One busy, busy week: As MLB draft continues to conflict with college baseball’s postseason, Paul Mainieri keeps pushing for change _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU center fielder Andrew Stevenson (6) drops his bat after hitting a single towards Texas A&M shortstop Blake Allemand (1) in the eight inning, Friday, Apr. 24, 2015 at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

Two years ago, LSU outfielder Andrew Stevenson was taking his turn in the batting cage as the Tigers prepared to play Oklahoma in a super regional opener.

Stevenson watched as pitcher Nick Rumbelow gave up his position shagging outfield flies to come off the field.

Though just a freshman, Stevenson knew what was up. The MLB draft was underway, and Rumbelow was about to get some news.

“All the guys who expected to go on the second day of the draft had given their phones to somebody,” Stevenson recalled. “ ‘If somebody calls, come get me.’ ”

The New York Yankees had called coordinator of baseball operations Ross Brezovsky, looking for coach Paul Mainieri.

“They asked me if I could pull Rumbelow off the field and see if he would sign for a certain amount of money in a certain round,” Mainieri said, without identifying the team. “Now why would a kid have to deal with that, and then three hours later you ask him to get a hitter out that could send your team to the College World Series?”

Rumbelow had to weigh whether the money being offered was sufficient for him to assure the Yankees he would sign if they selected him, which they did in the seventh round. Rumbelow did sign, and he’s now at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“The kid’s got to make that life-altering decision at that moment as he’s getting ready to play a game,” Mainieri said.

It turns out the Tigers didn’t need Rumbelow that night because Aaron Nola threw a shutout, but Rumbelow did throw 1.1 scoreless innings of relief the next night as LSU completed a sweep of the Sooners that sent them to the College World Series.

Beginning Monday, it’s Stevenson and a handful of teammates who will be waiting on phone calls as the three-day draft opens.

Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman is projected to be among the first handful of players selected. Stevenson and teammates Kade Scivicque, Mark Laird and Jared Foster are more likely to be selected Tuesday, when the draft resumes with rounds 3 through 10.

Mainieri has been lobbying to get rid of the overlap between the draft and the climax of the college baseball season, something his counterparts in football and basketball don’t have to contend with.

“If Les Miles and Nick Saban, Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino had to deal with having the pro draft while their teams were striving to win a national championship, how long do you think that would happen?” Mainieri asked. “It’s not even a conceivable thought, is it?”

The draft would have to be pushed back only a few weeks to ensure the NCAA tournament runs its course.

“July 1 would be beautiful,” Mainieri said.

Players have until July 15 to decide whether to sign or return to school, so their decision-making window would shrink if the draft were pushed back.

“The majority of the players are signed right away, and the only ones who drag it out are the ones that are going to be the hard-negotiating ones,” Mainieri said. “What do the people who negotiate do? They wait until the last minute anyway, because nothing gets done until they’re up against a deadline.”

Mainieri said major league teams would benefit from having time to take a closer look at prospects before they draft them, just as NFL and NBA teams do with combines, on-campus pro days and individual workouts.

“We’ve seen so many times where major league teams get burned because they spend a high pick on somebody, and then the kid can’t pass a physical,” Mainieri said. “So wait until the college season is over, bring in the kids, have a combine for them, give them physicals and then a few days later have your draft.”

Stevenson and his draft-eligible teammates did take part in a “scout day” a few weeks back, when major league scouts came to LSU to interview draft prospects.

“They come in, and we talk to them and get a feel for them,” Stevenson said. “They get to know you. It lets them put a face with a name, feel you out, try and figure out what kind of kid you are.”

Mainieri said college coaches and major league executives have discussed ways of improving the draft, but it’s part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and changes would have to be agreed upon by the owners and players union.

UL-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux said the players under the most pressure are the ones whose draft projections are less precise. Bregman has a clear idea of how much money he’ll be offered, and Ragin’ Cajuns shortstop Blake Trahan looks like a solid Monday pick.

But several of Trahan’s teammates last season didn’t have a clear sense of their opportunity until the phone rang.

“We had so many guys not knowing if they were going above the 10th (round), after the 10th,” Robichaux said, “and we had guys calling — ‘we’ll offer you this in the seventh, and will you take it, this and that?’ We had a lot to deal with last year.

“We have a unique business.”

Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.

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2015 MLB draft

The schedule

Monday: First 75 picks (Rounds 1 and 2, compensation and competitive balance picks)

Tuesday: Rounds 3-10

Wednesday: Rounds 11-40

Monday’s TV: 5 p.m., MLB Network

Louisiana’s top college prospects

Alex Bregman, SS, LSU

Projection: Most have him going in the first four picks.

Blake Trahan, SS, UL-Lafayette

Projection: Could sneak into first round or will go soon after.

Andrew Stevenson, OF, LSU

Projection: Early Tuesday pick if not grabbed late Monday.

Kade Scivicque, C, LSU

Projection: Targeted as high as the fourth round.

Jake Johnson, RHP, Southeastern

Projection: Likely Tuesday pick.

Mark Laird, OF, LSU

Projection: Likely Tuesday pick.

Jared Foster, OF, LSU

Projection: Likely Tuesday pick.

Ian Gibault, RHP, Tulane

Projection: Likely Wednesday pick.