The majority of college baseball programs are preparing for Regional Play this weekend. But not LSU. Unfortunately, LSU’s season is over. So instead, Tiger fans are forced to look ahead to 2012. The future of many potential members of the 2012 LSU Baseball team will be affected at next week’s Major League Baseball Draft. A number of LSU players and signees will hear their name called next week. Just how high they’re drafted may dictate whether they play for LSU, or in the Minor Leagues in 2012.
For the players who are draft eligible, I see them fitting into one of three categories. The first group consists of players who are expected to be drafted very high and will therefore likely not play at LSU in 2012. But don’t completely write off the players in this group. Kevin Gausman and Jacoby Jones were both in this group last year. But they fell a bit further than they would have liked, and now they’re in purple and gold. Another group consists of players who will likely go undrafted or be drafted too late to have any real impact on their decision. These guys will likely play at LSU in 2012. In between the two is another group of players who are on the fence, and their draft position will prove to be very important as they try to decide whether to play at LSU or in the pros.
We’ll also take a look at some of the new players who are not draft eligible.
Likely Drafted High
Mikie Mahtook OF LSU – We all know about Mahtook and the player that he is. After his outstanding junior season, most mock drafts have him squarely in the middle of the first round. I have seen him projected as high as #13 overall, but no lower than #20 overall. It certainly appears that we’ve seen the last of Mikie patrolling centerfield at Alex Box, and we wish him the best of luck in his career.
Johnny Eierman SS/OF Warsaw, MO – Eierman is a complete prospect that looks like an instant contributor at the college level. Most believe that Eierman may ultimately end up in the outfield or at second base. ESPN’s Keith Law rates him as the #45 overall prospect in this draft. MLB Draft Guide has him at #79, and DraftSite.com has him at #88. Those numbers indicate that Eierman won’t get out of the second round. However, a few other Top 100 lists do not include Eierman. Being from Missouri, Eierman likely does not have the loyalty to LSU that an in-state player may have. However in a recent article from Prep Baseball Report, Eierman is saying the right things: “I am focusing on graduating high school and attending LSU next fall. I can’t control where or if I will be drafted. I will have to make that decision when the time comes.”
Another quote from the Max Preps article linked below is from Eierman’s father:
“He’s excited about LSU,” the elder Eierman said of the school at which his son may spend the next four years honing his skills. “We have professional scouts at every game. If someone thinks highly enough of him to draft him high and give him some money, he’d consider it. He’d have to. That certainly is a possibility. But it’d have to be pretty special to drag him from his college commitment.”
I would not get too excited about statements like that. They are common among players in Eierman’s position and used to leverage the pro team that drafts him into offering more money.
Trevor Story SS Irving, TX – Story is described as a complete shortstop who should stick at that position. Any questions scouts may have about him are about his bat, but he’s no slouch there either. At just 6’1″ 175 pounds right now, he can fill out and add very good power from a middle infield position. ESPN has Story as the #85 prospect in the draft (2nd round). Draftsite.com puts him at #199 (6th round), MLB Bonus Baby has him at #50 (Sandwich Round), and MLB Draft Guide puts him at #30 (first round). Baseball America has Story at #49. Story is also a solid pitching prospect, hitting well over 90 MPH but most prefer him at shortstop. By all accounts, it looks like Story will be drafted very high in the draft….high enough to earn the money it would take to sign.
Jake Cave OF/LHP Hampton, VA – Cave is a unique prospect because he projects as either a left handed pitcher or an outfielder. Scouts are torn as to where he projects best, but the majority seem to like him better in the outfield. However, Cave’s fastball sits at around 91 – 93. Draftsite.com projects Cave to get picked at #121 (Round 3). None of the Top 100 lists that I could find include Cave. LSU could certainly use Cave’s left handed bat in the lineup in 2012, and they desparately need some left handers on the mound. For those reasons, it’s hard to imagine him not making a big impact somewhere at LSU if he shows up. It looks like Cave will get selected somewhere between Rounds 3 and 7.
Consider it a major success if even one of the four guys mentioned above plays for LSU in 2012.
On The Fence
Nick Goody RHP State College of Florida Orlando FL – Goody’s career started out as a shortstop, but he has seen his stock soar after making the transition to the mound. His numbers from junior college ball this year were ridiculous. He went 6-2 with a 1.29 ERA. He struck out 114 in 84 IP. He did walk 33 batters however. He had one outing where he struck out 19 batters in eight innings before getting lifted due to a high pitch count. At just 6’0″ 190 pounds, he does not have the size or the big arm that the scouts look for from a right-hander. But they have certainly taken notice of his effectiveness on the mound. Paul Maineri mentioned Goody as a guy that he’s worried about losing to the draft.
Cody Glenn LHP Houston, TX – Glenn is an imposing presence on the mound from the left side, standing at 6’4″ 180 pounds. He’s also got an established curveball and change that he can throw as out pitches. Most believe he will continue to fill out his 6’4″ frame and add some additional velocity to his fastball. Projecting him in the draft is not easy. Some believe he is a third or fourth round talent. Yet, others don’t see him being picked anywhere in the Top 10 rounds. LSU fans will easily make the comparison between Glenn and former Tiger Lane Mestepey.
Austin Nola SS LSU – Nola has been LSU’s shortstop for three years now. He has always displayed a great glove and after a strong sophmore season at the plate (.320 5 HR 52 RBI), he was poised to really break out in 2011 and posisbly compete for All-America honors. But that did not happen. Nola was a disappointment in 2011, making several uncharacteristic errors in the field and seeing his production at the plate drop off (.296 2 HR 42 RBI). The new bats in college baseball had something to do with his drop off, but he was expected to build upon his sophmore numbers regardless. Despite the disappointing season, scouts still covet the potential that Nola has displayed at times during his career. I would not be surprised to see Nola selected as high as the sixth round but he could fall past the 10th as well. It’s unclear how far he would have to drop to consider returning to LSU, but he has mentioned several times that he would love the opportunity to play with his brother Aaron, an incoming freshman, at LSU.
Carson Baranik RHP Parkway Bossier City LA – Baranik is a big right-hander who has a fastball in the low 90s but also displays a big-time curve ball. His fastball has touched the 94 to 95 range before. From reading up on Baranik, he seems legitimately excited about playing for LSU. Draftsite.com has Baranik going in the 8th round at Pick #248. He apparently had some recent shoulder issues which may cause him to drop in the draft. Here is a good article from Baseball America on Baranik. I’d expect Baranik to get picked anywhere between Rounds 10 and 14, but I really like his chances of showing up at LSU in 2012.
Scouting Baseball – Scouting Report
Aaron Nola RHP Catholic HS Baton Rouge LA – Nola is a slender 6’2″ 175 pounds but still gets his fastball up to around 90. His other good pitch is a changeup, and he’s working on developing a curveball. Like with many young pitchers, most expect that velocity to go up a bit as his body fills out and matures. Nola put together some incredible numbers at the high school level going 21-1 with a 1.35 ERA and recording 208 strikeouts in 151 innings. This article from TigerRag talks a good bit about Aaron playing at LSU next year with his brother, and it sounds pretty encouraging for Tiger fans. However, Nola may get picked as hight as the third round next week, so he could have a big decision to make.
Terrence Magee OF Franklinton HS – Most of us know Magee for being a running back prospect for the football team, and a damn good one. He played quarterback for Franklinton’s state championship football team. But he’s also a legit baseball prospect as an outfielder. His overall athleticism is what stands out the most, but he shows a very quick bat and the ability to hit to all fields. At just 5’9″, he does not fit the profile of someone who will fill out and eventually develop more power. At 200 pounds, his 5’9″ frame is already filled out. If he only played baseball, he may be a guy that gets picked in the Top 10 rounds. However, I suspect teams will be scared off by his commitment to play football at LSU, and that he’ll drop in the draft. My guess is that he’ll get picked between Rounds 10 and 15. As far as his impact on the baseball team at LSU, it will be difficult for Magee to be productive just as it was for Jared Mitchell, Chad Jones, and Spencer Ware. Remember that Mitchell only really excelled until he dedicated 100% of his time to baseball.
Matty Ott RHP LSU – We’re all familiar with Ott and the struggles he has had over the last two seasons. After a sensational freshman season, the expectations for Ott were through the roof. And Ott has not been able to meet them. But while Ott had some high profile poor outings in 2011, he did finish the season with a solid 2.60 ERA and 27 Ks in 27 IP. Sandwiched between Ott’s sophmore and junior seasons, he looked tremendous in the Cape Cod League and was a member of their All-Star team. It’s reasonable to assume that perhaps the problem was at LSU and that he did not get the instruction he needed from LSU’s pitching coach. He still has a fastball that is in the 88 – 92 range and a nasty slider….when it’s working. He settled into the closer role in college, but does not really throw hard enough to close in the big leagues. But it’s possible a scout could still see a ton of potential in Ott. Draftsite.com has Ott being selected in the sixth round at #203 overall. I don’t expect him to get picked quite that high but would not be too shocked to see him go before the 10th round. With a new pitching coach on the way, it’s also possible that Ott could have a very strong senior season were he to return to LSU, possibly boosting his stock for the 2012 draft. Despite his struggles, it’s certainly in LSU’s best interest if Matty Ott returned as a senior.
Jake Barrios SS/OF Seward County CC – Barrios is just a freshman at Seward County, and he led the team in home runs and RBIs and hit .361 with a .452 OBP. This comes after a senior season where Barrios hit .536 with 18 HRs and 27 SBs. He was also a high school quarterback and was named the Oklahoma 4A Football Player of the Year. So why did he end up at Seward County instead of a bigger school such as Oklahoma State or Wichita State, who both offered him? Because it wasn’t LSU. Read this great article about Barrios and his dream to play at LSU. Barrios is eligible for the draft and should get picked somewhere, but based on that article I expect him to show at LSU.
Tyler Jones RHP LSU – Jones came to LSU last season with a bit of hype, but he failed to live up to it in Baton Rouge. He showed glimpses of having very good stuff, but he also had a number of really awful outings. Scouts still like the physical skills of Jones and could draft him rather high. Jones seems like a guy that might prefer to get away from LSU and get a fresh start. I’d be excited to see what a new pitching coach at LSU could do with Jones if he returns.
Raph Rhymes DH LSU – Rhymes is a draft eligibile sophmore who is surprisingly attracting very little draft attention. Rhymes can absolutley hit the baseball, as evidenced by his outstanding inaugural season at LSU. Rhymes hit .360 with 3 HRs and 42 RBIs and had a nice .424 OBP. He struck out just 19 times in 214 at bats. Having spent most of the season as LSU’s designated hitter, he lacks a true position and that could be hurting his stock. I’ve heard virtually nothing regarding his chances for getting picked high enough to leave LSU, but he’s such a good hitter I thought he should be mentioned in this group.
Likely To Play At LSU
Tyler Hanover INF LSU – Hanover has been a contributor at LSU for three years now. He is a reliable player that does not make many mistakes. He can handle the bat extremely well and rarely strikes out. He showed some surprising power early in his career, but the changes to the bats seemed to have killed that notion. Hanover was an All-Star in the Cape Cod League last summer. But it still seems unlikely that he will be drafted high enough to leave LSU. Expect him back in LSU’s lineup in 2012.
Evan Powell C Sam Houston Lake Charles LA – Powell is a 5’10” 190 pound catcher who is a tremendous overall athlete. He played both quarterback and safety for the football team and recorded some nice weight room numbers with a 305 pound bench and 495 pound squat. Powell could be selected at some point late in the draft, but it should not be early enough to affect his decision to be at LSU in 2012.
Aaron Johnson LHP Dunham Baton Rouge LA – Johnson projects as a lefthander who can top 90 on the gun. But he’s also a pretty accomplished hitter, batting .506 with 12 HRs and 48 RBIs as a junior. He is high school teammates with Tyler Moore, and this video talks about both of them. Even though it’s almost a year old now, this article from the Advocate is a good read too.
Tyler Moore C Dunham Baton Rouge LA – Moore is Johnson’s high school teammate and put up some impressive numbers as a senior, hitting .589 with 16 home runs. He could be drafted, but I fully expect him to be at LSU next season.
Chris Sciambra OFCatholic High HS Baton Rouge LA – Sciambra goes just 5’10” 170 pounds, but that does not mean he lacks pop in his bat. As a junior, Scimabra hit .384 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs. He was also offered by Ole Miss, Tulane and Rice among others. One plus is that Sciambra bats left-handed, which means he could conceivably contribute early at LSU as a pinch hitter.
Braden Strickland RHP Gun Barrel City TX – Strickland is a 6’2″ 185 pound right hander. As a senior, Strickland was 7-1 with a 0.49 ERA and a 0.97 batting average against. He struck out 117 of 216 batters he faced. Those numbers were taken from this article, which is a pretty good read.
Christian Trent LHP – Saint Pauls HS – Trent offers another option as a much needed left hander. Trent came on with a strong senior season to end up as part of LSU’s class.
Brent Bonvillain LHP Delgado CC – Bonvillain is a 6’4″ left hander who was 8-2 with a 3.46 ERA this season.
Rob Tasin INF Texarkana College – Tasin earned conference freshman of the year honors. Tasin played third base for Texarkana and hit .360 with 12 extra base hits nad 19 RBI. He was also the team’s closer, going 3-1 with seven saves and an ERA of 1.98.
Andrew Ray and Casey Yocum are a pair of other junior college players that I could not find much information about. Both project as infielders and the draft should not be a factor with either.
Junior College outfielder Arby Fields is also draft eligible. I discussed Fields in depth right here.
Current Tigers Grant Dozar, Jordy Snikeris, Mike Lowery, Beau Didier, and Kirk Cunningham are all draft eligibile but should not be selected high enough to consider leaving. UNO transfer Jamie Bruno is also eligible for the draft, but I don’t expect it to be an issue. Bruno could play outfield or more likely, first base, for LSU.
Players Not Draft Eligible
LSU returns pitchers Joey Bourgeois and Jordan Rittiner after both had off-season arm surgery. Bourgeois is draft eligible but since he did not pitch in 2011, he will not be picked.
I discussed a whole lot of potential new players for LSU, and their arrival will probably mean a significant amount of turnover on LSU’s roster. We learned on Wednesday that outfielder Trey Watkins will not return to LSU’s team next year. I suspect many others may be on their way out too.