The summer’s a busy time for the LSU baseball staff as they hit the recruiting trail hard, scouting and evaluating talent at the various leagues and showcase tournaments throughout the country.
TSD’s here to provide you with some of the latest information on the Tigers’ recruiting efforts.
LSU has mostly completed its 2014 recruiting class after signing its 12th member last month in JUCO reliever Colin Strall. The Tigers do still have 11 days to hold out until the July 18 deadline for MLB draftees to sign, but the coaches are confident they won’t lose anybody else to the professional ranks.
The only high school signee the Tigers had sign professionally was Bobby Bradley, who was taken in the third round by the Cleveland Indians. LSU had five other signees taken in the draft, though the chances are slim that any of them will sign before the deadline, leaving the odds in LSU’s favor their class stays intact for the most part.
But the coaches have recruited another junior college pitcher in case the Tigers receive an unpleasant surprise from one of their signees. But with that unlikely to happen, you can expect LSU’s 2014 class to hold steady at its present form.
That leaves LSU’s attention primarily looking forward at the Classes of 2015 and 2016. The summer offers the coaches several chances to see their top prospects in-person, and they take full advantage of those opportunities. Just this week, Paul Mainieri and assistants Alan Dunn and Javi Sanchez will be in Atlanta for the World Wood Bat Association National Championship, a tournament featuring more than 100 of the nation’s best travel teams.
LSU’s 2015 class currently sits at eight members. The full class is listed below:
RHP Cole McKay – Spring Branch, Texas – Smithson Valley – 6-5, 205
SS/3B O’Neal Lochridge – Lafayette – St. Thomas More – 6-1, 200
C Dominic DiCaprio – Coral Springs, Fla. – Marjory Stoneman Douglas – 6-0, 210
RHP Caleb Gilbert – Hoover, Ala. – Hoover – 6-1, 170
MIF Lenni Kunert – Denham Springs – Live Oak – 5-7, 165
CF/LHP Brennan Breaux – Lafayette – St. Thomas More – 6-0, 183
MIF Christopher Reid – Baton Rouge – St. Michael – 5-10, 175
MIF/RHP Dylon Poncho – Elton – Kinder – 5-9, 175
The big focus for LSU moving forward is to add pitching, and there’s one name in particular that the coaches have tracked closely these last couple weeks. RHP Parker Ford (Lufkin, Texas) has been a big name in recruiting circles, receiving attention from programs like Arkansas and TCU. Ford is playing this summer with a team based out of Shreveport, and last week was in Pineville for a tournament. Coach Mainieri made the trip up there to see him throw, and Coaches Sanchez and Dunn have also seen him pitch in-person in recent months.
At about 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Ford has a fastball that sits between 89-93 mph and touches 94 mph. He also has a solid curveball and changeups, giving him a three-pitch mix with weekend potential on the next level. Now that LSU has seen him a few times, they hope to ride that momentum into a visit later this summer.
In addition to all the travel team tournaments the LSU coaches will scout over the coming weeks, the Tigers will also host three summer showcase camps at Alex Box Stadium in August. Much like the football team, the LSU baseball coaches use these camps to invite their top targets to perform in front of the entire staff. That’s been a vital recruiting opportunity for LSU as 19 of the 35 players currently on the roster participated in one of those camps while in high school.
Let’s also take a quick look at what the Tigers have in the Class of 2016. LSU currently has four commits entering their junior year, and here’s the full list:
RHP Brennan Maddox - Grant - Fairview
SS Josh Smith - Baton Rouge - Catholic
RHP Feleipe Franks - Crawfordville, Fla. - Wakulla
SS Zach Watson – Monroe – West Ouachita
Zach Watson’s the most recent addition to this class, committing to LSU two weeks ago. He was someone the coaches were tracking closely, particularly after seeing him in the State Championship semifinals. He committed on the spot after picking up his offer.
Watson played short stop as a sophomore for West Ouachita, typically batting in the three-hole while also pitching. He’ll be an infielder on the next level with very good speed, running a sub-6.7 second time in the 60-yard dash. He should be able to play several different positions in the infield, making him a versatile option that LSU expects to be a very good collegiate player.
Feleipe Franks, the four-star quarterback committed to the football team, was spotted on the mound this past weekend at the WWBA championship. Scouts reported his velocity was up to 89 mph, and the LSU baseball coaches are excited to offer him an opportunity on their team as well.
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