Baseball America, one of the premier college baseball sites, has the University of Louisville baseball team ranked No. 4 in the country going into the 2013 season, which begins Feb. 15th.
North Carolina is ranked first, Vanderbilt second and Arkansas third.
Louisville returns eight battle-tested starters from a team that ranked 20th in the nation in scoring last year. In Adam Engel and Cole Sturgeon, the Cardinals have a pair of dynamic options for the leadoff spot, and Nick Ratajczak’s bat-handling prowess makes him an ideal No. 2 hitter. Ty Young, Coco Johnson, Jeff Gardner and Zak Wasserman form a formidable quartet of run producers who all hit for average in the middle of the lineup. Kyle Gibson and Zack Lucas won’t give away outs, either.
All three weekend starters have power stuff, with 92-93 mph fastballs and good sliders. Chad Green’s easy arm action and good command of his quality three-pitch mix gives him a chance to thrive in the Friday starter role, after spending most of last year in the bullpen. The ultra-physical Jeff Thompson misses the most bats of this group thanks to his sharp low-80s slider. Jared Ruxer has a different style, excelling by hitting his spots and pitching to contact, but he bumps 94 mph and flashes a plus changeup. Freshman RHP Kyle Funkhouser also bumps 94 and has an excellent slider, making him a stellar No. 4 starter option.