Broussard brings it

When it comes to college baseball, LSU is recognized for having one of the top programs in the country. For LSU coach Paul Mainieri to maintain that status he has to bring in special players that can get it done on the big stage. Mainieri tapped into New Orleans (La.) Holy Cross to find that type of player in his star freshman closer Matty Ott and he found another one in Joe Broussard.

Joe Broussard hasn’t yet completed his junior year at Holy Cross but unlike the overwhelming majority of his classmates in the Class of 2010 he will not enter his senior year wondering where he will attend college.


Broussard committed to the Tigers in April after receiving a scholarship offer from Paul Mainieri that was just what he and his family were looking for.


“I had been getting recruiting letters from schools since my freshman year during legion ball, and I was also looking at Florida and Ole Miss,” said Broussard, whose only offer was from the Tigers but he was being recruited by Rice, Miami, Stanford, North Carolina and many others. “But once I went and saw LSU’s new field and talked to the staff, there was no question about where I was going.”


The fact that Broussard was on the radar of college coaches early on comes as no surprise to those close to him including Holy Cross head coach Greg Battisella.


“Joe is the last of a dying breed,” said Battisella. “The kid is just a natural. He really is a phenomenal athlete that throws the ball 90 miles per hour and he hits the ball out of sight.”


Broussard’s arm and bat was on display plenty during his junior season as he helped the Tigers finish the 2009 campaign with a 25-12 record and the champions of District 9-4A before losing in the state quarterfinals to Sam Houston High School last week.


At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Broussard is being recruited by LSU as both a pitcher and a position player. If there is any uncertainty on the part of Mainieri and company then it’s for good reason.


From the hill, Broussard posted a 7-2 record with six saves and a 0.72 ERA with 100 strikeouts and only 10 walks. His fastball pops the catcher’s mitt on each and every toss and his sharp off-speed pitches give him a repertoire that few pitchers on the high school level possess.


At the plate, Broussard was even more imposing as he batted .500 on the season with 17 doubles, seven homers, 41 RBI and 14 stolen bases. That pushed his total to 37 homers including two summers of legion ball and only two years of high school ball since he was ineligible his freshman year due to zoning issues in the school district.


“I like hitting and pitching, and LSU is recruiting me to play both,” said Broussard, who bats and throws right handed. “I’ve started at third base since I’ve been at Holy Cross. But the coaches told me I could play third base, first base, left field or right field.”


“When I pitch my fastball is usually 90-91 consistently, but I clocked out at 93 in my last game,” he continued. “I also throw a curve and a changeup. I want to work on hitting my spots better and I’d like to develop a slider. I started working on it already but I’m not comfortable with it yet.”


Broussard is certainly no stranger to accolades as he was selected LSWA Class 4A All-State as a sophomore and odds are he will be a repeat selection when the honors are handed out in the coming weeks.


National recognition has also been bestowed upon him as Broussard is recognized as one of the top power hitting prospects in the country – checking in at No. 51 in the Power Showcase “70” Top Amateur Power Hitters in the World. That recognition gave him the opportunity to compete in the International High School Power Showcase Home Run Derby on Jan. 3, 2009.


The festivities took place at Tropicana Field – a domed stadium and home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays – and although Broussard failed to hit any out of the park during the home run derby he made quite an impression the previous day.


“He hit 17 the day before – nine with wooden bats and eight with aluminum – outside which was the most out of everyone including the seniors,” said Battisella. “He said when he got inside the next day the lights were different and he just couldn’t get any up in the air. He hit one or two off the wall but he didn’t get any out.”

Broussard is one of the top power hitters in the country

Broussard’s power display was nothing new to Battisella.


One day at practice Broussard told his coach he could bat left-handed which took Battisella by surprise. It was so off the wall that Battisella even doubted his star slugger. The doubt, however, was quickly erased.


“I told him to jump up there and he quickly hit four balls out of the park left-handed without practicing or working on it,” said Battisella. “I throw him batting practice every day and he costs me 30 dollars in baseballs every day. The kid’s been given a gift by God.”


That gift from God as Battisella put it has not gone to Broussard’s head either.


“He’s the last one there picking up trash and he volunteers to do everything,” said Battisella. “He’s a great kid and a wonderful baseball player.”


With so much to offer at such a young age, the recruitment of Broussard may not be over for the Tigers. College baseball coaches have to deal with the Major League Baseball Draft which makes it that much harder to sustain a program that ranks amongst the nation’s best year in and year out.


“I’ve started getting letters from a few pro teams saying they were interested in me and I’ve been to a few practices and showcases for scouts,” Broussard said. “Perfect game projected me to be a draft pick next year but I haven’t really thought about that at all yet.”


Mainieri has grown accustomed to recruiting players twice in his 27 years of coaching at the collegiate level but Battisella feels that he may not have to spend too many sleepless nights worrying about Broussard.


“Joe is kind of in the same boat as Matty [Ott],” said Battisella. “Joe’s not man strength yet and is the perfect situation for a Division-I college. If he was two inches taller and a step faster then I’d say he’d be a first rounder.


“On the draft radar he isn’t a main focus but on the Division-I radar he’s getting stuff from everybody. He’s like Matty where he throws 91 [mph] as opposed to 96. I think he’ll be in the picture to get drafted but I don’t think he’ll get the money he wants to bypass college unless he grows a couple of more inches and finds another couple of miles per hour.”


Broussard and Ott are a lot alike in that both were highly successful at Holy Cross and that both were LSU bound. They developed a relationship in high school and have remained fairly close now that Ott has taken his game to Baton Rouge. That relationship played a hand in Broussard’s decision to commit to LSU, along with several other factors.


“The LSU coaches just make me feel at home,” said Broussard. “All the other schools were pressuring me but I felt comfortable with LSU. They like my attitude and the way I play the game. They think I can come in and help as a pitcher and position player.


“I know Matty Ott pretty well because he’s also from Holy Cross and I’ve talked to him a little bit,” Broussard continued. “He said this year has been the greatest experience of his life. He’s actually a big reason the LSU coaches started recruiting me because they noticed me when they were looking at him. He’s also another reason I felt so comfortable at LSU.”


Broussard will be keeping close tabs on Ott and the Tigers in purple and gold as they prepare for their postseason run – a run that he hopes to witness first hand now and several more times down the road.


“They have a great team this year,” he said. “I’m pretty sure they’re making a run to Omaha and hopefully take it all home. They just have to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead. Just know they are the best, because they are.


“I plan on coming to any postseason games they host. And if they make it to Omaha and I don’t have anything going on with baseball, I’m going to try to find my way up there too. Hopefully that’s the first of many trips to Omaha.”

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