Will the Cajuns’ young pitchers be up to the task?
In short: maybe. This is the most important question for the Cajuns this season, and it’s one that probably won’t have an answer for a while. The Cajuns must replace their entire weekend rotation from 2014, and will likely need time to iron things out.
Who will protect shortstop Blake Trahan in the order?
The Cajuns didn’t only lose a wealth of arms, they also lost some highly productive bats. They are boosted by the return of All-American Blake Trahan, but he can’t do it by himself. Getting Tyler Girouard back was huge, and Dylan Butler should help too.
Who will pair with Trahan as the other half of the Cajuns double-play tandem?
With Jace Conrad playing professional baseball, the Cajuns will break in a new second baseman this season, or perhaps more accurately, a couple second basemen. Look for Jace’s younger brother Brenn to split time with Kennon Fontenot and Stefan Trosclair.
How different will the offense look?
They won’t be a station-to-station squad, but they might not be among the nation’s leaders in power numbers either. New hitting coach Jeremy Talbot preaches the same aggressive philosophy as his predecessor, Matt Deggs, but he doesn’t have the same type of players. Look for a little change.
Does last year matter?
The Cajuns enjoyed one of the finest seasons in their program’s history last year, with 58 wins. But players on this year’s team are not thinking about last year’s success. The Cajuns, unranked in every major poll, are approaching this season with an underdog mentality.
C Nick Thurman 6-2, 210, Jr.
Thurman takes over full-time for All-Sun Belt catcher Mike Strentz. In limited action last year, Thurman hit .222 with 17 RBI and threw out two of 11 baserunners. Evan Powell will serve as his backup.
1B Greg Davis, 6-0, 231, Sr.
The powerfully built Davis was the Cajuns most active bench player last year, and now it’s his time to start regularly. Davis hit .314 with three homers in 86 at bats last season.
2B Stefan Trosclair, 6-2, 195, Jr.
Trosclair spent last season with LSU-Eunice, where he was a highly productive offensive player, drilling nine homers while swiping 32 bags and batting .409. He’ll split time with Brenn Conrad and Kennon Fontenot.
SS Blake Trahan, 5-9, 180, Jr.
Trahan is the Cajuns superstar, whether he has a bat or glove in his hands. He hit .355 and had a team-high .455 on base percentage last year while also committing only 10 errors at a premium position.
3B Tyler Girouard, 5-9, 180, Sr.
The Cajuns weren’t sure if they’d get Girouard back after health issues had him convinced he was done with the game. But the fifth-year senior is back, and so is his .331 lifetime batting average.
LF Kyle Clement, 5-10, 185, Jr.
Clement played well in limited playing time last season, hitting .333 with 9 RBI in 24 games. This is another position that could vary as the season progresses, with Powell and newcomer Brian Mills slated to get some time as well.
CF Derek Herrington, 6-0, 190, So.
Herrington is another LSU-E product who can fly. He stole a team-high 37 bases for Eunice last season. But his teammates have been raving about his ability to track down balls in center field.
RF Dylan Butler, 5-11, 195, Sr.
Butler is the Cajuns most experienced every-day player, with 132 starts under his belt. He’ll provide some pop in the Cajuns order, as he’s had at least six home runs in each of his three seasons.
No. 1: Chris Charpentier, 5-9, 165, So.
Charpentier only has 17 career innings to his credit, but pitched well down the stretch last year, tossing four innings of one-run ball in a regional win against Jacksonville State and another five solid innings of relief in the SBC tournament. He’ll start opening night.
No. 2: Evan Guillory, 6-3, 200, Fr.
Guillory showed Robichaux enough in fall and spring practice to merit a look in the weekend rotation to start the season. The big right-hander has a solid fastball and a mentality that the coach likes in his pitchers.
No. 3: Greg Milorn, 6-2, 180, Sr.
Milhorn got off to a fast start in the Cajuns weekend rotation last season before an injury threw him out of whack and he struggled the remainder of the year. He is apparently back to being himself, and that could be very good news for a young pitching staff.
Eric Carter, 5-11, 202, Jr.
Colton Lee, 5-10, 151, Jr.
Logan Stoelke, 6-3, 185, Fr.
Beyond Milhorn and Bazar, the Cajuns don’t have anybody on their roster who threw more than 30 innings a year ago. It’ll be up to newcomers like Carter, Lee and Stoelke to nail down the back end of games for an inexperienced starting staff. Carter and Lee both bring some college experience over from the junior college ranks, and Stoelke has impressed with his stuff. Robichaux said he plans on throwing a lot of arms early to see how his young pitchers handle certain situations.
Reagan Bazar, 6-7, 269, So.
There are few people on this earth who can throw a fastball as hard as Bazar, who regularly finds the upper 90s and can sometimes hit triple digits. The key for Bazar is his ability to change speeds, and therefore the eye level of the hitter, which he spent his offseason working on.