In February of 2002, a then teenage LeBron James graced the cover of Sports Illustrated for the first time with the title of the magazine reading “The Chosen One.” The lede of the feature on James, penned by the late, great Grant Wahl read as follows:
Ahead of His Class:
Ohio High School Junior LeBron James Is So Good That He’s Already Being Mentioned As the Heir To Michael Jordan.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades, LeBron has more than lived up to those lofty expectations. James is the second greatest basketball player of all-time, he is a four-time NBA champion, four-time league MVP, 19-time All-Star and All-NBA selection, and he’s scored more points than anyone in league history. That’s just a handful of his accolades. That James delivered on those expectations placed on his then-17 year old shoulders is maybe the most remarkable achievement in his career.
Almost 20 years later, another can’t miss prospect made his arrival in Baton Rouge, this time in the form of a teenage Dylan Crews. The first words ever written about him on this site read: “Dylan Crews is the Next Great LSU Baseball Player.” A little over three years ago I wrote a freshman preview about him and said that Crews “looks to be a high draft pick when it’s all said and done.” After he won his first ever award, an SEC freshman of the week honor, I said “Dylan Crews picked up the first of what figures to be several accolades in his LSU career.”
Crews, like LeBron did the impossible: he exceeded even our wildest expectations.
Crews is the greatest player in LSU baseball history. If there was any doubts about it, winning the national championship puts an end to the debate. He’s a national champion, a Golden Spikes winner, a two-time SEC player of the year, and was the national freshman of the year. He ended his career as a .380 hitter and reached base in 75 consecutive games dating back to last season. Think about that, LSU played 71 games this season and Crews reached base in every single one of them PLUS the last four games in the 2022 season.
“Dylan is one of those kids that arrives at LSU and you know there’s something different about him,” Mainieri said in February of 2021. “You can coach him hard if you want to but there’s hardly ever a need to because the kid is so in love with the game. He has the Bregman qualities as far as his passion for the game. I tell him he has Bregman’s passion, but he’s got LeMahieu’s swing.”
There is nothing Crews can’t do in the game of baseball. He’s got power in droves, but has an equally strong plate discipline. He’s a threat on the basepath and there’s not a single blade of outfield grass he can’t cover.
Crews came to LSU with a first round grade and somehow only saw his stock go up. In a couple of weeks he’ll either join Ben McDonald as LSU’s second No. 1 overall pick, or “drop” all the way down to the second overall pick.
“My ultimate dream was to go to LSU, be an icon, be a dude there,” Crews said as a freshman. “I want to get drafted out of college in 2023. I wanted to play for Coach Mainieri because the coaching staff there was all that I wanted. Throughout this whole process I wanted to go to LSU. It’s something I always wanted to do.
“I wanted to develop my game, there’s no shortcuts in baseball. There wasn’t a better opportunity I could have than LSU. I know by going there, I’ll mature as a player, I’m going to be a better outfielder, be a better hitter and experience going to Omaha and hopefully win a national championship. I want to be the best player that I can when I re-enter the draft in 2023.”
Promises made. Promises kept. Dylan Crews had the loftiest expectations placed on an LSU baseball player ever, and he delivered on every single one of them. Actually no, he exceeded them.
So here’s to you, Dylan Crews. The greatest baseball player LSU has ever had, or will ever have. May your #3 be retired alongside the likes of Skip Bertman’s 15, Ben McDonald’s 19, Eddy Furniss’s 36, and Todd Walker’s 12.