5/04/16 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It seems odd to not have a midweek LSU baseball game to write about today, but I do have a few baseball tidbits to start this daily dose of Tiger News. Yesterday, Coach Mainieri held a luncheon at L’Auberge in Baton Rouge to discuss the Tigers’ 2016 season and to look ahead to the future, and there were a few interesting nuggets of information dished out. (Note: I wasn’t able to attend the event, but was able to piece together the following info from tweets by @JacquesDoucet of WAFB, @ChandlerRome of The Advocate, @SmartestMoran of Tiger Rag, and comments from DandyDon readers who were in attendance.)
• After acknowledging that Saturday’s game at Ole Miss and last week’s loss at Tulane were “complete disasters,” Coach Mainieri said the team is better now than a month ago. He also said all of their goals remain in front of them, the players’ attitudes are great, and he expects his team to make a strong push the remainder of the season.
• Coach Mainieri brought up the “third starter situation”, saying “the book is out” on John Valek III. It was unclear whether someone else will be looked at in that Game 3 role, but Mainieri did say there would be some pitching rotation changes this weekend.
• Mainieri made it clear that Jordan Romero will be the team’s starting catcher and cleanup hitter. He likened playing Saturday’s game without Romero to LSU football playing without Leonard Fournette.
• After feeling discomfort in his elbow following his long awaited start a few weeks ago, Jake Latz has been throwing “long toss” (Up to 200 feet.) Mainieri didn’t speculate on when he might return to action, but said he won't make the trip to Notre Dame next week.
• As for O’Neil Lochridge, who has been dealing with back issues, Mainieri is not confident that he will return to action this season and said the staff is exploring a medical redshirt option.
• When asked about the upcoming Major League Baseball draft, Mainieri said he’s nervous about 13 of his recruits and 10 of his players. He specifically mentioned Jared Poché and Jake Fraley as current players he’ll probably lose to the draft, and said it is unlikely that commit Riley Pint will be able to turn down the big money thrown at him. Pint, a 6-4 righty from Lenexa, Kansas, whose fastball touches 100 MPH, is projected to be a very early 1st round pick.
The Tigers will return to action Friday at 7 p.m. (SEC Network +) when they host the Arkansas Razorbacks in Game 1 of a very important series.
Switching gears to the gridiron… At this time of year, a lot of folks are turning their attention from newcomers who made a big splash in the spring to top recruits like LSU’s two recent quarterback commits. What sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is that LSU will have a ton of talented newcomers joining the team this summer – members of LSU’s 2016 signing class which was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation. In today’s report, we’ll begin a brief series highlighting a few of these newcomers who could make a splash as true freshmen. Here we geaux…
LSU newcomers reporting this summer who could make a splash as freshmen, Part 1:
Rashard Lawrence (DT, 6-3, 305, Neville)
Rashard Lawrence was the No. 1 target in-state for many reasons, and he’ll be a valuable asset for the Tigers from the moment he steps onto the practice field. The Under Armour All-American from Monroe gives LSU its best prospect from North Louisiana in years, which should serve LSU well on the recruiting trail, but more importantly, Lawrence fills a pressing need for depth along the defensive line.
Jake Martin, a frequent contributor to this site who writes for the Ouachita Citizen, got to watch Lawrence a good bit at Neville High School and raved about his explosiveness (even when playing with a hurt ankle). Lawrence’s quickness off the ball, combined with his strength, tenacity and exceptional size, should allow him to see the field early as a Tiger. That’s important, as last year’s team lacked the ability to shuffle in multiple players along the defensive line – a hallmark of Coach Ed Orgeron’s highly successful D-lines at USC – without a pretty significant dropoff. This year, with the entire starting defensive line returning to go along with a new crop of talent that includes Lawrence and fellow in-state sensation Ed Alexander, that should no longer be the case.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for part 2 of this series.
Today’s closing tidbits:
• CollegeFootballNews.com has released its Post-Spring College Football Rankings of all 128 teams, and guess who’s at No. 1? That’s right, the Fighting Tigers of LSU. Here’s what author Pete Fiutak had to say about the Tigers: “You know how everyone was gushing over all the Ohio State players being taken throughout the 2015 NFL Draft? Next year it’s going to be LSU that keeps the pros stocked with fresh bodies, especially in the first round. The 2016 Tigers really are that good. It might be hard to see considering how flaky they were last season, but this year they’re so deep, so talented, and so solid now that Les Miles survived his brush with coaching death that it should all come together in what should be a dream season.”
Here’s a brief but informative video that accompanied Fiutak’s article highlighting their Post-Spring Top-5 College Football Teams.
• Fiutak’s mentioning of the draft reminds me to share with you the following info tweeted out from LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette: LSU ranks No. 1 in the SEC in NFL Draft picks since the 2006 draft (the Miles era) with 69, and has had at least 5 players picked 10 of 11 years. Here’s how the SEC ranks in NFL Draft picks during that period:
1. LSU (69)
2. Alabama (63)
3. Georgia (59)
4. Florida (58)
5. SoCar & Ark (38)