After a tumultuous 2018 season decimated by injuries and early departures, LSU’s luck may be starting to turn for the better.
If nothing else, Day Two of the MLB Draft couldn’t have worked out better for the Tigers in their wildest dreams.
Ten rounds have come and gone without ace Zack Hess or center fielder Zach Watson hearing their names called, making it highly likely that both stars come back for their junior seasons. Both were considered top-100 prospects but are believed to have high demands in terms of signing bonuses.
Junior Antoine Duplantis was also not selected on day two, though the financial ramifications of returning for a senior season could still prompt him to sign if taken on day three. The first LSU player off the board was lefty Nick Bush, who went to the Colorado Rockies in the eighth round.
Adding to the good fortune, only one of LSU’s highly-touted crop of signees has been taken since stud shortstop Brice Turang went 21st overall to the Milwaukee Brewers. Even if Turang signs, as is expected, and LSU is closing in on one of its best signing classes during the Paul Mainieri Era.
The other signee selected was right-handed pitcher Levi Kelly of Florida. He was ranked No. 182 by MLB Pipeline and got taken in the eighth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The slot value for selection No. 249 is $158,500.
Still, even if Kelly signs, there may never have been an LSU class so littered with power arms.
Jaden Hill of Arkansas (No. 78), Landon Marceaux of Destrehan (No. 117) and Cole Henry of Alabama (No. 137) are all right-handed pitchers ranked among the top 150 prospects in the draft by MLB Pipeline. The fact they weren’t drafted points more to signability concerns than talent.
Chase Costello (Fl.), Rye Gunter (Texas), Riggs Threadgill (Texas) and Will Ripoll (New Orleans) are also promising arms expected to wind up on campus.
The position player crop is also loaded, even if not as highly ranked in a talent-rich draft. Infielders Drew Bianco (Miss.), Gavin Dugas (Houma) and Cade Beloso (New Orleans) are expected to compete in collegiate leagues this summer, as is outfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo of Florida.
“I’m really excited about this class we’ve got coming in,” LSU recruiting coordinator Nolan Cain said during an interview in April. “There’s a few draft-risk guys, but it’s a really deep draft, and we’ve got a lot of kids locked in that are for sure coming to school. If we get those kids and one or two of the other ones, it could be a tremendous class.”
If this holds — someone could go in the first few picks of round 11 on Wednesday and be a risk to sign having cut a deal overnight — some around the program believe this would be LSU’s most talented haul since 2007, when the likes of D.J. LeMahieu, Matt Clark, Anthony Ranaudo and Micah Gibbs signed.
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