#11 Louisiana Baseball 2016 Preview

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
Overall Rank: #11
Conference Rank: #1 Sun Belt
Louisiana Logo 
Louisiana reached the NCAA Tournament for the third straight time and the Super Regional round for the second straight season. The Ragin’ Cajuns cruised through a very tough Houston Regional, beating Rice twice and Houston once. They were ready and rested for the Super Regional matchup against LSU, incidentally, the team that knocked them out of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. But once again LSU was too much for the Ragin’ Cajuns, beating them 4-3 and 6-3. Coach Tony Robichaux returns 20 letter winners from 2015 and brings in a nice recruiting class, which includes five junior college transfers.
2015: 42-23, 18-11
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tony Robichaux
Field Players:
Stefan Trosclair is one of the best hitters in college baseball. As a junior last season the second baseman hit .338 with 16 homeruns and 53 RBIs. He also stole 15 bases in 18 attempts. Trosclair will lead what again should be a very potent offense. However, the Ragin’ Cajuns do lose Blake Trahan, Tyler Girouard, Greg Davis, Evan Powell and Dylan Butler, who were all regular starters. But Trosclair can carry this offense and he will get plenty of help from Kyle Clement. Clement hit .436 as a junior and belted eight home runs.
The pitching staff was solid in 2015 with a team ERA of 3.37. And most of those weapons are back. Gunner Leger was the most effective starter, throwing a team high 114.1 innings with a 2.99 ERA and 6-5 record. Evan Guillory was second on the team in innings pitched and started 16 contests as a freshman. His ERA was up there at 4.05, but he finished the season with a 5-0 record. Wyatt Marks had a very promising freshman campaign as well, earning ten starts and making 19 appearances. Overall, he went 6-1 with a 3.24 ERA. Like Guillory, Marks needs to work on keeping the ball down, but both are only going to get better in 2016. Will Bacon earned a few starts last season too, but he is mostly used in relief. With a 6-3 record and a 3.14 ERA, Bacon is a steadying influence on the entire staff. Dylan Moore is back to take over his closer role after making 32 appearances and recording 13 saves. The Ragin’ Cajuns also bring in Hogan Harris and Nick Lee, two very talented incoming freshmen.
Who to Watch:
Replacing the lost production at the plate will be the key for Louisiana this season. Catcher Nick Thurman, infielder Brenn Conrad, shortstop Joe Robbins and outfielder Brian Mills will all be asked to step up their production to help compliment Trosclair and Clement. Thurman has some nice pop to his bat and hit 11 doubles in 2015. Conrad, Robbins and Mills all batted below .250 last season and need to get on base more consistently.
Final Projection:
With Trosclair leading the way, the Ragin’ Cajuns offense should be fine. And the pitching staff is a year older and wiser and will be even tougher. If this team wants to break through the Super Regional stage and make the College World Series, it will likely come down to their on-base percentage. At .360, that number was not very good last season and without Trahan and Girouard it could be even worse. Louisiana does not want to resort to manufacturing runs if they do not have to. A Sun Belt title should be in the cards, although keep an eye out for the home series against Texas State in April and a trip to South Alabama in May, but this team has higher hopes than just a conference title.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Stefan Trosclair, IF, 219
Hits: Stefan Trosclair, IF, 74
Home Runs: Stefan Trosclair, IF, 16
RBIs: Stefan Trosclair, IF, 53
Runs: Stefan Trosclair, IF, 55
Stolen Bases: Stefan Trosclair, IF, 15
Wins: Will Bacon, P, 6; Gunner Leger, P, 6; Wyatt Marks, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Gunner Leger, P, 114.1
Strikeouts: Gunner Leger, P, 87
Saves: Dylan Moore, P, 13
Madness 2016 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#36 Hogan Harris
#42 Nick Lee