2014 LSU Baseball Preview: Departures and Returning Players

USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the key player departures and returners for the 2014 LSU Baseball Team.

By any objective measure, the 2013 LSU Baseball season was a rousing success. The team went 57-11 overall last year. They set a regular season record by going 48-8, winning the SEC West and the SEC Tournament. They also swept through Regionals and Super Regionals on their way to claiming a spot in the 2013 College World Series. However, the narrative came unglued when they went 0-2 in Omaha. It sucks and is totally unfair, but last year's team will be remembered largely for the disappointment in Omaha. Such is life when you are considered one of the elite programs in college baseball.

But the great thing about sports is that there is always another shot next year. And we are less than a month away from first pitch.

The 2014 LSU Fighting Tiger Baseball Team is going to look a bit different than last year's squad. So, let's take a look at the roster and see where the Tigers stand. We'll start by looking at the major departures from last year and the key returners. We'll take a look at the new faces on the team in a later post.

Departures

Position Players

Player Name

AB

H

BA

2B

3B

HR

Slug%

RBI

BB

K

OBP%

RC

BARISP

Jacoby Jones

201

59

0.294

11

1

6

0.448

31

30

44

0.390

39

0.328

Mason Katz

243

90

0.370

14

2

16

0.642

70

41

38

0.464

73

0.412

Raph Rhymes

254

84

0.331

15

1

4

0.445

47

28

30

0.401

43

0.286

Ty Ross

207

45

0.217

3

0

3

0.275

32

22

24

0.295

19

0.270

Grand Total

905

278

0.307

43

4

29

0.460

180

121

136

0.392

167

0.326

Pitching

Player Name

IP

OBA

R

ER

ERA

2B

3B

HR

BB

HBP

K

WHIP

Strike%

W

L

S

Ryan Eades

100.0

0.269

34

31

2.79

9

3

3

32

8

78

1.330

0.641

8

1

0

Chris Cotton

46.7

0.155

8

6

1.16

3

1

2

3

0

47

0.600

0.719

4

1

16

Joey Bourgeois

32.0

0.230

10

8

2.25

3

0

1

10

6

32

1.125

0.644

3

2

0

Brent Bonvillain

50.0

0.201

17

15

2.70

6

0

0

25

11

37

1.200

0.582

3

0

0

Nick Rumbelow

32.7

0.209

12

12

3.31

3

1

1

15

1

35

1.194

0.618

1

0

0

Will LaMarche

26.3

0.220

10

10

3.42

3

0

0

13

6

24

1.253

0.600

3

0

0

Grand Total

287.7

0.224

91

82

2.57

27

5

7

98

32

253

1.144

0.634

22

4

16

LSU loses four dangerous bats, and two defensive standouts with the departures of Rhymes, Katz, Ross, and Jones. Rhymes and Katz were two of the most prolific hitters in LSU Baseball history, so replacing them will be next to impossible. Katz's power in particular will be missed. Katz led the team in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and on base percentage last year. Rhymes was the most consistent hitter the last two years, so replacing him in the middle of the lineup will be key. Ross and Jones will be missed for their outstanding defense. Ross dominated things behind the plate. He kept runners on base and his cannon of an arm limited stolen bases against the Tigers. Jones played superb defense all year at second base. Jones was rarely out of position, and his fantastic range made difficult plays look routine.

Pitching also loses many key guys, mostly from the bullpen. Ryan Eades is the lone starter to leave, but he will be difficult to replace. Eades was a reliable Saturday starter his whole career at LSU, and he earned every bit of his second round MLB draft pick. Eades had his struggles at times, but one never questioned his position as a weekend starter. The bullpen is where LSU really takes it on the chin. We lost several of our key middle relievers (LaMarche, Bourgeois, Bonvillain), our set up guy Nick Rumbelow, and arguably the best closer in LSU Baseball history in Chris Cotton. Seriously, I do not envy the guy who will be asked to replace Chris Cotton. All of these guys came through at various points for the team, so losing them seriously undermines the depth that the bullpen developed last year.

Returning Players

Position Players

Player Name

AB

H

BA

2B

3B

HR

Slug%

RBI

BB

K

OBP%

RC

BARISP

Alex Bregman

282

104

0.369

18

7

6

0.546

51

24

25

0.417

65

0.384

Mark Laird

241

74

0.307

7

1

0

0.344

18

23

31

0.371

31

0.209

Christian Ibarra

223

68

0.305

17

0

6

0.462

39

36

37

0.414

45

0.333

Sean McMullen

175

55

0.314

18

1

2

0.463

30

22

24

0.399

36

0.371

Andrew Stevenson

119

23

0.193

0

0

1

0.218

14

11

25

0.289

9

0.333

Chris Sciambra

98

26

0.265

5

1

0

0.337

9

18

24

0.407

16

0.290

Tyler Moore

96

27

0.281

9

1

0

0.396

12

11

9

0.352

14

0.250

Jared Foster

64

23

0.359

2

0

2

0.484

12

4

8

0.425

13

0.345

Chris Chinea

47

13

0.277

4

0

0

0.362

12

7

3

0.373

7

0.313

Grand Total

1345

413

0.307

80

11

17

0.421

197

156

186

0.388

233

0.316

Pitching

Player Name

IP

OBA

R

ER

ERA

2B

3B

HR

BB

HBP

K

WHIP

Strike%

W

L

S

Aaron Nola

126.0

0.188

30

22

1.57

9

1

4

18

11

122

0.802

0.680

12

1

0

Cody Glenn

84.0

0.244

31

26

2.79

11

0

2

17

14

38

1.095

0.637

7

3

0

Hunter Newman

24.7

0.159

10

7

2.55

3

0

2

11

4

16

0.973

0.640

2

0

0

Kurt McCune

23.7

0.258

7

7

2.66

3

2

0

6

2

17

1.225

0.671

4

1

0

Hunter Devall

17.0

0.246

5

5

2.65

5

0

0

5

4

15

1.176

0.637

3

0

0

Grand Total

275.3

0.213

83

67

2.19

31

3

8

57

35

208

0.966

0.659

28

5

0

LSU returns a lot of depth in the field and experience at the plate. Alex Bregman and Christian Ibarra anchor the left side of the infield and provide the power in the lineup. Bregman will look to build off of his amazing freshman season where he led the team in hits, steals, doubles, and triples. Ibarra proved to have plenty of power and was a very good defensive third baseman. The outfield should be stellar with Andrew Stevenson and Mark Laird in center and right with either Jared Foster, Chris Sciambra or Sean McMullen taking over in left field. Whoever is not playing left field will probably get a good look at the designated hitter spot. Sean McMullen had a great year as the DH and lead off hitter last year, so it would not be surprising if he kept that role. The real question is what happens on the other side of the infield and behind the plate. Tyler Moore and Chris Chinea will both get a look at catcher. Both guys have solid bats, but Moore is more proven at the plate. Coach Mainieri has said that whoever isn't starting at catcher could end up at first base, so both guys should get plenty of playing time.

LSU returns two key starting pitchers in Aaron Nola and Cody Glenn. All LSU needs from Nola is for him to hold form. Nola pitched out of his mind all of last season, so anything close to last year will put the Tigers in great shape when he is on the mound. Nola's command allowed him to get up on batters early in the count, which led to few walks and a lot of strikeouts. Cody Glenn needs to build off of last season, which was up and down for him. Glenn always seemed to have a really good outing followed by a poor outing, so finding some sort of consistency will be critical for Glenn if he wants to hold down a weekend starting job.

The rest of the returning pitching staff lacks experience for the most part, but there are some bright spots. Kurt McCune came back midseason from injury and performed decently in his 23.2 innings pitched. His numbers didn't light the world on fire, but he was a reliable arm out of the bullpen and gave the Tigers some good innings as a starter as well. Hunter Newman came on late in the year as a freshman, and will contend for a weekend starting spot. Newman really stood out in the SEC tournament against Arkansas where he went four innings and gave up no hits and only one unearned run. Hunter Devall received few innings last year, but he impressed me when he was used. Devall could easily develop into a two to three inning reliever and left handed batter specialist.

Overall, it's a mixed bag for the Tigers. We lost some great players, and we have some great ones coming back. The guys returning will need to do what every LSU baseball player is expected to do, step up and perform at the highest level. There are some talented new guys in Baton Rouge, so it should keep these guys on their toes. Next time we'll take a look at the new guys.

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