Louisville Baseball is losing two more key players to MLB, both position players. Senior SS Justin Lavey and senior OF/DH Danny Oriente signed free agent major league deals today. Lavey signed with the Seattle Mariners while Oriente is joining the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Lavey played in 26 games as a freshman before becoming the starting 3rd baseman his sophomore season. In his junior year, he started as the 3rd baseman, but the emergence of eventual Freshman All-American Alex Binelas necessitated a position change. So, by late in the year, Lavey had become the starting 2nd baseman. This season, Lavey finally got to start at his natural position of SS.
The 6’1 205 lbs native of Kenosha, WI is a good fielder and has obvious versatility to play 3 of the 4 infield positions. He figures to be his best at SS or 2nd base. His career fielding percentage is .949. Lavey’s junior season was his best in the field. He had a .978 fielding percentage with 84 putouts, 142 assists, and only 5 errors. In his pandemic shortened senior season, Lavey had a .952 fielding percentage with 17 putouts, 23 assists, and only 2 errors.
Lavey’s offense is all about contact, getting on base, and speed. He’s a career .277 hitter with a .347 on base percentage. He only hit 8 homers, but had 3 triples and 31 doubles. He scored 83 runs, drove in 88 runs, and stole 32 bases. Arguably his best season, was the one that will forever remain unfinished. Lavey was batting .316 with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, and 17 RBIs. He had scored 11 runs and stole 4 bases. He sported a career-best .364 on base percentage and had more walks than strikeouts before the pandemic came calling. His junior campaign was his best full season. He hit .286 with 9 doubles, 3 homers, and 33 RBIs. He had a .361 on base percentage, stole 20 bases, and scored 34 runs.
Lavey can get it done with the glove and has a good bat. He will make contact and he has gap power to hit doubles. His speed will allow him to turn singles into doubles with stolen bases. He’s not going to be a home run hitter, but he doesn’t have to be. He’s got an old school game that MLB can use. It will be interesting to see if he does add some power in the minors. It’s always possible. Regardless, he will be a reliable player once he fine tunes his game.
Lavey’s junior campaign saw him earn 2019 All-ACC Third Team and 2019 All-Louisville Regional Team honors. Now, he begins his ascent up the ladder to the Show.
Oriente was a 6’0 190 lbs native of Downers Grove, IL. He had become a regular starter by his sophomore season, primarily playing both corner outfield spots and occupying the DH role. Oriente is a very good fielder, but an even better hitter.
Oriente’s career fielding percentage is .983. He has 53 career putouts, 4 assists, and just 1 error in basically 3 years of playing the field. He is equally adept at playing right or left field, but it appears he was penciled in as the everyday RF for 2020 before the season was taken away. In fact, this season was proving to be his best as a defender. He had 32 putouts and 2 assists in 17 games started.
As a hitter, Oriente is special. He’s a career .324 hitter with 30 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homers, and 106 RBIs. He doesn’t strikeout hardly at all and will take walks, but is a guy that puts the ball in play a lot. Judging by his batting average, it’s a very successful endeavor. His best season was last season. Oriente batted .332 with 17 doubles, 1 homer, and 49 RBIs. He had a .404 on base percentage and scored 29 runs. He collected a whopping 64 hits. This season, he had gotten off to a slow start batting just .268 with 2 doubles, 1 homer, and 16 RBIs. He still had a very good .378 on base percentage and scored 11 runs. Had the season continues, and based on his track record, I have no doubt he would’ve gotten going and had very similar numbers to his junior season, by the end of this one.
While a very solid fielder, Oriente will get to the majors quickly based on his bat. He’s a contact hitter with gap power (noticing a theme here). He’s not really going to ever be a home run guy, but he doesn’t need to be. The one thing the numbers do not show is how clutch Oriente is. He was arguably Louisville’s most clutch hitter in the run to Omaha and in Omaha in 2019. He was named to the All-Louisville Regional Team in 2019. He will hit for average and get on base while striking out very little. This a rare and sought after commodity in the game of baseball today. When guys are in scoring position, Oriente knows how to get them in. I think the Diamondbacks will be very happy once they see the player Oriente is. (side note: he was my favorite hitter for this year’s team) Some of Oriente’s other accolades include a spot on the 2018 All-ACC Third Team and Academic Team and a spot on the 2018 All-Lubbock Regional Team.
Congrats to both Justin Lavey and Danny Oriente on beginning their professional journeys. We will never forget either player and what they helped accomplish in their careers, especially what they did in Omaha in 2019 to give UofL its best finish ever in the College World Series.
Below, you can read Louisville’s press release about these Cardinals Forever.
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT:
Lavey, Oriente Ink Free Agent Contracts
Justin Lavey signed with the Seattle Mariners, while Danny Oriente is headed to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Louisville seniors Justin Lavey and Danny Oriente have taken the next step into professional baseball as the duo signed free agent contracts on Sunday.
Lavey inked a deal with the Seattle Mariners, while Oriente is headed to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The two free agent signings come on the heels of the Cardinals having three players selected in the 2020 MLB Draft. Juniors Reid Detmers and Bobby Miller were taken in the first round on Wednesday, while fellow junior Zach Britton was drafted in the fifth round Thursday.
Lavey wraps up a four-year career with the Cards that saw him appear in 173 games with 143 starts. The Kenosha, Wis., native posted a .277 career batting average with 31 doubles, eight home runs and 88 RBIs. Lavey was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection in 2019 and went on to make the NCAA All-Louisville Regional Team during the 2019 postseason.
After missing the majority of his freshman season, Oriente helped anchor the Louisville lineup each of the last three years. The Downers Grove, Ill., native finished with a .324 career average with 30 doubles, three homers and 106 RBIs. Oriente earned All-ACC honors in 2018 and excelled during the postseason with the Cardinals. In two postseasons, Oriente hit .429 (21-for-49) with 15 driven in and earned All-Regional selections in 2018 and 2019.
Louisville had 39 former players in professional baseball at the end of 2019 with nine seeing time in the big leagues.