Laval holds his breath until Monday

Most baseball coaches will tell you they won't know what kind of team they'll have until they take the field in the spring. First-year LSU head coach Smoke Laval should have a good idea of what his 2002 squad will look like on Monday, when returning players and signees who are considering professional contract offers have to decide where they want to play next year.

Eight members of the Tigers' 2001 squad and eleven signees were taken in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft in June. As of Thursday, four veteran players and five signees have signed with the pro teams who drafted them.

The latest to reach terms was left-handed pitcher Shane Youman, who was a 43rd-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In three seasons at LSU, Youman made 50 apperances and posted a 6-2 record and a 4.82 earned run average. His statistics in 93.1 innings included 61 walks and 62 strikeouts.

Laval also learned this week that catcher Jeff Timmons, a high school catcher signee out of Hollywood, Fla., has decided to enroll at Manatee Junior College rather than enroll at LSU. Timmons was a 14th-round choice of the San Francisco Giants.

Pro teams can continue to negotiate with their LSU draft picks until Monday, when students begin the fall semester. Already on campus and making tenative plans to attend classes are second baseman Mike Fontenot (first round, Baltimore Orioles); outfielder Todd Linden (supplemental first round, San Francisco Giants); outfielder Sean Barker (46th round , Toronto Blue Jays); and right-handed pitcher Billy Brian (47th round, Cleveland Indians).

Newcomers to the team who are also in a holding pattern are catcher Jonathan Zeringue of Thibodaux-E.D. White (third round, Chicago White Sox); outfielder Jay Mattox of Conway, Ark. (fourth round, Chicago White Sox); outfielder Dustin Hahn of Reno, Nev. (21st round, Baltimore Orioles); pitcher Jason Vargas of Apple Valley, Calif. (43rd round, Minnesota Twins); and first baseman Jason Columbus of Alamagordo, N.M. (49th round, Cleveland Indians). 

Although Timmons has chosen to enroll at a junior college, the Tigers are still well stocked with catchers thanks to the transfer of Southeastern Louisiana's Dustin Weaver. A two-time Class 5A all-state performer at St. Amant High School, Weaver started 24 games last season as a true freshman at SLU and hit .259 with one home run and 15 RBI.

Members of LSU's signing class who have elected to join professional organizations include: catcher Jonathan de Vries of Irvine, Calif. (third round, Boston Red Sox); outfielder Chamar McDonald of Madison, Miss. (fifth round, Kansas City Royals); outfielder Austin Nagle of Barbe-Lake Charles (sixth round, Oakland A's); pitcher Billy Simon of Wellington, Fla. (ninth round, Boston Red Sox) ; and pticher Chad Gaudin of Harahan-Crescent City (34th round, Tampa Bay Devil Rays).

Including Youman, four members of the 2001 LSU team elected to bypass the remainder of their college eligibility to play professional baseball. The others are shortstop Ryan Theriot (third round, Chicago Cubs), right-handed pitcher Jason Scobie (19th round, New York Mets) and first baseman Bryan Moore (22nd round, St. Louis Cardinals).

Tiger Blitz Top Stories