A Card for all seasons in Minnesota

06/06/2014 12:09 PM

Nick Burdi is the latest in a distinguished list of Louisville Cardinals who have taken their talents north to Minneapolis.

Burdi was drafted in the second round by the Twins. This was not the first time Minnesota has tried to draft the Card reliever. Burdi was drafted by the Twins out of high school but opted to go to Louisville instead.

Burdi, 21, is 3-1 with a 0.54 ERA and 16 saves this season. In 33⅓ innings, he has 58 strikeouts, 10 walks and an opponent batting average of .125.

“He got a lot better,” Deron Johnson, the Twins’ scouting director, told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. . “… We pegged him as a reliever coming out of high school. The Cardinals’ all-time saves leader has a fastball that has reached 100 mph several times and a slider as hard as 93 mph.We did see the potential of the fastball getting better, and it has.”

Looking back, the first former Card to lead the trek north would have been Golden Gopher head coach Richard Pitino. Pitino served as an assistant to his father Rick Pitino at UofL from 2009-2011 before taking a similar postion at Florida under Billy Donovan. The younger Pitino returned to Louisville as an associate head coach in 2011 before taking the head job at Florida International in 2012. His stint there was short but sweet as he was hired to take the reigns at the University of Minnesota in April of 2013.

In just one season at Minnesota, Richard Pitino set a record for wins in a season with 25 and managed to take home the NIT championship.

Following Richard would have been Gorgui Dieng. Dieng was selected 21st in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz and promptly traded to the Timberwolves. Despite seeing limited action for much of the season Gorgui was inserted into the starting line up the last month of the season after starting center Nikola Pekovic was injured. Gorgui became a major force for the Timberwolves averaging 12 pts and 11.7 rebounds over the last 18 games. Dieng also set a franchise record as the first rookie to ever record a 20pt 20reb game when he went for 21 and 20 against the Rockets. Dieng was selected to the NBA All Rookie second team. An honor achieved by another former Cardinal great, Felton Spencer.

Minnesota’s WNBA franchise, The Lynx, also got in on the Cardinal connection. They selected Louisville’s Asia Taylor with the 36th and final selection of the 2014 WNBA draft. Through just 7 games in her rookie season, Taylor is seeing just over 9 minutes a game and averaging 2.7 points and 2 rebounds per contest.

In what had to be one of the most thrilling moments in this year’s NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings traded their way back into the first round at the last minute to grab quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater, who is wrapping up team OTA’s has been impressing Vikings coaches since he got to town. “I think he’s got a good presence, a good command of the way he’s taking things,” Head Coach Mike Zimmer said.

Teddy will go into camp as the number three guy on the depth chart but will be given every opportunity to compete for the starting job. In an interview with the Star-Tribune Teddy said, “It’s not tough at all because I have nothing but my best interest for the team,…And I’m very excited about this team that we have here. …If I’m not the guy then I know the coaches have the best interest for the team also. My teammates also have the best interest for the team. So in order for me to be a better player, I have to have the best interest for the team and want nothing but the best interest for the team.”

No matter was season, or sport, peaks your interest in Minnesota…there will be a former Cardinal to root for.

Trey Eckerle

Trey Eckerle joined cn|2 in June 2013. A graduate of WKU, Trey grew up in Louisville and enjoys having a front row seat as Director to Kentucky sports and politics. He can be reached at 502-792-1106 or trey.eckerle@charter.com

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