Marshall signals start of LSU's bright future

How did Friday's deadline pass without Mac Marshall even receiving an offer from the Houston Astros? What impact will he and his 2014 classmates have as freshmen? TSD takes a look at what it all means for the Tigers.

The LSU coaches kicked around several different scenarios in the days leading up to Friday, the final day for MLB Draft picks to sign with their respective clubs.

But the ultimate result was one they felt was too inconceivable to even consider.

Not only did Mac Marshall not sign with the Astros — ensuring the potential ace pitches at least three years at LSU — but Houston also failed to sign their first overall pick, Brady Aiken. The two were closely tied together — as was fifth-round pick Jacob Nix — and the Astros’ inability to reach a deal with Aiken prevented them from even presenting an offer to Marshall.

Shortly after the deadline, an LSU source said it was “hard to believe” that the Astros would botch their draft this badly. So how exactly did it reach this point?

The rift between Aiken and the Astros was well documented in the week leading up to Friday’s deadline. Houston had dropped their offer to him by millions amidst ligament issues they discovered in Aiken’s elbow during a post-draft physical. Aiken and his advisor cried foul, claiming the Astros backed out of a deal to save money for Marshall.

That relationship was so badly damaged that Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager, told the Houston Chronicle after the deadline passed that Aiken and his camp showed “no interest” in negotiating on the final day.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, Houston’s initial offer totaled $3.1 million, the minimum amount required for the Astros to receive a compensatory pick should they not sign Aiken. About 30 minutes before the deadline, Houston upped the offer and with five minutes left, they made their final offer of $5 million.

Each time, Houston received a simple “no” in return. No counter offer. Nothing.

That left Marshall waiting for an offer that never came. The stud southpaw expected to at least have a decision to make. He, like everyone else, found it impossible to imagine the Astros letting their first overall pick walk without a deal.

Sources at LSU felt the same way. They thought Houston would come to Marshall with an offer of about $1.5 million, which would have been enough for him to take. Paul Mainieri admitted in interviews that the feeling was bittersweet.

On one hand, LSU retained the jewel of its impressive 2014 signing class, one of the best assembled in recent years. But on the other, Marshall was understandably disappointed, his dreams of playing pro ball put on hold until 2017.

But from the fans’ perspective, there’s only reason to cheer. The Tigers kept 11 of their 12 high school signees this year — in addition to JUCO reliever Colin Strall — which was a dream scenario just a few months ago. Mainieri will officially introduce the Class of 2014 at a press conference on Monday. Here’s the complete list:

SS Gregory Deichmann – Metairie – Brother Martin – 6-2, 180
LHP Mac Marshall - Lilburn, Ga. – Parkview – 6-2, 185
RHP Alex Lange – Lee’s Summit, Mo. – Lee’s Summit West HS – 6-3, 210
SS Grayson Byrd – Alpharetta, Ga. – Kings Ridge Christian – 6-3, 180
LHP Jake Latz – Lemont, Ill. – Lemont Twp – 6-2, 185
RHP Doug Norman – Fort Mill, S.C. – Ardrey Kell – 6-3, 175
SS Austin Bain – Geismar – Dutchtown – 6-1, 185
C Mike Papierski – Lemont, Ill. – Lemont Twp – 6-3, 205
OF Beau Jordan – Lake Charles – Barbe – 5-10, 195
3B Bryce Jordan – Lake Charles – Barbe – 5-10, 195
RHP Jake Godfrey - New Lenox, Ill. - Providence Catholic - 6-3, 215
RHP Colin Strall - Atlanta, Ga. - Tallahassee Community College

LSU’s biggest priority this recruiting cycle was to add power pitching. That’s what made Marshall such a vital part of the class — a 6-foot-2 lefty with a three-pitch mix and a fastball that touches 94 mph. He’ll have weekend potential as a freshman, and could very likely start the season as the Tigers’ Friday night starter.

With two spots open in the rotation, LSU will be looking closely at these freshmen to fill in the holes. They certainly have the talent to do so.

Jake Godfrey was taken on the third day of the draft, but would’ve gone earlier if not for the strength of his commitment. Jake Latz turned down an offer of $1.1 million from the Toronto Blue Jays to stick with the Tigers. Alex Lange likely would’ve gone in the first 10 rounds had he not assured professional clubs that he was coming to college.

You’ll likely see all three of these pitchers on the mound in some capacity during the 2015 season, whether it’s out of the bullpen, in midweek or starting conference games.

LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn must be giddy about the talent they’ve assembled for his staff. The Tigers hope that keeping Marshall was only the first piece of good news this class will bring. LSU’s been spoiled in recent years with guys like Kevin Gausman, Ryan Eades and Aaron Nola. But as successful as LSU’s been on the mound, the future looks even brighter thanks to their success in the Class of 2014.

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