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Adam4848
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Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
February. Is. Here.

-As always everything in this preview is "my" opinion and analysis, I always welcome everyone’s opinions, thoughts, and criticism, as this is a message board and it's what makes this place great...but please keep it baseball related. In year 11 now this preview is for those friends, family, and alumni who follow the sport however may not be able to see the team early in spring and want to get a better feel for who’s – who.

-The lineup I predict is not only based on what I have seen thus far but how I see the respective positions shaping up throughout the entire regular season.

-The MLB uses a 20-80 grading scale to evaluate each draft eligible player based on their skillset of 1) Power 2) Hitting 3) Speed 4) Fielding 5) Arm. Now because 60-70% of all MLB draft eligible prospects fall into the below-average to average skill set it’s not much to look at when previewing a standard collegiate team. To give viewers a better representation of how they stack up on the collegiate level what I’ve done the past few years is grade each player based on their current tools as they compare to other players at the collegiate level. What this does is expand the bell curve a bit and give a better representation of their respective strengths and weaknesses now rather than a projection for a MLB position.

-At the end of each position is a final grade based on the entire unit as a whole including any intangibles as well as depth.

Feb 1st-C Hunter Feduccia (Jr.)
Feb 2nd-1B Bryce Jordan (RS-Jr.)
Feb 3rd-2B Brandt Broussard (Jr.)
Feb 4th-SS Josh Smith (So.)
Feb 5th-3B Jake Slaughter (So.)
Feb 6th-OF Daniel Cabrera (Fr.), Zach Watson (So.), Antoine Duplantis (Jr.)
Feb 7th-DH Beau Jordan (Sr.)
Feb 8th-SP Caleb Gilbert (Jr.), Zack Hess (So.), Todd Peterson (So.)
Feb 9th-RP Cam Sanders (Jr.), Nick Bush (So.), Devin Fontenot (Fr.), Ma'Khail Hilliard (Fr.), Nick Storz (Fr.)
Feb 10th- Pro Prospects & SEC predictions

Grade Breakdown
80 Top of the Scale (Think Kris Bryant, USD – 2013 “power”)
70 Well Above Average
60 Above Average
50 Average
40 Below Average
30 Well Below Average
20 Bottom of the Scale (Think Matt Gaudet, LSU - 2010 “speed”)
This post was edited on 2/10 at 8:42 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
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Member since Apr 2006
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re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Image: https://i.imgur.com/M165nkO.jpg?1


CATCHER

1) Hunter Feduccia Jr. 6’2 183lbs (7)*
2) Nick Coomes Sr. 5’11 196lbs (13)
3) Braden Doughty Fr. 6’1 175lbs (20)

The catching position adds a polished JUCO transfer in Hunter Feduccia who will be backed up by veteran Nick Coomes and freshman Braden Doughty.

Hunter Feduccia stepped onto campus last summer with the catching position seemingly wide open after Papierski’s departure to the MLB draft, from there he was to compete with freshman Mason Doolittle. The good news is Feduccia by far was the better player in the fall and today and is now ready to be take the starting job without much of a hiccup. Hunter’s strength coming out of his freshman and sophomores years respectively has been a superb glove where he excels in receiving pitches. Defensively Feduccia is not as polished as Papierski was toward his junior year but he’s shown great arm strength and accuracy which is above average, there won’t be a sudden drop off that many fans might expect when losing a draft eligible junior to the draft. What’s been the most improved aspect is the bat which he’s become more comfortable with and is one of his better tools since coming out of high school. A season ago at LSU-Eunice Feduccia hit 0.394 and more importantly was a solid mainstay from the left side of the plate in the heart of the order which would be a welcome addition filling the void left by Deichmann. Because Hunter stays extremely balanced with his swing he’s able to maintain great drive through the zone at all times where you’ll see more ground balls and line drives than your prototypical power hitter who are at times feast or famine. If LSU is to keep their offensive numbers relatively similar to a season ago Feduccia may be the most important incomer in the lineup. Feduccia will hit in the heart of the order, right now Mainieri has him in the 4 spot and I don’t see him moving anywhere other than one spot back to 5. He doesn’t look like a traditional power type, but you’ll see he can work gap to gap with ease and may even hit 7-10 HR’s. One place LSU will approve on is his ability to become a steal threat every now and then which is a definite advantage than what they had at the position the last three years.

Nick Coomes who was a vital contributor in 2017 will serve primarily as the backup which is a very overlooked but important role. If anything is to happen to Feduccia then Coomes has the ability to step in with experience. Right now I see him having an outside shot at securing the DH role and if anything he can also fill in at 1B. Because he's advanced with the bat he will at the very least be the first or second guy up when LSU needs a pinch hitter late in ball games.

Braden Doughty is a freshman newcomer who will serve as the primary bullpen catcher and add depth to the position. It remains to be seen how much he will be counted upon early in the year but I doubt with the recent transfers that he is redshirted and for that reason alone he’ll get some mop up duty during non conference games.

My take: The position as a whole will not be labeled as a strength and in reality it lacks depth after Mason Doolittle, a talented freshman, transferred weeks ago. With all this being said Hunter Feduccia is the most talented prospect of the group and may be the one incoming position player that makes the biggest impact early on in the year. With Feduccia's frame and above average defense it's a real threat that he could be a top 10-15 round draft pick if he shows he can hit SEC competition consistently. It's not out of the question that he could realistically put up 0.320 8 HR 50RBI numbers in the heart of the order following Smith, Watson, and Duplantis and if he does I think LSU’s offense will be in the top third in the SEC.

Hunter Feduccia

Power------55
Hitting------60
Speed------50
Fielding----60
Arm---------60

FINAL GRADE: 55
This post was edited on 2/1 at 8:16 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
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Member since Apr 2006
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re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Image: https://i.imgur.com/R6oO7lX.jpg?1


FIRST BASE

1) Bryce Jordan RS-Jr. 5’9 206lbs (25)*
2) Jake Slaughter So. 6’2 197lbs (5)
3) Nick Coomes Sr. 5’11 196lbs (13)
4) Nick Webre Fr. 5'10 190lbs (23)

First base along with two other positions in the lineup are still not set in stone before opening day. Let me preface that at the moment Bryce Jordan has a commanding lead and if anything changes it will most likely be a part of a lineup shuffle. Jake Slaughter and Nick Coomes are likely candidates to slide over without hesitation if need be. Nick Webre is an option here also, as your starting to see 1B may be a revolving door depending on who DH's.

The good news is Bryce Jordan is back and 100% healthy, no major setbacks to date and when he’s his usual self he can play at an ALL-SEC caliber level as seen in 2016. While he wasn’t apart of LSU’s recruiting class it’s going to feel like it with him not playing baseball in well over 18 months. Bryce brings instant leadership to a team that desperately needs a voice in the locker room to rally around and to have him back in the lineup is more than the numbers he’ll put up at the plate. To no surprise, Bryce crowds the box like it’s no one’s business, in 2016 he lead the SEC in hit by pitches and worked his way to becoming one of the more patient hitters in the lineup with a 0.417 on base percentage. He's more of a power threat than his brother, Beau, where he does a better job extending his hands and going to the opposite field on a consistent basis, his power is slightly above average and I'm confident he’s going to put up big power numbers as long as he’s protected in the lineup. I grade his hitting as average for now because in the past he's been that feast or famine type hitter which is ok for some spots in the lineup. On the base paths he’s a slightly below average runner although I don’t look at him as a liability, with his recent knee injuries he's not going to be getting the green light anyways. He may be a usual candidate to be pinch run if the game is close past the 8th inning. At first base you'll be able to cover up his lack of range in the field, his athletic background will help him at times where he lacks in natural talent. From what I’ve seen he can be a serviceable first baseman the way Mainieri used Mason Katz in 2013. It still remains to be seen if he settles in at 1B or DH in the long run depending on how the other spots fill out.

Jake Slaughter is the guy I see Mainieri going to first if Jordan is moved to DH, Slaughter is an extremely athletic and rangy infielder who performed exceptionally well as a freshman and was very comfortable at the position transitioning from shortstop in high school.

Nick Coomes had a couple of gaffes in the CWS final last year but for the most part he was a pivotal part in LSU’s turnaround early last April and did well defensively. Because he is listed as the main backup catcher I doubt he’s going to get serious innings at first base unless Mainieri feels he needs Coomes bat in the lineup day to day.

Nick Webre is a guy who may eventually slide here if needed, for now I see him contending for the DH spot.

My take: The position brings back experience both defensively and at the plate. I think if Bryce Jordan wins the job that he’ll go through some rust in February which should be expected but he’s not the type to let others outwork him and for that reason I’m confident in a quick comeback. Jordan’s here for his power and in the lineup he’ll hit in the heart of the order most likely 4th or 5th where he’ll not only protect Feduccia but be expected to drive runners in on a consistent basis.

Bryce Jordan

Power------60
Hitting------50
Speed------45
Fielding----50
Arm---------50

FINAL GRADE: 55
This post was edited on 2/2 at 8:14 am


Adam4848
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Member since Apr 2006
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re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Image: https://i.imgur.com/ghrmYiC.jpg?1


SECOND BASE

1) Brandt Broussard Jr. 5’10 160lbs (16)*
2) Hal Hughes Fr. 5’11 165lbs (3)
3) Chris Reid Jr. 5’9 187lbs (17)

Second base outside of maybe relief pitching will be the most intensely watched group over the next 2 weeks. Out goes Cole Freeman and in steps two newcomers in Brandt Broussard and Hal Hughes along with veteran Chris Reid who has played the position in the past.

For now it looks like Brandt Broussard will get the start on opening night although Hal Hughes is right on his heels for playing time. Broussard, JUCO out of Delgado, lead his team last year in hitting with an astounding 0.429 hitting clip in 52 games. Much like Cole Freeman who played for Delgado in 2015 before coming to LSU Broussard enters with high expectations and the same mindset. I don’t like making comparisons to recent players but his game is much of the same as Cole and maybe for Tiger fans it's a good thing. Brandt’s game is getting on base (0.531 on base percentage in 2017) and stealing bases (15-19 in 2017). His swing doesn't translate to much power at all, he's a slap the ball where it's pitched kind of hitter, for now I want to see how he can handle SEC pitching on a regular basis which is why I give him an average hitting grade. If he remains in the lineup this year it’s not out question he could lead LSU in stolen bases, outside of Zach Watson he has the fastest wheels on the team. Defensively he has great range for his build and arm strength is slightly above average, he won't have trouble making throws from the right side of the infield.

Hal Hughes is a very talented freshman infielder out of Oklahoma who I’m very eager to see push for playing time immediately. The son of former Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes Hal has played baseball his entire life and hasn’t seen much adversity at any competition level. Hughes best tool without question is the phenomenal glove, arm strength is also above average at the collegiate level right now. It’s no surprise to see that Mainieri is going to ease him in slowly because he has the entire month of February and much of March to do so. Much like Zach Watson a season ago if Hughes gets an opportunity to hit and field consistently he will play, the only thing that would hold him back is the inconsistency to produce productive at bats in the nine hole. At the plate Hal Hughes plays the same way Broussard will, not much power and routinely will try to drive the ball up the middle. You need speed at this position and Hughes also is a great runner.

Chris Reid may have been the guy in the right spot ala 2016 or the guy in the wrong spot ala 2017 but no matter what he’s a very important piece to this team. Reid’s a veteran bat from the left side who is as patient at the plate as they come, to no surprise he will not hit for power but seems to find holes at the right times. Defensively he's not as polished as the other two but I don’t see him as much of a liability at 2B, even so I expect him to backup 3B as well. Even with the potential log jam at DH Reid makes sense to plug in if necessary.

My take: It’s a young group and it has everything in the world to prove. For much of the non conference schedule Mainieri will tinker with the position to see what he has. Not much of a surprise but Hughes has the better glove and more room to grow. For now Broussard is starting because he's the veteran who Mainieri hopes will show more poise at the plate as well as a sense of stability. Expect both players to swap multiple times before the SEC schedule hitting in the nine hole to be the speedy "second leadoff" man that LSU has had success with in the past.

Brandt Broussard

Power------35
Hitting------50
Speed------70
Fielding----60
Arm---------55

FINAL GRADE: 45
This post was edited on 2/3 at 10:56 am


Adam4848
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Member since Apr 2006
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re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Image: https://i.imgur.com/g9JWZPv.jpg?1


SHORTSTOP

1) Josh Smith So. 5’10 178lbs (4)*
2) Hal Hughes Fr. 5’11 165lbs (3)
3) Jake Slaughter So. 6’2 197lbs (5)

Apart of the phenomenal sophomore class Josh Smith returns to anchor the middle infield and become what appears to be LSU’s next great shortstop. Backing up Smith will be a combination of Hal Hughes and Jake Slaughter, whom both are natural shortstops by trade.

Josh Smith didn’t take long to secure a starting spot in a loaded and deep lineup, that was in the fall of 2016 and while he could have started and most likely had much success at shortstop he fit in nicely at the hot corner where he brought a burst of energy to the bottom of the lineup. A year later and a year more refined Josh will move to his natural position where he has looked extremely comfortable in the field. Smith’s arm continues to get stronger where it’s well above average not something that's rare for the position. Glove is also a plus tool. The only negative I can find is that he may not be 6’2 which limits his range at times; still everything comes so natural for him that like Robertson he’ll get to some you won’t think off the bat. At the plate this year Mainieri’s plan is to bat him leadoff to start which might not make sense to some but I’ll try to explain reasons for at least for the time being. Smith is a pesky hitter so he’s going to see pitches and work up counts, he drew the most amount of walks for any returning starter heading into 2018, and third he has a line drive approach which will yield him a higher chance of on base percentage. A year ago I under estimated Josh Smith’s power a tad, he was able to get some out that were absolute moon shots and after another year in LSU’s weight training program he’ll be able to get a few more of those warning track balls into the stands. With this being said hitting for power is not his game and he able to spray the ball to the opposite side better than anyone outside of Duplantis right now. Speed is above average, he wasn’t used on the base paths much last year but those numbers will rise with more plate appearances and hit and runs centered around Watson and Duplantis.

Hal Hughes who I touched up on for second base is the best available short stop on the team, he'll be able to slide into the position without worry if Smith is forced to move back to third base.

Jake Slaughter is here for depth, he'll mainly slide between third base and first base a majority of the time.

My take: Shortstop will be a strong hold for LSU in 2018 and Josh Smith has the potential to take a huge step forward and put himself in position for an all-american type season in 2019. Out of all the returning starters I look for Smith to make the biggest leap from freshman to sophomore year. If Josh is able to excel in the leadoff spot then LSU is going to have a very very dangerous top half of the order built around speed and gap to gap power before turning it over to the heart of the order.

Josh Smith

Power------55
Hitting------60
Speed------60
Fielding----60
Arm---------65

FINAL GRADE: 60
This post was edited on 2/4 at 9:48 am


Adam4848
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re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Image: https://i.imgur.com/Tj28IFt.jpg?1


THIRD BASE

1) Jake Slaughter So. 6’2 197lbs (5)*
2) Hal Hughes Fr. 5'11 165lbs (3)
2) Chris Reid Jr. 5’9 187lbs (17)

Jake Slaughter slides back to the left side of the infield this year with Hal Hughes and Chris Reid looking like the potential backups.

Jake Slaughter may be the most polarizing starter in this lineup. A freshmen who broke out of the gate hot Jake had a season of many highs and lows mostly centered around his what he did at the plate. Defensively this year it makes sense for Mainieri to slide him back over to the left side of the field, being that Slaughter has great range for his large frame and moves well laterally. His glove is above average and his arm is becoming a plus tool as well. I think for now with Smith and Slaughter holding down the left side of the infield there won't be many defensive lapses. Slaughter at the plate is where you start to get into the unknowns, his bat when hot instantly takes LSU's lineup from an above average team to a very dangerous lineup almost instantaneously. Starting with his power, it's a plus tool, he didn't show the ability to use it consistently last year but as seen through fall ball and LSU's practices the ball is leaving his bat with the most velocity almost daily. As a freshman he had a hard time adjusting to off speed pitches and pulling off of the ball, with his powerful swing he always had that tendency to have alot of swing and misses. Hitting wise much like Bryce Jordan I don't expect him to put up the best average but when he gets a hold of the ball it's going to a long way. The plan is to start him around the 7 hole hitting behind Cabrera where he’ll be a power threat from the bottom of the order. Jake only had 4 steal attempts last year which surprised me, because he moves very well for his size and I believe he has a lot more speed than people give him credit for. Still, with him continuing to add size he may not be involved as much on the base paths once again.

Hal Hughes is a logical backup for third base as well. As we’re starting to see he’s going to be the main utility defensive option when not starting.

Chris Reid has played this position before and had success so there’s no reason he couldn’t slide over if needed at any time.

My take: Third base will be another defensive stronghold for the Tigers, there’s depth with a mix of youth and veterans who have shown they can play the position. Jake’s bat will need to improve in showing consistency, the power will come. When Slaughter plays loose is when the lineup becomes dangerous and hitting him lower in the order mah help him relax a bit.

Jake Slaughter

Power------60
Hitting------50
Speed------55
Fielding----60
Arm---------60

FINAL GRADE: 55
This post was edited on 2/5 at 12:08 pm


Adam4848
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Member since Apr 2006
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re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Image: https://i.imgur.com/4L8UDpj.jpg?1


Left Field - Daniel Cabrera

Image: https://i.imgur.com/RvV0lbK.jpg?1


Center Field - Zach Watson

Image: https://i.imgur.com/UhgEQTf.jpg?1


Right Field - Antoine Duplantis

OUTFIELD

Daniel Cabrera Fr. 6'1 185lbs (2)*
Zach Watson So. 6'0 166lbs (9)*
Antoine Duplantis Jr. 5'11 179lbs (8)*
Beau Jordan Sr. 5'9 202lbs (24)
Nick Webre Fr. 5'10 190lbs (23)

Arguably the most talented position this year will be the outfield. Mainieri continues to find exceptional athletes within the state of Louisiana possessing a combination of speed mixed with power. The starters this year look to be in order from left to right: Daniel Cabrera, Zach Watson, and Antonie Duplantis.

Left Field: Daniel Cabrera was never supposed to make it to LSU, a top 100 prospect overall for the 2017 MLB draft he began to slide to do signability concerns, which is not rare for high level prospects with commitments to high level programs; with all this being said more times than not its a crapshoot for the school recruiting and LSU got a very nice player. So what does Cabrera bring to LSU right now? The biggest asset is the ability to become a true two way player, one which LSU does not normally utilize under Mainieri. In the lineup Cabrera is a one of the most polished freshman bats entering college this year, he has such great bat control that he’s able to barrel up more balls than not even when initially fooled by the pitch. I think Cabrera will be a high average bat this year where his power will start to translate more and more by his sophomore and junior years at LSU. Mainieri has said he’s wanting to bat him in the 6 hole to start and if Slaughter is hitting well behind him then he’ll see more and more pitches to his liking. Cabrera has slightly above average speed for a corner outfielder in college and is a very well put together and strong ball player. In time he has the tools to turn into a very dynamic two way prospect in a year or two and be a very high draft pick. In the the field his glove is slightly above average but has a plus arm from left field. He may be a DH candidate on days that they are planning to pitch him.

Daniel Cabrera

Power------55
Hitting------60
Speed------55
Fielding----55
Arm---------65

Centerfield: Let’s just say Zach Watson blew expectations out the door last year. I knew he would get playing time, I didn’t think he would get the at bats to supplant a starter with how deep the roster was a year ago. On to the present, Zach Watson’s a draft eligible sophomore which is great news for MLB teams and bad news for LSU fans wanting him to stay another year; but for the time being enjoy the ride and anything can happen. Watson has great bat speed and you’ll notice he’s always staying level to the ball where his quick and compact swing creates more drive than others. Don’t let his frame fool you because Zach is one of the strongest players on the team and the power he generates from his quick hands will only continue to develop, right now that’s a plus tool at the collegiate level where it should translate into at least slightly below to average in the major leagues. From home to first base Zach is a true 80 runner and is the definition of what you look for pure speed. He does need to continue to work on is refining his base running, but that's a minor tweak. In the field Watson will be able to cover as much ground as anyone in college and for that his glove is near a well above average tool and arm slightly above average.

Zach Watson

Power------60
Hitting------60
Speed------80
Fielding----65
Arm---------55

Right Field: Antoine Duplantis, a two year starter for LSU, returns as one of the teams most consistent player. Antoine has added a lot of bulk this off season and the balls seem to be jumping off his bat with much more authority in spring ball that in years past. At the plate Duplantis is a contact hitter, hits it where it’s pitched and is rarely fooled or has an unproductive at bat. Much like Watson he has very quick hands and can spray the ball to all fields. The power is still slightly below average, it’s not his game to go for the long ball and when he’s trying to pull the ball he gets in trouble. I think Duplantis may run a few more out that he would have in years past. Speed is very good, it’s a plus plus tool and he’ll be once again one of LSU’s top base stealers along with Watson and Broussard. In the field Duplantis is going to shift to right due to Mainieri wanting a veteran at the position, he’s got a very good glove but his arm is still below average for a college outfielder. If Mainieri wants a stronger arm he may flip flop two spots in the outfield but for now that’s a wait and see.

Antoine Duplantis

Power------45
Hitting------65
Speed------70
Fielding----65
Arm---------45

Beau Jordan right now is the front runner at DH however he returns with the most starts of any backup in the outfield. Any time that Daniel is not in left field I could see Beau sliding in here for a few innings or a spot start. Beau has held down left field fairly well when he is in the field and brings veteran presence to the position.

Nick Webre is an option to slide to one of the corner outfield spots, he’s behind Beau in my opinion right now but could see innings with the limited depth and if Cabrera moves over to pitch. Webre is contending for the DH spot at the moment.

My take: The starters make this outfield group one of the best in the nation and there won't be many growing pains by the freshman Cabrera in left field as he's ready to make an immediate impact and potentially earn freshman all-american honors. Right now Mainieri has Watson and Duplantis at 2 and 3 respectively in the order where they will look to get on base regularly with the power bats to follow. Both have great bat control and may be called for a number of hit and runs to get things moving in the order. Cabrera will be in the 6 hole and that should be a spot low enough for him to swing freely and do his thing. The only thing that worries me is depth and why I don't grade them higher, still it's going to be exciting watching those three, that's the best adjective I can use to describe their play.

FINAL GRADE: 65
This post was edited on 2/6 at 9:09 am


Adam4848
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Member since Apr 2006
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re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Image: https://i.imgur.com/jtc0FCD.jpg


DESIGNATED HITTER

Beau Jordan Sr. 5'9 202lbs (24)*
Nick Webre Fr. 5'10 190lbs (23)
Chris Reid Jr. 5'9 187lbs (17)
Daniel Cabrera Fr. 6'1 185lbs (2) (When pitching)

Beau Jordan is going to be the starter for the opener at DH. Nick Webre, Chris Reid, and Daniel Cabrera seem to be likely candidates to platoon with Jordan for now.

Beau Jordan is one of three seniors on the entire roster and the only three year letterman besides Austin Bain, from the #1 recruiting class in 2014. In terms of experience Jordan's started 62 games in 2016 and had 38 starts at designated hitter in 2017 so he's not a new face to the lineup and is the reason Mainieri feels comfortable throwing him in there to start while he grooms some of the younger bats. Beau isn't a high ceiling player but he has the ability to be sparkplug at the bottom of the order with occasional pop. Power is average at best, he can create great bat speed but he's not consistent, a great fastball hitter but at times isn't patient enough at the plate. He's routinely been a 0.270-0.290 hitter, for the bottom of the order that's not bad in reality. Speed is average from home to first, he moves well for his frame but like his brother he doesn't possess much of a threat to steal at any time. When he's in the field he's a dependable left fielder who will make a few spectacular catches, arm is average for a corner outfield spot.

Nick Webre will push for immediate playing time at the position and I think will start in times that Beau Jordan is needed to shift to an outfield spot. Webre is starting to get comparisons to a young Ryan Schimpf when he was a freshman at LSU. Playing for the Dansville Dan's, a highly respected prospect leauge, Nick hit 0.324 with 9 homeruns in what would translate to about 3/4's of a typical collegiate season. He's not tall by any means but has a stocky build to him and is able to generate a quick and compact swing from the left side of the plate. He and Cabrera have steadily been driving the ball with more authority than the rest of the freshmen class during spring practice. It remains to be seen how he hits for average but he's without a doubt more of a power threat in the DH spot. Because LSU may have a few right handed bats towards the lower half of the lineup it wouldn't be a bad move to have someone like Webre mixed in at the 8 or 9 hole in the order. Nick is a steal threat and has well above average speed for his frame.

Chris Reid is also a guy I would like to see get some more at bats during the year. He hits from the left side of the plate and is an on base percentage guy, he will not hit for power but can be a guy at the back end of the order to at the very least be an annoyance to the opposing pitcher.

Daniel Cabrera I have here because Mainieri has stated publicly that he wants to slide Cabrera over to DH at times that he may pitch. What I think we all expect is days that he may see work on the mound that LF and the DH spot will simply switch.

My take: Beau Jordan will start at DH but Nick Webre will slowly start platooning with him during the non conference schedule. If Nick is able to hit for average then I think he'll eventually take over full time, Webre by far has the most upside of the group outside of Cabrera and could be a dangerous hitter at the bottom of the lineup with the threat of power and speed on the base paths. To me the position as a whole is slightly above average with Jordan starting and Webre behind him but has a higher ceiling if Webre is able to breakout as a freshman.

Beau Jordan

Power------50
Hitting------50
Speed------50
Fielding----55
Arm---------50

FINAL GRADE: 55
This post was edited on 2/7 at 8:26 am


Adam4848
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Member since Apr 2006
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re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Image: https://i.imgur.com/k1jJf7x.jpg?1


Caleb Gilbert

Image: https://i.imgur.com/l68HqHT.jpg?1


Zack Hess

Image: https://i.imgur.com/AS9dAQE.jpg?1


Todd Peterson

STARTING PITCHING

Caleb Gilbert Jr. 6'2 179lbs (41)*
Zack Hess So. 6'6 216lbs (38)*
Todd Peterson So. 6'5 224lbs (43)*

LSU’s starting rotation will turnover it’s entire unit for the first time since 2011. Still there is reason for optimism, the only other time Mainieri had to do something like this was after the 2008 season where he made a couple of key moves in setting up the rotation that led to the eventual national championship in 2009. Anthony Ranaudo who had only thrown 12 innings due to injury was moved to the Friday night spot, then shutdown reliever Louis Coleman slid to the Saturday spot, and youngster Austin Ross filled in the Sunday spot. 2018 LSU will start Caleb Gilbert on Friday, Zack Hess on Saturday, and Todd Peterson on Sunday.

Caleb Gilbert has an electric arm and he’s going to need to be LSU’s workhorse, for now I’m assuming he’ll be taking the ball on Friday’s and it’s something I think he can handle. Caleb hasn’t been primarily a starter for LSU in his first two seasons; with LSU’s rotation he didn’t need to be. Out of the bullpen he was almost as good as you can ask for at the collegiate level with a 0.90 WHIP (walk-hits-per innings pitched) and averaging over a strikeout per inning at 1.15. Gilbert’s arm strength has steadily improved since arriving on campus where he’ll usually sit 92-95mph and has shown even higher velocities in warmer months. His out pitch is an upper 80’s slider which he gets a lot of swing and misses because it comes out at the similar arm slot his fastball does. As long as he’s able to control and mix in his changeup from time to time and keep hitters off balance I don’t see many holes in Gilbert’s arsenal. In the SEC there are a slew of top prospects that will be throwing on Friday’s, Gilbert may fly under the radar for a few months but if he throws the way he did last May-June he will be a top 4-5 round pick in June.

Zack Hess is the biggest house hold name returning on the staff and the biggest controversy has been whether to keep him in the bullpen or put him in a position to start. In 2009 LSU needed Louis Coleman to start and in 2018 LSU needs Zack Hess to start. Hess is such an emotional pitcher that it seems wise for now to let him focus on his one start a week and throw as many innings as he can. Zack is a fastball dominant pitcher with hard late movement, he normally sits 92-96mph but it’s hard to pinpoint how hard he’ll be throwing as a starter vs. the one innings stints where he was blazing 97mph at times. The curveball is a 12-6 with hard life at the end and is a plus plus pitch right now. His changeup must improve, it’s not necessary that he has it at all times but he needs another pitch to offset the fastball. The only downside is you wonder how his stamina will keep up being a strikeout thrower with occasional lack of command. Zack had 30 walks in 60 innings (4.45 walks / 9 innings) and that has been the focal point this offseason. Much like Alex Lange a season ago he could be one of those guys that gets into high pitch counts by the 5th or 6th inning. The bottom line is Hess has good enough stuff to challenge hitters and keep them off balance, the earlier he learns that he can pitch more to contact the longer he’ll last in average outings and the better for LSU’s bullpen. As with Gilbert if Hess shows he can throw 90+ innings this year and mix and match his pitches efficiently then he will be also be a top 4-5 round pick as a draft eligible sophomore where he will have a big decision on his hands.

Todd Peterson is the third and final piece to the puzzle. Peterson was a highly recruited prospect out of high school where he and Zack Hess were the two headliners of the 2016 class. Peterson sits at 6’5 with a large frame and ability to throw multiple pitches. Todd has battled to get back to the best shape he’s been since being hampered by both injuries and lack of conditioning as a freshman. When he’s on the fastball is a consistent 89-92mph with a really nice changeup that is good enough to be a change of pace pitch. Peterson got in trouble last year when he couldn’t locate his curve ball to keep hitters off balance. Pitches would be fought off and he got hammered on some fastball’s left up when ahead in the count. So far in the fall and spring he looks slimmer, more confident, and most importantly more comfortable on the mound. You always say if you can get at least 5 innings out of your Sunday starter from week to week than you can piece the rest together and what Dunn needs Todd to do right now. Peterson has a very high ceiling and if he puts it together the rotation suddenly becomes a real strength.

My take: In a perfect world Caleb Gilbert replicates Anthony Ranaudo, Zack Hess replicates Louis Coleman, and Todd Peterson replicates Austin Ross and LSU hosts a trophy in June…but that’s just a pipe dream. There will be questions such as Can Gilbert handle the Friday spot? Is Hess able to become a full time starter? Will Peterson stick to the Sunday spot? Still I really like the starting pitching this year, I think out of a pure talent standpoint that both Gilbert and Hess are elite talents in college baseball and Peterson will be pushed to secure that Sunday spot. I think this group is collectively flying under the radar and maybe that's a great thing early on, people see that LSU is replacing it's entire starting rotation and think of it as one of the weaknesses, however that is not even half the story.

Caleb Gilbert

Arm Strength---------70
Movement-------------70
Stamina----------------65
Control-----------------65

Zack Hess

Arm Strength---------70
Movement-------------75
Stamina----------------60
Control-----------------50

Todd Peterson

Arm Strength---------60
Movement-------------55
Stamina----------------60
Control-----------------50

FINAL GRADE: 65
This post was edited on 2/8 at 7:46 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
11363 posts
 Online 

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Image: https://i.imgur.com/Qa08Zgr.jpg?1


Cam Sanders

Image: https://i.imgur.com/1xx5uXt.jpg?1


Nick Bush

Image: https://i.imgur.com/L5BW14M.jpg?1


Devin Fontenot

Image: https://i.imgur.com/XfHBHvA.jpg?1


Ma'Khail Hilliard

Image: https://i.imgur.com/ugz5Xg1.jpg?1


Nick Storz

RELIEF PITCHING

Relief pitching is the biggest question mark it’s not a secret, it’s the position that will make or break it for LSU to make a deep run this year. Mainieri and Dunn brought in plenty of youthful talent and a couple will make immediate impacts, others will go through growing pains, the goal is to find roles early and hope they stick.

Cam Sanders an 18th round pick of the San Diego Padres is likely to make the biggest splash as a newcomer. Mainieri has hinted at the possibility of Sanders being given a chance on Sunday if need or even starting a midweek game here or too. Sanders throws 93-94mph where he has an above average slider and curve ball. The fastball has life and he’s able to get swings and misses with it, where Cam gets in trouble is when he’s not hitting his spots and not getting swings and runs his pitch count up quickly. LSU needs a dominant stopper out of the pen and they need a closer, they also need Sanders to do well this year and having him potentially pitch 2-3 times a week is something I would like to see.

Nick Bush is going to be a very good lefty out of the pen, he was thrown into action in the middle of last year because LSU needed another arm from the left side and held his own as a redshirt freshman. Bush usually sits 88-90mph with a very deceptive curve ball that freezes hitters at times because he’s able to throw it nearly out of the similar arm slot as the fastball. I think Bush will be the main southpaw out of the bullpen to get out of jams, his workload will increase this spring where he could be one of the primary long relievers.

Devin Fontenot is a freshman out of Texas who’s been pounding the strike zone in fall and spring practice thus far as well as showing that he can locate two pitches at all times. Frame is similar to that of Eric Walker he may throw a tad harder at times but he’s usually 89-91mph, he’s able to work both sides of the plate with effectiveness and shows that he can locate his slider which has looked sharp. Coaches feel like he can be a main arm in the bullpen.

Ma’Khail Hilliard is the lightest player on this baseball team but has maybe the best curve call on the team, at least that’s what Mainieri is raving about over and over. It’s been mentioned that Mainieri has said multiple times this spring that using tracking the curveball spin rate is tighter than Alex Lange’s as a junior and that’s exciting to see out of a true freshman. Fastball is upper 80’s and if Ma’Khail is able to locate his curve call with consistency then he should be a very nice setup guy.

Nick Storz was the top arm in LSU’s recruiting class and fell in the draft due to signability concerns. He now appears to be focused solely on getting healthy enough to pitch by late February, where he’s been coming back from surgery in fall to fix a bone in his throwing shoulder. When Storz is healthy he’s an impact power arm who can throw mid 90’s with a breaking ball that can be a plus pitch. Right now the goal is not to rush him and bring him back at his own pace where he can hopefully be ready to at least give LSU short stints of an inning here or there in the bullpen. The long term goal is to convert him to a weekend starter next year. Having Storz potentially in LSU’s bullpen and healthy would be a major boost for the position.

AJ Labas is the other power arm in LSU’s recruiting class who was added on late to the recruiting cycle to fill an opening. Labas much like Storz battled an injury in the fall and underwent back surgery in December, the latest word is that he threw his first bullpen session recently and the optimistic date is to get him back 3-4 weeks into the schedule. Labas is a big bodied pitcher with a low 90’s fastball and above average changeup for a freshman. The curveball is still a bit raw and will be something he’ll develop over the next two years, he also is being eyed as a potential starter next year.

Daniel Cabrera who will be starting in left field is also a pitcher from the left side who will be a vital bullpen arm for the Tigers. Cabrera’s not a power arm he only sits 87-89mph but he attacks hitters and creates deception with the delivery, much like Poche he’ll pitch to contact and works very quickly. The changeup is slightly above average, curve ball needs to improve with location but that may be his best pitch in a year or two. All in all he’s a nice 1 inning stint guy out of the pen when needed, Mainieri is not going to overload him, I could see working his way into a setup type arm that may face one or two lefties in a row if needed late in games.

Austin Bain provides depth and will be a long reliever when called upon. Fastball is lower 90’s and and has an above average curveball, biggest flaw is getting himself into trouble with walks. He’s one of the few veterans in the bullpen but it’s unclear how he’ll be used.

Matthew Beck is a guy I could see locking up a midweek starting role and I mean that in a good way. Beck showed promise at the beginning of the year in 2017 as a freshman and hit a wall and lost his confidence. The fastball this spring is up and he looks more confident on the mound, I like him in the midweek games to start off because he’s a guy I could see eating up 5-6 innings and being able to transition to a more defined role in the pen later on.

Taylor Petersen is an outstanding left handed arm out of JUCO that may be able to lock down a setup or closer type role early in the year, throws low 90’s when he’s feeling it and a slurve type pitch that runs off the table. He looks like a guy that may see immediate innings.

Matt Schroer is the freshman out of Arizona, has a great frame in 6’4 200lbs which the coaches are hoping he can develop more arm strength as he matures. Has a unique delivery, off speed pitch has potential but among others he needs to show he can consistently throw strikes, he may be a very good 4 year player if he stays on track.

Trent Vietmeier is coming back from an injury in the fall that sidelined him, he’s slowly getting back to pitching on a regular basis. Has a great athletic build in 6’3 210lbs where he can become a power arm, coaches are hoping he can get back up to 92-93mph where he was in high school. Curveball is nice, I’m excited about this kid but staying cautiously optimistic about an immediate impact.

Brandon Nowak is the very tall and lanky JUCO arm out of Illinois who was offered late in the recruiting cycle, doesn’t possess great fastball velocity but has a very nice slider and from his long frame and funky delivery he’ll be able to give left handers fit’s. Had a very good JUCO career, just need to see how handles himself in live games.

Will Reese didn't get a chance to log alot of innings as a freshman but looks like he'll log major innings in weekday games for now. His fastball is upper 80’s and he has a big projectable frame to add more weight.

John Kodros is the other tall lanky lefty out of Texas is currently injured and looks to be a redshirt candidate.

Clay Moffit is a power arm brought over from JUCO who may see time in mop up roles for now.
This post was edited on 2/9 at 8:43 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
11363 posts
 Online 

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Cam Sanders

Arm Strength---------70
Movement-------------65
Stamina----------------60
Control-----------------50

Nick Bush

Arm Strength---------55
Movement-------------65
Stamina----------------45
Control-----------------45

Devin Fontenot

Arm Strength---------55
Movement-------------60
Stamina----------------50
Control-----------------65

Ma'Khail Hilliard

Arm Strength---------55
Movement-------------70
Stamina----------------40
Control-----------------60

Nick Storz

Arm Strength---------65
Movement-------------60
Stamina----------------60
Control-----------------55

My take: The group is made up almost entirely of new faces, the coaching staff did a great job bringing in a deep class both from high school and JUCO ranks. There will be two, three, or even four guys who will make an impact the team immediately. At the same time there are no clear roles defined and we can see that by how reserved Mainieri has been this preseason in regards to the position. Getting Storz and Labas back healthy and able to pitch anywhere close to their ceiling will take this group from slightly below average to above average instantly.

FINAL GRADE: 45

____________________________________________

PROSPECTS AND SEC PREDICTIONS

MLB Draft Prospects

2018 Draft Eligible
1) Zach Watson CF (So.)
2) Zack Hess RHP (So.)
3) Caleb Gilbert RHP
4) Antoine Duplantis CF
5) Cam Sanders RHP
6) Hunter Feduccia C
7) Jake Slaughter 3B (So.)
8) Tyler Petersen LHP
9) Austin Bain RHP
10) Nick Coomes C

2019 Draft Eligible
1) Zach Watson CF
2) Zach Hess RHP
3) Jake Slaughter 3B
4) Todd Peterson RHP
5) Nick Storz RHP (So.)

2020 Draft Eligible
1) Daniel Cabrera RF
2) Nick Storz RHP
3) AJ Labas RHP
4) Devin Fontenot RHP
5) Nick Webre LF

SEC EAST
1) Florida 22-8
2) Kentucky 18-12
3) South Carolina 16-14
4) Vanderbilt 16-14
5) Missouri 13-17
6) Georgia 11-19
7) Tennessee 9-21

SEC WEST
1) Arkansas 19-11
2) Texas A&M 18-12
3) LSU 17-13
4) Ole Miss 17-13
5) Mississippi St. 15-15
6) Auburn 12-18
7) Alabama 8-22

SEC Champion - Florida
SEC Tournament Champion - Arkansas
This post was edited on 2/10 at 8:41 am


Bonkers119
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
NOLA
Member since Dec 2015
3174 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
11


CottonWasKing
LSU Fan
4,8,15,16,23,42
Member since Jun 2011
18040 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
MY BODY IS READY


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72
ColeLSU
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2008
3860 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Hellz yeah
This post was edited on 2/1 at 7:38 am


bubbz
Baylor Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Mar 2006
20829 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
In


eelsuee
LSU Fan
2B+!2B
Member since Oct 2004
4234 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Always look forward to these.


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100
Hold That Tiger 10
LSU Fan
Member since Oct 2013
8718 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
YES!!!!!!!!!!


nicholastiger
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Jan 2004
15398 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
The Advocate is doing something similar right now, they did C and 1B the last two days.


ell_13
USA Fan
Member since Apr 2013
60392 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
HHHHUUUUUUUUUU BOY!!!!


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50
Hold That Tiger 10
LSU Fan
Member since Oct 2013
8718 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2018 Edition Feb 10th - Pro Prospects and SEC Predictions
Adam >>>> Advocate


Unless adam works for the Advocate, in which case Adam = Advocate


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