Dan McDonnell is back from a month-long trip as manager of the the USA baseball collegiate team

The U of L coach believes that the success of former Cardinals will continue to breed success for his program

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Dan McDonnell is back in Louisville after a month coaching with the USA baseball collegiate national team.

They started in Cary, N.C., with 36 of the best freshmen and sophomore players in the country and whittled that down to 26 players who traveled to Cuba, Taiwan and Japan for games against national teams from those countries. That included current Cardinals Reid Detmers and Lucas Dunn.   

"You always learn, especially with the great players," McDonnell said. "I was texting things back to our infielders. As coaches, you can learn a lot from the best players."

Some of McDonald's best players in recent years are now making their mark in the majors. Brendan McKay dominated at Triple A Durham and has had several strong starts with Tampa Bay. Adam Duvall just got called back up to Atlanta after setting a home run record in Triple A Gwinnett and in Los Angeles, it's become the summer of Will Smith. The Kentucky Country Day grad hit six home runs in less than 50 major league at-bats and has had multiple game-winning hits.     

"So proud," McDonnell said. "You've got a guy like Adam Duvall. He's still grinding it out, and he's an everyday guy now for the Braves. I think Will Smith is probably the story of the summer, and it's not easy to trump Brendan McKay, but somehow Will did it, catching for the Dodgers and swinging it as well as he did. This is also the time of year as you get into mid-August and September, who else is going to get called up? There's a lot of guys in Triple A, and we're hoping maybe a we get a few more guys that can say they're big leaguers before the year is over."  

There have been 72 Cardinals chosen in the MLB Draft since McDonnell took over in 2007 and 32 in the last four years, including four in the first round and four more in the second round. The accomplishments of those players and the fact that many of them come back to work out here in the offseason certainly benefits McDonnell and his staff moving forward.

"It gives some validity to what we're saying, some street cred," McDonnell said. "'Hey trust these guys.' But I always think player to player motivates you more than anything."

McDonnell begins helping his newest group of Cardinals on the first day of school, Aug. 19. 

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