LSU MLB Draft Preview: Current Tigers

The 2013 Major League Baseball Draft begins on Thursday. Several LSU players will find out where they were selected on that day or the days following as the draft concludes. LSU will likely have a few juniors drafted that will have to decide what their future holds. TSD's Austin Cooper takes a look at those players with some input from Scout's Kiley McDaniel.

This is part one of a two part series that will look at the draft eligible players that are current LSU players or LSU signees expected on campus for next season. Today TSD looks at the current Tigers that should get good news later this week.

LSU (55-9) has had a spectacular season in 2013. The Tigers have won the SEC Tournament, Baton Rouge Regional and have advanced to the super regional stage of the NCAA Tournament thus far. Any time a team is as successful as LSU has been, it is a pretty certain bet that there are several professional prospects in the starting lineup. That is certainly the case with the Bayou Bengals in 2013.

Before the Tigers take on Oklahoma in the Baton Rouge Super Regional this weekend, a number of current LSU players will find out their professional future beginning on Thursday when the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft takes place. TSD's Austin Cooper takes a look at the most likely draft-eligible prospects for LSU from the 2013 squad. Scout's Kiley McDaniel also weighs in with his opinion on numerous prospects.

1B Mason Katz
2013 statistics: .378, 87 hits, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 52 runs scored, .987 fielding %

Katz has had a superb season, especially in the first half of 2013. The right-handed hitter had the best year of his LSU career this season when it was needed most throughout LSU's historic run through their 2013 schedule. Katz displayed great power and timely hitting all season, even against the best pitchers that he faced. Defensively, Katz was a very solid defender for the Tigers and had the highest fielding percentage in the LSU infield.

Because of all of this, Katz will certainly be picked in the upcoming draft. Where he will be picked is another story. The draft potential of a player like Katz is hard to project because of his size and his streakiness at the plate. On the high end, Katz could be picked relatively early in the draft such as rounds five through ten. However, there is a chance that he could also fall a bit further than that because of some uncertainties with his game offensively.

Kiley's take:

"Katz is a smaller first baseman with below average power and unspectacular tools, but he hits enough to fit in the 6th-10th round and profiles as an MLB bench bat if all works out."

OF Raph Rhymes
2013 statistics: .340, 81 hits, 4 HR, 45 RBI, 51 runs scored, 1.000 fielding %

One look at the statistics from 2013 for Rhymes and it can easily be seen that he suffered a significant drop off in production from a year ago. What is even more surprising is that he still had a very productive year for the Tigers, that's just how good his 2012 was. His number one issue in 2013 was simple a lack of consistency throughout the season. He showed flashes of the brilliance that was seen a season ago, but it wasn't there every game.

With the draft approaching, Rhymes will be one to watch as he could go a number of places in the draft. Rhymes had a great fielding percentage on the season, but he doesn't have great speed in the outfield and he lacks elite arm strength. He is a very efficient player at the plate and that will alleviate some of his defensive concerns for professional organizations. The best-case scenario with Rhymes and the draft seems to be the middle rounds at this point. However there is a slight chance that he could drop, but right now it seems that he will go anywhere from rounds 25 – 35.

Kiley's take:

"Rhymes is a lesser version of Katz due to less raw power. Solid professional player but looks like an "org guy" or non big leaguer."

3B Christian Ibarra
2013 statistics: .325, 68 hits, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 34 runs scored, .931 fielding %

Ibarra was one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2013 season for LSU. He transferred to LSU from Rio Hondo College in California and was able to step in and start at third base for LSU in his first season on campus. As a career shortstop, there were times throughout the season that it was evident that Ibarra was playing a bit out of position.

Ibarra was a very solid and consistent hitter at the plate for the Tigers and flashed a little bit of power potential throughout the season. The one drawback on Ibarra is his size. This and a couple of other things will likely cause his draft stock to fall. Ibarra will more than likely be a late round pick in this year's draft. He could even fall out of the draft altogether if things change.

Even though Ibarra will more than likely have an opportunity to forego his final year of eligibility after the draft, he is one that would benefit tremendously from another year of experience at LSU. It would provide him with an opportunity to get stronger as well as learn his position a bit better.

Kiley's take:

"Ibarra can hit some, but is below average defensively at third on a professional skill and doesn't have the power to profile everyday in a corner outfield spot. He should return for his senior year and will be solid minor leaguer."

C Ty Ross
2013 statistics: .211, 41 hits, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 25 runs scored, 1.000 fielding %

Ty Ross quickly became known as one of the top defensive catcher in all of college baseball in 2013. It seemed as though he silenced the running abilities of teams nearly every weekend. He has incredible arm strength from behind the plate and is extremely accurate.

The one drawback with Ross all season has been his production on offense. He has hit balls hard throughout the season, but it seemed that every one of them was right to an opposing defender. Ross also became known as Mr. Clutch late in the season for the Tigers.

Just based off of his defensive abilities, Ross will be picked in this year's draft. The chances of him being picked high are very slim. His most likely projection would be the later rounds with round 20-25 being on the high side of that. He needs some time to develop and would be best suited to return for his senior season. Even though that may be the case, there is somewhat of a chance that Ross will play his final game in an LSU uniform in 2013.

Kiley's take:

"Ross catch play catcher professionally and has good power, but his physical length has given him real problems making contact. May sign in lower rounds, but will be best served to return for senior year to recoup value."

2B JaCoby Jones
2013 statistics: .283, 53 hits, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 38 runs scored, .980 fielding %

Jones is easily the most physically gifted athlete on the LSU team. 2013 was a strange season for Jones as it had been reported that Jones had dramatically improved his swing and approach at the plate. That wasn't evident for most of the season, and just when Jones was getting back on track, he suffered a wrist injury that held him out of action for a couple of weeks.

Jones showed great improvement in the back half of the 2013 season offensively. His strong point is his defensive abilities and the fact that he has the ability to play multiple positions effectively, just as he did in his LSU career.

Just based on physical ability, Jones will be a high draft pick when this year's draft kicks off on Thursday. Before the season, most analysts pegged Jones as a first round pick because he has that kind of potential. However, most projections show him falling a couple of rounds, but still staying in the top five to ten rounds. Jones will likely not be in an LSU uniform when the 2014 season rolls around because it has been known for a while that he has a strong desire to get his professional career started.

Kiley's take:

"Jacoby has first round tools across the board and could play 2B, 3B or CF professionally. His approach and feel for hitting has ranged from bad to terrible his whole career. Could go in 3rd-5th round this year, but wouldn't shock me if he returned for senior year to boost value."

RHP Ryan Eades
2013 statistics: 8-1, 2.81 ERA, 96 IP, 98 hits, 30 walks, 77 SO

For the better part of the 2013 season, Ryan Eades pitched so well that Coach Paul Mainieri considered moving him into the Friday night role. However as the season progressed, Eades had consistency issues with his command which resulted in opponents getting the barrel of the bat on the ball.

Eades was one to watch heading into the 2013 season that could potentially be a first round selection. Based off of his performance this season and the fact that he has a plus fastball, that scenario is still very much in play for the right-hander. There isn't much of a chance that Eades falls past the first five rounds of the draft. He will likely be picked in one of the first, composite or second rounds. He will also likely not return to LSU for his senior season.

Kiley's take:

"Eades has flashed first round stuff and still may go in the top 33 picks, but has been inconsistent this spring and likely goes in the comp round or early second."

RHP Joey Bourgeois
2013 statistics: 3-2, 2.25 ERA, 32 IP, 26 hits, 10 walks, 32 SO

Joey Bourgeois developed into one of the nation's best setup men out of the bullpen, consistently setting the stage for LSU closer Chris Cotton. Bourgeois has a plus fastball with a good breaking ball. His best attribute, however, is his command with his fastball. He knows how to stay down in the zone and throw strikes. This is something that has caught the attention of scouts in the past.

Bourgeois will likely be a later round selection in this year's draft and has the potential to develop into a solid man out of the bullpen in the minors.


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