LSU wound up signing the top-ranked recruiting class in the country on the strength of landing a handful of premium arms.
Get to know five of them that figure to play important roles on the 2019 pitching staff.
1. Landon Marceaux
The Measurables: RHP | 6-0 | 185 LBs | Destrehan HS | Destrehan, La.
The Arsenal: Fastball (92-94 mph), two-seam fastball, 12-6 curveball + changeup
The Skinny: LSU has big plans for Marceaux in terms of the 2019 season and beyond. Paul Mainieri has tried not to heap additional pressure onto the young freshman, but at times the ever-excitable coach hasn’t been able to help himself. Marceaux is the odds-on favorite to begin the season as LSU’s Saturday starter, sandwiched between veterans Zack Hess and Eric Walker. The last freshman to begin a season so entrenched in the weekend rotation was Alex Lange in 2015, and all he did was go 12-0 with a 1.97 ERA on a team that made it Omaha. The great Aaron Nola has been namedropped quite a bit when it comes to comparisons for Marceaux.
The Quote: “The difference with Landon is I feel that he’s just very polished coming in. Not that Alan (Dunn) doesn’t have a lot of work to do with him, of course, but he commands three pitches, and they’re all plus pitches. He throws his fastball 93 miles per hour and can throw a two-seamer that’s a different pitch. He’s got a curveball like Ma’Khail Hilliard. He’s got a changeup like Eric Walker. But he throws harder than those guys and he has good command. He’s a gamer. He’s always been the big man on campus, so to speak. He’s got an aura about him, and that’s why I think he’s ready to go.” – Paul Mainieri
2. Jaden Hill
The Measurables: RHP | 6-4 | 215 LBs | Ashdown HS | Ashdown, Ark.
The Arsenal: Fastball (93-96 mph), changeup + slider
The Skinny: A two-sport star in high school, Hill is the other freshman believed to have turned down a seven-figure signing bonus to come to school. Hill may not be quite as polished as Marceaux — few freshman pitchers are, frankly — but he possesses big-time upside. LSU has had success with putting high school quarterbacks on the mound (see Walker, Eric) because they tend to possess a level of poise under pressure. Hill will compete for a spot in the rotation, but his stuff would play nicely in the bullpen too.
The Quote: “Probably one of the most athletic pitchers that we’ve ever had here. You see this guy and you’re going ‘Man, that’s what they look like.’ His body is just so strong and athletic. He’s done a very good job of repeating his delivery, which allows him to throw strikes. He filled up the strike zone all fall. Now we have to do a little bit better job of refining the strike percentage into command, but he has a chance to be special.” – Alan Dunn
3. Cole Henry
The Measurables: RHP | 6-4 | 205 LBs | Florence HS | Florence, Ala.
The Arsenal: Fastball (93-96 mph), 12-6 curveball + changeup
The Skinny: A stress reaction in his upper arm kept Henry off the mound in the fall, but LSU still has high hopes for the massive right-hander. Like Hill, he’s considered in the mix for a spot in the starting rotation to begin the season, although that would more likely be in a midweek role considering he missed the fall. Henry has shown good command in his bullpen sessions for a power pitcher, according to coaches, and his stuff can be downright filthy. He struck out 83 batters in 50 innings during his senior year and opponents hit a miniscule .161 against him.
The Quote: “Big, big boy. I don’t know if you’ve shaken his hand, but it will engulf you. He has big hands and really repeats his mechanics. The ball comes out of his hand easy with great stuff, but it’s easy, so that gives him the ability to command. He’s a three-pitch mix guy and he seems to be even keel. He didn’t pitch in the fall, so we’re still waiting to see how that goes in scrimmages, but I just like his presence. He’s got this quiet confidence about him.” – Alan Dunn
4. Chase Costello
The Measurables: RHP | 6-4 | 210 LBs | Pompano Beach HS | Pompano Beach, Fla.
The Arsenal: Two-seam fastball (89-92 mph), slider + changeup
The Skinny: There’s a lot to like about Costello from a scouting perspective. He was a two-way player in high school, meaning he’s plenty athletic to thrive on the mound. He’s also the son of former Tiger outfielder Vincent Costello, who played for Skip Bertman in the 1980s. Costello hides the ball well, which plays nicely with the arm-side run on his fastball and a late-breaking slider. Another candidate to start who could assume a role in the bullpen as the season goes on.
The Quote: “I love having pitchers who are athletes. If you’re not an athlete, it’s hard to get on that 10-inch slope and repeat pitches in the strike zone. So he’s shown a very good aptitude for that. Another guy that fills up the zone. He’s got a really solid slider and his fastball has good arm-side sink. He fields his position well. Late in the game, when action starts happening, you feel comfortable with him on the mound because he can make the plays. He can negate that.” – Alan Dunn
5. Riggs Threadgill
The Measurables: RHP | 6-4 | 215 LBs | Fredericksburg HS | Fredericksburg, Texas
The Arsenal: Two-seam fastball (89-91 mph) + slider
The Skinny: Injuries to other pitches meant more opportunities for Threadgill in the fall, and the big Texan made the most of them. His secondary pitches still need more refinement, but he impressed coaches with his heavy two-seam fastball and an ability to bury it low in the strike zone. Could become a starter down the road as his off-speed pitches develop, but Threadgill can definitely help LSU as a strike-thrower out of the bullpen.
The Quote: “Here’s a guy who was a quarterback in high school, so another athlete. I think he’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be. He’s a big, physical guy at 6-(foot)-4 and I think there’s more in the tank to come velocity wise. But again he’s shown the ability to throw the ball in the strike zone, and that’s critical as you’re trying to develop a staff. You need guys that you know are going to give you a chance when you put them in by throwing the ball in the zone.” – Alan Dunn