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2017 LSU Baseball Preview: The Bullpen (Pt. 2)

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Introducing the new kids on the block

LSU returns a lot of arms in the bullpen, but they add many more in the form of freshman. Not counting projected starter Eric Walker, there are seven young bloods joining the Tigers’ battery, many of whom will be leaned on heavily during the year. Everybody gets baptized under fire eventually in the SEC.

Hunter Kiel

JR RHP

Kiel is a transfer from Pensacola State Community College and chose LSU over a 29th round draft pick from Arizona. Pensacola State’ website is incredibly sketch and doesn’t list stats, but LSU sports dot net tells that he started 10 games and two relief appearances, logging 41 innings and allowing 28 hits while striking out 54 batters. Better than nothing, I suppose. Kiel can touch 97 mph and has a subtle slider that has a break that’s more late than great. Of course, the great baseball catch-22 applies to Kiel: he can throw hard sure, but he has difficulty controlling it. When Kiel gets on the bump, look for him to rear back and fire for his first pitch to each batter, and then to take a little off for the rest of the at-bat.

Nick Bush

FR LHP

Bush is a freshman in only the most technical of terms. 6’6” Bush was on the team in 2016 but did not play on account of the Tommy John surgery that was performed on his throwing elbow. Coming out of high school Bush possessed a mean curve that crossed up Georgia high school batters, but coming off of a Tommy John surgery I don’t see him leaning on that pitch as much as he did in high school, at least not right away. I also don’t think we’ll see Bush operate in the low 90’s either for the same reason. Still, Bush has been working with the team for a year now and although it’s minimal, he has more experience than everybody else listed below. For that reason, it’s a safe bet to assume that Bush will receive plenty of work in comparison to the rest of the players on the team.

Blair Frederick

FR LHP

The Brother Martin alum put up solid numbers in high school considering he started pitching on a consistent basis less than three years ago. Frederick has touched as high as 94, but he operates much closer to 90, setting up a wipeout slider that destroyed the lesser plate disciplined high schoolers. Because lefties are in such short supply on staff, Frederick will get a considerable amount of work in his first year, if only in a LOOGY (Leftie One-Out-GuY) role. Then again, Bush and Frederick are the only lefties available in the pen, so there’s a possibility that Frederick will get to face multiple batters for most of his appearances.

Zack Hess

FR RHP

The Perfect Game first team All-American was drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round and chose to attend LSU instead. The 6’6” Hess hails from Virginia and posted one of the most absurd K/BB ratios I’ve ever seen: 11. Yes, I realize those are high school numbers but he posted 110 strikeouts his senior season to 11 walks. High school competition aside, that’s extremely impressive and more often than not it translates well to the collegiate level.

Todd Peterson

FR RHP

6’5” Peterson can run up to 94 mph and holds a strong command and held a .74 ERA as a senior. He may be a contingency starter during a midweek (Paul Mainieri mentioned it in his bio blurb), but I see him panning out this season as a hard throwing short reliever.

Matthew Beck

FR RHP

Matthew Beck is an athlete. Not only did he pitch while hanging up 177 batters in his senior season, in addition to playing third base and short, Beck also quarterbacked the Alexandria High football team, airing it out for over 3,300 yards and 40 touchdowns and was recruited for his football services at LSU, Arkansas, and Louisiana Tech. His twitter bio also says he’s a Central LA volleyball champion. Oh, and he carried a 4.0. Also he’s 6’7”. All of that is fine, but outside his 90 mph fastball he needs to work on his development of other pitches.

Will Reese

FR RHP

Will Reese hails from tiny Anacoco, Louisiana and you may not hear much from him this year. It would appear Reese is Mainieri and Dunn’s new project, a multi-year development player. Right now Reese can run 93 mph and has a decent curveball, but I bet Dunn will work another pitch in his arsenal, maybe a changeup or a slider. But in taking Reese, it seems that the coaching staff has made an investment for the 2019 and 2020 teams.