PG - #5 Baseball America - #10 USA Today - #3 Collegiate Baseball - #4 NCWBA - #3
SEC teams' rankings so far...
(Team, NCBWA, Coaches', CB, BA, PG)
Arkansas, 1, 1, 1, 3, 2
Vanderbilt, 4, 9, 3, 2, 3
LSU, 3, 3, 4, 10, 5
S. Carolina, 6, 5, 7, 7, 11
Kentucky, 12, 15, 8, 11, 13
Miss. State, 16, 18, 13, 5, 16
Florida, 15, 13, 24, 17, 7
Ole Miss, 25, NR, 25, 13, 19
Texas A&M, 24, 24, 26, NR, NR
Georgia, NR, NR, 29, NR, NR,
Baseball America Write Up:
Hitting: 60. LSU's lineup is built around one of the nation's most accomplished hitters in Rhymes, whose uncanny hand-eye coordination and flat bat path helped him flirt with .500 deep into the 2012 season. Like Rhymes, the precocious Bregman is an advanced hitter who rarely strikes out, and scouts are as convinced as LSU's coaches that he will be an instant star. Ross, who excels at going the other way into the right-center gap, took a big step forward last year. The 5-foot-7 Ibarra is an aggressive hitter with surprising strength in his swing. Sciambra, McMullen and Laird give this lineup a key trio of athletic lefthanded hitters who work counts, get on base and cause havoc.
Power: 50. Katz, who ranked third in the SEC in homers last year, packs impressive all-fields power into his 5-foot-10 frame. Fellow sub-6-footers Bregman, Ibarra and McMullen also could provide occasional pop. The wiry Jones has struck out too much during his collegiate career, but he showed off his emerging power last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he won the home run derby at the all-star game. The Tigers think he's primed for a monster year. Physical Fr. C Chris Chinea brings some more righthanded thump.
Speed: 70. The additions of McMullen, Laird and Fr. OF Andrew Stevenson change the complexion of LSU's lineup, because all three have premium speed and tailor their games around putting it to good use. Jones, one of the best athletes in college baseball, also has plus to plus-plus speed, and Sciambra is a slightly above-average runner. Bregman and Rhymes are fringe-average runners with good instincts.
Defense: 65. The Tigers will miss four-year stalwart Austin Nola at shortstop, but Bregman's superb instincts, smooth actions and solid-average arm should make him a capable replacement. Jones has excellent range at second and committed just four errors last year (.982 fielding percentage). Ibarra has soft hands and a strong arm at third, and Katz's athleticism and savvy make him a standout at first. Ross might be the country's premier defensive catcher. Sciambra, who has recovered from the frightening neck injury he suffered in the outfield last spring, takes efficient routes in center, and the corner outfielders are sound.
Starting Pitching: 60. Nola and Eades could form a dominating duo atop the rotation, but the Sunday starter job is still up in the air. Nola relentlessly pounds the strike zone (89-7 K-BB last year) with a lively low-90s fastball, quality changeup and breaking ball from a deceptive three-quarters slot. Eades has premium stuff—a mid-90s fastball, a wipeout downer curve in the low 80s, a sinker and changeup that induce ground balls—but must do a better job harnessing his command. Bonvillain has good deception and movement on his sinker and can fool hitters with his sharp breaking ball. Fr. RHP Russell Reynolds has more upside, with an 89-93 fastball and an above-average slider, but he needs to continue developing his changeup.
Bullpen: 60. A key question facing LSU is who will replace closer Nick Goody? With a fastball that reaches 94 and a putaway 12-to-6 curveball, Rumbelow has back-of-the-bullpen stuff. The most proven, trusted member of the bullpen is Sr. LHP Chris Cotton, who keeps hitters off balance by mixing his mid-80s fastball with an excellent changeup and occasional breaking ball. Jr. RHP Will LaMarche showed a mid-90s fastball and promising secondary stuff at Chabot (Calif.) JC last year, but he needs to show better command to earn a prominent role on this staff. Fr. RHP Mitchell Sewald and So. LHP Cody Glenn also have good arms, while Jr. RHP Kurt McCune and Sr. RHPs Kevin Berry and Joey Bourgeois provide valuable experience, making this a deep group.
Experience/Intangibles: 60. LSU's lineup has good veteran leadership in its four upperclassman with abundant experience in the lineup, which should make it easier for four newcomers to slide into the lineup. The bullpen is stuffed with vets, if not a proven closer, and two-thirds of the weekend rotation is back from a super regional team.
Baseball America OFP: 60. The lineup and the pitching staff still need to gel, but the front-line talent and depth on this roster is impressive. After getting stunned at home by Stony Brook in super regionals last year, LSU will be on a mission to return to Omaha, and its chances look strong.
This post was edited on 1/28 at 5:39 pm