The 2012 Major League Baseball Draft is in the books and LSU fared pretty well. Unexpected things always occur during the draft, but this year, those things favored the Tigers in all but one instance. Here is a quick rundown of where LSU players and signees were picked:
RHP Kevin Gausman #4 overall (1st round)
SS Austin Nola #167 overall (5th round)
RHP Nick Goody # 217 overall (6th round)
OF Raph Rhymes #937 overall (30th round)
INF Tyler Hanover #1024 overall (33rd round)
INF Joey Gallo #39 overall (Comp round)
SS Jesmuel Valentin-Diaz #51 overall (Comp round)
OF Hayden Jennings #204 overall (6th round)
RHP Will LaMarche #550 overall (18th round)
INF Alex Bregman #901 overall (29th round)
First, a big congratulations goes out to Austin Nola and Tyler Hanover. Nola had an outstanding senior season and was selected in the fifth round after being picked in the 31st round last year. The slot money for his pick is right at $250,000. Hanover also improved his draft stock from the 40th round last year to the 33rd this year. No matter who LSU plugs in at shortstop and third base next year, there is no doubt that Nola and Hanover's defense will be missed.
Of the players currently on LSU's team, it's pretty much a given that Kevin Gausman and Nick Goody will turn pro. This is not unexpected though. LSU caught a break when Raph Rhymes was selected so low. Rhymes has already said that he'll be returning to LSU for his senior season so that's obviously GREAT news.
Huge honor to be drafted by the Yankees. Not ready to leave just yet tho..staying at LSU to make a run at it again next year #geauxtigers— Raph Rhymes (@RaphRhymes4) June 6, 2012
Surprisingly, none of the other draft eligible players on LSU's team got picked. That means that guys like Joey Bourgeois, Chris Cotton, Brent Bonvillain, etc will all be back.
Of the signees, I expect Gallo, Valentin, and Jennings to all sign pro contracts. In fact, Jennings has already made it clear that he intends to sign and bypass his college career. The Jennings selection in the sixth round came as a big surprise. None of the pre-draft projections had Jennings going anywhere in the Top 15 rounds, and I fully expected Jennings to attend LSU and immediately compete for a starting spot in the outfield. This was the one surprise that hurt LSU.
Gallo's situation brings a small amount of intrigue. Most had Gallo projected to be picked around Pick #25, and he instead fell out of the first round and was selected with Pick #39 by the Texas Rangers. Now, he still stands to make a whole lot of money. His slot money is over $1.3 million. But when you're expecting to go about 15 picks higher, his feelings could lean more towards disappointment rather than excitement. Each Major League team has a budget they can spend on picks made within the top ten rounds. With several of their later picks, the Rangers selected college seniors who have no negotiating leverage. So it stands to reason that the Rangers will be able to jam those guys a bit on their contracts and have plenty enough money to sign their top five picks, all high school players. Had Gallo gone in the 20s as expected, I'd give LSU a 0.00% chance of showing up at LSU. Now? 0.01%
Even though he went a tad higher than expected, Valentin was a guy that was always going to sign. His pick in the compensation round simply cements that.
Alex Bregman is a middle infielder from Alburquerque, NM who many thought was a first rounder a few months ago. A finger injury sidelined him for his senior season and his stock dropped some as a result. Bregman maintained that if he was not selected in the first round, then he was coming to LSU. As a result of those statements, he dropped all the way to the 29th round once he failed to go in the first. Thus, he appears Baton Rouge bound. This is a major, major coup for LSU if it indeed comes to fruition. Bregman is a big-time talent that will get the first shot to step in for Austin Nola at shortstop. He could potentially play third base or second base as well. Although just 5'11" 180 pounds, Bregman packs some serious punch. He set the New Mexico state record as a junior with 18 home runs. The video below demonstrates his power, even though it is a home run derby setting:
Bregman is an instant impact guy who could develop into the one of the top hitters in the country during his career.
Right handed reliever Will LaMarche was picked in the 18th round which probably puts him right on the fence as far as coming to LSU or going pro. LaMarche is a big guy at 6'3" 215. After starting his career at Long Beach State, he needed Tommy John surgery. He ended up in JUCO and now may find his way to Baton Rouge. LaMarche has a big time fastball which he consistently throws 94 mph and has reached as high as 98 mph. However, he is considered a bit of a project due to control issues and the lack of secondary pitches. I'm sure Alan Dunn is eager to work with him.
One surprise was that signee Chris Chinea went undrafted. Chinea is a catcher from Pincerest, FL who most believed would be drafted in the top ten rounds. One projection had Chinea as high as the #97 overall player in the draft. Perfect Game rated him as the #266 player in the draft. He is a 6'0" 200 pounder who is known for his power and strong throwing arm. I suspect he'll be LSU's #2 catcher next year and could find a home as the designated hitter.
Other potential draftees, notably pitchers Mitchell Sewald and Russell Reynolds, went undrafted. That has to be considered a break for LSU.
RHP Mitchell Sewald goes 6'5" 200 pounds and has seen a drastic increase in his velocity after working with the Top Velocity program. His fastball reportedly went from 80 to 92 mph. Perfect Game rated Sewald as the #197 player in the draft in their pre-draft rankings. Sewald has the type of talent that could make him a weekend starter at some point in his career.
RHP Russell Reynolds is another guy that was highly thought of but went undrafted. Perfect Game rated Reynolds as the # 407 player in the draft. Reynolds goes 6'3" 185 pounds and has a fastball that sits right at 90 mph.
Here is a quick look at the rest of LSU's signing class.
St. Thomas More outfielder Andrew Stevenson will be at LSU and will, in my opinion, immediately compete for a starting spot. Stevenson is 6'0" 170 pounds and has plenty of speed. As a senior, he hit a whopping .558 with 16 extra base hits, 19 RBIs and 25 steals. Here is a good article about Stevenson.
Delgado's Sean McMullen is another quality outfielder that will compete right away. At Delgado, McMullen started all 52 of the team's games and hit .452 with five home runs and 37 RBIs. He also had 21 doubles and nine triples and notched a pretty ridiculous .742 slugging %. His on base percentage was .525, and he showed off some decent speed on the base paths, stealing 9 bases in 13 attempts. Here is an article on McMullen from April.
RHP Huner Newman, from Bloomingdale, GA, was 6-2 as a senior wit ha 1.52 ERA, striking out 114 batters in 73.2 innings. He also hit .500. Link
East Ascension outfielder Chase Rivett will also try to find a role on next year's team. As a senior, he hit .374 with 2 HRs and 28 RBIs. His on base percentage was .508.
Barbe's Taylor Butler, a right hander, was a late addition to this signing class. A very strong senior season that saw his fastball reach as high as 92 mph contributed to his receiving an offer from LSU. Link
Jamie McClure, a right hander from the JUCO ranks, will also join LSU's team. McClure finished his junior college season with a 6-4 record and 2.38 ERA. In 68 innings, McClure gave up 58 hits, struck out 47 and walked 30.
Hunter Devall, a lefty pitcher, was 11-1 with a 0.76 ERA as a junior. He struck out 136 batteres in 74 innings. Those are ridiculous numbers, especially for a lefty.
Lastly, infielder Geonte Jackson, from Sugarland, TX will try to find a role. I could not find any stats on Jackson.
So even though we're not 100% sure of who will be on the team next year, I think we have a pretty good idea. And while it's entirely too early to do something like this, I'll speculate on what next year's lineup and rotation may look like:
CF - Chris Scimabra / Andrew Stevenson
SS - Alex Bregman
3B - Mason Katz
LF - Raph Rhymes
1B - Tyler Moore
C - Ty Ross
DH - Chris Chinea
2B - Jacoby Jones
RF - Sean McMullen
Friday - Aaron Nola
Saturday - Ryan Eades
Sunday - Joey Bourgeois / Kurt McCune
Midweek - Joe Broussard / Cody Glenn / Mitchell Sewald
Nick Rumbelow (Closer)
It's obviously impossible to speculate as to which bullpen arms will come through. I can tell you that at this time last year, neither Chris Cotton or Brent Bonvillain would have been on the list but both guys have been incredible for LSU this year.
So for the first time in many years, my MLB draft recap is a positive one for LSU. Nothing is final until the signing deadline of July 15, but it sure seems like the Tigers made out well this week.