After having a program-record seven players drafted through the first 10 rounds, Day 3 went by without much drama. The Tigers had one player from the current team and three more signees taken between Rounds 11-40.
Here’s the complete list of LSU players and signees drafted this year:
Round 4 (127): RHP Jacob Taylor (Pittsburgh Pirates) - LSU signee
Round 8 (235): SS Mitch Piatnik (Cincinnati Reds) - LSU signee
Round 9 (259): LHP Zac Person (Houston Astros)
Round 30 (910): RHP Cole McKay (Detroit Tigers) - LSU signee
Round 31 (937): RHP Riley Smith (Pittsburgh Pirates) - LSU signee
Round 32 (970): SS Trey Dawson (Detroit Tigers) - LSU signee
The eight players selected in this year’s draft are tied for second most in LSU history. That number trails only the 2013 draft, when LSU had nine players picked. LSU also had eight draftees in 2001, 2000 and 1996.
Chris Chinea was the lone player from the current team selected Wednesday. He had to wait 17 rounds before the St. Louis Cardinals took him with the 521st pick.
Chinea was preparing for Wednesday’s practice when he got selected. He was taking swings in the indoor batting cage when student assistant Christian Ibarra ran out with his phone to inform him of the good news.
The Cardinals drafted Chinea as a catcher despite him playing strictly first base this season. Chinea came to LSU as a catcher but hasn’t caught regularly since in more than a year. That position is best for his future though.
“All the scouts were looking at me as a catcher,” Chinea said. “I’ve been catching since I was 10 years old, so it won’t be that hard.”
Chinea is expected to sign despite having a season left of eligibility. He’ll be the fourth LSU underclassman that departs early, though the coaching staff did expect to lose all four of those players.
“It’s everyone’s dream as a ballplayer to come to college and get a chance to play professional baseball,” Chinea said. “The Cardinals are my favorite team now. They’ve given me an opportunity, and now I have to go out there and compete.”
LSU had three signees taken Wednesday, including the top two high school players in the class.
Pitcher Cole McKay came off the board in the 30th round. He was considered one of the Top 100 prospects entering the draft, but gave the LSU staff word leading into it that he intended to come to college. He was seeking a bonus worth $2 million but informed every major league club that he wouldn’t be signing.
The Detroit Tigers decided to take a chance on him anyway, though they won’t have enough money left over in the signing pool to afford McKay’s demands.
Shortstop Trey Dawson got picked two rounds later, also by the Tigers. He turned down a deal in the third round Tuesday worth $650,000. That reaffirmed his commitment to LSU, and the staff has no concern that either player will forego college.
Dawson will have an opportunity to start at shortstop as a true freshman. Junior college transfer Mitch Piatnik was considered the favorite to replace Alex Bregman, but he was drafted in the eighth round Tuesday and is expected to sign. That leaves an opening for Dawson.
“He’s going to get every opportunity to win the job,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We recruited him because we thought he was good. I have big hopes, big expectations of him…I know Dawson’s not afraid. He’s a very confident kid. I love talking to him. I’m anxious to start working with him.”
The other signee selected Wednesday was junior college pitcher Riley Smith. LSU didn’t consider him a risk to sign pro entering the draft, and they don’t have much concern after his selection in the 31st round. He’s already in Baton Rouge and enrolled for summer school, which started earlier this week.
Overall, LSU expects to lose the four underclassmen — Bregman, Stevenson, Laird and Chinea — and two members of the signing class — Jacob Taylor and Mitch Piatnik. All draftees have until July 17 to sign with their respective clubs.