The deadline for Major League Baseball teams to sign 2014 draft picks passed last Friday and the Louisville baseball team received good news as veteran infielder Zach Lucas and incoming freshman lefty pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay chose to play for the Cardinals in 2015.
Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) was selected in the 29th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, while McKay (Darlington, Pa./Blackhawk HS) was taken in the 34th round by the San Diego Padres. Both Lucas and McKay will be on the Cardinals’ roster in 2015 as they play their inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
A Third Team All-American Conference selection at second base in 2014, Lucas returns for his senior season after hitting .270 with five home runs, 44 RBI, 13 doubles and 38 runs scored last year. A three-year letterwinner for the Cardinals, Lucas has 120 career starts while playing in 142 games overall at second, shortstop and third base.
McKay, among a large group of newcomers for the Cardinals already on campus participating in summer workouts, joined the Louisville program following a highly successful career at Blackhawk High School in eastern Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. The 6-1, 220-pounder was 8-1 with a 0.55 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 63 innings as a senior. The talented lefty, who typically played first base when he wasn’t pitching, made national headlines with his stretch of 72.1 scoreless innings spanning two seasons equaling the second-longest streak in U.S. high school baseball history.
Seven other Louisville players, including juniors Nick Burdi (2nd round, Minnesota Twins), Jared Ruxer (12th round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Joe Filomeno (15th round, Texas Rangers), Grant Kay (27th round, Tampa Bay Rays) and Kyle McGrath (36th round, San Diego Padres were selected in the MLB Draft and chose to sign professional contracts. Seniors Jeff Gardner (8th round, Washington Nationals) and Cole Sturgeon (10th round, Boston Red Sox) were also selected in this year’s MLB Draft. A pair of Louisville prep signees – catcher Mitch Trees (11th round, Cincinnati Reds) from Springfield, Ill., and righty pitcher Bryan Dobzanski (29th round, St. Louis Cardinals) from Franklinville, N.J., — also signed professional contracts after being selected in the 2014 edition of the draft.
Overall, Louisville returns 22 letterwinners from last year’s team, which earned the program’s second straight College World Series berth and the third in eight seasons. The Cardinals (50-17) welcome back 10 pitchers from last year’s squad accounting for 74 percent (50 of 67) of the team’s starts on the mound. Louisville also returns nine position players with starting experience from last year’s squad, including eight players with at least 19 starts in 2014.
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