Indiana. Some of those include New Albany’s Josh Rogers and, most recently, Jeffersonville’s Drew Ellis.

This year, another Red Devil could make similar waves as a starter. Drew Campbell comes to Louisville after one season at Olney Central College, and could be a starter at left or right field with Stowers moving to center field this season. Campbell is listed at 5’11” and 175 lbs., but has impressive power hitting numbers from his high school and JUCO career. He averaged .294 at the plate with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 50 games at Olney last season, and hit eight home runs in 25 games at Jeffersonville High School in 2016.

Ethan Stringer is another young player that can fill a starting spot in the outfield. Stringer redshirted in 2017 due to Louisville rotating four outfielders regularly (Stowers, Colin Lyman, Logan Taylor and Ryan Summers). He was a two-time All-State selection from Covington, KY and the #6 Kentucky prospect in 2016, according to Prep Baseball Report. He averaged .241 at the plate with 15 RBI in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, last summer. Stringer and Campbell, along with two-way player Adam Elliott and Danny Oriente, will battle for starting spots in the outfield.

One position battle to watch throughout the season will be the catcher spot. With Zeke Pinkham (.173 batting, ten RBIs) recovering from an injury, McDonnell will rotate between Pat Rumoro and true freshman Zach Britton. Rumoro had one start last season against Florida State, and only had ten at-bats in 11 games. Britton was one of the top Indiana recruits in 2017, finishing with a .553 batting average, 16 doubles and 27 RBIs.

Moving into (possibly) a full-time starting role, third baseman Justin Lavey will be a popular candidate to have a breakout season. Lavey only made 26 appearances (five of them starts) in 2017, but averaged .345 at the plate with a .586 slugging percentage. Louisville will have to replace a ton of power with their new lineup, but Campbell, Lavey and Stowers are strong hitters capable of extra-base hits.