U of L baseball: Top newcomers

Coco Johnson

The start of baseball season is just a few days away and the University of Louisville team has a lofty preseason ranking with a veteran squad. But there will be a few newcomers who play key roles with the Cardinals. Cardinal Authority takes a look at the top newcomers on the roster:

1. Coco Johnson, JUCO transfer, OF: A native of Michigan, Johnson comes to U of L after two sensational years at Central Arizona College. He was named all-conference last season after helping his team to a runner-up finish in the national JUCO World Series. Johnson "jumped right in," when he arrived on campus according to U of L coach Dan McDonnell. He's projected as the starter in left field for the Cardinals in the opening game. Johnson hit .387 with five home runs, 41 RBIs, 49 runs scored and 18 stolen bases as a sophomore at Central Arizona. Johnson will be near the top of the lineup for the Cardinals and could be a major, major factor in the amount of success the team has this season.

2. Anthony Kidston, Defiance, Ohio, 1B/RHP: The Division II Player of the Year in Ohio last season, Kidston was a Louisville Slugger High School All-American as a senior. He played four years at Defiance and as a senior hit .402 with four home runs, 38 RBI, 27 stolen bases and 44 runs scored. He was dominating on the mount with a 9-0 record and 121 strikeouts and a 0.57 ERA. Kidston will get his chance on the mound for the Cardinals, while also being one of three first basemen on the roster with Zak Wasserman as the starter. He has a live arm with an 85-88 MPH fastball and a nice curveball.

3. Danny Rosenbaum, Lafayette Hill, Pa., 3B: The right-hander is likely the backup to Ty Young at third and should see some action as the season gets going for the Cardinals. He was ranked among the top 400 players in the country by Perfect Game USA last season when he played at Plymouth Whitemarsh. He was a two-time All-State and All-League selection and hit .400 or better two years in a row after playing his first two seasons at Chestnut Hill. He will contribute.

4. Kyle Funkhouser, Oak Forest, Ill., RHP: The Player of the Year from Illinois was ranked as one of the top 200 prospects in the country by Perfect Game USA and could be the next young pitching star in line for the Cardinals. He holds his high school's record for career wins, strikeouts, ERA and innings pitched. As a senior, Funkhouser finished 11-2 with 0.65 ERA and 132 strikeouts. McDonnell said Funkhouser is "one of those guys who could have gone late in the first round," but has his mind set on going to college.

5. Someone else will step up: The Cardinals have 12 freshmen on the roster and someone else is likely to step up. Former Eastern High pitcher Robert Strader and ex-South Oldham Jordan Simons could potentially be two players who see a little action on the mound.

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