With only five rounds in this year’s Major League Baseball draft, the two-day event was more of a sprint than a marathon.
Yet, Barbe High standout and LSU signee Brody Drost – voted this year’s Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana – still had to exhale when it was over.
“After the draft, it took off a lot of pressure,” Drost said. “I knew I was going to LSU and to compete with the best players in the country. I feel it’s the best program with the best coaches in the country.”
Drost took measures into his own hands prior the June 11-12 draft, a move that all but assured him making it to LSU and embarking on his college career.
In advance of the draft, Drost’s advisor notified as many major league teams as possible the price tag it would take the 6-foot-2 ½, 205-pound outfielder/pitcher to bypass LSU and sign a professional contract.
The strategy worked.
Drost went undrafted, not because of his immense talent as the state’s top-rated prospect, but because MLB teams were reluctant to satisfy what they believed were inflated salary demands in the coronavirus-shorted draft.
“Teams could have had more money to get what I was asking for,” Drost said. “It may have been a little more difficult decision. We set a high number because that’s how bad I wanted to go to LSU to play, learn, get better, get stronger and more developed. No team really came close to what I had in mind. LSU was my choice.”
Drost used the Philadelphia Phillies as an example of an organization that showed plenty of pre-draft interest but eventually dropped off following their first-round selection of high school pitcher Mick Abel who had a slot value of $3.89 million.
Without a second-round choice, the Phillies were left cash-strapped to meet the undisclosed price demands of Drost, leaving them to take Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin in the third round which came with a slot value of $689,000.
“When they took a pitcher in the first round,” Drost said, “that basically took me out completely. It was, ‘LSU here I come’. No team came really close to what I was asking. It was a no-brainer to go to LSU, play for the city and state that I love and to just have a great experience over there. It’s a win-win for me. It’s kind of like a dream come true either way.”
From the age of three, Drost acknowledged wanting to play baseball at its highest level. But he said that always seemed to be surpassed by the lure of attending LSU where his parents made family trips from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge to attend LSU athletic events ranging from football to baseball.
He was hooked on LSU baseball and aspired to play for the Tigers.
“I’ve always grown up an LSU fan,” he said. “My parents would take me to watch all of the games, but obviously baseball was my favorite thing to watch.”
LSU made its intentions about Drost known early in the recruiting process. The Tigers extended a scholarship the summer before Drost’s freshman year at Barbe, a state baseball power. He signed with the Tigers in November 2019.
Drost’s career literally took off during his junior year and Barbe’s march to the Class 5A state championship.
As a Class 5A all-state first team selection, Drost played right field and pitched during the Bucs’ championship season. He batted .364 with seven homers and 37 RBIs and was 8-0 with an 0.98 ERA.
Moreover, Drost was selected the MVP of the Class 5A state title game in which he homered, doubled and drove in five runs in Barbe’s 8-2 victory over Sam Houston.
There wasn’t a repeat for Barbe or Drost in this spring’s coronavirus-shortened season. But with just 14 games played, he was still named the state’s Gatorade Player of Year after hitting .390 with two homers and nine RBIs.
“Hitting wise, I can break open a game with one swing of the bat,” Drost said describing his attributes. “I have power to all fields. I can also put the ball in play with two strikes and do the job.”
Drost also said he counts on three pitches with a fastball that’s topped out at 93-94 miles-per-hour and usually sits in the 87-92 MPH range. He’s also got a curveball and change-up and is working on a slider that’s morphing into more of a cutter as part of his repertoire.
“I’m not really a contact pitcher,” he said. “If I come in with the bases loaded, I’m more of a strike-you-out pitcher.”
It’s his versatility to play either corner outfield position and pitch that continually endeared Drost to LSU. The Tigers were steadfast in their intentions during the recruiting process of projecting him as a dual threat.
Drost will play for Sheets Baseball Organization this summer. He’s anxious to find a spot in what predicts to be a talented 2021 LSU outfield and carve out a pitching role, preferably out of the bullpen.
“That’s one of the other things that was so good about LSU,” Drost said. “A lot of other schools were offering me as a pitcher or as a hitter, but I wanted to continue doing both for as long as I can. By going to LSU, I may be doing both the whole time and seeing which one turns out better and keep mastering every one of my skills.”