LSU baseball: Crunchin' the numbers

Paul Mainieri, Tigers hold onto eight of 14 drafted players so far, and first-round pick Mikie Mahtook is still weighing his options.

Most of the dominoes have fallen for the LSU baseball program since the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft wrapped up, and with the new school year getting near, the roster is starting to take shape.

The latest move was expected as outfielder/left-handed Jake Cave from Virginia told Tigers' coach Paul Mainieri he plans on signing with the New York Yankees, although no terms have been reached.

Mainieri said last week he expected the Yankees to pay Cave, a sixth-round selection, a signing bonus potentially in the seven-figure range – more than their first pick, Dante Bichette Jr., who reportedly signed for $750,000.

Cave was projected as a two-way player at the college level and Mainieri made no bones about thinking LSU would've been the best option for Cave. But he also understands the lure of pro baseball.

"He had a choice between a great program here and a great franchise in the Yankees," Mainieri said. "I don't begrudge the kid for doing what he thinks is best for him."

With Cave officially off the board, the lone remaining question mark is a big one.

Junior Mikie Mahtook is still negotiating with the Tampa Bay Rays and said Monday night that nothing has changed. The 31st player taken, Mahtook is in line for a seven-figure signing bonus, although the Rays have already spent over $5 million on signing bonuses.

Still, Mainieri isn't penciling Mahtook in for the 2012 season.

"We're not counting on Mikie being back, and I'm hoping that that kid gets whatever he's asking for because he deserves it so much," Mainieri said. "He's given so much to our program for three years and I'll do anything I can to help him do whatever he needs to do to reach whatever his dreams are."

Junior pitcher Tyler Jones is also still unsigned, but Mainieri said the erratic right-hander had "a good talk" with executives from the Minnesota Twins, who picked him in the 11th round despite an up-and-down 2011 season.

Assuming Mahtook and Jones sign as expected, LSU will wind up with eight of 14 drafted players who either had eligibility left or had signed with the program.

The Tigers lost closer Matty Ott to pro baseball when he signed with Boston after being picked in the 13th round.

And two other position players who, like Cave, likely would've had a chance to play right away also chose pro baseball: Trevor Story (supplemental round) and Johnny Eierman (third round).

Of the drafted recruits who stuck to their commitments, the biggest names are pitchers Aaron Nola, Cody Glenn and Nick Goody along with outfielder Arby Fields.

LSU also got a boost when drafted veterans Austin Nola, Tyler Hanover and Raph Rhymes opted to return.

"Eight of 14 guys from the draft is a good number," Mainieri said. "We would've liked to have kept one of the three hitters we lost, but that's balanced out by Austin, Tyler and Raph coming back. All three of them had a chance to leave and gave it some thought. So, it's almost like we got three recruits only they have a three years of experience in the SEC."

Mahtook said he thinks a decision could come this week with Tampa. He has until Aug. 16 to either sign or return to school.

Crunchin' the numbers

Current players returning

SS Austin Nola
DH/OF Raph Rhymes
3B Tyler Hanover

Still waiting
OF Mikie Mahtook
SP Tyler Jones

Current player leaving
RP Matty Ott

See you soon
LHP Cody Glenn
RHP Aaron Nola
RHP Nick Goody
OF Arby Fields
RHP Carson Baranik

What might've been
SS Trevor Story, signed with Colorado
SS Johnny Eierman, signed with Tampa Bay
OF/LHP Jake Cave, will sign with the New York Yankees

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