The LSU Tigers bring 6 regulars back from 2011. But, the loss of Mikie Mahtook, the energetic CF, could prove to be a big loss this season. Â The player most likely to replace Mahtook is last years second baseman JaCoby Jones who is moving to centerfield . Jones is a terrific 5 tool player and former high school shortstop. The Tigers have a very good starting rotation and look to improve a bullpen that had its issues last year. They have plenty of senior leadership in Grant Dozar, Tyler Hanover, and Austin Nola. The newcomers to the team that should make an impact this season are JC transfer and former starting tailback at Northwestern OF Â Arby Fields, LHSP Cody Glenn, 1B Tyler Moore, RHRP Aaron Nola, OF Chris Sciambria, and new 2B and JC transfer Casey Yocum.
Paul Mainieri-is in his 6th season at LSU since taking over for the legend Skip Bertman. Mainieri has been in the coaching game for 29 years and has 1025 career victories. He has a 5 year record at LSU of 211-104-2 and he lead the 2009 Tigers to the national title. Paul has lead the Tigers to Omaha two times (08-09). 29 players have been taken in the MLB draft during Mainieri’s time on campus. He managed the University of Notre Dame from 1995-06 and also was the first civilian coach at Air Force. He played in the White Sox system as a player.
Alan Dunn- Dunn brings plenty of professional experience to the Tigers as their new pitching coach. He spent 2011 as the Orioles minor league pitching coordinator and served as the clubs bullpen coach the 4 seasons prior to that. He has 22 years of experience that also includes stops with the Cubs and Vanderbilt. He pitched at Alabama and was the Tigers 4th round pick in 1983 (spent 2 seasons in the minor leagues)
Javi Sanchez- The 5th year hitting coach will also work with the catchers and baserunners. He played under Coach Mainieri at Notre Dame (01-04) and was the starting SS in the 2002 CWS for the Fightin Irish.
Will Davis– The volunteer assistant in his 5th year on the staff. He is primarily the club’s OF coach. Played catcher at LSU from 04-07.
Ross Brezovsky– The team’s coordinator of baseball OPS. Former Notre Dame player who hit .289 with 11 HR and 130 RBI during his time in Great Bend (05-08)
3B Tyler Hanover- The 5’6 senior becomes a 4 year starter for LSU. He was drafted in the 40th round by the Yankees last year but comes back to LSU to try and win another national title. His freshman season for the College champs he started 65 games (3B) batting .321 with 5 HR and 47 RBI stealing 6. His sophomore season he was the club’s 2B batting .332 with a pair of HR and 35 RBI. Last year he went back to 3B and hit .311 with no HR and 25 RBi stealing 5. He is a terrific bunter laying down 15 sacrifices last year. He has some pop and scouts love his quick hips and hands and confidence on the field. He was a 2nd team HS All American and came to LSU from HS in North Carolina.
2B Casey Yocum-Â The 5’11 JR transferred in from Feather Rivers College after a HS carrer at Reed in Nevada. He is a very slick fielder and was a SS but with Nola coming back he will give LSU terrific defense up the middle. Last season in CC he hit .354 with 9 extra base hits and 10 SB driving in 25. His first year he batted .353 with 11 extra base hits and 27 RBI. A 4 year letter winner in HS where he batted .443 with 16 doubles, 2 HR, and 16 RBI his senior year. Blessed with terrific bat control he should be a fine #2 hitter for the Tigers.
DH Ralph Rhymes- He is listed as the team’s DH but started the first 2 games against Air Force in RF and LF. A great story as he did not make the team in 2008 as a walk on and had to transfer to LSU-Eunice to play. At LSU-Eunice he absolutely raked before becoming the National JUCO Player of the Year. The success he had let to a roster spot at LSU where he has not disappointed. He was the primary DH last season getting 49 starts there as well as 5 in RF and 2 in LF. He hit .360 with 3 HR and 42 RBI. Came back to school as a JR after saying no to the Pirates after they selected him in the 40th round.
RF Mason Katz- Katz is going to see time in RF, LF, and 1B this season. The JR from powerhouse Jesuit HS (has produced a dozen big leaguers including Connie Ryan, Rusty Staub, Will Clark, and Johnny Giavotella) was 1st team All State in 08-09 batting .410 with 7 HR as a SR. Played in 23 games as a freshman getting 8 starts in LF and batting .318 with 5 RBI. He hit .337 with 6 SB last season getting 38 starts in RF and 12 at 1B. Chosen to play in Fenway Park last summer as a Cape Cod All Star when he hit .272 with 3 HR and 18 RBI.
LF Jackson Slaid- The sophomore from Lakeside, LA is one of the most improved players on the team. He got into just 9 games last year as the backup C batting .167 with a double. Described as a gritty player with lots of swagger he is a tireless worker who has earned a middle of the line up slot with the Tigers. A 3 time all state performer in HS he hit .585 as a senior and also was his school’s quarterback. His work began to show off on the stat sheet when he hit .340 with a pair of HR and 35 RBI last summer in the prospect league before having a big fall season for Coach Mainieri.
CF JaCoby Jones- One of the finest athletes in the college game the Richton, Mississippi native was the team’s 2B last year after a fine career at SS in HS. He is the type of athlete that could play all over the field without skipping a beat. He is the one player really being asked to put on the shoes left behind by Mikie Mahtook. The freshman All American batted .338 last season with 4 HR and 32 RBI stealing 12 bags. He was the 2010 Mississippi HS player of the year and a 2nd team All American. He left his home state as its all time leader in hits. In his 4 years as a starter (making all state all 4 years) in baseball he hit 30 HR drove in 149 runs and batted over .500 stealing 132 bases. He was also a WR and Strong Safety in football. Has terrific bat speed, is a plus runner with a good arm. He also has a great baseball body earning comps to Troy Tulowitzki in HS who slipped to the 19th round (Astros) in HS because he was adamant he would go to college. Runs a 6.60 60 and after playing CF last summer on the Cape was said to be the best CF there. He will be a very high draft pick in 2013.
SS Austin Nola- The senior SS enters the 2012 season with 155 starts under his belt. He has been drafted twice (48th round Rockies in 2008 and 31st round Blue Jays last year) A 4 year starter with a great arm is a plus work guy and gym rat. Took the SS job as a freshman 40 games into the season and batted .240 with 3 HR and 18 RBI. His sophomore season he hit .320 with 5 HR and 52 RBI. Last year he hit .296 with 2 HR and 42 RBI. The 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana will get to spend his senior season playing with his brother Aaron who will be a valuable reliever for the Tigers.
1B Tyler Moore- The freshman from Dunham HS should end up as the team’s everyday 1B by the time tournament play rolls around. The LH hitter has a smooth line drive stroke and can also play C and some 3B. Â He hit .574 with 15 HR including 10 in his last 12 games. An aggressive hitter that puts the ball in play as he struck out just 3 times in 117 at bats as a senior.
C Ty Ross- The 6’2 207 pound sophomore from Naples, Florida was the Phillies 46th round pick out of HS. He was the primary C last year taking over for the departed Micah Gibbs and he was chosen for the freshman All SEC team. He plays very good defense and has a cannon for an arm but is still growing as a hitter. He hit .223 with 1 HR and 20 RBI last year.
C Jordy Snikeris- The senior from Austin, Texas began his career at Texarkana CC. He will be the backup C and get some at bats at DH this season. He played in 19 G last year with 7 starts hitting .259 (7-27) with one RBI. He was a 2010 1st team JUCO All American when he batted .400 with 7 HR and 49 RBI.
1B/3B Grant Dozar- Grant has been your quintessential college player as the senior has been a popular student athlete on and off the field. The Morgan City HS alum has served a variety of roles for the Tigers. His freshman season he played in 26 G (6 starts- 3 at 3B and 3 at DH) batting .265 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. His sophomore season he got 18 starts at 3B, 3 at C, and 1 at 2B and DH as he batted .277 with 1 HR and 16 RBI. His junior season he played 1B (14 starts) and C (3 starts) batting .250 with 2 HR and 9 RBI. He was a 3 time all state selection in high school hitting .500 as a senior with 8 HR and going 7-3 with a 1.25 e.r.a on the mound. He also was a 3 time all district quarterback. He should see some starts at 1B this season.
INF Beau Didier- Bob gave the LSU fans an awesome introduction as he hit a 2 run PH HR versus Vanderbilt in his first at bat as a freshman. But, so far that has been the highlight of an injury riddled career. He ended up taking a medical redshirt that season after he underwent TJ surgery. He came back in 2010 and played in 19 games including 8 starts at 3B batting .222 (8-36) with 5 RBI. In 2011 he played in 17 games and hit just .143 with one RBI. The Federal Way, Washington native comes from solid baseball bloodlines as his grandfather Mel was a standout 2 sports (Baseball-Football) player at LSU and is a well known baseball guy serving the role of scouting director for the Expos (70-75), and Player Development director for the Mariners (77-78)and Diamondbacks (98-99,2002) He has also worked for the Rangers and Blue Jays. Beau’s father Bob played for the Braves, Tigers, and Red Sox from 1969-74. Beau was the Pirates 40th round pick out of HS.
3B/C Evan Powell- The freshman from Lake Charles, LA was an all state 4A performer last year batting .514. He was also the school’s QB and S. He is a strong kid that can run (4.6 in the 40) well and is a versatile player that will see time at 3B and could catch some too.
OF Chris Sciambria- A nice player who enters college after a fine HS career at Catholic high. At 5’9 he possesses a short, quick swing. Led his team to the state title as a junior in 2010 when he batted .382. Hit .433 with 8 HR as a senior. He also shined in a Perfect Game wood bat tourney going 12-20. He was his high school football team’s kicker and was a 4.0 student. He has always been a LSU fan and went to the 2000 CWS as a 7 year old.
OF/1B Alex Edward- Alex started 37 games last season batting .279 with a pair of HR and 27 RBI. He saw action at 1B and both corner OF spots. A line drive, spray hitter won’t be an everyday guy this season but he will get at bats at several positions as the season progresses. He missed the opening series against Air Force with a hamstring injury. His freshman season he hit .314 with 2 HR and 15 RBI playing 3B, and both corner OF spots. RH bat from Parkview Baptist HS (LA)
OF/2B/3B Jared Foster-Â The Lake Charles, LA native spent the football season as a reserve QB but has since said he is leaving football to concentrate on a much harder game, baseball. In HS he batted .371 with 9 HR and 33 RBI while throwing for 3,090 yards with 30 passing TD’s and 6 rushing TD’s. Coach Mainieri has already committed to him as one of the key players coming off the bench.
OF Arby Fields- One of the most interesting stories in big time college baseball as Arby was the starting tailback as a freshman at Northwestern University. He was a freshman all big 10 performer but fell out of favor with the coaching staff as a sophomore after he developed fumble-itis. Still, the staff was shocked when he announced he was leaving the team to transfer to Cypress CC. At Cypress last year he hit .344 with 14 extra base hits and 25 RBI with 9 SB. Still when he announced he was transferring to LSU many though it would be to try football again. But, he is now just a baseball player and with his athleticism he could pull a Taiwan Easterling (former Florida State Football player and current Cubs farmhand) and receive a lot of attention from pro scouts. He has already been drafted twice (32nd round 2009 by Braves and 27th round last year by the Padres) The switch hitter runs well and is described as a physical player.
Friday Kevin Gausman- A sure bet to be a top 15 pick in this draft the draft eligible sophomore from Grandview, Colorado has an electric arm. The 6’4 righty has hit 100 on the gun before but settles in the mid 9’s with excellent movement. Last summer he pitched for Team USA getting 2 starts and striking out 9 over 8.2 IP. As a freshman he was 5-6 with a 3.51 e.r.a in 89.2 IP with 86 K’s and 23 bb’s. The two time all state P was 21-6 over 3 HS seasons.
Saturday Ryan Eades- The 6’3 sophomore from Slidell, LA was the Rockies 19th round selection in HS. He enters his sophomore season after a fine summer on the Cape where he was the pitcher of the year going 3-0 with a .84 e.r.a striking out 23 and walking 7 in 32 IP. A 2 way HS star he could not pitch his senior year after suffering a torn labrum but he did hit batting .400 with 6 HR and 39 RBI. Throws a mid 90’s fastball with a mid 70’s curve and change he throws in the high 7’s. Last season he pitched in 18 games with 6 starts going 4-1 with a 4.81 e.r.a and a 31/18 k/bb in 43 IP. He really shined in his last 4 starts going 3-0 with 16K in 24 IP.
Sunday Kurt McCune- The 6’3 slender lefty from Norco, CA. started 14 games as a freshman finishing with a 7-3 record and a 3.3.1 e.r.a striking out 68 and walking 25 in 89.2 IP. Hitters batted .221 against him. He finished the year strong going 2-0 with a 3.12 e.r.a and a 21/6 k/bb ratio in 26 IP. Throws a low 9’s fastball with a good slider and brings plenty of “moxie” to the mound. A strike thrower he was a 2 time all stater going 9-4 as a senior and 6-3 as a junior. He struck out 184 batters in 159 innings combined his last 2 years of HS.
Midweek Cody Glenn- The freshman lefty has won the midweek starter spot after a solid baseball career in Houston, TX. He was a 4 year letterman in baseball, basketball, and golf. He was drafted in the 15th round last year by the Blue Jays. His senior year he was 5-2 with a 2.33 e.r.a and a 90/23 k/bb ratio in 48 IP. Throws from a 3/4 slot and sits in the low 9’s with a plus slider.
RHP Joe Broussard- Sophomore righty standing at 6’1 205 from Holy Cross HS. He throws in the low 9’s with emerging off speed stuff. Pitched in 14 games (1 start) last year going 0-1 with a 5.19 e.r.a in 26 IP and a 28/9 k/bb ratio. Won’t hit at LSU but was an excellent hitter in HS.
RHP Joey Bourgeois- The junior returns from a year off when he received a medical redshirt after undergoing TJ surgery. He has had quite a journey to this season after being drafted in the 39th round by Atlanta following one season at JC. He first went to school at LSU-Eunice where he was 12-2 with 98 K’s in 87 innings. He transferred to LSU where he pitched in 18 games with 12 starts in 2010 going 4-1 with a 6.68 e.r.a and a 48/31 k/bb ratio in 61 IP.
RHP Michael Reed- The sophomore from Houston, Texas redshirted last year but got into 11 games as a freshman with 5 starts struggling with a 9.15 e.r.a and 13/12 k/bb in 20 innings. He bounced back and made up his innings having a nice summer going 5-2 and striking out 54 in 64 innings in the Northwoods League.
LHP Chris Cotton- The former walk on has become a fine situational reliever for the Tigers. The 5’10 lefty pitched in 13 games (13 IP) last season with no record striking out 14 and walking just 2 in those innings. Pitched last summer for the Acadiana Cane Cutters throwing in 16 G with 33 IP and 28 K. He was also 3-1 with a .55 e.r.a. In high school he was 9-1 with a 1.46 e.r.a as a senior at Byrd HS.
RHP Nick Goody- Last year’s achilles heel the bullpen looks to have much better seasons with the addition of P like Goody. Nick comes to LSU from State College of Florida where he threw 84 innings the last 2 years with a 6-2 record and a 114/33 k/bb ratio and a 1.29 e.r.a He turned down the Yankees (22nd round) to come to Baton Rouge and certainly should be just a one year P for the Tigers. Throws a heavy fastball at 94 with a slider and change he throws in the upper 7’s and low 8’s respectively.
RHP Aaron Nola- The younger brother of 4 year starting SS Austin enters college as a highly regarded pitching prospect. Last June he was taken in the 22nd round by the Blue Jays slipping because of his strong commit to LSU. He throws a low 9’s fastball from a 3/4 slot working with plenty of sink. He also possesses a potentially plus change that will keep many a hitter off balance. The 2011 5A player of the year and Mr. Baseball in Louisiana. He was 21-2 in high school. He also hit .364 with 4 HR his senior season. He will miss plenty of bats striking out 213 in 197 HS innings.
RHP Kevin Berry- Kevin, a redshirt junior, served a valuable role for the 2011 Tigers as he field in for struggling closer Matty Ott in the middle of the season. Eventually, he returned to a set up role. Came out of the gates hot as a first year Tiger (transfer from UNO) Pitching in 26 games with a 3-1 record, 2 SV, and a 3.14 e.r.a in 28.2 IP striking out 16 and walking 8. Hitters batted .210 against him. A big ground out P will be relied on to get his teams out of a jam with ground balls. He transferred to LSU after his former program at the University of New Orleans dropped to a D-III program (it has since been moved to D-II. As a freshman at UNO he suffered a hamstring injury early in the season and was redshirted. He batted .333 (5-15) as an infielder in 10 games but did not pitch. His redshirt freshman season he batted .281 with a HR and 13 RBI in 37 games while going 2-5 with a 7.05 e.r.a in 45 IP with 32 K and 21 BB. He was expected to transfer to Tulane but ended up changing his mind as he ended up at LSU.
Closer RHP Nick Rumbelow- The sophomore from Bullard, Texas is taking the closer role this year from the departed Matty Ott. Nick throws a low 9’s fastball with a terrific slider for his out pitch. Pitched in 10 games last year going 2-0 with a 4.85 e.r.a and 16 k’s with 11 bb’s in 13 IP. He made up innings over the summer in the Northwoods League striking out 60 in 51 IP. His senior season he went 11-3 with a .52 e.r.a and 127 k’s. He was also played outside linebacker, punted and was his school’s point guard.
C Matt Fury-Â Fury won’t get many at bats but the fans will see him quite a bit warming up pitchers and getting in some games as a pinch runner. He walked on the team in 2009 and served as the team’s bullpen catcher. He has played in 12 games the last 2 seasons getting 3 at bats with one hit.
RHP Carson Baranik- The 41st round pick for the Reds after a fantastic HS career (Parkway HS in Louisiana) throws in the low to mid 90’s. His 2 seamer has been clocked at 94 and he flashes a solid feel for his change but his go to pitch is a heavy slider that touches 85. He was 4-1 with a 1.70 e.r.a in his senior season with 57 K’s and just 4 walks. Unfortunately, he was suspended for a DUI on 2/12 and will not be a part of the team to start the season. (No time has been set for his return)
LHP Brent Bonvillain- The 6’0 Junior transferred from Delgado CC where he was 8-3 with a 3.43 e.r.a and a 78/28 k/bb ratio in 78 innings. He throws 3 pitches for strikes and his fastball touches 92 but sits in the upper 8’s. He could earn some time on the mound in a more valuable role as the season progresses.
LHP Aaron Johnson-Â A 5’10 lefty from Baton Rouge enters school after a standout career at Dunham HS where he was teammates with fellow freshman C/1B Tyler Moore. He throws a 90 mph fastball and could see time as a hitter too before his time at LSU is done. As a freshman in HS he hit 11 HR and batted .580 receiving tons of attention across the country. Hit a dozen HR as a JR and was 6-4 on the bump with a 3.85 e.r.a with 89 K in 46 innings.
RHP Braden Strickland- A freshman from Gun Barrel, Texas was a 2A All State selection at Eustace HS. He finished the season 7-1 with and 132 K’s. He was also a solid offensive player batting .500 with 10 HR and 44 RBI. His junior season he was 7-3 with a 1.86 e.r.a striking out 112 in 68 IP. He batted .397 with 9 HR and 30 RBI. Finished his HS career with 25 wins and a 1.50 e.r.a and 402 K’s in 238 IP.
LHP Christian Trent- The 5’11 freshman lefty from St.Paul HS in Louisiana is a strike thrower with a good breaking ball. His senior year he was 9-3 with a 1.24 e.r.a throwing 8 CG. His junior season he went 8-3 and was 10-1 as a sophomore.
Up next: Stanford