#13 LSU Baseball Preview

LSU Tigers

Overall Rank: #13
Conference Rank: #6 SEC
LSU College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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On the surface, it looked like another return trip to Omaha and the College World Series for LSU last season. However, the Stony Brook Seawolves had different ideas and shocked the Tiger Nation with a dominating performance in the Baton Rouge Super Regional eliminating the Tigers.  The 2013 team is a balanced mix of experience and depth of talent and is looking to atone for 2012 and get back to Omaha and TD Ameritrade Park for the College World Series.

2012: 47-18, 19-11
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Paul Mainieri

Field Players:
Senior Mason Katz leads the way, along with Raph Rhymes, offensively for LSU. Katz is the leading returning homerun hitter with 13 and he also drove in 52 runs in the 2012 season. Raph Rhymes supplies the high average and the ability to get on base for the Tigers. Rhymes had 100 hits in 2012 to go along with a .431 batting average and he also drove in 53 runs and had an on-base percentage of .489.  JaCoby Jones is the leading returning base stealer with 11 stolen bases.  Jones’ ability to get on base more consistently and cause havoc is very important and will make Rhymes and Katz even more effective in igniting the Tiger offense in 2013.  

The starting rotation on the weekend is going to be anchored by Aaron Nola and Ryan Eades, who combined should be able to offset the departure of Kevin Gausman.  Nola was 7-4, with a 3.61 earned run average.  He has outstanding control walking only seven batters over 89.2 innings.  Eades was 5-3 in 17 starts in 2012. The ability to go fairly deep into games is a big strength of Eades as he threw 94 innings in 2012.  The big key for Eades in 2013 will be to balance out the hits to innings pitched as he allowed 107 hits in 2012, but he should be a solid number two starter in 2013. The big question for coach Maineiri is who is going to close games in 2013 with the departure of Nick Goody who had 11 saves in 2012. Kurt McCune should get the first crack at the closer role as he had one save in 2012.

Who to Watch:
Alex Bregman, a 29th round selection of the Boston Red Sox in 2012 could be in the mix early to get into the everyday lineup. Bregman was a 2012 Rawlings 1st Team All-American and shows good all-around power and ability to hit for average as well.  Chris Chinea, with his versatility, could also be in the mix to play early. Chinea was a Baseball America and Louisville Slugger All-American at the high school level and should bring some athleticism to the lineup to help LSU be even more explosive offensively.  Mitch Sewald is a right handed pitcher who throws around 92 miles per hour with his fastball and could be a potential mid-week starting pitcher or contribute out of the bullpen as well.

Final Projection:
The Tigers have a good balanced out of conference schedule playing BCS conference schools Maryland and Washington.  The conference slate starts out with a fierce test down in Starkville against Mississippi State. Other key series on the road will be at Arkansas and Texas A&M. The home schedule is loaded with Eastern division foes such as Florida, South Carolina and Ole Miss in the last weekend of the regular season. If a third or fourth player can step and put up the huge numbers that Rhymes and Katz will provide, then come post-season play, LSU will be in a much stronger position if they run into similar hot pitching like they did against Stony Brook. The atmosphere at Alex Box Stadium is one of the best, if not the best, in the sport of college baseball. Thus, the Tigers should be well positioned to be a Regional host and, pending how things go offensively and at the closer role, end up as a contender for a national championship.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Mason Katz, IF/OF, 241
Hits: Raph Rhymes, OF, 100
Home Runs: Mason Katz, IF/OF, 13
RBIs: Raph Rhymes, OF, 53
Runs: Mason Katz, IF/OF, 65
Stolen Bases: Jacoby Jones, IF, 11

Wins: Aaron Nola, P, 7
Innings Pitched: Ryan Eades P, 94.0
Strikeouts: Aaron Nola, P, 89
Saves: Kurt McCune, P, 1

Madness 2013 Baseball Draft Rankings:
#26 Ryan Eades
#30 JaCoby Jones

Madness 2013 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#45 Alex Bregman


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