Blake Trahan needed to change out of these dress pants and this dress shirt.
After all, it was hot, and everyone else — all of them, like Trahan, members of the star-studded Team USA baseball squad — was dressed casual.
The problem: Trahan, Louisiana-Lafayette’s standout shortstop, didn’t have any other clothes. The airline he just flew in on lost his luggage.
Alex Bregman spotted him just before the team bussed to get physical exams. LSU’s shortstop looked Trahan up and down.
“Dude,” he said, “you got to get out of that stuff. Come to my room.”
A few minutes later, Trahan loaded into the bus sporting a Southeastern Conference championship T-shirt and shorts. They were option No. 2.
“I first tossed him a pair of purple shorts and a yellow LSU shirt, and he was like, ‘I can’t wear that, man,’ ” Bregman said.
“I didn’t put on any purple and gold,” Trahan said, laughing while telling the tale earlier this week.
Two of college baseball’s best shortstops — and good friends — will meet at Alex Box Stadium this weekend when the Tigers (51-10) host the Ragin’ Cajuns (42-21) in a best-of-three super regional that starts Saturday night.
The series includes a bevy of highly touted freshman pitchers, a slew of big bats, two highly successful coaches and a crowd that’s expected to be of record numbers to see two schools — separated by 70 miles — battle for a spot in the College World Series.
Don’t let that overshadow the guys who’ll be playing shortstop. They’re good. Really, really good.
“Those two guys do a lot,” UL-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux said. “It’ll be great to watch them both go get it. They’re both going to go very high in the draft.”
That’s soon. The MLB draft — set to begin Monday night — casts its shadow across this super regional. No players in the series are as highly ranked as Bregman and Trahan, both draft-eligible juniors.
Surprised? Don’t be.
The two have been on more than 10 All-America teams — before this year’s postseason awards — and they were Freshman of the Year in their respective conferences in 2013.
Their three-year stats are nearly identical. Bregman has the edge in batting average (.335 to .333). Trahan has the edge in fielding percentage (.964 to .961). Together, they have committed 67 errors in 383 total starts.
The similarities go beyond numbers.
“They’re both fast, heady baseball players, good defenders,” LSU assistant Will Davis said. “Similar builds.”
Similar enough to share clothing after the airline lost Trahan’s luggage that summer day last year. They’re close enough to trade text messages on a regular basis, too, and good enough buds for Bregman to share information on opposing teams.
When UL-Lafayette hosted Ole Miss in a super regional last season, it was LSU’s shortstop who shared a scouting report with Trahan.
“He told me a few things I needed to know,” Trahan said.
Before regionals last week, Trahan sent a text to Bregman: “Man, y’all better win. We’re coming y’all’s way.”
Bregman shot back, “We will.”
And, now, here they are: two superstars in the college game dueling in front of a packed Alex Box with the season and their collegiate careers on the line. They both may be playing for the final time in college, and this is Bregman’s last hurrah at home.
“It’ll be a terrific matchup,” said LSU hitting coach Andy Cannizaro, a big league scout for five years before joining LSU last summer.
It’s a matchup, likely, of future big leaguers.
Bregman is projected as a top-five pick Monday. At least one list has him as the No. 1 prospect in the nation. Trahan could go as high as early in the second round.
In D1Baseball.com’s midseason list of college prospects, Bregman was the second-best shortstop behind Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson. Trahan was the No. 5 shortstop.
This won’t be their first matchup this season. LSU beat UL-Lafayette 8-6 in front of nearly 11,000 at Zephyr Field on March 31. Bregman went 3-for-3 in that game, and Trahan was 1-for-4. In front of scouts from every major league club, the two played errorless ball in the field.
“I know for a fact every team was in attendance. Probably half the scouting directors in Major League Baseball were there,” Cannizaro said. “It was the most heavily scouted game all year. Every team had an opportunity for their bosses to see two of the better shortstops for the draft on one field in one day.”
Don’t expect many scouts this weekend. The draft is too close but, Cannizaro said, they’ll be watching.
“If the TV is on in the draft room,” he said, “it’ll certainly be the game everybody is tuning into.”
They’ll see two of the best working between second and third — just like they did in the summer. Bregman played shortstop, and Trahan mostly worked at third base during Team USA’s 28-game schedule. The second baseman was Swanson, the top-ranked college shortstop in the nation in most lists.
“We turned a lot of double plays,” Bregman said.
Bregman and Trahan bonded while holding down the left side of the national team’s infield. One specific experience brought them together. The team finished a grinding schedule — they played nearly every day — in the heat of Cuba.
Players were ready to go home. They had been on the road a month.
“We got together and said, ‘We’re going to finish this right,’ ” Trahan said.
Said Bregman: “We wanted to make sure everybody played every out, every pitch like it was their last. We got closer.”
Trahan and Bregman realized their similarities. Both of them mentioned it during interviews this week. It takes others, though, to point out the differences.
Bregman is a bit taller and a better base runner, most said, while Trahan is faster, having the ability to beat out infield singles.
Bregman has the better play-making ability and the bigger bat; he has 21 career homers to Trahan’s 10. But Trahan has committed three fewer errors.
So who’s better?
Both players shake off the question. They know one thing, though: They can trade clothes.
“Not,” Trahan said again, "purple and gold.”
Alex Bregman and Blake Trahan both have put up gaudy number in their three-year careers.
IN THE RANKINGS
Alex Bregman and Blake Trahan are both expected to be selected in the top two rounds of the MLB draft Monday.
It’s a shortstop-heavy MLB draft. In fact, Baseball America has 11 shortstops among its top 75 prospects rankings.
Lake Mary, Florida (HS)
Griffin, Georgia (HS)
Atlanta, Georgia (HS)
Pottsville, Pennsylvania (HS)