Since the 2022 season came to a close for the LSU baseball team, the transfer portal has been working overtime and shaping how the 2023 team will look in a big way.
At the time of this writing eight players have put their names into the transfer portal. The eight players are:
- Jacob Hasty (LHP, sophomore)
- Brennan Holt* (INF, freshman)
- Giovanni DiGiacomo (OF, redshirt junior)
- Brody Drost (OF, sophomore)
- Michael Fowler (RHP, sophomore)
- Alex Brady (LHP, junior)
- Blaise Priester (C, freshman)
- Collier Cranford (INF, junior)
*Holt has since signed with Oklahoma State
With all due respect, none of these departures are particularly devastating to LSU’s hopes of returning to Omaha in 2023. DiGiacomo’s got the most extensive resumé of that group but faded from the picture as the season progressed thanks to the emergence of Josh Pearson. I’m not even sure if Gio traveled to Hattiesburg.
Cranford provided some stability in the infield when Jacob Berry went down with a broken finger, but Cranford’s bat (.133 batting average) never matched his fielding; Jacob Hasty was a mixed bag for LSU this season (3.55 ERA in 25.1 IP) and had just an awful outing against Southern Miss, getting pulled after just five pitches in what wound up being LSU’s final game of the season.
But while the transfer portal taketh, it also giveth and Jay Johnson has pulled in some of the biggest names in the portal and, most importantly, at positions of need.
It started about two weeks with former Creighton pitcher Dylan Trebake, who has been the Big East’s pitcher of the year each of the past two seasons. This year Trebake went 8-2 with a 2.81 ERA and 115 Ks versus only 33 walks in 93 innings pitched. Of course there will be a big step up in competition going from Big East baseball to the SEC but for a team that needed starting pitching, Trebake could be, at worst, your Saturday starter if not your Friday ace.
Now with that in mind Trebake is draft eligible and could go pro if he hears his name called early enough in July’s MLB Draft, but nothing I’ve seen mock draft wise leads me to believe that will happen. Expect Trebake to make it to Baton Rouge.
After Trebake, Baylor shortstop Jack Pineda announced he too would be coming to Baton Rouge. Pineda hit .300 with 15 doubles, five triples and seven home runs and, more importantly, only had eight errors over the course of 54 games. For his career he has a .961 fielding percentage.
If all that wasn’t enough, LSU landed two massive commitments from the portal Friday in the form of NC State first baseman Tommy White (aka TOMMY TANKS) and Vanderbilt pitcher Christian Little.
White is an absolute force at the plate and fits in perfect with the Jay Johnson “hit homers first, ask questions later” approach. White set the NCAA record for home runs hit by a freshman with 27.
Please note how most of those homers went to the deepest part of the park. This kid has just absurd power. I’m curious to see where White plays next season because I doubt you’d want to take Tre’ Morgan’s incredible defense off of first base. My early guess is White fills Jacob Berry’s spot at third or maybe he DHs. All I know is that this spring in addition to #CrewsMissles leaving Alex Box we’ll have a whole lot of #TommyTanks too.
Little has legit first round talent. He was a top-15 prospect in the class of 2021 and reclassified to join Vanderbilt in January of ‘21. He was Vandy’s midweek starter in 2021 and started two games in Omaha; this year he pitched 38.1 innings, primarily out of the bullpen and seemed to have passed up by Vanderbilt’s super freshmen Carter Holton and Devin Futrell. That shouldn’t be a problem for Little as he joins the Tiger pitching staff. Little and Trebake seem like locks to be the Friday/Saturday guys in 2023.
Jay Johnson still needs to hire new assistant coaches, but you can’t deny he’s worked the portal like crazy and seemingly has addressed the biggest holes on the roster. Starting pitching? Check. An upgrade at shortstop? Check. A Jacob Berry replacement? Check. Oh and he still has a No. 1 recruiting class coming as well. If he can hold on to a good chunk of that incoming class LSU should be a favorite to make it back to Omaha in 2023