LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky sophomore centerfielder Austin Cousino has been selected preseason Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by Baseball America, the publication announced on Thursday morning.
A native of Dublin, Ohio, Cousino was tabbed by Baseball America – which surveys conference coaches to compile its league previews – as the SEC preseason player of the year. Cousino, junior southpaw Corey Littrell and sophomore two-way star A.J. Reed were each honored as part of the extensive SEC preview.
Cousino was also rated as the best defensive outfielder in the SEC and as the second-best SEC prospect available in the 2014 MLB Draft. Reed was tabbed as the third-best prospect in the league for the 2014 MLB Draft, while Littrell was rated 10th best prospect in the league available for the 2013 MLB Draft. Baseball America also picked UK as one of three SEC NCAA Tournament Teams and for the Wildcats to finish third in the rugged SEC Eastern Division.
Cousino, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound left-handed hitting outfielder, is coming off a 2012 season where he was named SEC Freshman of the Year, a first-team freshman All-American, second-team All-SEC, as a member of the SEC All-Defensive Team and a member of the All-SEC Freshman Team. Cousino led UK in 2012 with a .319 average (83-for-260), adding 20 doubles, two triples, nine homers and 41 RBI, stealing 15 bases. After the year, he led the USA Collegiate National Team in hitting while manning centerfield.
A 6-foot-4, 245-pound two-way standout, Reed dazzled as a freshman in the SEC in 2012, hitting in the middle of a potent lineup and helping anchor a talent-laden pitching staff. A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed appeared in 16 games with five starts, posting a 2.52 ERA in 53.2 innings, walking nine and striking out 51. At the dish, Reed hit .300 in 55 games with nine doubles, four homers and ranking second on the team with 43 RBI. After the year, Reed became the first consensus first-team freshman All-America honoree in UK history, earning two All-SEC Freshman Team honors (1B and DH) and finishing as a semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way NCAA Player of the year Award. After his collegiate debut, Reed starred in the Cape Cod League, posting the third-best ERA in the circuit.
A native of Louisville, Ky., and a product of Trinity, Littrell had one of the best seasons for a pitcher in program history in 2012, posting a 9-2 record and a 2.74 ERA as UK’s Sunday starter. He earned All-SEC honors and after leading the SEC with seven runners picked off, was honored with the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, given to the NCAA’s top defensive pitcher. His nine wins ranked fourth-best in UK history and his ERA checked in eighth-best in school annals. After the year, Littrell ranked sixth in the Cape Cod League in strikeouts, before earning preseason All-America honors entering 2013.
Kentucky, ranked as high as No. 8 in the preseason and No. 11 by Baseball America – both school-records – opens its 2013 season on Feb. 15 in Spartanburg, S.C., against UNC Asheville at 12 p.m. ET at Russell C. King Field. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel voicing the action.