LSU’s four true freshman pitchers — Jake Latz, Alex Lange, Jake Godfrey and Doug Norman — have received their share of praise heading into this season.
But there’s a fifth rookie pitcher on the roster.
Geismar native Austin Bain, listed as a pitcher and infielder, slipped out of sight after being shut down for the fall with arm soreness.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said Bain is mainly focusing on his pitching, and the 6-foot-1 right-hander has returned to the mound with more determination. Mainieri said he recently showed Bain a picture from The Advocate of the four other freshman pitchers. He told Bain someone was missing.
“There’s five freshman pitchers on this team, and this article is about four of them,” Mainieri told Bain. “How does that make you feel? He said, ‘It lights a fire under me.’ And I said, ‘Good. Well that’s the reason I’m showing it to you.’ ”
Bain’s arsenal of pitches includes a fastball, curveball and changeup. He was recruited as a pitcher from Dutchtown High School, though he also played shortstop for the Griffins.
LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn said he’s been impressed with Bain since his return to the mound this spring.
“I like how the ball is coming out of his hand,” Dunn said. “He’s showing good feel. All the things we saw when we recruited him, we’re seeing flashes of that.”
Dunn said Bain’s athletic skills are “huge.” Bain showed them off from the rubber during the team’s Fall World Series, where he played first base and picked up a handful of hits at the plate.
“The more athletic you are, the better pitcher you are, in my opinion,” Dunn said. “And he is athletic, and he controls his body well. That’s the No. 1 thing when you’re trying to develop as a pitcher.”
Deichmann hurt; Bryce Jordan at 3rd
Freshman infielder Greg Deichmann has a foot strain, and the Tigers have a new competitor for the starting job at third base, Mainieri said Thursday.
Deichmann, a New Orleans native, is likely to miss a few days of practice, and he’s probably out of the competition for the starting job at third. Mainieri has moved another freshman, Bryce Jordan, into that position, the coach said.
Jordan has been competing with Danny Zardon and Conner Hale at third. Zardon is likely to get the first shot at the starting position, but Jordan has joined the competition for the spot to replace Christian Ibarra.
Hale, in the competition at third with Deichmann and Zardon through the fall, is likely to remain on the right side of the infield at first or second base. Hale is an everyday starter, the coach has said.
All-Nola first pitch
Aaron Nola’s not done throwing pitches from the mound at Alex Box Stadium yet.
Nola, the Tigers’ All-American ace drafted in the first round last year, will throw out the first pitch in LSU’s season-opening game against Kansas on Feb. 13. He’ll throw to his brother, former LSU shortstop Austin Nola.
“I think it’d be an exciting thing, (to) be back on that mound one last time,” Nola said a few days ago during the program’s yearly First Pitch Banquet.
Nola, drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies with the No. 7 pick, ended last year in Class AA Reading. He’s home for a few weeks before spring training begins. He had not received information from the club on his spring training destination earlier this week.
During this offseason, Nola has split time between Baton Rouge and Clearwater, Florida, where his pro career began last summer with the Advanced-A Threshers.
“I’m currently a Florida resident,” a smiling Nola said.
When in Baton Rouge, Nola is training at the LSU facilities.
Mainieri has shuffled the responsibilities of his assistant coaches.
Volunteer assistant Will Davis will coach catchers and outfielders this season. He coached just outfielders last season. Davis will coach base runners as well.
New LSU hitting coach and recruiting coordinator Andy Cannizaro will handle hitters and base-steeling. Former hitting coach Javi Sanchez worked with catchers and hitters.
Top 10 again
LSU is ranked No. 4 in the USA Today coaches preseason poll released Thursday, giving the Tigers a top-10 ranking in five of the six major college baseball polls.
The sixth preseason poll — the writers rankings — has not been released. LSU has preseason rankings of Nos. 2, 4, 4, 7 and 9.
Vanderbilt topped the coaches poll. The Commodores, the reigning national champions, are No. 1 in all five polls released. LSU and Vanderbilt are two of four SEC teams in the top 10 in the coaches poll. South Carolina is 10th, and Florida is No. 5.
Three more SEC teams are in the poll: No. 18 Ole Miss, No. 23 Texas A&M and No. 25 Mississippi State.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.