LSU hitting coach Andy Cannizaro thought for a second about which major league baseball player Tigers junior center fielder Andrew Stevenson could be compared to.
And then it came to him.
There are certainly worse names to be identified with, considering Finley — who had the fourth-most appearances in center field in major league history after playing with eight different clubs — won five Gold Gloves, was named to two All-Star teams and collected a World Series ring.
But soon enough, other players could find themselves being compared to Stevenson.
With the super regional looming and the 2015 MLB draft approaching, Stevenson has plenty on his plate in the coming days. And possibly for the final weekend, the diving defensive stud will jog out to center field when LSU faces Louisiana-Lafayette in the super regional.
This weekend could very likely be the last time LSU fans witness a Superman dive in center field by No. 6. It’s a play that has become synonymous with his name.
“He is hands-down the best outfielder I’ve ever played with in my life,” sophomore left fielder Jake Fraley said. “And it’s not even close.”
For Fraley, Stevenson has proven to be quite the mentor over the past two seasons.
There are worse teachers to have, especially since Stevenson accumulated a .993 fielding percentage in 2015, recording 129 putouts with five assists.
“It truly is a blessing to play next to a guy like that,” Fraley said. “To learn from him and go through two falls and two seasons with him, I can apply that to next year. Whenever I go out there, he pushes me and shows me what I do wrong. I’m learning from the best center fielder in the country.”
When a ball is hit into the gap, the odds favor it never touching the outfield grass.
“I think most of the balls hit, I feel like I can get to them,” Stevenson said. “I guess that’s just how I’m wired.”
Cannizaro thinks Stevenson is wired like a major league player.
And that’s not only because of his glove.
Stevenson grew immensely at the plate following a freshman campaign where he batted .193 in 119 at-bats. This season, he was the Tigers’ leading hitter for the second consecutive year, posting a .368 mark, hitting five triples, 11 doubles and one home run.
Cannizaro said he expects Stevenson to develop more power as he matures over the next few seasons. Stevenson had only two career home runs at LSU.
“The power is in there,” Cannizaro said. “He’s a strong, physical kid with bat speed. He kind of starts in an unorthodox position. At some point in the near future when there’s more time to spend on the player development side … he’s going to probably end up raising his hands and getting into a more traditional place to hit.”
Though he doesn’t foresee Stevenson developing into a 20-home run player in the majors, he said he believes Stevenson has the potential to raise a few eyebrows when he steps up to the plate at the pro level.
Soon enough, Stevenson will know exactly where that plate will be.
The first round of the MLB draft begins Monday, and though Stevenson isn’t projected to go in the first round, he should hear his name called sometime in the coming days.
For now, though, the draft is nowhere near the forefront of Stevenson’s thoughts.
He has a super regional to play.
“You play the whole year,” Stevenson said. “They’ve seen what they have to see. These two games aren’t going to define what’s going to happen with that. I’m not going to worry about it.”