2019 LSU Baseball Season

Discussion in 'The Tiger's Den' started by CajunlostinCali, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. CajunlostinCali

    CajunlostinCali Window Licker

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    The hell with waiting for the offseason to cool off, let's go on and get ready for some baseball. In just over a month, the Tigers begin the season with the Baton Rouge Tournament hosting ULM, Air Force and Army. Now that's a cool lineup to get the bats to swinging. Not a whole lot to report at this time, but a refresher from the fall report will get the mind to wondering what these pre-season #1 Tigers are gonna be like. So get your popcorn and pull up to the screen, this is the prospectus from the fall from the fellas at D1. You gotta pony up, so for those that don't, or won't, I pasted the article for your cheap/ broke ass:

    Part One

    "Despite having some notable injuries this fall, the recurring opinion on LSU from scouts and observers alike has been the same: The Tigers look like a club ready to compete for the program’s seventh national title.

    LSU long-time skipper Paul Mainieri won’t go that far. He just smiles when asked the question. But feels good about the Tigers looking ahead to 2019, granted they can stay healthy and figure a few things out about the middle of the pitching staff.

    “I think we can certainly be great. But we aren’t there yet,” Mainieri said last week during LSU’s Fall World Series. “I think this fall, the big key for us has been getting some of our key pitchers back, and we also added some talented guys. I think our starting rotation has a chance to be really good.

    “We’ve had some injuries on the mound and I haven’t seen some of our younger guys much, but I know they’re talented and very capable of going out and doing well,” he continued. “In the end, I like our pieces, and I think we can compete for anything and everything. But we’ve got a long way to go between now and the end of next season.”

    The Tigers have plenty of reasons for optimism about the upcoming campaign.

    The starting rotation appears to be set and talented. Veteran righthander Zack Hess had a strong summer at the Cape Cod League and with USA Baseball and is again ready to prove he’s a premier starting pitcher, while the Tigers welcome back righty Eric Walker, who missed last season because of an injury. There’s also ultra-talented freshman righthander Landon Marceaux, who has had a terrific fall and nailed down a spot in the rotation.

    Imposing righthander Todd Peterson has the closer role cemented and had a strong fall, striking out four in two innings of work in his last outing of the fall, while the question mark on the mound are the middle relief roles.

    Offensively, the Tigers, again, have much to be excited about. Daniel Cabrera looks even stronger and ready to have an outstanding spring, Josh Smith is healthy and playing at a high level, and this team is ecstatic to welcome back speedy outfielders Zach Watson and Antoine Duplantis.

    No team is a finished product at this point in the fall, but the Tigers have all the pieces needed to do some extraordinary things in a few months.

    Now, we’ll see if Mainieri’s club can put all the pieces together.

    Without further ado, let’s take an inside look at the Tigers:

    SETTING THE ROTATION
    Many teams still have some important rotation battles that need to play out between now and Opening Day, but the Tigers already have a good idea as to who will make up their three-man rotation in the spring.

    It’d be Zack Hess, Eric Walker and freshman righthander Landon Marceaux.

    Hess, a 6-foot-6, 218-pounder, had some bright moments as a starter in 2018, but also was inconsistent at times. The Tigers feel like Hess is ready to establish more consistency and prove himself to be a front-line arm, while Walker’s addition is a shot in the arm. Walker, a 6-foot, 183-pounder, shined as a freshman two seasons ago, almost throwing a no-hitter against Auburn. He’ll get up to 90-91 with his fastball, while the changeup is an effective offering and command is his forte. When he commands, he’s a tough guy to consistently square up. But things can go south if command is an issue.

    “Hess was still in that mode where he was looking to prove himself and he really wanted to pitch this past summer. I thought he was terrific, both at the Cape League and with Team USA,” Mainieri said. “He was pretty much like that in the early part of the fall, too, but after so many injuries and not knowing how many guys we’d have back in the spring, we decided to rest him.”

    “Walker looked good. He was back to normal, and I think he’s good to go,” he continued. “People will remember that he’s not an overpowering guy, so he has to be real fine with his pitches. He started to get a little fatigued anyway earlier this fall, so we kind of shut him down. He was really good until his last outing of the fall. Again, with Eric, if he commands his stuff, he’s going to succeed. If he doesn’t, he won’t.”

    Marceaux, a 6-foot, 185-pounder, could’ve been a high draft pick, but decided to go to college. In fact, there were rumors last year that Marceaux might actually enroll early. He didn’t go through with that, but still, it’s interesting.

    Marceaux, who was a 37th-round pick because of signability concerns, was outstanding this fall, showing crisp stuff with a fastball in the 90-93 range, along with a plus curveball and changeup and poise. Mainieri gave Marceaux some impressive praise following the Purple-Gold Fall World Series.

    “Marceaux is going to be a very special pitcher in the SEC, I believe,” he said. “He’s going to be our No. 2 starting pitcher. When his command is good, I think he can be as good as it gets.

    “Personally, I think Landon is the most polished pitcher we’ve had, at least out of high school, since Aaron Nola was here,” he continued. “Obviously, we’ll see if he’s as good as Aaron Nola. Aaron was pretty good. But Landon is very polished and I think he’s going to be a for sure top guy in the draft in three years.”

    MORE PITCHING NUGGETS
    I know Todd Peterson earned rave reviews for his pinch hit performance at the SEC tournament last May, but also remember the talented righthander actually had a terrific spring on the mound. Peterson, a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder, looks better physically than he did last season. And while he was shut down for the fall after just a few innings pitched, the Tigers know what they have in the talented righty — someone who will get up to 94-95 with his fastball, along with a big-time hammer curveball.

    “I thought Todd looked even better this fall. He might’ve been our best pitcher,” he said. “He struck out four in two innings in his last outing, and so I told AD (Alan Dunn), all right, we’ve seen enough. That’s good. Let’s rest him a little bit.”

    In the SEC and at a premier level in college baseball, having a big-time closer is such a luxury. The Tigers have exactly that in Peterson.

    • Freshman Jaden Hill should be able to help this team from the get-go in the spring. Hill has a projectable 6-foot-4, 215-pound, athletic frame. He sat 90-92 and up to 93 with his fastball the day I was there with some sink, while the changeup was a filthy offering at 80-81, and the 79-81 slider had some late tilt to at times. The fastball and changeup are both impressive offerings, while the slider has been a bit more impressive than expected this fall.

    “I think Jaden is going to be a good one for us. He’s been up to 92-93 with his fastball every time out and his breaking ball is better than I thought it would be,” he said. “He’s one of those guys who wasn’t quite as polished out of high school. He gets hit when he doesn’t have pinpoint command. He’s getting better and better, but he needed the fall and the development.”

    Devin Fontenot is another talented righthander who earned valuable innings as a freshman last season. Fontenot, another guy who will get up to 92-94 with his fastball, was shut down early in the fall, as with most of LSU’s better arms. Mainieri said Fontenot, too, had some bright moments during fall workouts. I’d think he’d a good candidate to have either a long middle relief role, or potentially to start in the midweek. I’d lean the first on this one.

    • Another young arm, righthander Riggs Threadgill, is another intriguing arm to watch as the spring nears. Threadgill is a physical-looking 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, who sat 88-91 with his fastball with some sinking action in the scrimmage. Threadgill also flashed a good slider at 79-81 with late tilting action, while the changeup was 79-80. The righty hunches over when he throws, which creates some natural sinking action on the fastball. It will be interesting to see what type of role Threadgill will have in the spring, but there’s definite upside.

    “I didn’t really know what to expect out of him, but he’s looked pretty good, too,” he said. “His velocity isn’t what we thought it was going to be out of high school. He was up to 93 out of high school, but he’s been more 88-90 this fall. But he’s a strike-throwing machine and has pitched better than any freshman not named Landon Marceaux.”
     
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  2. CajunlostinCali

    CajunlostinCali Window Licker

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    Part Two:

    SMITH SHINES AND MORE
    The Tigers will have one of the nation’s premier offensive lineups in the spring, and the return of Josh Smith is a big reason for that.The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder, missed much of last season because of a stress reaction in his back, and the Tigers could’ve used his services both in the field and at the plate.

    Smith was ranked in the teens in terms of 2019 MLB draft prospects last season. And though he was in the 50s in our summer prospect list, there’s a good chance he scales the rankings yet again in our updated January list after having a strong fall at the plate.

    Smith was terrific in the scrimmage on Friday. He showed a smooth lefthanded swing with quick hands, and had a couple of hits, including a no-doubter three-run home run to right field. Smith had a confident and mature plate approach and looked like a high-round draft pick and All-American. The talented infielder also showed smooth actions in the field.

    “Josh Smith has been going great with his bat,” he said. “He has looked great this fall. He missed some time this fall because he bruised his rotator cuff, but he’s back and he’ll be ready to go in the spring.”

    In terms of other infield positions, keep an eye on Hal Hughes and Drew Bianco, the son of Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. Hughes, a 5-foot-11, 171-pounder, was a terrific defender at shortstop last season, but was a little light with the bat. Hughes will move away from shortstop with Smith moving there, but how about this for a little surprise? Mainieri said there’s a great chance he moves to third base. Hughes has a strong and accurate arm, Mainieri said, over there, while also showing big-time improvements this fall from an offensive standpoint.

    “I place a big-time premium on defense, and I think third base is the most important and toughest position outside of shortstop,” he said. “I’ve been playing Hughes over there a lot to make sure our defense is bette, and he’s been pretty good. His hitting has greatly improved, and his arm has been pretty good, too. I’m tinkering with the idea of him over at third.”

    Bianco, is a. 6-foot, 200-pounder, with physicality and toughness. He played through a broken finger in the scrimmage last Friday, and has a chance to start at second base in the spring, along with senior Brandt Broussard. Mainieri would like to get Bianco as many reps as possible, but said while his offense is in good shape, he does need to improve from a defensive standpoint. Freshman Gavin Dugas is another talented infielder to watch.

    “He’s a physical kid with a strong lower half,” he said about Bianco. “I think he could catch for us, too, but I am hoping he can play second or third for us. I really like those two freshmen a lot.”

    The Tigers have options in the infield.

    MORE POSITION NUGGETS
    First base options and freshmen CJ Willis and Cade Beloso have bright futures with the program. Willis was recruited as a catcher, but is playing first base this fall because of an injury. He can’t throw right now, so we’ll see if he sticks there in the spring. Willis is a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder, with an athletic frame. He put on a show during batting practice, showing off a physical swing from the left side. Willis had some noticeable pop and wasn’t shy about going opposite field. He can be an immediate impact bat for the Tigers. There’s also Beloso, a stocky 6-foot, 220-pounder, who has some serious pop in his swing and has strong pedigree as the former Louisiana Player of the Year.

    Zach Watson, Daniel Cabrera and Antoine Duplantis continue to make up one of the nation’s better outfield units. The Tigers got a little lucky with Duplantis coming back, while Watson is a speed guy with some pop, but definitely benefits from coming back for another season after having an OK 2018 campaign. Watson was inconsistent in the Purple-Gold scrimmage, and will need to establish more consistency in the spring, Duplantis continues to be a hit machine, smacking a double in the scrimmage, and Cabrera, a 6-foot-1, 187-pounder, looked terrific in the scrimmage. Cabrera showed his typical smooth lefthanded swing and looked to be even more impressive from a physical standpoint. Cabrera was LSU’s best hitter from about the midway point to the end of the season, and I expect that to be the case yet again in 2019.

    “I think our outfield will be as good as anyone with Watson, Duplantis and Cabrera,” he said. “I think this fall, the big key for us has been getting some pitchers back and figuring things out at third base. We’ve got a lot of potential, for sure.”

    LSU’S INJURY WOES
    While the Tigers are excited about the season ahead, they also hope to get healthy as soon as possible. Most of LSU’s injuries right now aren’t considered serious, but Mainieri and the coaching staff are cautiously optimistic. After all, setbacks can happen at any point.

    Here’s a total rundown of the current injuries — from most to least serious.

    Nick Storz is a talented sophomore righthander with big-time upside … when he’s healthy. Storz, who dealt with some injuries throughout last season, has yet another injury this fall — one that required lat surgery, similar to big leaguer Jake Peavy a few years ago. Storz might come back in April or May, or he could miss the season completely. It’s still up in the air.

    Saul Garza is a talented junior college transfer and sophomore catcher who was having a huge fall before having a meniscus tear in a scrimmage. Garza, who reminds Mainieri of Baylor All-American catcher Shea Langeliers, was showing big-time power and consistency at the plate, while also doing a solid job behind the plate. Unfortunately, a meniscus tear last season wasn’t caught and the current injury was an extension of that injury. Instead of the usual few weeks it takes to heal, Garza will be out for a couple of months, but ready for Opening Day, per Mainieri.

    “We’re going to have a pretty good offensive lineup, and I’ll be glad when we get Saul back from an injury,” Mainieri said. “He’s going to be a special player for us. He had 23 homers last season and he might’ve been our best hitter up until the point where he got hurt. It seemed like everything off his bat was at 108-110 mph or something. He should be back by opening day, but I wished you could’ve seen him. He’s a special, special hitter.”

    While Garza is on the shelf because of the injury, LSU will turn to another junior college transfer to take his spot — physical Brock Mathis. Mathis is a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, from Northwest Florida CC, who showed some impressive pop during batting practice a few nights ago.

    Caleb Gilbert is a seasoned veteran righthander who has pitched some important innings in his LSU career. Gilbert didn’t look right at the end of last season, and had some surgery during the offseason to clean up some fraying in his labrum. He’s expected to be fully recovered in the spring. If so, that could be a huge boost for the Tigers, as he’s very good when clicking on all cylinders.

    Matthew Beck is a talented junior righthander who was coming off a massive summer at the Texas Collegiate League before experiencing some tenderness in his elbow and being shut down this fall. This past summer, Beck, a 6-foot-7, 235-pounder, was 89-92 and up to 93-94 with his fastball, while also showing feel for that typical hammer curveball that flashes plus at times.

    Ma’Khail Hilliard and AJ Labas both showed some serious spunk in their inaugural campaigns with the Tigers last season, but the two were shut down this fall after they simply didn’t feel right. Fortunately, Hilliard has been playing catch lately and seems fine, while there’s no structural damage to either pitcher.

    “Hilliard and Labas just haven’t felt right this fall, but there’s nothing structurally wrong there,” Mainieri said. “I think the prognosis is good — I’m hoping it is. It’s been a mystery to us because there’s nothing structurally wrong, but they just don’t feel right.

    “I watched Hilliard play catch and he looked nice and normal, so we’ll see,” he continued. “I feel for Ma’Khail because he was a starter for us last year … he helped save our season. And he hasn’t even gotten a chance to compete for a weekend spot in the rotation again because of this setback.”

    • Young arms such as Rye Gunter, Easton McMurray and Cole Henry also didn’t throw this fall. Gunter arrived at LSU with a stress reaction in his back, while Henry had an issue with his humerus bone in his arm and didn’t throw this fall. McMurray, too, did not pitch this fall.

    “I’m really hoping those two guys are back in the spring, that’s for sure,” he said. “Again, I think these guys are pretty capable of throwing well in the spring — but we’ll see? I haven’t even seen them throw yet.”"

    So there it is, question marks for middle relief, a good amount of power at the dish and bonafide world beater athletes in the outfield and in. Gotta see what we have behind the plate for a catcher in Saul, but by all accounts, the kid can mash.

    We'll dive in later and look at individual players and get some data rolling from the post-fall ball sessions, but soon enough, we will see what these Tigers have in store for us.

    Geaux Tigers!
     
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  3. ParadiseiNC

    ParadiseiNC don't worry, be happy

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  4. furduknfish

    furduknfish #ensmingergoat

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    Also, Fuk Florida...
     
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  5. CajunlostinCali

    CajunlostinCali Window Licker

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    LSU is pre-season #2 in D1 Baseballs top 25. The Tigers come in under Vandy at the top spot with a total of 5 SEC teams in the top 10. LSU is followed by fuck florida at #6, Georgia at #9 and old piss at #10. Inside the rest of the top 25 is Miss. St. at #14, R Kansas at #16 and the barn at #22. Each and every one of those teams we gotta play and half on the road with the exception of Vandy who will be waiting for us in Hoover.

    Take a deep breath everyone because it's gonna be a brutal path to greatness if these Tigers wanna see eauxmaha. Some awesome baseball is coming our way. Enjoy
     
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  6. mctiger

    mctiger closet claustrophic Staff Member

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    ROY_LA_CA and kcal like this.
  7. CajunlostinCali

    CajunlostinCali Window Licker

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    Lol, my pleasure to pony up the 13 bucks a month to share the great info by those at D1. Nobody does a deeper dive into College baseball than them fellas. I look forward to a pretty stellar season this year.

    Projected starting lineup later....
     
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  8. shane0911

    shane0911 Helping lost idiots find their village Staff Member

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    Hell Yes
     
  9. ehusson80

    ehusson80 Veteran Member

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    Thank you! I can venmo something if you message me. You shouldn't be the only one to pay.
     
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  10. LSUpride123

    LSUpride123 Boobies make everything A OK!!!

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    Can't wait to lose a midweek game and have everyone freak the fuck out!
     
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