LSU announced Monday that rising junior Antoine Duplantis will be the next Tiger to wear the coveted No. 8 uniform.
He will become the sixth player to have the uniform number passed down to him in a tradition that began with Mikie Mahtook after the 2011 season. Mahtook, like Duplantis, is a Lafayette native.
“Antoine Duplantis embodies all of the characteristics that we value in our program,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said in a statement. “He’s an outstanding ballplayer, an excellent student, and a young man who cares deeply about LSU and the impact our program can make upon the lives of others.
“It’s an honor he has worked very hard to earn, and we’re thrilled that our 2018 team has Antoine in a significant position of leadership.”
Cole Freeman sported the No. 8 uniform last year. Before him, it was worn by Jake Fraley, Alex Bregman, Mason Katz and Mahtook.
“It will be an absolute honor to continue the tradition of the No. 8 jersey,” Duplantis said in a statement. “The previous players that have worn this number epitomize what it means to be an LSU baseball player.”
In two years at LSU, Duplantis has compiled a .321 career batting average with 100 RBIs and 32 stolen bases.
Duplantis thrived as a run producer in his sophomore season, with 61 RBIs in 71 games.
Next man up: Antoine Duplantis follows a storied tradition of great No. 8s for LSU Baseball
LSU Baseball announced outfielder Antoine Duplantis as the next player to wear the No. 8 jersey in the 2018 season Monday, an honor given each season to an upperclassmen who exemplifies the spirit of LSU Baseball through his leadership and dedication to the program.
Duplantis joins a who's who list of former LSU players to wear the number. Here's a look at the five players that came before Duplantis.
Hess to get work as a starter
After freshman right-hander Zack Hess appeared in 30 games and logged 60.2 innings this season, LSU was comfortable shutting him down for the summer.
But Hess convinced the coaching staff to allow him to get some work in the prestigious Cape Cod League, and LSU obliged — though his work load will be carefully monitored.
“He’s going to go to the Cape Cod League and pitch three games with a maximum of 60 pitches,” Mainieri said.
Hess worked as a starter and reliever for LSU this season. By the end of his first season, he was dominant in a closing role.
But LSU is also short on experienced starting options for next season, especially considering the uncertain status of Eric Walker, and Hess could be an ideal candidate to fill one of those roles.
Mainieri said this pitch count will allow Hess to get a chance to work on developing his third pitch — a changeup — against the stiff competition of the top summer collegiate league.
“I think it’s going to be a good thing for him,” Mainieri said. “I want to give him every opportunity to try and be a starting pitcher.”
LSU is in the process of bringing in two marquee names for the start of the 2018 baseball season.
While it isn’t finalized, the Tigers are hopeful to host Notre Dame for the season-opening series, and to follow that up by bringing Texas in for a three-game series shortly thereafter.