With the new stadium opening in a few months, things are looking up for the University of Kentucky baseball program. As head coach Nick Mingione frequently stresses, the team plans on flushing the losses and moving forward. That is how the team grows and they will continue to do so in order to succeed in years to come.
Unfortunately, with such a substandard 2018 season, the team has a lot to do if they plan on turning things around for the upcoming year.
Who will replace the big arms on the pitching staff/in the bullpen?
Two-thirds of the weekend rotation are gone because of the draft which means that younger players are going to have to step up and make things work for the club.
Players like USA Baseball Collegiate National team member Zack Thompson and Chris Machamer are both expected to play big roles but not both or necessarily in a starting position.
Jimmy Ramsey and Mason Hazelwood are also expected to play a large part.
The junior college players and incoming freshman are also going to be forced to rise to the challenge of coming into a new environment and adapting quickly. Leaders will have to materialize as so many players were lost this season. Those will be the players to lead the team to the College World Series for the first time in history.
They will make or break this team.
For the moment, we cannot be sure as to how the recruiting class will perform but they are expected to be a special group. One of the biggest questions is if the players are going to mesh, something that did not successfully happen last year or at least in a quick enough manner.
How has the new stadium impacted recruiting and how are fans reacting?
The $49 million stadium has yet to be named but is expected to be chosen based on the “K Fund” which ranks fans based on ticket sales to specific sports. They will look at donors and consider who has greatly impacted the program.
Some fans are not happy about this and are even more concerned at the fact that they will not be receiving the same season tickets as they have in the past.
On the bright side, the stadium will certainly help in the program’s recruiting efforts but the question is to what extent? If the Cats put another poor season on the books, the coaching staff can only to so much to bring in the best talent.