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LSU Baseball 2016 Signing Class Breakdown

LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri talks about the 2016 LSU signing class plus, Perfect Game breakdowns of each player.

2016 LSU Baseball Signees

No.   Name                      Pos.        B-T       Ht.,Wt.      Cl.      Hometown (School)

#27 Matthew Beck          RHP       R-R       6-7, 230      Fr.      Alexandria, La. (Alexandria HS)

#13 Nick Coomes           INF/C     R-R       5-11, 195      Jr.      Baton Rouge, La. (Catholic HS/LSU-Eunice)

#46 Blair Frederick         LHP        L-L        6-0, 190      Fr.      New Orleans, La. (Brother Martin HS)

#38 Zack Hess               RHP       R-R       6-6, 200      Fr.      Forest, Va. (Liberty Christian Academy)

#40 Hunter Kiel               RHP       R-R       6-3, 220      Jr.      Florence, Ala. (Florence HS/Pensacola St.)

#43 Todd Peterson         RHP       R-R       6-5, 205      Fr.      Lake Mary, Fla. (Lake Mary HS)

#37 Will Reese                RHP       R-R       6-4, 190      Fr.      Leesville, La. (Anacoco HS)

 #5 Jake Slaughter         INF         R-R       6-2, 202      Fr.      Choudrant, La. (Ouachita Christian HS)

 #4 Josh Smith               INF         L-R        5-10, 175      Fr.      Greenwell Springs, La. (Catholic HS)

#23 Mason Templet        INF         L-R        6-1, 205      Fr.      Youngsville, La. (St. Thomas More HS)

#10 Eric Walker              RHP       R-R       6-0, 175      Fr.      Arlington, Texas (Arlington Martin HS)

 #9 Zach Watson           INF/OF   S-R       6-0, 170      Fr.      Ruston, La. (West Ouachita HS)

#22 Rankin Woley           C/INF     R-R       6-0, 200      Fr.      Atlanta, Ga. (The Westminster School)

LSU Signees Selected in 2016 MLB Draft

1st rd. – Riley Pint, RHP, Colorado Rockies (signed with Colorado)

8th rd. – Kyle Weatherly, RHP, Los Angeles Angels (signed with Los Angeles)

29th rd. – Hunter Kiel, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (enrolled at LSU)

35th rd. – Zack Hess, RHP, New York Yankees (enrolled at LSU)

36th  rd. – Jake Slaughter, INF, Chicago Cubs (enrolled at LSU)

38th rd. – Josh Smith, INF, Detroit Tigers (enrolled at LSU)

2016 Signing Class Breakdowns

#27 Matthew Beck, RHP        
6-7, 230, R-R, Fr., HS        
Alexandria, La. (Alexandria HS)

  • A three-year starter at  pitcher, third base and shortstop … collected 177 strikeouts on the mound during his career at Alexandria Senior High
  • Ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the state of Louisiana
  • Voted the District Pitcher of the Year in 2016; also a three-time All-State, All-District and All-Central Louisiana selection
  • Posted a 5-3 record in his senior year with a 2.14 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 56 innings
  • Also named All-State at quarterback for the Alexandria High football team, throwing for over 3,300 yards and 40 TDs
  • Graduated in the National Honor Society with a 4.0 GPA

Paul Mainieri on Matthew Beck:
“Matthew might be the ‘sleeper’ of this class, as he has as much upside as any pitcher coming to campus.  Matthew chose LSU Baseball over continuing his football career as a quarterback at a number of Division 1 football programs.  Matthew led the state of Louisiana in passing yards and touchdowns in 2015, and we are very excited for him to get to campus.  At 6’7” he may draw some comparisons to 2009 LSU National Champion Anthony Ranaudo, and we think he has that type of potential on the mound for us.  His fastball will sit in the 88-90 range, and we are excited for his development. This is another one of those guys that you get excited about knowing they will learn under the tutelage of Alan Dunn.” 

Perfect Game Notes:

  • Had a range of 82-88 MPH on his fastball last summer when he performed for Perfect Game.
  • Ranked as the No. 3 pitcher and No. 8 overall player in the state of Louisiana.

#13 Nick Coomes, INF/C
5-11, 195, R-R, Jr. JC
Baton Rouge, La. (Catholic HS/LSU-Eunice)

  • Batted .359 in 2016 at LSU-Eunice with 13 homers, 25 doubles, 81 RBI, 76 runs and 15 stolen basesNamed 2016 JUCO All-American and All-Region.
  • Ranked No. 18 among Top 100 JUCO prospects
  • Helped lead LSU-Eunice to the 2015 JUCO national championship, batting .299 with five homers and 18 doubles
  • Earned All-State, All-Metro and All-District honors at Catholic High School; helped lead the Bears to the 2013 state championship
  • Received high school Gold Glove recognition at catcher in 2014

Paul Mainieri on Nick Coomes:
“Nick is a corner infielder that can also provide some depth to the catching position.  An offensive player that put up tremendous numbers in JUCO, Nick looks to provide additional veteran experience and right-handed power to the 2017 Tigers lineup.  The high school and JUCO teammate of Jordan Romero, Nick helped lead LSU-Eunice over the past two seasons to a 100-16 record, and he was the team captain in 2016.  We are anxious to see if he will follow in the footsteps of fellow JUCO offensive threats such as Jordan Romero and Kade Scivicque.”

Perfect Game Notes: ***JUCO***

#46 Blair Frederick, LHP
6-0, 190, L-L, Fr., HS
New Orleans, La. (Brother Martin HS)

  • 2016 and 2015 all-state selection
  • Posted a 7-3 mark in 2016 with 96 strikeouts in 62.2 innings
  • Voted the 2016 New Orleans Archdiocese MVP
  • Registered a 6-3 mark in 2015 with 75 strikeouts in 54 innings and led Brother Martin High to its first state semifinal game in 15 years

Paul Mainieri on Blair Frederick:
“Blair is a very athletic pitcher that comes in with a mixture of ability and potential.  His first full season pitching was only two years ago, and in that time we think he developed into the top high school left-handed pitcher in the state of Louisiana.  The Brother Martin graduate usually pitches in the low 90s and has flashed 94 mph on multiple occasions.  His best pitch is his plus slider that is a true swing-and-miss pitch.  The New Orleans native showed an ability to dominate in high school after striking out 96 batters in only 62 innings his senior year – and that usually translates into a very good college pitcher. We are desperate for another quality left-hander on our staff and Blair quite possibly could fill that role.”

Perfect Game Notes:
On Frederick's little things in a tournament: "Sometimes it isn't the flashy play defensive play that should be noted, it is the difficult fundamental play that is perfectly executed. Such was the case when lefthander Blair Frederick (Meterie, La.) picked a runner off first base who was going on the first move."

#38 Zack Hess, RHP
6-6, 200, R-R, Fr., HS
Forest, Va. (Liberty Christian Academy)

  • Selected in the 35th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees
  • Named a 2016 Perfect Game first-team All-American 
  • Rated among Baseball America’s Top  400 prospects
  • Posted a 7-1 record in his senior year with a 0.60 ERA, 110 strikeouts and 11 walks in 58.2 innings
  • A two-time first-team all-state selection in Virginia

Paul Mainieri on Zack Hess:
“One of the top power arms in America to make it to campus after being drafted by the New York Yankees, Zack has the potential to make an immediate impact on the Tiger pitching staff. Zack flashes two plus pitches; his fastball which has been up to 96 mph and a wipeout slider that gives him the potential to be in the same conversation as Kevin Gausman, Aaron Nola and Alex Lange by the time he finishes at LSU. We are so thrilled to see that Zack chose the collegiate route before starting his pro career. Tiger fans are going to love watching him pitch because of his intense focus and competitive zeal , which is very similar to the way Alex Lange carries himself on the mound.”

 Perfect Game Notes: 

  • No. 57 ranked overall player and No. 18 ranked RHP by Perfect Game
  • No. 1 pitcher and No. 3 overall player in Virginia.

"Hess is one of the most uncomfortable at-bats for any hitter in the country, with a high-energy and deceptive delivery, a low-90s fastball and a wicked slider from an extended three-quarters arm slot that buckles righthanded hitters’ knees. Despite the fact that many scouts consider him a future reliever, Hess also has a long track record of throwing strikes and rarely walking hitters."

Perfect Game Draft Profile
Zach Hess is a very interesting quandary for scouts.

The plus side of the list is full to the brim. He has a 6-foot-6, 200-pound build that has present wiry strength to it and is a very good athlete for his size. Hess' raw present stuff is outstanding. He pitches comfortably at 90-93 mph and has been up to 96 mph and shows that type of velocity on a very consistent basis. His fastball gets outstanding running life at times from an extended three-quarters arm action and release point. Hess's big-breaking slider is also a potential plus pitch, with hard diving action that can get under lefthanded hitter's hands and leave righthander's leaning back towards the third base dugout. And Hess has never had any problem at any point throwing strikes and even has shown the ability to spot both his primary pitches to different spots with intent.

On a list of pitcher's in the 2016 class who can provide a hitter with an uncomfortable at-bat, Hess ranks up near the top.

So what's on the minus side of the ledger? Hess's age is a minor item, as he turned 19-years old in February and is 12-18 months older than many of the other top pitching prospects in the class. But the main issue is with Hess' delivery and mechanics. They are violent and max effort, especially on his fastball, with a hard head whack and a distinct recoil after release that makes it appear like he's cracking a whip at times. The effort difference between his fastball and slider release is also a minor item, as upper level hitters will pick up on that as a potential tip for his pitch selection.

For many scouts, this is an easy equation and the answer is always the same: Hess fits the future reliever profile perfectly. And reliever profiles rarely become high draft picks out of high school, especially when they will become draft-eligible sophomores in college.

The problem with the profile for some, including this scout, is Hess has never given any hint whatsoever that he has had or will have command issues. In fact, his present pitchability is one of the things that stands out about him. Factor in his overall athleticism and his clean injury history and there is nothing aside from the delivery that indicates anything but him being a future starter.

The team that picks him in June will be one that believes in the latter path, that Hess can stay a starter at the professional level given all his positives.

An aside about Hess's background that is interesting but has no bearing on his draft status is that he will be one of the least likely players ever to complain about umpiring. His father, Karl, is a veteran college basketball official who has refereed six NCAA Final Fours. There will be no sympathy from dad for complaining about ball and strike calls. (DR)

#40 Hunter Kiel, RHP
6-3, 220, R-R, Jr., JC
Florence, Ala. (Florence HS/Pensacola State)

  • Selected in the 29th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Recipient of the National Junior College Athletic Association Superior Academic Achievement Award
  • Named to the All-Panhandle Conference Academic Team
  • Started 10 games and made two relief appearances in 2016; in 41 innings of work, he allowed just 28 hits while striking out 54 batters

Paul Mainieri on Hunter Kiel:
“One of the hardest throwing JUCO pitchers in the country, Hunter flashes a fastball up to 97 mph to go along with a tight slider.  His fastball and projectability got him drafted in the 29th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks after beginning his pitching career only two years ago at Pensacola State College.  We are very excited to see the development of Hunter under Alan Dunn, and we believe he can follow in the footsteps of former power arms like Will LaMarche and Jesse Stallings. Once he learns to command the zone consistently he will be a monster on the mound for us.” 

Perfect Game Notes: ***JUCO***

  • Recorded a 94 MPH fastball last summer.

#43 Todd Peterson, RHP
6-5, 205, R-R, Fr., HS
Lake Mary, Fla. (Lake Mary HS) 

  • Named a 2016 Perfect Game All-American
  • Rated among the nation’s Top 400 prospects by Baseball America
  • Recorded a 0.74 ERA in 11 starts during his senior season, posting 79 strikeouts in 57 innings with three complete games

Paul Mainieri on Todd Peterson:
“Todd is a big, strong right-handed pitcher that was up to 96 mph in high school.  He participated in multiple national showcases and tournaments with the best players in the country, where he featured his consistent low to mid 90s fastball and good feel for a curveball.  The Florida native looks to compete for innings right away either as a starter or a hard-throwing option out of our bullpen.  Todd looks to fall in line with the previous power arms at LSU, and we are beyond excited to see the impact he has on our team this year. When this young man fulfills his potential, he has a chance to be something special.”

Perfect Game Notes:
"Peterson has some of the best raw arm strength in the 2016 class and can regularly reach 94-95 mph with his fastball. He uses his strong and thick lower half well to generate power in his delivery and gets good angle to his pitches from a high three-quarters release point. Peterson also shows flashes of being a solid three-pitch righthander with a starter future, and his changeup, with sharp diving action, is sometimes his best secondary pitch. The important next step forward for Peterson will involve improving his consistency in all aspects of the game, from raw stuff to mechanics and the resulting command. With his physicality and base pitches he has a chance to develop into an Alex Lange type of starter at Louisiana State should he make it to college."

#37 Will Reese, RHP
6-4, 190, R-R, Fr., HS
Leesville, La. (Anacoco HS)

  • Listed among the Baseball America Top 400 prospects for the 2016 MLB Draft
  • Posted a 2.20 ERA his senior season with 61 strikeouts in 45 innings
  • A three-time baseball all-state selection
  • Led Anacoco High School to two state basketball titles during his career

Paul Mainieri on Will Reese:
“The ultimate projection guy in this class as a top multi-sport athlete in Louisiana. Will was a Top 400 player in the MLB Draft according to Baseball America, a three-time All-State selection in baseball, garnered back to back Class B basketball state MVPs, and turned down several D1 basketball scholarships to play baseball at LSU.  This spring at Anacoco High School, he flashed a 93 mph fastball with a plus curveball.  He could easily be a frontline arm for LSU in the coming years. Again, a great athlete as a pitcher with the physical attributes to turn into something special. Let’s see Alan Dunn work his magic with Will, and I believe the end result is going to be outstanding.”

#5 Jake Slaughter, INF
6-2, 202, R-R, Fr., HS
Choudrant, La. (Ouachita Christian HS) 

  • Selected in the 36th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs
  • Ranked as the 2016 No. 1 prospect in Louisiana by Prep Baseball Report
  • Batted .406 in his senior season with 11 doubles, five triples, 48 runs and 33 RBI
  • Played in the Cal Ripken League this summer and was voted to the All-Star team
  • 2015 Prep Baseball Report Player of the Year
  • A two-time all-state selection; also earned numerous all-parish, all-district and all-Northeast Louisiana accolades
  • Helped lead Ouachita Christian to the 2012 and 2014 state football championships as a wide receiver; earned all-state honors
  • As a junior in 2014, caught 67 passes for 1,165 yards and 31 touchdowns; also rushed for 559 yards

Paul Mainieri on Jake Slaughter:
“One of the top two-sport athletes in America, Jake received several offers from major Division 1 football programs after a very successful high school career at wide receiver at Ouachita Christian.  He follows in the footsteps of another great football/baseball player that came to LSU after a stellar career at Ouachita Christian, Mark Laird.  Slaughter was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and compares favorably in size and athleticism to former Tiger and National League All-Star/Gold Glove recipient, DJ LeMahieu.  A tremendous offensive player with the ability to hit and hit for power, Jake provides a ton of versatility to the Tigers going into the 2017 season.  We are extremely eager to see what Jake can provide to our lineup this year and beyond.”

#4 Josh Smith, INF
5-10, 175, L-R, Fr., HS
Greenwell Springs, La. (Catholic HS) 

  • Selected in the 38th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers
  • Rated among the nation’s Top 400 prospects by Baseball America
  • Earned 2016 Class 5A first-team all-state recognition
  • Batted .379 at Catholic High in 2016 with six homers and 28 RBI while committing just three errors
  • Also stole 32 bases in 33 attempts last season
  • As a starter at third base in his freshman year, he helped lead Catholic to the 2013 state championship
  • Played in the Prospect League this summer and was voted to the All-Star team

Paul Mainieri on Josh Smith:
“Josh comes in as a highly-touted infielder from Catholic High here in Baton Rouge, the same high school as LSU teammates Jordan Romero and Nick Coomes, as well as former All-Americans Aaron and Austin Nola.  I had a chance to see him play a lot as a freshman in high school as he was teammates with my son, Tommy, when they won the state championship in 2013. Josh will remind a lot of LSU fans of Austin Nola defensively, and he should compete for a starting job on the infield immediately.  The smooth swinging left-handed hitter was a MLB draft pick by the Detroit Tigers. He also had the advantage of playing in a very competitive college summer league (the Prospect League) before enrolling this fall at LSU. He played so well that he made the All-Star team in the Prospect League as the starting shortstop.  Josh is an outstanding worker with great makeup that we know will put himself into position to impact our team and be one of the next great LSU infielders.”

Perfect Game Notes: "Josh Smith is an advanced defender up the middle." 

#23 Mason Templet, INF
6-1, 205, L-R, Fr., HS
Youngsville, La. (St. Thomas More HS) 

  • 2016 Perfect Game and Max Preps All-American; also named a Perfect Game All-American in 2015
  • 2016 Louisiana Player of the Year and first-team All-State
  • Helped lead St. Thomas More to state championships in 2014 and 2015
  • Hit. .455 in 2016 at St. Thomas More High with 40 runs, 27 RBI, nine homers and a .571 on-base percentage … struck out just 13 times in 119 plate appearances
  • Batted .442 in 2014 with 24 runs, 37 RBI, four doubles, one triple and three homers 

Paul Mainieri on Mason Templet:
“Mason is a left-handed bat with outstanding power potential, and he was a high school teammate of Brennan Breaux at St. Thomas More High School for their back-to-back 4A State Championships.  The two-time State Champion was tabbed an All-American in 2016 by Perfect Game and Max Preps.  As a hitter, Mason combines his power with an advanced feel at the plate and plus strike-zone judgement. Mason’s offensive abilities and left-handed bat will be a force for us at a corner infield position or DH.”

Perfect Game Notes: "Templet exhibits a strong feel for the barrel from the left side making hard and frequent contact. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound infielder swung it well this spring, posting a .455 batting average, hitting nine home runs and driving in 27. He also had an on base percentage of .571 and an .863 slugging percentage.  He has tons of raw bat speed at the plate and hits the ball hard consistently. 

Mason Templet (3B, Youngsville, La.) has a very athletic look and he carries his solidly-built 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame very well. The lefthanded hitting infielder stood out in batting practice with an easy weight shift, aggressive, impactful swing and good feel for the barrel, particularly when hitting balls hard to his pull side."

#10 Eric Walker, RHP
6-0, 175, R-R, Fr., HS
Arlington, Texas (Arlington Martin HS)

  • Compiled a 27-5 record with 295 strikeouts in three seasons as a starting pitcher in high school
  • 7-3 mark his senior year with a 1.24 ERA and 95 strikeouts … recorded 13, 14 and 15-strikeout games during the season
  • Posted a 14-0 mark in his junior season with a 0.85 ERA and 113 strikeouts … recorded 12 complete games and led team to state runners-up finish
  • Named 2015 Dallas/Fort Worth All-Area Pitcher of the Year … also received numerous All-State and All-District accolades in his junior and senior seasons
  • Also played as the starting quarterback for the Arlington Martin High football team 

Paul Mainieri on Eric Walker:
“Simply ‘a winner’ is the best way to describe this young man! Eric comes in as prepared as anyone in the class to be a starting pitcher.  His elite pitchability, command of three pitches, and his ability to fill up the zone with strike after strike will remind a lot of LSU fans of a young Aaron Nola or a veteran Jared Bradford.  He struck out 295 hitters over three years on the varsity squad.  On top of his great high school baseball career, Eric was a three-year starting quarterback for an outstanding football team at the 6A level in Texas, and he is a tremendous leader. He oozes self-confidence and poise. I have a feeling Eric will compete for a lot of innings at LSU right away.”

#9 Zach Watson, INF/OF
6-0, 170, S-R, Fr., HS
Ruston, La. (West Ouachita HS)

  • Ranked No. 1 in Louisiana and No. 139 in the Class of 2016 by Perfect Game
  • Named to the 2016 ABCA/Rawlings High School All-Region Team, Perfect Game All-Region Team and USA Today All-Louisiana Team
  • A four-year starter in high school, batted over .400 each year with 31 career homers … batted .481 in 2016 with 18 doubles, four triples, 10 homers, 28 stolen bases and only eight strikeouts … also pitched as a closer last season, recording seven saves
  • A three-time first team All-State selection and four-time All-District selection … named 2016 District MVP
  • Earned All-Northeast Louisiana Big School Player of the Year honors three years in a row, becoming the first player to receive the honor in multiple years

Paul Mainieri on Zach Watson:
“Zach comes in as probably the fastest player in the state of Louisiana, and he will remind LSU fans of Cole Freeman because of that speed.  He will be an immediate game-changer on the base paths and will provide versatility in the infield and outfield.  The Ruston native has surprising power for his size and a quick bat with a very level swing that stays through the zone. We are very anxious to see what impact he can have for our lineup and the pressure he can put on the defense. He has been an infielder throughout his career up to this point but could project as a speed outfielder with work.”

#22 Rankin Woley, C/INF
6-0, 200, R-R, Fr., HS
Atlanta, Ga. (The Westminster School)

  • A four-year starter and two-way player at infield, catcher and pitcher in high school … completed his career as The Westminster School all-time leader in every offensive category, including 30 home runs
  • In 2016, he recorded 10 homers, a .941 slugging percentage and a .578 on-base percentage … also posted a 1.05 ERA in 20 innings pitched with 32 strikeouts and five saves
  • Led high school in 2016 to first baseball state title in 41 years, selected 3-A Player of the Year, First Team All-State, S. White Keenan MVP and Westminster Athlete of the Year
  • Voted Louisville Slugger All-American, USA Today All-USA Team, Atlanta Braves 400 Club All-Star
  • Led his school to its first football state title in 37 years as a two-way starter at quarterback and safety
  • Member of the National Honor Society with 92.0 GPA

Paul Mainieri on Rankin Woley:
“A four-year starter and his high school’s all-time leader in every offensive category, Rankin is a strong, physical and extremely versatile player that we are really excited about.  He was also a tough football player in high school, which I like. The Louisville Slugger All-American and USA Today All-USA selection looks to add depth at catcher, can play the infield, and probably has the versatility to get a look at first base. Rankin is a right-handed hitter with a strong swing and he really impacts the baseball.  His versatility, along with his bat, will give him a great chance to get on the field in a variety of ways early in his career.”

Perfect Game Notes:

  • Ranked as the No. 3 catcher in Georgia and No. 18 overall catcher in the country.

"Woley is a two-sport standout who played quarterback and defensive back on Westminster's Georgia Class 3A state championship football team and also led their baseball team to the state championship. He's a very versatile athlete who can both catch and play third base at a high level, acts as the closer for Westminster and is also a switch-hitter at the plate. Woley definitely brings a football mentality to the baseball field and his physicality and aggressiveness stands out. His catching fundamentals and skills are still on the raw side but if his athleticism (he's a 6.7 runner with very good quickness) can adjust to the position, his approach to the game should make him excel."

To get the full breakdown of LSU's schedule, check out Tiger Blitz' schedule and roster release notebook.

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