Under Paul Mainieri, LSU has had some good talent behind the plate, culminating with Kade Scivicque who was a rare bird for not only being as good with a bat as he was with a glove, but possibly better. This year, instead of one standout player, Mainieri has options on options.
2016: .242 AVG, .387 SLG, .358 OBP, 1.05 K/BB (21/20), 3 HR, 20 RBI
Michael Papierski semi-took over for Scivicque in 2016, splitting time with the heavier swinging Jordan Romero. Papierski isn’t terrible at the dish by any means, especially for a catcher, but he could have used a little more consistency.
Despite that, Papierski is outstanding defensively. He’s a natural behind the plate and in my humble opinion, I think he’s the greatest pure catcher I’ve seen at Baton Rouge since I’ve started watching the team. In 2016, Papierski committed one lone error, posting a fielding percentage of .997. With Pap behind the plate, pitchers can spike curves and push sliders with confidence that he will block them, knock them, and pick them from the dirt. And he can hose anybody in the conference.
In order to try and manufacture some consistency within Papierski’s offense, it appears that Pap will bat exclusively with his right hand. Last year, Papierski stuck to his right hand starting for the final regular season against Florida and the postseason and went .286 (10/35).
2016: .297 AVG, .545 SLG, .378 OBP, 1.47 K/BB (25/17), 9 HR, 41 RBI
Despite that good line posted above, Jordan Romero is not listed in LSU’s initial depth chart as an option at DH and is listed third under catcher. I personally think Romero’s bat is too formidable to leave out of the lineup completely, even if he does present a classic manager’s conundrum: Can you risk a liability behind the plate for his bat or do you want defensive assurance with a lesser bat? That isn’t to say that Romero is terrible, he has a cannon for an arm, but there’s a step that he doesn’t have that Papierski does. Romero can’t quite handle balls in the dirt as well as Papierski can, and that held him out of the field in anything more than a relief for Pap.
I think we’ll end up seeing Romero more in the lineup than the depth chart has us believing, specifically at designated hitter.
2016 (LSUE): .359 AVG, .458 SLG, .684 OBP, 1.45 K/BB (48/33), 13 HR, 81 RBI
Mainieri has to be pretty high on Coomes to slot him above the returning senior Jordan Romero. Just like Romero, Coomes is a Catholic High product who went to LSU-Eunice before coming back to Baton Rouge. Also like Romero, Coomes is an offensive catcher, putting up all-around better numbers than Romero did in 2015 at LSUE. How that translates to Baton Rouge remains to be seen, although the outlook is good.
Ok so as it happens Woley has gotten more work in the infield than he has with gear on, but in the interest in spreading out the previews as much as possible, he’s here in the catcher preview. This year Woley will likely just be an “in case of emergency” option at catcher and first base, but his bat will likely need some time to adjust to the college setting.