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Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
February. Is. Here.

-As always everything in this preview is "my" opinion and analysis, I want to 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 13 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 overall grade based on the entire unit as a whole. It's essentially a combination of the talent/depth/intangibles etc...compared to other similar collegiate baseball positions.

Feb 1 - C - Saul Garza Jr.
Feb 2 - 1B - Cade Beloso So.
Feb 3 - 2B - Gavin Dugas So.
Feb 4 - SS - Hal Hughes Jr.
Feb 5 - 3B - Zack Mathis Jr.
Feb 6 - OF - (LF) Drew Bianco So. (CF) Giovanni DiGiacomo So. (RF) Daniel Cabrera Jr.
Feb 7 - DH - Cade Doughty Fr. OR Hayden Travinksi Fr.
Feb 8 - SP - Cole Henry So. Landon Marceaux So. AJ Labas RS-So. Eric Walker RS-Jr.
Feb 9 - RP - Matthew Beck Sr. Ma'Khail Hilliard Jr. Jaden Hill So. Devin Fontenot Jr.
Feb 10 - Pro Prospects and Projected SEC standings

Grade Breakdown for Starter
80 Top of the Scale (Think Kris Bryant, USD – 2013 “power” or Zach Watson, LSU - 2018 "speed")
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”)

Grade Breakdown for Overall Position Group
80 Top of the Scale (Think Rice Starting Pitching - 2003)
70 Well Above Average
60 Above Average
50 Average
40 Below Average
30 Well Below Average
20 Bottom of the Scale
This post was edited on 2/10 at 7:23 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
CATCHER

Image: https://i.imgur.com/409Acgt.jpg


1) Saul Garza Jr. 6’3 229 lbs (13)
2) Alex Milazzo Fr. 5’10 185 lbs (20)
3) Hayden Travinksi Fr. 6’3 224 lbs (25)
4) Braden Doughty Jr. 6’1 184lbs (45)

We’re starting to see stability and competition form with the added depth, something that has been a glaring weakness the past two seasons. Saul Garza who was one of the most improved position players over the second half of last season should start the opener. Two highly thought of freshmen step in both possessing entirely different skill sets respectively at the position. Alex Milazzo, a defensive specialist from right up the road in Zachary, and Hayden Travinksi, with MLB type power, out of Shreveport. The addition of both will give the unit instant plug and play guys with minimal limitations as well as flexibility to shift anyone around as needed.

Saul Garza’s last two falls have consisted of surgery in 2018 to repair a meniscus and surgery in 2019 to repair a hyper extended thumb. Because of this limited work prior to last season it was painfully obvious Saul fell behind schedule adjusting to D-1 pitching when he got back. It appears the surgery on the thumb was more a precautionary measure taken by the coaching staff to ensure he would be ready to go for 2020 and he’s at 100% right now. The first time since 2017 LSU will return a starting catcher which typically lends to higher productively on both offense and defense. Garza appears much more confident in the batter’s box thus far this spring. He actually hit over .400 during the final month and a half and against high caliber competition confirming that the talent was there. Because of this late season surge he actually drew interest early in the MLB draft as a draft eligible sophomore and received two offers of over 500k which he turned down to return for his junior season. The frame is what you look for in an everyday catcher and as long as he can continue to refine his glove work behind the plate and eliminate some teachable mistakes from a season ago he’s got the ability to have an ALL-SEC type year. Pop time has been improving with the work he’s put in through last summer and he has an above average arm to stay at the position this year with his bat. Power is a true plus plus tool at the college level and that was shown by multiple opposite field shots during the second half of SEC play in 2019 once he was able to settle in. Saul has such impressive upper body strength, the only thing I worry about is him overanalyzing things at times, the talent is there. He’s a fastball hunter and when he’s able to lay off breaking stuff then pitchers aren’t going to have the ability to overpower him too often. He’s got pure gap to gap power on any swing and could get close to 20 doubles. I don’t think 15/50/0.300 type season is out of the question if he’s in the heart of the order. Speed isn’t great and he’ll never be a threat to steal.

Alex Milazzo appears to be the catcher of the future and Mainieri keeping him on campus last summer jump started that process of grooming him with the current pitching staff. The MLB average pop time for a catcher (time from when the ball hits the catchers mitt to the time it is in the glove of the fielder) is 2.0 seconds. Alex in high school was averaging 1.75 to 1.85 seconds pop time +/- to account for sensitivity. I can’t find a weakness in Milazzo’s defense…the only thing I would change would be to make him 6’2 or 6’3 giving him a little more range. Arm is a plus tool and is accurate on almost every throw that I’ve seen. He’s a definite lock to start a couple games from time to time when Garza needs a break. As a line drive hitter from the right side of the plate I’d like to see him add some power over the next couple of years. He’s a very instinctive runner and above average for a catcher. Mainieri has made an emphasis to recruit and sign defensive minded catchers who can eventually blossom offensively ala Ty Ross, Michael Papierski…Milazzo appears to follow that bloodline. Depending on how the lineup comes together and if there’s another position for Garza elsewhere it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see Milazzo take over full time if the coaches feel he’s necessity behind the plate. The hitting for average needs to do a bit of catching up and that’s the only thing I can think of that would limit playing time while Garza is still on the roster.

Hayden Travinksi is one of the highest rated kids of this freshmen class and was a real threat to sign professionally. Due to signability concerns he passed on offers in day two of the draft in order to attend LSU. Travinksi’s raw power reminds me of Matt Clark ’08 but from the right side of the plate. He’s still a boom or bust guy at the plate…with this being said there’s way too much pop in that bat to ride the bench without being given a couple of starts in February and March before conference play.The presence of a Cabrea/Garza/Beloso/Travinski in the same lineup would give LSU 4 players who could hit the ball out of any park at any time and any weather condition. Because Travinski is slighty behind Milazzo defensively right now I think his fastest path to playing time is at DH/1B for now. It is still uncertain if Transinki’s long term position will be at catcher.

Braden Doughty is now a junior and will serve as the primary bullpen catcher and add depth to the position. He’ll be a typical defensive/pinch runner replacement late in ball games or mop up duty.

My take: I feel much better about the position as a unit than I have since LSU was in the championship series in 2017. Saul Garza needs to take that next step and lead this talented but inexperienced group as he holds the line so to speak for the younger guys as they get more comfortable. There’s plus plus power with Garza and Travinski. Milazzo is a true weapon behind the plate and someone that can limit what other teams do on the base paths. Garza should be a heart of the order type bat and has the potential to exponentially increase his draft stock with a good year against what will be phenomenal competition week in and week out in the SEC.

Saul Garza

Power------70
Hitting------60
Speed------40
Fielding----55
Arm---------65

POSITION ADDITIONS:
Alex Milazzo
Hayden Travinski

POSITION LOSSES:
Brock Mathis

POSITION OVERALL GRADE: 65


This post was edited on 2/1 at 8:29 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
FIRST BASE

Image: https://i.imgur.com/xW5lSf0.jpg


1) Cade Beloso So. 6’0 227lbs (24)
2) CJ Willis So. 6’2 192lbs (23)
3) Drew Bianco So. 6’0 219lbs (5)
4) Hayden Travinksi Fr. 6’3 224lbs (25)

First base will be a strength for the Tigers in 2020, not much unexpected here. Cade Beloso who started a majority of the games here a season ago will be a day one starter and is getting more and more comfortable defensively with every rep he takes. There could be any combination of guys to follow depending on how the rest of the infield works out. CJ Willis and Drew Bianco make the most sense given their size and prior experience at the position with Hayden Travinski a dark horse to become the long term guy in years to come.

Cade Beloso returns as LSU’s 2nd leader in returning HR production and 1st in RBI’s. Beloso just a freshman a season ago was one of the more consistent hitters for LSU in long spurts and became an instant power threat from the left side of the plate. Even with this power surge he wasn't your typical cleanup type bat at least from what we saw in 2019. The work he’s put in with Eddie Smith it’s starting to refine his pitch recognition and he’s barreling up more balls where as last year his pure strength was able to make up for in times he was would got fooled. Cade's slugging percentage was lower than it should have been in 2019 because only 13 of his 61 total hits were for extra bases, with that being said Cade is a natural hitter who will always hit for a high average. Chances are more than not some of these swings are going to start turning into doubles and HR’s which I see trending up this year. If he’s around the 5 hole he’ll have plenty of opportunity to be one of the leaders in RBI’s again. Power is a plus plus tool and with his balanced and level bat path he’s going to get hits in bunches. The ball just explodes off his bat and I’m really looking forward to the progression he makes from his first to second year. Speed is below average. I didn’t think he could maintain first base from the defensive side a year ago but he’s one of the most improved gloves I’ve seen on this team and the coaches are electing to keep him there long term. Arm is average, from where he is this won’t be a liability on the infield.

CJ Willis is a guy without a true position right now. Defensively he’s best suited for a corner spot somewhere such as 1B/DH/LF and right now it just depends on what path will get him the quickest playing time. CJ’s got that MLB type frame and one of the highest ceilings of this sophomore class. To date he hasn’t shown the consistency to win a starting spot or at least enough to force the coaches no choice but to play him. He’s taking longer to develop but he’s by no means out, there will be open competition at DH/LF and Willis is athletic enough to play the outfield position if need be.

Drew Bianco has taken some reps at 1B in the past and has experience at this position.

Hayden Travinski is another big bodied corner infielder/catcher who could see time here in mop up duty if need be short term.

My take: Cade Beloso will start at first base opening night and from there I don’t expect him to change positions unless there’s an infield shift that effects multiple positions. Mainieri lead teams at 1B haven't had many power bats from the left side of the plate and when you get good one's who can hit they rarely leave the lineup. CJ Willis, Drew Bianco, and Hayden Travinksi all give you above average power from multiple sides of the plate if a platoon is needed. Cade seems to be a true 5 hole hitter who can clean up the bases if the 4 hole cannot. My hot take is I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beloso flirt with 18-20 HR’s this year.

Cade Beloso

Power------70
Hitting------60
Speed------40
Fielding----55
Arm---------50

POSITION ADDITIONS:
Hayden Travinski

POSITION LOSSES:
NONE

POSITION OVERALL GRADE: 65
This post was edited on 2/2 at 8:27 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
SECOND BASE

Image: https://i.imgur.com/F8xSYmW.jpg


1) Gavin Dugas So. 5’10 198lbs (6)
2) Cade Doughty Fr. 6’1 201lbs (4)
3) Collier Cranford Fr. 6’0 186lbs (16)

Mainieri has made it clear this is a two man race and it's going to be one of the positions to keep a closer eye on over the next two weeks. Gavin Dugas is getting every opportunity to start with highly touted freshman Cade Doughty right behind him. Both have the ability to be everyday starters in this lineup so it may be one of those whoever doesn’t end up at 2B may see alot of time at DH at least early in the year.

If you remember Gavin Dugas was sidelined for a majority of 2019 after tearing a ligament in his left thumb during a non-conference game in late February. He would only play in 19 games…starting 10 so when he was healthy the coaching staff trusted in him as a true freshman. Gavin’s one of the stronger players on the entire team, slightly stocky build, explosive lower body strength. As a converted SS from high school he's starting to look more and more comfortable at 2B and in the long run I think he'll stick there. He's been producing some rather nice exit velocities over the fall and thus far in spring however I still look at him as a line drive hitter which will be his bread and butter to stick in the lineup. He’s got a quick first step out of the box and plus plus speed, also one of those aggressive players who can and will try to stretch some routine singles and doubles into doubles and triples respectively. Right now I can only label him as an average hitter at the college level but he’s got a pretty nice ceiling and looks to be a potential 4 year guy at the college level. Glove is about average but he has the quickness to get to most balls…arm is good and won't be a problem from the right side of the infield. I'd like to see Gavin show some patience in the box and draw some walks, him raising his OBP % will do great things for the lineup. Speed is a true plus plus tool and he plays faster on the base paths thanks to his natural instincts.

Cade Doughty out of Denham Springs is one of the more impressive looking freshmen in this class and has the ability one day to be a five tool player at the collegiate level. The coaches have been waiting on him for quite some time and were ecstatic the in news he delivered just before the draft last June stating his desire to attend college. Cade’s strength right now is bat awareness. When I say this what I mean is he’s played up in competition for some years now, attended many showcases, he’s seen quality pitching for much of his youth and has continued to excel. He’s an advanced hitter that can go to all sides of the field with power and will hit for a high average over the long run. Right now his defense hasn’t been playing to the level where coaches can trust him as an everyday 2B or 3B. In time that will improve as he gets more and more reps. Because of this Doughty is a strong candidate to start the season at DH with the potential to slide to 2B if Dugas is struggling at the plate and they need another bat.

Collier Cranford out of Zachary missed a majority of his senior season because of Tommy John Surgery and because of this slid under the radar a bit. He’s another defensive first infielder who’s an extremely good athlete with plus speed and a plus arm on the infield. He's going to be backing up multiple infield positions at this time.

My take: Two different type of players with little to no experience fighting for the same position. Because of this I can only give an average grade which is generous. Doughty has the higher ceiling over the long run but he'll need to improve his glove if he wants to be a serious contender here. I do expect Dugas to start at 2B opening night, this may turn into a scenario where both will change out week to week before they start to set positions for the Shriner’s classic. Even if Doughty doesn't start opening night I still think he'll get significant playing time early on as they try and get him more comfortable playing everyday. With Dugas starting I like him as a potential 1 or 2 hitter where he can play to his strengths and give this lineup some more speed at the top. Right now defense is going to control this position...that may change later on if the coaches feel more fire power is needed in the batting order.

Gavin Dugas

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

POSITION ADDITIONS
Cade Doughty

POSITION LOSSES
Brant Broussard

POSITION OVERALL GRADE: 50
This post was edited on 2/4 at 7:16 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
SHORTSTOP

Image: https://i.imgur.com/lBXppTm.jpg


1) Hal Hughes Jr. 5’11 178lbs (3)
2) Zach Arnold Fr. 6’2 197lbs (2)
3) Collier Cranford Fr. 6’0 186lbs (16)

Hal Hughes by all accounts will begin the season as LSU’s starting shortstop. Hal may only be remembered for one thing during his career but he has a big opportunity on a big stage to right the ship so to speak. Zach Arnold who is dealing with a lingering rib injury won’t be available until right before conference play, he figures to be the main competition along with Collier Cranford. Zach Mathis would be an emergency fill in but would require major shuffling of the infield.

Hal Hughes was brought to LSU as a defense first infielder. In all honesty he did a serviceable job as a freshman in a position he had no business being apart of. The hope was that would springboard into his sophomore year…which didn’t pan out. Hughes by trade is a singles only hitter where he’ll run a couple in the gap on occasion. I’ve seen Eddie Smith working with him one on one and he appears to be focusing on driving the ball up the middle of the infield with each at bat. This approach lends the best possible outcome as Hughes has above average speed to beat some driven balls in the ground from time to time. The walks, HBP, singles, essentially anything need to start improving because an average of 0.200 and OBP % sub 0.300 are going to get the coaches scrambling to look at different infield lineups. Hal’s glove is steadily becoming a plus plus tool and his arm has always been great from the left side of the infield. Hal has played every position on the infield except first base and has the ability to shift at any time depending on the situation. I’ve always been really high on his defense and it’s the reason he’s starting right now.

Zach Arnold is a kid that kind of flew under the radar for a bunch of collegiate and MLB teams. An injury took him out for the entirety of his sophomore season in high school and because of this didn’t get invited to as many showcases. He’s got a very nice frame for a middle infielder and is still growing so he may be a real power threat later in his career. Speed is slightly above average. He makes hard contact and on occasion will run some out although he’s more of a live drive hitter right now. He’s shown soft hands and the ability to field both SS and 3B in the short time he’s been healthy. Zach’s had a bit of bad luck thus far and injuries have taken him out basically the entirety of fall and thus far in spring. To be blunt he’s really behind because of this and it’s going to take some time knocking off the rust when he gets back in a month. Depending on how well the rest of the infield is doing along with Hal Hughes will determine how fast or how slow they can ease him in. Not many kids redshirt at big time programs especially with the MLB draft and for that reason I don’t think Arnold will...a lot depends on how fast he’s able to adjust to the college game with little to no practice. He’s a definite late bloomer but was a tremendous sign late in the process after Christian Cairo decided to go pro with the Indians. He may be one of the steals of this signing class we look back on in 2-3 years.

Collier Cranford who I highlighted on with other positions is a guy that has taken some reps here and adds depth. Has a great arm and may become a defensive replacement later this year.

My take: There are holes offensively with this group and it remains to be seen how well LSU can mask this in the short term. With that being said Hughes is a very advanced defender and at a position where it is essential during SEC play. As crazy as it sounds there’s the possibility that Hal will blossom and follow the path Kramer Robertson did in 2016…while not as explosive. LSU doesn’t need Hughes to hit 0.300 but his at bats must be more productive at the bottom of the order. He's got one of the better gloves in the SEC but I can’t give the position anything over an average grade for now with Hughes inconsistency’s at the plate and Arnold in all likely not being able to play live ball till conference play. Collier Cranford in all likelihood could see some starts early during non conference play to give the coaches a new look if they see fit.

Hal Hughes

Power------40
Hitting------40
Speed------55
Fielding----70
Arm---------70

POSITION ADDITIONS:
Zach Arnold
Collier Cranford

POSITION LOSSES:
Josh Smith

POSITION OVERALL GRADE: 50
This post was edited on 2/4 at 9:38 pm


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
THIRD BASE

Image: https://i.imgur.com/3QCnmj9.jpg


1) Zack Mathis Jr. 5’8 188lbs (17)
2) Collier Cranford Fr. 6’0 186lbs (16)
3) Hal Hughes Jr. 5’11 178lbs (3)
4) Cade Doughty Fr. 6’1 201lbs (4)

Another late addition to the signing class a year ago and it looks like it could be one of those diamonds in the rough. Zack Mathis may look strangely similar to now departed Chris Reid when fans see him step into the box for the first time but that’s about where the comparisons stop. Mathis thus far has taken the third base job by storm and I can say confidently has earned himself a starting spot somewhere in this lineup. Behind him Cranford, Hughes, and Doughty are all possibilities.

Zack Mathis out of San Joaquin Delta College in California was a 39th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins however elected to attend LSU in the hopes of starting on the infield for the Tigers. Mainieri has raved about him time and time again and has said he spends more time in batting cages than anyone he can remember in recent memory. Zack from the left side of the plate maintains a low center of gravity does an excellent job keeping his hands in bringing the bat level through the zone consistently. Very advanced pitch recognition and very rarely do you see him reaching for anything. One thing I've admired is his ability to go with something if given, very rarely has he been rolling over anything. He’s one of those volume hitters that will pound out singles and doubles in bunches. His bat has yielded more power than I honestly would have thought at this point in his career but the exit velocities off his bat don’t lie. Mainieri has a quote in Mathis bio saying he saw glimpses of Ryan Schimpf and I’m now starting to see why. Speed is slightly lower than a plus tool…23 stolen bases in two years of JUCO may translate to a few here or there while at LSU but he’s not a going to light it up running in a straight line. I like his glove at third thus far and he looks more comfortable where the position doesn’t require a rangy athlete. Because of his bat he becomes an option at SS if Mainieri wants to get another hitter in the lineup.

Collier Cranford is someone who I’ve highlighted at other positions. He’s an option to slide to 3B defensively if needed.

Hal Hughes is someone who I’ve highlighted at other positions. He’s an option to slide to 3B defensively if needed.

Cade Doughty I don't seeing playing 3B if he’s not able to handle 2B however it’s still an option if and when because they love his potential and is one of those high ceiling type athletes.

My take: There’s defensive depth to slide here where needed. I think if there’s a long term backup Cade Doughty or Collier Cranford seem to be best fit, both are different type players who could give the coaches two different options. In the lineup Mathis has currently been working in the three hole and anytime a first year player finds himself in that spot there is major confidence behind that decision. His approach plays perfectly to sit in the two or three hole and will become one of those high OBP% type bats. Realistically he should be protected in the order and is someone that teams have limited scouting reports on so I could seem him exploding onto the scene in 2020 if things work out for him. Sometimes you hit on JUCO players and Mathis appears to be that next great transfer. When I grade the overall position I would rate it higher if there was more experience in the depth chart but that may be nitpicky.

Zack Mathis

Power------65
Hitting------70
Speed------55
Fielding----50
Arm---------55

POSITION ADDITIONS:
Zack Mathis
Collier Cranford
Cade Doughty

POSITION LOSSES:
Chris Reid

POSITION OVERALL GRADE: 60
This post was edited on 2/5 at 7:27 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
OUTFIELD

Image: https://i.imgur.com/jM4V1Yz.jpg

LEFT FIELD
Drew Bianco So. 6’0 217lbs (5)
Wes Toups 5’9 173lbs (9)
Mitchell Sanford 6’2 188lbs (22)

Image: https://i.imgur.com/ORpqGrk.jpg

CENTER FIELD
Giovanni DiGiacomo So. 6’1 172lbs (7)
Maurice Hampton Fr. 6’0 210lbs (14)

Image: https://i.imgur.com/eNnY1NN.jpg

RIGHT FIELD
Daniel Cabrera Jr. 6’1 196lbs (8)
CJ Willis So. 6’2 193lbs (23)

Losing Zach Watson and Antoine Duplantis will sting but nevertheless LSU’s been able to hit on some fringe players they thought might not make it to campus the past two recruiting cycles and because of this are in a better position than once thought. Daniel Cabrera returns for his presumed final year where he’ll play RF be of the top players this year in the SEC. Giovanni DiGiacomo looks like he’s going to stick in CF. Left field has been an open competition but Drew Bianco mostly due to his hitting has the leg up to start in left field.

Left Field: Jumping into it I there will be multiple players who get some innings at LF. Drew Bianco has taken the lead and for the most part as long as he continues to hit, he’ll stick. Drew looks to be in slightly better shape than he was a year ago and was absolutely crushing the ball in the fall. I'm not saying this will determine playing time but the power he’s displaying is going to something that’s hard to take him out of the lineup. In only 68 at bat’s Drew hit 3 HR’s and showed power to the gaps while not always showing up in a box score. While none of this is earth shattering it may lend to some of the type of numbers he could put up with a standard 200+ at bats over the course of a regular season. Bianco likes to crowd the plate and take his base if necessary, I think he’s going to start hitting for average and show more productive plate appearances as he’s made a ton of progress these past few months against great pitching. Speed is slightly below to average on the base paths. It remains to be seen how well he can adjust to playing LF day to day and will be something to keep a close eye this spring. He’s not the most agile athlete but he’s able to make the routine play and sliding him to that corner is doable, arm is above average for the position.

Wes Toups is one of my dark horses to steal a spot in the lineup this year if his bat comes along faster than expected. He has truly flashy speed and can cover a ton of ground defensively. Other than that nothing stands off the page but he’s one of the more polished defenders in the outfield right now and because of this he’s a candidate to be a defensive replacement in the outfield in late game situations as well as a pinch runner when called upon.

Mitchell Sanford is another freshman outfielder in this class who is also a converted quarterback from Berwick, La. Mitchell might not make a huge impact this year but he’s got a nice frame from the left side of the plate and is going to be adding weight. Really good arm so thoughts are he may become a right fielder in time with pop.

Center Field: Giovanni DiGiacomo is a natural centerfielder and the fastest player on this team besides Maurice Hampton depending on the day. As surprising as this may sound DiGiacomo actually started in half of the games last year and I think getting those at bats will help further his development from year one to year two. Gio has occasional pop in his bat but tends to rely on spraying the ball around the field, he’s best when he stays on top of the ball and lets his footwork help him. He needs to avoid the swing and misses as any ball placed on the ground for him there's a potential to beat out. Speed is top of the charts in the country and there are only a handful in D-1 players that are able to get out of the box as quick as he can from the left side of the plate. DiGiacomo has incredible range and a frame that will only fill out where he’ll get stronger over the next two years. Very few balls get down with him in CF and he actually has slightly above average arm strength for his current build and the position itself.

Maurice Hampton is the highest rated player to come to LSU straight out of high school since 2011 when Kevin Gausman slid down draft boards after signability concerns. Hampton turned down a reported 1.8 million dollars. It’s obvious that Hampton is one of the better athletes in all of college baseball and has one of the fastest 60 times of any freshmen in the class. The only thing that’s going to hold him back from playing time the first couple of weeks is the ability to hit consistently and for average. He’s got one of the quickest swings I’ve seen of a freshman and by all accounts has been a tremendous worker since arriving to the team. Because he missed all of fall practices and now has just weeks of live pitching there’s not guarantee he’s going to be able to jump right in and go with it...Jared Mitchell was able to do it (more so out of necessity) but Chad Jones and Spencer Ware took months to get any kind of rhythm. Mainieri is in a win now mode and because of this he has to put together the best lineup that helps the team win now. With that being said I wouldn’t expect Hampton to start the opener but he will get plenty of chances early in the year to get at bats and could be an option in LF or CF if the players in front of him aren’t performing.

Right Field: Daniel Cabrera returns as LSU’s most prolific bat. It needs to be emphasized that even with such production in 2019 it was frustrating to watch Cabrera press and try to pull everything in sight through extensive stretches. He became a victim of his own struggles and had a difficult time getting back to what made him so successful as a freshman. Hearing Mainieri speak the past few weeks he mentioned that Daniel came back to campus recharged, refocused, and began to show a leadership mentality. Seeing Daniel smile and play looser usually lends to more production. Cabrera right now is a 5 tool prospect and has every tool he needs to succeed at the college level...sometimes I’m curious how he even made it to a college campus with some of the highlights he produces. Power is a plus plus tool, I think the addition of Eddie Smith is going to rejuvenate his approach at the plate where he can be more aggressive. Protecting Cabrera in the lineup will be vital and if LSU is able to successfully do that then Daniel has the pitch recognition to abuse some lesser talent. The average should jump much higher this year as coach Smith forces him to use the other side of the field where he was exceptional towards the end of season as a freshman. An interesting note is that Daniel stole 10 bases in 33 games against some great competition up in the Cape Cod league. I’m curious to see if the coaches are going to let him be more aggressive on the base paths instead of playing station to station as he has in the past. Glove is vastly improving from his freshman year and as former pitcher the arm is well above average that lends itself useful in right field to limit runners stretching bases.

The most logical backup here to me has to be CJ Willis. Rangy athlete with a plus arm and power.

My take: In light of replacing two everyday starters there is tremendous upside along with a combination of different style athletes to plug and play as needed which LSU has lacked at times in the past. Daniel Cabrera is an all-american candidate as long as he plays loose and both DiGiacomo and Bianco should make big strides in their second year. Hampton is one of the top freshman in all of college baseball that in time will be a superstar. Toups is a rangy outfielder who will supply a defensive need when needed. CJ Willis is another outstanding prospect that is simply waiting his turn to emerge. The positions are not set in stone but there are players to fill if and when needed.
This post was edited on 2/6 at 7:37 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
Drew Bianco

Power------65
Hitting------55
Speed------45
Fielding----50
Arm---------60

Giovanni DiGiacomo

Power------45
Hitting------55
Speed------80
Fielding----65
Arm---------50

Daniel Cabrera

Power------70
Hitting------65
Speed------60
Fielding----60
Arm---------70

POSITION ADDITIONS:
Wes Toups
Mitchell Sanford
Maurice Hampton

POSITION LOSSES:
Zach Watson
Antoine Duplantis

POSITION OVERALL GRADE: 60
_________________________________________________________________

DESIGNATED HITTED

Image: https://i.imgur.com/NBJBXWH.jpg

1) Cade Doughty Fr. 6’1 201lbs (4)

OR

Image: https://i.imgur.com/gWE1Jde.jpg

1) Hayden Travinski Fr. 6’3 228 (25)

3) CJ Willis So. 6’2 193lbs (23)
4) Tom Biggs Fr. 5'11 186lbs (38)

Because a few positions are still up in the air DH is still a complete unknown and multiple guys can and will play during non-conference. Obviously if Cade Doughty doesn’t start at 2B he’ll be a candidate here as well as Hayden Travinksi who’s bat will get him looks. CJ Willis is a guy I’m hoping shows up to the party in the near future. Also if Drew Bianco doesn't settle in LF he instantly becomes a potential starter here.

Cade Doughty who I’ve highlighted on at 2B is going to be a middle of the order type bat before he leaves college ball. His bat is more advanced right now than he is defensively so DH is a position where he can play now.

Hayden Travinksi is another freshman that I’m beyond exited to follow throughout his college career. Not many players of his stature and his skillset fall to the later rounds and forgo the MLB. Travinski at the plate uses a distinct leg lift to load his swing and generate much of his power. Everything from his forearms, legs, hip drive are at an advanced stage for his age and he’s able to absolutely obliterate the ball when he squares them up. Power is highly advanced and is a plus plus tool, not much else to highlight there, by the time he leaves he'll be a premier power bat. Right now his swing and load path are susceptible to getting off balance at times and he is a swing and miss candidate especially when he starts getting a ton of off speed stuff. Because of this he may not hit for a high average early in his career and that’s ok as long as he’s a feast or famine type of guy. Speed is below average and he'll be a truly station to station type guy on the base paths. Much of the same there is a defensive log jam at catching and so DH makes the path quicker for Travinksi to get early playing time where his bat can add power to this lineup.

CJ Willis is another guy who can play multiple positions. To get his bat in the lineup he's someone I would think is going to get a couple starts here.

Tom Biggs is a talented multi tool player out of West Monroe who started to shine and really push for playing time in the fall. I like that he's a left handed bat that can and will develop in this program...with that being said I don't know how much playing time he'll get immediately.

My take: Doughty and Travinski are going to be the faces of LSU's program for a time to come, both have tremendous upside, and both can help the Tigers win this year. I don't usually list two players here but I see such a close gap between each that it's worth mentioning each respectively. Doughty's that great athlete who can help LSU towards the bottom of the order with speed and gap to gap power while Travinski is more of a plug anywhere type guy and hope he can clean up the bases. The group is young and inexperienced but there is very high upside in the coming years with each player listed in this depth chart.

Cade Doughty

Power------55
Hitting------55
Speed------55
Fielding----45
Arm---------50

Hayden Travinksi

Power------75
Hitting------50
Speed------40
Fielding----50
Arm---------65

POSITION ADDITIONS:
Hayden Travinski
Cade Doughty

POSITION LOSSES:
NONE

OVERALL POSITION GRADE: 55
This post was edited on 2/7 at 7:42 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
STARTING PITCHING

In theory LSU brings back every starter here…you lose Hess who bounced around between starter/relief yet you get AJ Labas back from Tommy John Surgery who I think will be more steady at the back end of this rotation. LSU who brought in the #1 recruiting class in 2018 which was mostly centered around premier power arms is about to start reaping the benefits. Cole Henry, Landon Marceaux, and AJ Labas will be the starting rotation opening weekend. Eric Walker right now is that fourth starter or long reliever who could bounce between weekends to midweek starts as needed. Brandon Kaminer a JUCO lefty is a guy I could see molding into a starting role if the staff doesn't need him as a main bullpen guy.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/bVM2UVT.jpg


Friday-Cole Henry So. 6'4 211lbs (18)

Cole Henry who is a draft eligible sophomore in 2020 right now is the most complete pitcher on this staff. Fastball is a steady 93-95mph and he can and will run it up higher in the later months as the weather warms up and arm is looser hence my higher grade. Curve ball is a true out pitch with 12-6 motion that has shown the ability to get swings and misses. Changeup wasn’t as effective a year ago but he’s starting to use it more and it’s going to become more effective with the arm slot he’s established now. Cole simplified his delivery over the off season to cut down on arm soreness...that along with the 4 months of rest right now is paying dividends. The SEC pitching this year is deep and Henry is going to fly under the radar a bit as only a true sophomore but he absolutely has the stuff to dominate any game at any time. Facial expressions are always stone cold, he works fast, and repeats his mechanics…all of signs of a prototypical Friday night guy. Henry was about as solid as you can ask of a freshman and when he went down with soreness late last year the team really went into a lull. If Henry has the year he is expecting to have he’s going to be a first round draft pick in June.

Cole Henry

Arm Strength---------75
Movement-------------70
Stamina----------------65
Control-----------------65

Image: https://i.imgur.com/7j6lDsf.jpg


Saturday-Landon Marceaux So. 6'0 177lbs (11)

Landon Marceaux another sophomore went through a complete transformation in the off season where he shed 15 pounds where he has improved both his strength and stamina. Four seam fastball is 90-93mph most of the time and also has a two seamer with late life running away from lefties and in on the hands of righties. The ability to throw both at the same time is what separates him from a good to elite in this league. The curve ball had such good life on it a year ago but Landon had trouble getting it over for a strike consistency and when it would break down in the zone had trouble getting hitters to bite on it. He’s transformed that pitch into more of a slider or “slurve” where he can throw out of the same arm slot as a fastball and get more lateral motion. The changeup is good, not a true swing or miss pitch but it’s something he can get hitters to roll over or ground out more times than not. Marceaux doesn't need to be a swing and miss pitcher, he has the ability to feel the game out where he can mix and match by working both sides of the plate. Because he has four distinct pitches he’s able to be aggressive not allow anyone to sit on a fastball. I love him in that Saturday spot where he can go head to head with any other guy in the conference. I think his freshmen year was a giant learning curve and he had to take some of the bad with the good. All accounts have shown that he's been one of the hardest workers to get to where he wants to be and where he wants to be is a 1-2 round pick in the MLB draft next season.

Landon Marceaux

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

Image: https://i.imgur.com/k3eqPgx.jpg


Sunday-AJ Labas RS-So. 6'3 223lbs (26)

AJ Labas who missed all of 2019 with a shoulder injury was highlighted in Mainieri’s media comments weeks ago with great enthusiasm in how much better AJ looks compared to his first year and what he can bring to this starting rotation. AJ's a big bodied guy that Mainieri signed late in the process years ago. What's crazy is Labas wasn’t even at 100% in 2018 because of a lingering back injury and still put up impressive numbers. The velocity this spring has been way up where he’s sitting 91-93mph whereas years ago could only muster up 88-89mph. His defining attribute is control at all times and much like Marceaux has multiple pitches he can throw at any time out of the same arm slot. I really love his changeup which is a plus plus pitch and can make right handed hitters look silly at times. Curve ball is tight and shows 11-5 motion. Having a good Sunday starter in the SEC is not something to take for granted and having someone who can consistently get 5-6 innings is an absolute blessing. Because Labas pounds the zone he’s going to be able to stretch games longer and longer as we progress to give the bullpen a chance to close out games rested. I’m very excited to see Labas back in on the mound for LSU.

AJ Labas

Arm Strength---------65
Movement-------------65
Stamina----------------55
Control-----------------70

Image: https://i.imgur.com/qwCgU24.jpg

Midweek-Eric Walker RS-Jr. 6'0 175lbs (10)

As surprising as this may sound Eric Walker lead LSU in innings pitched a season ago. In all honestly it wasn’t the season he hoped to build upon coming off of Tommy John Surgery but he’s one of those season veterans every champion has and is going to be a key to LSU’s title run in 2020 where pitching is a premium. Fastball is only 87-89mph most of the time and an average pitch, change up is the bread and butter. Most of his struggles last season were due to command and getting his feet wet so I'm interested to see how well he's able to limit that in 2020. The coaching staff hasn't announced a midweek guy yet but Eric makes the most sense here given the depth at bullpen. I also would like to see LSU put some more effort into winning more midweek games which most of the time won't help your RPI but it can hurt it...in a deep SEC this year every win counts.

Eric Walker

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


My Take: I like this group ALOT. As you'll notice they aren't getting a ton of love from the media in these preseason lists but each starter has experience, each starter is healthy, each starter is well rested. The floor is high with these four and they can all work late into ball games on any day which is a good insurance for an already deep LSU bullpen. In the off season I did some research on returning innings with each pitching staff LSU has had under Mainieri and this team has the second most innings returning only behind 2016. I have one word to describe this group...steady.

POSITION ADDITIONS:
AJ Labas (injury)

POSITION LOSSES:
Zack Hess

POSITION OVERALL GRADE: 70
This post was edited on 2/8 at 10:16 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
RELIEF PITCHING

This is going to be the deepest position for LSU outside of Catching and Starting Pitching. Multiple guys coming back from injuries who are healthy along with veterans arms who have been around the block. I like to highlight who I think will be the top 4 and then look at the others.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/BxPMvZF.jpg


Matthew Beck Sr. 6'7 233lbs (27)

Matthew Beck has been ole reliable in the bullpen his entire career. He's going to be an inning closer type arm who will see a ton of games multiple times a week. Beck doesn't have an overpowering fastball but he's able to hide it well with his over the top motion and locate it. The curve ball is well above average and has always been able to keep hitters off balance. Every outing he can locate that he's effective for an inning which is all LSU needs.

Matthew Beck

Arm Strength---------45
Movement-------------70
Stamina----------------40
Control-----------------45

Image: https://i.imgur.com/mFHWzTF.jpg


Ma'Khail Hilliard Jr. 6'0 150lbs (52)

We get to Ma'Khail Hilliard who spent most of the time in 2019 as a long reliever. What I like about him in this spot is he can be that guy who steps in to get you two outs or five innings, it just depends on how effective he is. Fastball has never been anything over average...curve ball is still arguably the best on the team. Change up has been improving from where it was at the beginning of his career.

Ma'Khail Hillard

Arm Strength---------50
Movement-------------75
Stamina----------------55
Control-----------------65

Image: https://i.imgur.com/BT1Rsvm.jpg


Jaden Hill So. 6'4 233lbs (44)

Jaden Hill is the type of pitcher who takes your bullpen from really good to phenomenal. In the only two starts from last season Hill was electric and showed glimpses of what's to come. It's been stated that Jaden will only start innings and they're going to use him predetermined for now. In the long term I see him as a true setup man just as they do in the MLB with the door open to become a closer if they wish. Fastball is overpowering and can run up to 95-97mph with a filty change up. Curve ball has been getting over for a strike thus far in the spring.

Jaden Hill

Arm Strength---------75
Movement-------------70
Stamina----------------60
Control-----------------65

Image: https://i.imgur.com/RCinmEL.jpg


Devin Fontenot Jr. 6'1 179lbs (28)

Devin Fontenot has become one of LSU's best relief options the past two years. His funky delivery and above average fastball is enough to keep him in the game for long stretches. Fastball is usually 91-94mph and has the ability to throw a very nice slider. Right now Fontenot is in line to close and the difference in throwing motion between Hill and himself is enough to be a very effective.

Devin Fontenot

Arm Strength---------70
Movement-------------65
Stamina----------------50
Control-----------------55
This post was edited on 2/9 at 10:57 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
RELIEF PITCHING (CONTINUED)

Aaron George is another veteran arm with a huge frame and mix of three pitches who can be another guy to eliminate damage in the middle of innings.

Trent Veitmeier I would most closely compare to Beck. He's got innings and innings of experience and one of the most poised arms of this staff. Fastball is average but he can locate his two off speed pitches and be a good arm to have. Needs to stay away from giving up the big hits and he'll be fine.

Nick Storz is healthy this year and having him in this bullpen will be a true X factor for how LSU can close out games. Fastball can be anywhere from 90-93mph and he has a devastating slider that has great depth for the pitch. To be clear for him to be effective 1-2 innings is all he needs to get through and an arm as talented as his that's very realistic.

Brandon Kaminer is a lefty with a nice frame they were able to sign from JUCO. Started his career at Miami, fastball can sneak up to lower 90's and has a very good slider. Because he's the most advanced LHP I would like to see them start him in the bullpen where he can focus on matching up against left handers late in the game. He's an arm to watch out for an LSU in a sense needs him to be effective.

Rye Gunter is an arm I am very excited to see mature. Tall lanky arm from the right side he was able to really elevate his fastball late last season. Still a work in progress but a guy they can start molding during mid week games as necessary.

Chase Costello is another righty with a very nice frame and fastball life. Really struggled at times getting a feel for the game but has major upside and is a very advanced athlete. I'd think they'll get him work in the midweek for now.

Jacob Hasty one of the few freshmen arms is another lefty who Mainieri has stated many times will be groomed as a starter one day. Very nice fastball life from the left side where he's been averaging 89-91mph. Curve ball is an out pitch and he's someone who can become a Sunday starter in time. Control needs to progress and much like some of these younger arms he'll have the luxury of being brought in slow during the midweek games. He's a dark horse to become that fifth or six starter.

Michael Lagarrigue is a local walk on who filled in the 35th spot this spring. He may see some time in mop up duty during mid week games.

My take: There are 2-3 weekend starters who LSU has stacked up in this group. There's multiple veteran arms, power arms, and situation pieces to mix and match how Alan Dunn pleases. Jaden Hill and Nick Storz give LSU truly two elite talents at the back end of the bullpen along with the returning depth. Eric Walker is also a possibility here if he's not starting. Beck, Veitmeier, Hilliard, and Fontenot all have experience in big game moments. LSU does need Kaminer and Hasty to be productive at least in situational outings...if they are then this position will be LSU's strength.

PROJECTIONS:
Long Relief - Ma'Khail Hillard, Nick Storz
Situational Relief - Matthew Beck, Trent Vietmeier, Aaron George, Brandon Kaminer
Set up - Jaden Hill
Closer - Devin Fontenot
Midweek - Jacob Hasty, Rye Gunter, Chase Costello, Michael Lagarrigue

POSITION ADDITIONS:
Jaden Hill (injury)
Nick Storz (injury)
Brandon Kaminer
Jacob Hasty
Michael Lagarrigue

POSITION LOSSES:
Clay Moffit
Todd Peterson
Will Ripoll
Riggs Threadgill

POSITION OVERALL GRADE: 70
This post was edited on 2/9 at 9:35 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
PRO PROSPECTS

2020 MLB DRAFT

1. Cole Henry (So.) RHP
2. Daniel Cabrera RF
3. Saul Garza C
4. Nick Storz (RS-So.) RHP
5. Devin Fontenot RHP
6. AJ Labas (RS-So.) RHP
7. Ma'Khail Hilliard RHP
8. Brandon Kaminer LHP
9. Zack Mathis 2B
10. Matthew Beck RHP

2021 MLB DRAFT

1. Jaden Hill RHP
2. Landon Marceaux RHP
3. Cade Beloso 1B
4. CJ Willis 1B
5. Giovanni DiGiacomo CF

2022 MLB DRAFT

1. Maurice Hampton CF
2. Hayden Travinski 1B
3. Cade Doughty 2B
4. Alex Milazzo C
5. Jacob Hasty LHP
This post was edited on 2/10 at 7:10 am


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
SEC PROJECTIONS

SEC WEST
1. Arkansas 20-10
2. Auburn 18-12
2. LSU 18-12
4. Mississippi St 17-13
5. Ole Miss 15-15
6. Texas A&M 12-18
7. Alabama 8-22

SEC EAST
1. Vanderbilt 22-8
2. Georgia 19-11
3. Florida 17-13
4. South Carolina 15-15
5. Tennessee 12-18
6. Missouri 10-20
7. Kentucky 7-23

SEC REGULAR SEASON CHAMPION - Vanderbilt

SEC TOURNAMENT CHAMPION - LSU
This post was edited on 2/10 at 7:22 am


oOoLsUtIgErSoOo
LSU Fan
Louisiana
Member since Aug 2006
25627 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)


Adam4848
LSU Fan
LA
Member since Apr 2006
13801 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
double post. Spot saved for random gif.
This post was edited on 2/1 at 7:28 am


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jimbeam
USA Fan
University of LSU
Member since Oct 2011
64197 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
This post was edited on 2/1 at 7:29 am


MrJimBeam
New Orleans Saints Fan
Member since Apr 2009
4412 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
I cannot wait until baseball season. LSU sports wrecking shop babyyyyyyyy


NorthshoreTiger76
LSU Fan
New Orleans Saints & Pelicans Fan
Member since May 2009
72561 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
That’s a Geaux Tigers


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El Campo Tiger
Houston Astros Fan
El Campo, TX
Member since Mar 2015
10118 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)
This is probably the shortest gap between football and baseball season we have ever seen.


CHEEEEESE
Houston Astros Fan
Pres. of the Mike Lowery Fan Club
Member since May 2006
10472 posts

re: Baseball Preview: 2020 Season (Feb 10th - Pro Prospects & SEC Predictions)


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