While there are several positions still up in the air for the 2013 LSU Baseball team, there are two spots that have been filled since the players stepped foot on campus. Coach Paul Mainieri has known since the beginning of fall practice who the starters at shortstop and third base would be.
For the first time in four years the starting left side of the LSU infield will be newcomers, after the positions were handled primarily by departed players Austin Nola and Tyler Hanover over the last four seasons.
The starter at third base will be Christian Ibarra. The 5-7 179 pound Ibarra is a junior transfer from Rio Hondo College in Wittier, Ca. Even though Ibarra seems a bit undersized, he more than makes up for it with a tremendous arm and great power at the plate.
A season ago, Ibarra hit .396 with six homeruns, on his way to being considered one of the top middle infielders in California in 2012. With that kind of production it was only a matter of time before Ibarra saw the field at LSU.
Coach Mainieri is extremely confident in the abilities that Ibarra brings to the table for the Tigers. While he realizes that Ibarra is a first year player in the SEC, Mainieri feels as though he will be very productive, in addition to becoming a fan-favorite.
"Christian Ibarra is a guy that I expect to contribute in his first year," explained Mainieri. "He is going to be our third baseman. He is going to be a very important player for us."
"I think he is a very outstanding defensive player and he has a free-swinging hitting style that LSU fans will love because he will swing for the long ball. He is going to get some big hits for us this year."
While Ibarra is a first year player, he has had a couple of years to get acclimated to the demands of college baseball. Alex Bregman, the projected starting shortstop for the Tigers, is a true freshman that hadn't been around college baseball until his first fall in an LSU uniform.
Regardless of the fact that he is a freshman, Bregman is poised to become a very special player before he leaves LSU. As a junior in high school, Bregman hit .678 with 19 homeruns, a New Mexico season record.
Following his senior year of high school, the 6-0 190 pound Bregman was drafted in the 29th round by the Boston Red Sox. Fortunately for LSU, Bregman was never much of a risk to be lost to the draft, as he has always dreamed of playing at Alex Box Stadium.
Even though he is just a freshman, Mainieri expects big things from Bregman in 2013. Mainieri is confident in not only the physical abilities of Bregman, but also his leadership abilities.
"Quite frankly, I think a player like Alex Bregman, as a freshman, brings an aura and a lot of confidence to this team because of his talent and his attitude," said Mainieri. "He is either going to lead off or bat three-hole for us, and play shortstop as a freshman."
"He brings out the best in his teammates and he isn't a selfish player. He is a very team-oriented guy and he works as hard as anyone I have ever seen in the game."
Baseball Preview: Positions 5 & 6
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