Two LSU players have been named to the 2024 Baseball America Preseason All-America Team. Third baseman Tommy White was named to the Baseball America First Team and right-handed pitcher Thatcher Hurd was voted to the Baseball America Second Team.
“When we got [Tommy White], and we got Thatcher I knew that was a big deal because we would have those guys for two years,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “One of my targets for the guys that are going to leave here in two years, and you can throw in [Alex] Milazzo and [Hayden] Travinski, one of the challenges I’m going to throw out to them is they can leave here as the most successful group of LSU baseball players in the 2000s.”
White, a former NC State transfer, was one of three First-Team All-Americans for LSU in 2023, alongside Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews. He led the national champion Tigers with 24 home runs and 105 RBI. He also had the second-best batting average, .374, and second most hits, 102, behind only Crews for LSU.
His 105 RBI tied for the most in the nation and his 198 total bases was good for No. 3 in the nation and the second most in the SEC. LSU head coach Jay Johnson called him “the best hitter in college baseball.”
He hit the walk-off home run against Wake Forest that sent LSU to the College World Series finals and had an RBI in all three games of the finals against Florida. His home run in the 8th inning of Game 1 of the finals tied the game at 3-3 and forced extra innings. In Game 3, he had three RBI, four hits and scored two runs.
Hurd, a former UCLA transfer, was the starting pitcher for Game 3 of the College World Series Finals and went 6.0 innings giving up just two hits and recording seven strikeouts.
“People don’t understand what goes into just before [Game 3 of the College World Series finals] starts,” Yeskie said. “The emotions, the feelings, what the whole thing is like. I got to go through it in 2018 with a freshman and it’s an interesting dynamic when you’re seeing how those kids are processing some of that information and going through everything that day entails because you know that this is it. Win or lose, the season is over. But in about three hours – or in some cases 8, 9, 10 hours whatever it is before the game – you’re thinking there’s a finality to this and we’re either going to come out on top or we’re not. So, I think Hurd having been through that bodes well for what he needs to do to continue to advance himself and how that’s going to help the team.”
Hurd, like White, played an integral part in getting LSU to the CWS finals by putting in a clutch performance against No. 1 Wake Forest. He pitched the final 3.0 innings against Wake Forest in relief of Skenes and allowed just one hit and zero runs to help send LSU to the College World Series finals. Overall, he went 2-1 at the College World Series with a 2.25 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12.0 innings.
“Hurd’s body looks great,” pitching coach Nate Yeskie said. “His whole arsenal is in a good position right now and he’s taking that next step of trying to absorb a better understanding of what he needs to do to grow as a player for himself and again for the team.”
For the 2023 season, Hurd had an overall record of 8-3 and three saves with 84 strikeouts in 63.1 innings. He posted a 5.68 ERA and started 11 games for the Tigers. Hurd is expected to be one of LSU’s starting pitchers in 2024 alongside transfers Luke Holman and Gage Jump.
“His stuff is undeniable,” Yeskie said. “He’s got a lively fastball, two really good breaking balls and he’s developed a really good change looking to add that fourth pitch. His ability to manipulate the baseball is pretty good. He and Holman are unique in that sense. As right handers they almost possess a little bit of a left-hand quality when there’s some deception to what they do. And this goes for everybody, but [Hurd] is just continuing to hone the command. Control is throwing it in the strike zone. Command is throwing a pitch to a location in the strike zone and sometimes outside of the strike zone.” LSU is the No. 2 ranked team in Baseball America’s preseason poll and will open the season against VMI on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.