#10 Kentucky Baseball 2018 Preview

Kentucky Wildcats
Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #5 SEC
Kentucky Logo
Kentucky took a big step forward under the direction of head coach Nick Minigione during the 2017 season. Mingione was able to get his team to buy into his vision quickly and it resulted in the first trip ever to Super Regionals for the Wildcats in program history. Looking ahead to the 2018 season, with seven returning starters and a new $49 million-dollar stadium on the horizon in 2019, things are looking up in Lexington for Wildcats baseball.
2017: 43-23, 19-11
2017 Postseason:
Coach: Nick Mingione
Key Departed Players:
Evan White, IF/OF, .373 BA, 10 HR, 41 RBI
Zach Reks, OF, .352 BA, 3 HR, 44 RBI, 15 SB
Riley Mahan, IF, .336 BA, 15 HR, 67 RBI, 9 SB
Marcus Carson, OF, .303 BA, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 8 SB
Tyler Marshall, IF, .293 BA, 1 HR, 29 RBI
Zach Logue, P, 4.97 ERA, 87.0 IP, 25 BB, 88 SO
Logan Salow, P, 1.95 ERA, 55.1 IP, 17 BB, 73 SO
Key Returning Players:
Tristan Pompey, OF, .361 BA, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 9 SB
Kole Cottam, C/IF, .319 BA, 7 HR, 44 RBI
Troy Squires, C/IF, .305 BA, 1 HR, 26 RBI
Luke Becker, IF, .287 BA, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 7 SB
Zack Thompson, P, .3.45 ERA, 75.2 IP, 38 BB, 96 SO
Justin Lewis, P, 3.56 ERA, 91.0 IP, 27 BB, 72 SO
Sean Hjelle, P, 3.89 ERA, 108.2 IP, 33 BB, 102 SO
Kentucky was explosive offensively in 2017 as they scored 484 runs as a team. It will be interesting to see what unfolds for the Wildcats in 2018 as they only return four everyday starters and do have some production to replace this season. Tristan Pompey is the best all-around returning player. He combines the ability to hit for power and a high average. Kole Cottam and Luke Becker will provide plenty of additional power at the plate to protect Pompey in the lineup. The starting rotation should be set with the return of Zach Thompson, Justin Lewis, and Sean Hjelle as those three started 46 of the 66 games last season. Another strength of this pitching staff is their ability to attack the strike zone and force opposing hitters to beat them by putting the ball in play. Another interesting storyline for the pitching staff will be the battle for the closer role while Kentucky replaces Logan Salow, who had 12 saves in 2017. Schedule wise for the Wildcats they will be tested against Texas Tech, Houston, Louisville, and Louisiana out of conference. The conference schedule is balanced with home series against Florida and Mississippi State and tough road trips to Arkansas and Vanderbilt to highlight that part of the schedule. Look for the Wildcats to win 40 plus games and get themselves into the Super Regional conversation once again in 2018.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Madness 2018 Draft Rankings:
#21 Tristan Pompey
#34 Sean Hjelle