For the better part of the 2012 season, the right side of the LSU infield provided consistency from the plate as well as on defense. With returning starters JaCoby Jones and Mason Katz manning that side of the field again in 2013, they will once again be relied heavily on to provide consistency to a somewhat young LSU team.
LSU fans certainly have plenty to be excited about with regards to Katz, who is the leading returning home run hitter in the SEC. Katz hit .320 with 13 homeruns in 2012 while playing first base.
Coach Paul Mainieri expects more of the same from Katz this season. While he expects big things out of himself this season, Katz also believes that he had a great season because of the great hitters around him.
"I never thought I would be the leading returning homerun hitter in the SEC," said Katz."I was lucky because I got to hit in front of Rhymes and I got to see a lot of fastballs because people didn't want to face him."
Katz, a 5-10 188 pound senior from the New Orleans area, has enjoyed a lot of success during his time at LSU. He was also recently named preseason third-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
The other player that will handle duties on the right side of the field is second baseman JaCoby Jones. The 6-3 220 pound junior hit .253 with four homeruns in 2012. Jones will be relied on heavily this season to provide power to the LSU lineup.
From watching him in batting practice, one can easily see the power is definitely there for Jones to increase his homerun total from a year ago.
Coach Mainieri believes that Jones is primed for a big season for the Tigers. When speaking about players that might be playing their last season of college baseball, the first player that Mainieri mentioned was Jones. Between improvement shown and natural ability, Mainieri was very confident in his statement.
"Jones certainly has a very good chance to be a first-round pick in the draft this year, if he has a good season," said Mainieri. "We all know what he is capable of and he just has to put it all together. He had a very good fall and is working to cut down his strikeouts."
The bottom line is that the Tigers will have consistency and experience on the right side of their infield in 2013. From everything coming out of the LSU camp, Jones has shown great improvement since the 2012 season, and is even working with former player and current staff member Blake Dean on his swing.
While Jones and Katz will both be relied on heavily for production on both sides of the field, there is another aspect of the game that they will be responsible for. Mainieri believes that Katz will be one of the biggest leaders for LSU in 2013.
"I think you start with [Raph] Rhymes and Katz as the true leaders of this team, based on what they have done in this program over the last few years," said Mainieri. "I expect big things from Katz in that department this season."