The Jake Latz saga has come to an abrupt end.
LSU confirmed Friday that Latz, the ballyhooed redshirt freshman left-hander who saw his first collegiate action this season, will leave the program after two seasons.
“I was surprised today to learn of Jake Latz’s decision to transfer,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said in a news release. “We’re disappointed that he has chosen to leave LSU, but we wish him well during the remainder of his career.”
In a postseason interview with The Advocate on Tuesday, Mainieri said an undisclosed illness was “delaying” Latz’s summer baseball trip to pitch in the Alaskan Summer League.
Mainieri was asked specifically what impact Latz could make now that his elbow issues were seemingly behind him.
“If we get out of Jake what we expected to get out of him when we signed him, you’re talking about a guy that can win big in the SEC and be a really high draft choice,” Mainieri said. “He showed signs of that. We threw him in some pretty tough situations for a guy with zero experience in college down the stretch. He pitched the one time (on April 12) against McNeese and really wasn’t feeling great that night. He essentially didn’t start pitching until the last week of the regular season and, all of a sudden, he’s starting games in the SEC tournament, starting a game in the regional. I bring him into a critical situation in a super regional. He’s got talent, he’s got ability and if he can be healthy and put it all together, he can be a real force for us. I’m hoping for the best.”
Mainieri was also asked if Latz's illness, which he declined to specify out of respect for the player's privacy, had anything to do with his left arm.
“Zero, zilch,” Mainieri said. “His arm is 100 percent healthy.”
The hope, Mainieri said, was to get Latz to a summer baseball league in order to pitch “25-30 innings” after such a limited role this season.
Now, that will not be necessary.
Latz, the 2014 Illinois Player of the Year with a 0.22 ERA, was drafted in the 11th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in that same season.
He turned down a reported signing bonus nearing $900,000 to attend LSU, where he did not throw a pitch for almost two years. Nagging elbow troubles forced Latz to miss the entire 2015 season, giving him a medical redshirt while he attempted, unsuccessfully, to shake the injury.
Arm now seemingly healthy, Latz threw brilliantly in this fall's practice, Mainieri said, but suffered a setback in his final inning, necessitating surgery to repair a stress reaction.
He made his collegiate debut on April 12 against McNeese State, recording just four outs. Mainieri gave Latz the starting nod in the Tigers' SEC tournament opener against Tennessee — a 5-4 win — and the Baton Rouge regional championship game against Rice.
Operating on a limited pitch count, Latz never threw more than 2.1 innings in his LSU career.
He finishes his career sporting a 7.56 ERA across 8.1 innings with 11 strikeouts.
Latz is the fourth member of LSU's No. 1 ranked 2014 recruiting class to leave school — joining pitchers Mac Marshall and Jake Godfrey and infielder Grayson Byrd — all of whom transferred before or just after one season in Baton Rouge.