LSU’s baseball program has thrived through the years with an occasional junior-college player making a splash from the moment he steps on campus.
The current point and case is junior Raph Rhymes, who leads the nation with a .484 batting average and has driven in 40 runs.
Delgado Community College center fielder Sean McMullen has numbers right now that hint of him being a similar player, and he’s just glad finally get the chance to step into those shoes.
The former Brother Martin star signed a national letter of intent with LSU last week, a few years later than he thought after fate intervened in the way of a nasty ankle injury.
Better late than never.
“I wanted to come to LSU out of high school and they recruited me a lot, but after I got hurt , coaches had to back off because they didn’t know when I’d be ready to play again,” McMullen said. “They wanted to see me recover.”
When McMullen was a junior, he was rounding third base and headed toward the plate when his coach threw up a stop sign. As McMullen slid back into third base feet-first, his right ankle caught the corner of the bag and he tore three ligaments in his ankle and suffered a 50% tear of his Achilles tendon.
The rehab was long and arduous, but McMullen came back and played his senior season at Brother Martin, hitting .369 to earn consensus all-state recognition.
The D-I programs still hesitated, but Delgado coach Joe Scheuermann didn’t blink and offered McMullen a spot with the Dolphins.
There was another hurdle to scale, though. Before he stepped on the field for Delgado, tore his right hamstring – likely a residual effect of the ankle and Achilles problem.
McMullen got back on the field for 39 games and hit .268 as a freshman with 9 doubles, 3 triples, 5 home runs, 35 RBIs and 20 runs scored.
As healthy this season since he’s been since 2010, McMullen has blossomed.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound left-handed hitting dynamo is batting at a torrid .465clip with 15 doubles, 8 triples, 2 homers, 22 RBIs and a team-high 52 runs. He has stolen 9 bases and given the Dolphins a huge boost from the leadoff spot.
“I’m playing as well as I ever have and I’ve blown up this spring,” McMullen said. “I’m playing without having to worry about my ankle and leg and that’s really boosted my confidence.”
Over the last month, McMullen has gone on a recruiting frenzy with one school after another checking his interest.
“They stayed in touch and that sticks out in my mind,” McMullen said.
Also on McMullen’s mind is the possibility of being drafted in June.
He said he’s gotten some feedback and has seen scouts at Delgado games throughout the season. LSU has been down this road before with former Delgado center fielder Lucas LeBlanc, who was set to report to campus in the fall of 2010 before the Boston Red Sox sweetened their bonus offer substantially enough to convince him to sign.
Barring a major surprise, though, McMullen said he’s headed to Baton Rouge – a notion he and his coach the last two seasons described as a dream come true.
"We’re obviously thrilled that Sean is fulfilling his lifelong dream in becoming a Tiger,” Scheuermann said. “He will make a great SEC player over the next few years while continuing Delgado’s proud tradition of placing players in four-year programs.”