Paul Mainieri wished he was in Omaha getting ready to play for a College World Series and thinking about a fantastic steak.
Instead the long-time LSU coach met with reporters on Thursday afternoon for a season wrap-up of sorts and to look ahead to 2020.
There was a lot of news to get to between transfers, summer destinations and the aftermath of the MLB Draft. Let’s run through the most pertinent developments from the media sessions with more stories to come in the days ahead.
NO STAFF CHANGES IMMINENT
LSU has missed the College World Series in consecutive seasons for only the second time under Mainieri. The last time that happened, LSU fired its pitching coach and hired Alan Dunn.
While Mainieri agreed that there’s aspects of LSU’s team that need to improve in 2020 to prevent a third straight Omaha-less summer, changes to the coaching staff don’t appear to be in the cards at this time.
“I don’t anticipate any changes at this time,” Mainieri said.
THREE PLAYERS TRANSFERRING
LSU completed exit interviews with all of its current players over the past three days, and Mainieri announced that three players will be transferring this offseason.
Catcher Brock Mathis and pitchers Riggs Threadgill and Will Ripoll will not return to the program next season, the coach announced.
“I expect everybody else back in addition to the recruits that we have,” Mainieri said.
Mathis is certainly the most prominent of the impending departures. He began the season as LSU’s primary catcher and started 40 games, hitting .164 with three home runs and 12 RBI.
Threadgill and Ripoll pitched sparingly in their rookie seasons with the program. Threadgill pitched to a 7.24 ERA in 13.2 innings of work while Ripoll posted an ERA of 6.48 in 16.2 innings.
LSU has the makings of a special pitching staff in 2020 if it can manage to keep enough of its talented arms healthy following two injury-plagued seasons.
The first step in doing so, in Mainieri’s estimation, is to have just about every pitcher who played a prominent role on this season’s team take the summer off.
Cole Henry, Landon Marceaux, Devin Fontenot, Matt Beck and Eric Walker will all be given the summer off to rest and recuperate, Mainieri said.
Henry dealt with elbow discomfort late in the season, including a treatable nerve issue that caused him to leave his start against Florida State after two innings. The plan is for him to work on gaining strength and stamina over the summer.
Walker spent all last summer rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, so LSU feels a few months off will serve him well. It’s believed in baseball circles that pitchers tend to get better in year two after the surgery.
Both Marceaux and Fontenot could have been sent out on summer ball assignments, but after internal discussion, LSU is opting to give both of them the next few months off.
“We discussed it at length with both of them, and we think the best thing for them is to rest,” Mainieri said.
Jaden Hill will remain on campus over the summer and continue his work through the rehabilitation process. Depending on how that goes, he could start a throwing program sometime this summer. LSU hopes to have him fully healthy in time for fall ball.
SUMMER BALL ASSIGNMENTS
Cape Cod League
Harwich: Daniel Cabrera and Hal Hughes
Bourne: Cade Beloso and Giovanni DiGiacomo
Yarmouth: Gavin Dugas
Chatham: Saul Garza
Kokomo: Chase Costello
Wisconsin: CJ Willis
Danville: Wes Toups
Cal Ripken League
Gaithersburg: Cade Doughty and Braden Doughty
Texas Collegiate League
Baton Rouge: Drew Bianco
Perfect Game League:
Amsterdam: Rye Gunter
Saugerties: Hayden Travinski and Mitchell Sanford