LSU MLB Draft Preview: Signees

With several current LSU players expecting to hear their names called beginning on Thursday when the MLB Draft starts, there will be even more signees to worry about. LSU's stellar 2013 recruiting class will have numerous members picked in the draft this week and TSD's Austin Cooper takes a look at their skills and where they are projected to go. Scout's Kiley McDaniel also weighs in.

This is part two 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 members of LSU's 2013 signing class that are likely to be high draft picks beginning on Thursday.

LSU has had a phenomenal season in 2013 and they are sure to be right back in the same position next season with the recruiting class that they may have coming in. Numerous LSU signees will be watching the 2013 MLB Draft closely this week as they will be selected at some point and have to make the very tough decision on what route to go with their careers. TSD's Austin Cooper takes a look at the highest rated signees and breaks down where they are likely to get picked and what the chances of them being in purple and gold next season are.

MIF Dakota Dean
Crestview High School
Crestview, FL

Dakota Dean is the younger brother of former LSU Tiger Blake Dean. This is the main reason why they younger Dean chose to sign with the Tigers in November. In terms of skill sets, Dean is a player that is quite versatile. He can play anywhere in the infield, with the exception of first base, and plans are to have him compete for the second base position if it is vacated by junior JaCoby Jones after this season.

Dean has a very powerful swing for a middle infielder as well. He is known for a smooth left-handed stroke with good homerun power, just like his brother. I spoke with Dean over the weekend and he told me that recent projections from scouts show that he could be picked in the first five rounds of the draft. It is a bit more likely that he falls past point in the draft that a little.

Signability will be a concern with Dean as he has maintained an interest in going through the college experience at LSU. It also helps that he is already on campus for the Tigers after enrolling in summer school. Dean will be picked relatively early in the draft, but the LSU staff is not worried about loosing him to pro ball at this point.

OF Jarret DeHart
Shawnee High School
Medford, NJ

DeHart is the cousin of former Tiger great Brett Laxton. DeHart is slated to play outfield if he ends up at LSU and will provide some much needed power to the position. He is also a superb defender with a good glove and great arm strength out of the outfield.

Offensively, DeHart has loads of potential. He has a very powerful swing from the left-side and could be a solid run producer in Baton Rouge for the Tigers.

As is the case with most LSU signees, pro scouts are concerned with the fact that DeHart may not be very signable. From the beginning of the process, DeHart has maintained that he would like to attend LSU and follow in the footsteps of Laxton. At this point, the chance of playing in the College World Series with LSU outweighs the prospects of a professional career for DeHart.

He has the potential to be a very high draft pick, with the first ten rounds definitely not out of the question. Regardless of his draft position, it will be hard to get him away from LSU and it would take a ridiculous amount of money to convince him to sign. The coaching staff is also not worried about him as the draft approaches. I think he ends up at LSU and becomes a big contributor very early in his career.

OF/1B Nick Longhi
Venice High School
Venice, FL

Kiley's take:

Before his senior season, Nick Longhi was slated to be perhaps that highest drafted LSU signee. He did struggle throughout his final season at Venice High School, and he will be the first person to say that. Longhi did turn things around as Venice went on a run and won their second-straight state championship.

Longhi is a prospect that could fit in easily at either first base or in the outfield. He has great velocity from the outfield on his throws, but he is also a stellar defensive player in the infield. However, what stands out most about Longhi is his potential at the plate.

Longhi has a left-handed swing with a lot of power behind it and would flourish at any level that he decides to play at. Longhi is another prospect that has signability issues and that will probably cause him to fall in the draft. His family has maintained that they would like him to get a college education and he has always dreamed of playing at LSU.

At this point, I see Longhi being taken in the first 10-15 rounds of the draft, but still ending up at LSU. The coaching staff is only slightly concerned about him not reporting to LSU.

"Longhi looked like a 3rd-5th rounder entering the year with advanced hitting ability, but his swing mechanics backed up and he had a tough spring. He is rumored to have a high signability number so it appears he will be a three-year RF or 1B starter for LSU."

3B Danny Zardon
American Heritage High School
Pembroke Pines, FL

Zardon is one of the more intriguing signees in LSU's 2013 recruiting class. His projection has him being a third baseman at the next level, with second base also being a possibility. He is a very good defender and could be an instant contributor on the college level.

He is an above-average hitter with decent to good power at this point in his career. That is sure to increase with development. A few months ago I believed that Zardon would be a high enough draft pick for LSU to have to worry about getting him on campus. I still have my concerns about that, but it seems as though Zardon's stack has gone down a bit. Although signability is not a concern for him as he has said that he would consider signing professionally if the money is right.

If he is drafted high enough, he could be one that the LSU staff loses. I see him going in the first 15 rounds of the draft, with the possibility of falling further than that as well. Playing at LSU would go a long way in helping him have a successful professional career.

Kiley's take:

"Zardon has the same swing path as Justin Williams, but more ordinary tools. He's a good third baseman with fringy tools on the big league scouting scale. If he had a more conventional swing, he would be more of a pro prospect but could be another three-four year starter for LSU."

OF/3B Justin Williams
Terrebonne High School
Houma, LA

Williams is the one signee that the LSU coaching staff is prepared to lose to the draft. Williams oozes with physical ability in many different aspects and is one of the top power hitters in the draft this year. Williams is a big bodied player that could play outfield or one of the corner infield positions and be incredibly successful.

Williams was named a first-team Rawlings All-American as a junior at Terrebonne High School. His claim to fame is his offensive abilities as well as his athleticism. Williams has incredible power from the left side of the plate and could be a potential leading homerun hitter at the professional level with some development.

The LSU staff currently feels as though Williams will never make it to campus, but there are rumors floating around out there that his stock has dipped a bit in recent months. I still fully expect him to be picked somewhere in rounds one through five. Whether or not he reports to LSU will depend on what kind of compensation organizations are offering Williams. The coaches would love to have him on campus, but all signs point to him passing on the opportunity at LSU to start his professional career.

Kiley's take:

"Williams has first round tools, but his uphill swing path and trouble hitting in games have turned off scouts. A club may still offer 3rd round money, so I think he's about 50/50 to get to campus. Would be a huge get with some of the loudest tools in the college game and many hitters with these swing flaws have flourished in college if not the pros."

LHP Jared Poche
Lutcher High School
Lutcher, LA

Poche is one of the more important members of LSU's 2013 class because he would be coming in at a position of need. Poche had a phenomenal season on his way to winning a state championship with Lutcher High School and being named the LSWA's Mr. Baseball. To give you an idea of his talents, Poche went 12-0 with a 0.61 ERA and 143 strikeouts in just 80 innings as a senior. This is part of the reason that he has shot up draft boards around the league.

Poche is a power arm from the left side with his fastball sitting consistently in the 90-93 MPH range. He also has great command of his other three pitches. If he were to report to LSU he would factor into the discussion for a starters role right away.

The LSU staff currently feels that it is difficult to tell what Poche will decide to do because they know that he will more than likely be a high-round pick. However, Poche has maintained all along that he wants to play college baseball at LSU.

Right now, I see Poche going within the first ten rounds or just outside of them because of signability issues. If he is drafted high enough, it would not come as a surprise to see him jump on the money and pass on LSU, but I think he ends up in purple and gold.

3B Connor Hale
State College of Florida
New Port Richey, FL

Hale is a big bodied and very athletic third baseman for the State College of Florida. He has the potential to play numerous positions because he still hasn't totally filled out.

He is a plus hitter with good speed on the base paths. Hale could wind up being a relatively high draft pick which could result in him passing on LSU. The coaching staff is slightly concerned with losing him, but other than that, not much is known about how signable he would be.

Hale is another player that would benefit tremendously from a year in a system like LSU's where he would have time to develop and progress as a player.

Kiley's take:

"Hale is a more conventional pro prospect as a 3B, but may eventually move to RF if he continues filling out his long frame. He's had some trouble hitting this year and doesn't have huge power but is projectable and a smooth athlete that looks the part. Hale could take a step forward with some adjustments and development."

RHP David Palladino
Howard Junior College (TX) (South Carolina Upstate)
Emerson, NJ

Palladino is a tremendous prospect on the mound physically. He currently stands at 6-9 and 270 pounds and he has a fastball that can run up to 95-97 MPH. Palladino started his career at South Carolina Upstate after concluding his prep career in Emerson, Nj. From there, he transferred to Howard Junior College (TX) where he had a very dominant season. He finished 7-3 with a sub-3.00 ERA and collecting 99 strikeouts in 70.1 innings.

Palladino would be the favorite to take over for the potentially departed Ryan Eades in the three-man rotation for LSU should he decide to not sign professionally. He was drafted in the 13th round out of high school, so scouts are already very aware of him. His draft stock has gone through the roof in recent months and he has more than likely moved into consideration for the first five rounds. It is very unlikely that Palladino falls past round ten, which is the reason why the LSU staff is concerned with losing him. Right now, I would put the odds at 50-50 that he ends up at LSU.

OF Jake Fraley
Red Lion Christian Academy
Middletown, DE

Fraley was perhaps the biggest pull of the 2013 class for the LSU coaching staff. Coming out of Delaware, Fraley is one of the top overall athletes in the 2013 draft class. Not only is he blazing fast (6.56 60-yard dash), but he also hits with tremendous power. Defensively, he has a cannon of an arm from the outfield and he should factor into the LSU starting lineup as soon as he is on campus.

While Fraley is definitely a prospect with top-three round kind of talent, there is no concern on whether or not he will report to LSU at this point. Fraley recently informed the LSU coaching staff that he had sent emails out to the interested professional organizations to inform them that he was not interested in signing professionally and would honor his commitment to LSU. This is huge news for the Tigers as he will surely contribute right away.

MIF Kramer Robertson
Midway High School
McGregor, TX

Robertson, the son of Baylor's Kim Mulkey, signed with LSU as one of the top high school players in the country. He has been consistently ranked among the top-100 high school players and it high on most draft projections. He is a little bit on the smaller side, but he is an outstanding defender and can hit with a little bit of power. He is an all-around great athlete that projects well on the next level.

He's another prospect that has the talent to go in the first 15 rounds of the draft, but because of signability issues, he will probably fall a bit. From the beginning, Robertson has said that he wants to play for LSU over playing professionally. He told the LSU coaching staff as much this week leading up to the draft. Their concern of losing him is very miniscule and I also fully expect him to be on campus next year.

RHP Troy Whitty
Dexter School
Easton, MA

Whitty was quite a pull by the LSU staff out of Massachusetts. He is another big-bodied right-hander that has a plus fastball consistently in the low 90's. He had a great senior season for the Dexter School and some feel that he increased his draft stock.

Not much is known about the signability of Whitty, but it is very likely that he ultimately reports to LSU. The LSU staff does not consider him a huge concern with the draft at this point and he could play a decent sized role for the Tigers next season.

He has a lot of potential, but I don't see him being selected as highly as some of the other LSU signees as I believe he will wind up at LSU.

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