The recruiting cycle for college baseball is much different compared to football and basketball because baseball coaches have one major obstacle in the road – the Major League Baseball draft.
Coaches have the luxury of having an early signing period in November, but on the flip side they may not know if the young man who signed his national letter of intent will ever step foot on their college campus.
“We haven’t finished ’09 but we’re working on 2010 and 2011,” Grewe said. “We’ll see what happens with our current players and how they get drafted come June and how that goes around, but professional baseball and the major league draft really take a toll on college baseball. It’s so impossible to perfectly plan what you got so that’s a constant challenge.”
Grewe knows what he currently has for his 2009 signing class which consists of 13 new Tigers. Once again, though, the key word is currently.
“Out of those kids that we signed, you’re talking about eight that could be top-10 round draft picks,” said Grewe. “Three to five of them could all be top-3 round draft picks. If LSU wasn’t an option for them, those kids would be taken in the first five rounds and if they don’t have something like LSU to fall back on then those kids aren’t even going to school.
“You got Zack Von Rosenburg, Slade Heathcott, Forrest Garrett, Mitchell Mormann, Brody Colvin, all of those kids are frontline talent and there’s more. Wes Luquette is one of the best catchers in the state of Louisiana and he’s getting a lot of pro interest. You’re talking about a lot of kids where the question is can we keep them and will they show up?”
One asset that LSU has working in its favor is the New Alex Box Stadium, which Grewe said surpasses many of the Triple-A ball parks in the minor league farm system for professional baseball.
The new facility has plenty of luxuries that will help attract players to LSU including a team lounge with plasma televisions and computer stations, a state of the art locker room, a spacious team meeting room, a training room, an indoor practice facility with batting cages, and more.
Grewe said that those amenities not only help to attract the prospects LSU is seeking, but also gives them something to consider when Major League Baseball comes calling.
“My hope is that it will not only help us attract the kids, but also help us keep the kids so we’re not losing really high-profile top round draft picks out of high school,” Grewe said. “We hope they say I want this experience. I have these facilities and I want this experience for three years before I go pro baseball and see if I’m in that two percent that makes it to the big leagues.”
Recruiting has never been a problem for Grewe as he landed two top-10 recruiting classes in his three years at Notre Dame where he served under LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieri. In 2004, Grewe attracted Baseball America’s No. 6 ranked class and his 2006 class was ranked No. 7 by Team One Baseball.
When he left Notre Dame to become head coach at Michigan State in 2006, Grewe had a recruiting coordinator under him, but he did enough to know that there is a significant difference from recruiting kids to Michigan State as opposed to LSU.
“There’s a lot of differences, I mean LSU baseball is at the top of the country,” said Grewe. “I had very limited scholarships, eight and a half to nine a year, so that was an issue. But ultimately, I think it’s just the atmosphere at LSU, coming to football games and baseball games. We’ll have kids at every game this year and just being around the facility and spending time with our players and coaching staff…It’s just the best.”
It takes more than atmosphere and facilities when you go head to head with the premiere baseball programs in the nation such as Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and so on. It takes a lot of hard work and countless hours, especially when you consider that the prospects are playing their seasons at the same time that LSU is in the grind of their 56-game regular season schedule.
“It’s a challenge,” Grewe said. “We always have Monday to go out recruiting because it’s an off day during our season and Thursday is a day I can go out because our Sunday starter will throw his bullpen on Thursday and I condition all of our pitchers to where they know what their bullpen routine is and they know what they need to get to work on.
“Depending on the situation, I’m pretty confident in how I’ve worked with the catchers in teaching them how to call the game and the system I have in place to call a game. I’ll send coach (Javi) Sanchez (hitting coach) out every Monday and there’s days he’ll go out on Thursday. There’s days where I might go out on Thursday if we’re on the road and then meet up with the team.”
The success that LSU has recruiting runs much deeper than the facilities and the college itself because without the tireless recruiting efforts of a staff which includes not only Grewe, but also Javi Sanchez, Will Davis and Mainieri, LSU would not have the type of talent that major league baseball scouts covet.
But don’t tell that to Grewe because he humbly gives LSU all of the credit.
“I can’t mention by name, but I had a 2010 pitcher call last night and he’s ranked one of the top 30 pitchers in the country and he was like ‘coach I’ve seen all of the updates on the website.’ The support that LSU has to help attract the best players in the country is what it’s all about.”
LSU’s 2009 Early Signing Class
Brett Bruening, RHP
Flower Mound, Texas (Grayson JC)
Brody Colvin, RHP/OF
Lafayette, La. (St. Thomas More HS)
Alex Edward, INF
Baton Rouge, La. (Parkview Baptist HS)
Forrest Garrett, LHP
Norcross, Ga. (Norcross HS)
Slade Heathcott, LHP/OF
Texarkana, Texas (Texas HS)
Mason Katz, UTIL
Harahan, La. (Jesuit HS)
Michael Lowery, INF
Pearland, Texas (Temple JC)
Wes Luquette, C
New Orleans, La. (Newman HS)
Mitchell Mormann, RHP
Manchester, Iowa (Des Moines Area CC)
Michael Reed, RHP
Houston, Texas (Stratford HS)
Jordan Rittiner, LHP
Metairie, La. (Jesuit HS)
Zack Von Rosenburg, RHP
Zachary, La. (Zachary HS)
Chadwin Stang, OF
Surry, British Columbia (Midland JC)