Baseball America named Kentucky sophomore center fielder Austin Cousino its pre-season Southeastern Conference Player of the Year on Thursday. Cousino was honored as part of Baseball America's SEC preview, which was compiled through a survey of the league's coaches.
In addition to Cousino, Kentucky junior pitcher Corey Littrell was named the SEC's 10th-best prospect in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft. Cousino and sophomore pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed were selected the Nos. 2 and 3 prospects for 2014. Cousino was also named best defensive outfielder.
Vanderbilt pitcher Walker Buehler from Henry Clay High School in Lexington was named the league's top newcomer.
Baseball America picked Kentucky to finish third in the Eastern Division behind Vanderbilt and South Carolina but said the Cats would be one of 10 SEC teams to make the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas was picked to win the Western Division.
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Cousino, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound left-handed hitting outfielder, is coming off a 2012 season in which he was named SEC Freshman of the Year and a first-team freshman All-American. Cousino led UK with a .319 average, adding 20 doubles, two triples, nine homers, 41 RBI and 15 steals.
Kentucky opens its 2013 season on Feb. 15 in Spartanburg, S.C., against UNC Asheville.